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INTERVIEW: Spiritual Rez

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Great! Thank you so much for having us.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Red Room”?

“Red Room” is a rock-reggae banger produced by Kenny Carkeet. He crushed the production on this one. The lyrics are about staying positive and working hard to achieve your goals; the “red room” being a metaphor for success. Kenny also linked us with Duddy B from the Dirty Heads and he laid down a killer verse. I can’t wait for this song to drop.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Never giving up and working hard is a consistent theme in our music. As all independent artists know it’s a 24-hour gig to stay in the game. That part of our lives often finds its way into the lyrics we write.

Any plans to release a video for this song?

We have some ideas in the works.

The song comes off your new album Setting in the West – what’s the story behind the title?

The first Spiritual Rez song ever was called “Rising in the East.” It also became the title track off of our second album. This year has marked a big shift for us with touring the West Coast and recording in LA. We felt that this record bookended a certain time in the life of the project and that Setting in the West was a fitting name. We’re excited for the next chapter.

How was the recording and writing process?

We had a blast writing with Kenny and Max. We brought our ideas to them and Kenny would flesh out the production with Jesse and Ian while Max and I polished the lyrics. The entire team they’ve assembled in LA is top notch.

What was it like to work with Kenny Carkeet and Max Collins? How did those relationships develop?

I (Toft Willingham) met Kenny in middle school during a jam at our buddy T.J. Amadore’s house in Orlando. He was playing drums and I was playing guitar. Pre-AWOLNATION he would come to Rez shows when we would tour Florida so he was familiar with the band. We reconnected a couple years ago and started talking about working together. He assembled the team and introduced us to Max. These guys are musical geniuses but they’re humble and funny as hell. At one point Max was trying to track background vocals and he started having a hysterical laughing fit. He had to turn the mic and sing into the wall to finish the track.

Why calling two producers for this record?

Kenny was the lead producer on the record but it would be unfair not to share some of that credit with Max. Max played a huge roll in the vocal production. He helped me find my voice and I’ve never been more confident with my delivery than after working with him.

How much did they get to influence the album?

We listened to their guidance and let them work. We went to LA to work with them and it would be foolish not to let them do their job. That being said they let us be the artists and we worked together to make the record shine. It was very co-creative.

How much did the West get to influence the album?

You can’t help but be affected by your environment. Recording rock-reggae music in California just feels right.

You also brought up some special guests – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?

Kenny connected us with Duddy and made that happen. Of course we were stoked to have him on the track. We’re good friends with Billy Kottage from Reel Big Fish so he was a no-brainer. We linked with Hirie on a show in Santa Cruz and still hadn’t secured a feature for “Together Always.” We all agreed she would be perfect so we gave her a call and she said yes. She’s awesome to work with and her new record is fire!

Any plans to hit the road?

We start our national tour in September and we’ll be on the road pretty steady till December.

What else is happening next in Spiritual Rez’s world?

We’ll keep touring and writing. Now that this record is done our focus will be on supporting the release and writing the next one. Just keep working hard and keep the nose up. It’s a blessing to play music with your best friends. We’ll keep doing it as long as we can.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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