Sometimes the name of the band just makes you want to listen. On its search for success, the Red West fits into this category perfectly. The band members’ dream of hitting it big began at a small liberal arts school in Biola, Cali., where two roommates decided they wanted to make music. The roommates were lead singer Jayson Belt and lead guitarist Andy Smith.
After a semester apart, they reconvened to form the band. Belt recruited his older cousin Ryan Gleason to play drums and later found Matt Betancourt to play bass. Three years later, the band has been cultivating a growing fan base up and down the California coast after releasing a self-titled debut.
As the opening act for their friends, band Something Corporate, last Friday night, the band tore through the Marvin Center’s Grand Ballroom. Before sound check, The Hatchet had a chance to sit down with the guys.
Hatchet: What is it like coming to the East Coast for the first time where the weather is different and you don’t have such a large fan base?
Andy Smith: We haven’t played on the East Coast, so it’s really been new for us, especially the whole vibe of the fans and the people we interact with.
Matt Betancourt: I like the East Coast, the countryside and the feel of it all.
H: How has the tour been going so far?
AS: We are good friends with Something Corporate, so it’s been a blast to hang out with them and watch them every night.
H: What does “the Red West” stand for?
Ryan Gleason: It doesn’t really mean anything. It means everything and nothing all at once. It’s an enigma rapped in a mystery rapped in a pile of shit rapped in an enigma. It’s really just whatever you want it to be. There have been Communist references, Elvis references and other media references. You should just take it for what you want.
Jayson Belt: There is a very specific meaning, but we are just not going to tell you because we don’t care to. If we told you’d probably just think it’s stupid.
H: What’s the best part about playing a college?
AS: You know you are really playing for people who really respect music. The college market has the most finely tuned ear for music, in my opinion. They are people that are desperately seeking out new music and very excited about music. A high school audience – they’ll enjoy whatever is given to them. They are happy with a little bit. The college market is much more musically savvy, I think. It’s exciting if we are able to win over an audience in the college market; that’s a big goal of ours.
H: How do you personally feel about your first album?
JB: I think that we all really like this record, probably because it’s our first. I don’t think we would go back and change anything because it was about learning how to write songs and letting them develop. Do we think it’s the most amazing thing we could have done? No. We play the songs a hundred percent better than we did when it first came out two years ago.
H: What do you want to get out of being in this band?
JB: I really want to be a part of something that is viewed in the same sense of a band like U2 or bands that have lasted a really long time. I want to be in something that’s lasting and overall good. I want people to walk away from our shows and say, “I really enjoyed this” and that they are a part of the music.