The Red Button
'Breaching Our Musical Memories With A Familiar Melody'
A first-time listener could be forgiven for thinking they had just stumbled onto the second wave of the British Invasion. But never fear—their music may suggest vintage Hollies, Peter and Gordon, and even the Beatles themselves, but The Red Button is home-grown and their songs are brand new.
The Red Button is truly, honestly, the next best thing, as two brilliant L.A.-based singer-songwriters ( Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg ) explore their mutual love for concise, melodic pop songs to create She's About To Cross My Mind, an unabashedly retro debut collection that, while expressing every emotion possible over 11 tracks in a wonderfully crisp 32 minutes, has all the hallmarks of a timeless pop masterpiece: consistently infectious songs wrapped up in air tight harmonies and jangly early Beatles power pop guitars.
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences
growing up and how many still factor into your music today? Mike: "Of course the Beatles come first. I still credit them with essentially saving and then ruining my life. Then the hormones hit
around age 12, so then it was The Who for a few years. They were more
aggressive and "male" which really hits the spot when you're
overwhelmed by testosterone. Then the Jam. I guess American rock
only entered the picture with The Replacements when I was about 18.
They all factor into my/our music very heavily. And obviously The
Red Button music makes it clear that I found my way back to the
Beatles in the end!"
Seth: "With me, it starts and ends with the Beatles, with more pop-oriented stuff in between: Elton John, The Beach Boys, Donovan. Loved
Phil Collins’ Genesis . “Follow You, Follow Me” is one of my all-
time favorite songs."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking
of buying your debut CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? Mike: "Refreshingly retro. My other favorite way to describe it is this quote about us from Kool Kat records: "She’s About to Cross My
Mind is the new soundtrack to the old Swinging London!"
Seth: "The jangly Rickenbackers definitely are of a time, but for me this record is about the songs. The thing I took for granted with
Beatles records was that you put them on and they played straight
through because every song melodically and stylistically took you
somewhere different. I like to think we accomplished that on this
Your album title 'She's About To Cross My Mind' is an interesting
choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for
you? Is there a theme to it, perhaps? Mike: "It was the first song we ever wrote together. And it was a pleasure to write. The title was Seth's, and once he sang that first line to me I knew I had hooked up with the right guy. I also knew he was obsessed with girls--no--not girls, but obsessed with thinking about girls."
Seth: "It was our first writing session and this line popped out and Mike said “wait, stop, we have to finish that one!” This record
was destined to happen at that moment. Funny, I was musing about a
title for the record and Mike said confidently, “The title for the
album is definitely ‘She’s About to Cross My Mind’ – so, I
give him total credit for knowing what phrase tied the whole package
Also, please reveal to us why your joint fascination for the sound
of the British Invasion compelled you strongly enough that you
brought this wonderful retro-sounding musical masterpiece to the fore? Mike: "This style of music is the one that comes most naturally to me. I've spent my entire life in rock-n-roll trying and struggling
and learning to incorporate those Beatle-ish roots into other styles--
that is, to hide that influence. It took me until I was about 15 to
stop singing in an English accent. In fact, Seth is only now
learning to sing without his English accent, and I like to think I've
helped him with that! But he was a "bad" influence on me this time
around. He tricked me into indulging all my guilty British '60s
influences. Which of course was incredibly fun and satisfying. The
first time I cracked out Seth's 1967 12-string Rickenbacker (to play
it on the song "She's About to Cross My Mind") I was literally
cackling with delight every time I plucked out a new phrase. Instant
'60s! Ohhhhh, the sheer pleasure!"
Seth: "I was very comfortable heading down the road that I knew this album would take. It definitely took a tad bit of lovable coaxing
from me to get Mike to fully jump in the water and do the songs the
way he and I knew they needed to be rendered. But, we really did have
fun making it. The sessions were always enjoyable."
How easy (or hard) was it to re-create such a crisp, vibrant,
wanted-by-the-public sound from that era in today's era - surrounded
by new technology, raised eyebrows and for the most part unfulfilling
songs that seemingly top the charts due to star power names only?! Mike: "There were very few raised eyebrows 'cause nobody was paying attention. And the few people that were paying attention already
know that Seth and I are both Beatle obsessives, so they weren't
surprised. I suppose if anything, my friends were surprised that I
had indulged myself so shamelessly! And ironically, the modern
technology actually makes it much easier (and cheaper) to re-create
all those vintage sounds we all love so much."
Seth: "I always believed, and still do, that people are attracted to 3-minute melodic pop songs with harmonies and good lyrics. It’s a simple formula that has worked for eons in different genres."
Please tell us more (in a quick fashion!) about what was going on
in your life when these songs were being written and recorded:
'Cruel Girl' - (Mike:) "The second song we wrote/recorded. I have to say, it didn't relate to anything current in my life at that moment. For me it was more about all the pain inflicted by women in the past! But honestly, it was about that 12-string Rick as much as anything. Such a cruel, cruel girl she is. It once took me five hours to re-string her, but it was worth every second. She arouses such passion in my heart!"
Seth: "I was sitting on Mike’s couch with an acoustic guitar. We were working on another song. The hook popped out and again Mike
said “hold everything!”. He put on his tape recorder knowing this
was going to be a good song for us. I remember him loving it
immediately. He then wrote the verse and we both wrote the bridge. It
was like the way John and Paul used to write –two guys in a room,
excited about writing songs."
'She's Going Down' - (Mike: "My favorite. Lyrically this one was about the many relationships I've had with, uh, very dramatic women. Black and blue
memories all wrapped up in a candy-colored, laid-back, mid-sixties
Seth: "Another one I started and Mike jumped on, knowing exactly
where to take it. I thought that the obvious double entendre of the
title should be played up but Mike, correctly, didn’t take it there.
Very Lovin’ Spoonful."
'I Could Get Used To You' - (Mike: "Pure Seth. He'll tell you..."
Seth: "Pure pop song.. A song I wrote with a terrific producer/writer
Roger Greenawalt. Again, the hook and title happened simultaneously
and the rest wrote itself. In true Lennon fashion, Mike suggested
changes in the bridge which we did during the vocal session. I was
proud of the lead guitar instrumental on it – one take, done. Very
Has work begun yet on a follow-up album to 'She's About ...' and
if so, any thoughts on what we can expect? Mike: "We've got a few from the first batch that we started and haven't finished yet. And we're looking forward to writing some new ones. I think you can expect us to move forward into the early '70s! I'd love for our next record to sound like Tea for the Tillerman meets Hunky Dory. I think we're uniquely suited to writing that kind of wonderful stuff."
Seth: "I could write pop songs all day but they wouldn’t be TRB
songs. It’s the unique combination of Mike’s pop sensibilities and
mine combined that made this record. He leans a little Elvis Costello
while I lean a little Donovan and we meet sqaurely at The Beatles.
‘Nuff said. We would love to do another record but for now we’re
preparing to play some live gigs in L.A., possibly this April. We’ll have updated info on this at our site, www.TheRedButton.net"
Is it true that one of you is currently working on a
"bookumentary" project called 'Beatle Stories'? And is so, just what
IS a "bookumentary"?! Seth: "That’s a term I coined meaning half-book, half documentary. I started filming people who had a story about them and The Beatles – George Martin, May Pang, Norman Smith (their first and longtime engineer) and many, many others. I also spoke to many people on the phone who told me their Beatles stories: former first daughter, Luci
Baines Johnson, The Doors, Ray Manzarek, the late Denny Doherty
amongst others. The phone conversations will be transcribed into a
book and a DVD, with the filmed interviews, will be included in the
back of the book, thus, a “bookumentary”. It will be called
“Beatles Stories” and it will hopefully, come out in 2008."
Lastly, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! Mike: "Funny you should ask! I'm an animal nut, and they're one of my
favorites. So effortlessly elegant at all times! I think this photo
of me at age 5 says it all...!"
Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best
for the future Seth and Mike: "Thank you!"
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