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By: Gilbert Potts
With the UK leg of their current world tour looming for art rock outfit The Red Paintings, we speak with Trash McSweeney, the creative force behind this musical and visual arts feast.
(((o))): When we last spoke, you had just released The Revolution Is Never Coming. That album had been a long and intense exercise over a number of years with great highs and crushing lows. What has your emotional journey been like since the release?
Trash: It was certainly a roller coaster ride of an album to create and the touring to promote it has been pretty much the same dynamic. We have been all over the world playing the album live from islands in France and all over Europe to the UK, America, Canada, AU, NZ and next Japan and Iceland.
(((o))): Did the live show provide a safety valve during that period, and if so has the way you feel about performing and the way you enjoy it changed? Are you free to take more from performing?
Trash: It’s constantly changing. Pressure of finance to stay on the road, dynamic changes between band mates during the highs and lows then of course playing the songs live as I think each of us approach a new tour in a different way each time, which gives our live shows a unique spin.
(((o))): You’ve been touring the US recently and were in Europe after the album release. How much of the world have you seen these last couple of years?
Trash: I’ve been all over it 3 times.
(((o))): You and violinist Alix performed some acoustic sets in Australia a few months ago. I was blown away by the depth and power in the performances – it’s not what I expected given how energetic your full live sets are. Then it was good to see the full band again a few weeks ago. Which is closer to the original form of your songs – the full band or the slimmed down?
Trash: It surprises me how many people say our acoustic sets are a surprise and they didn’t expect to be moved as they have by them. Well I write all this songs in The Red Paintings as it’s my life that band and the majority of the songs are first seeded from playing parts or ideas on an acoustic guitar. Most times I’ll have come up with all the parts from drums, bass, vocal and strings and we jam the ideas as a band to see what works or not.
(((o))): Coming back to Melbourne gives you the chance to catch up with family, but you’re not the first artist to move half way around the world in order to flourish. Is it a bit of a love/hate relationship you have with the place and with home town Geelong?
Trash: Let’s just say I would NEVER move back to Geelong. It always felt uncomfortable to me living there and I itch to leave after a weeks visit. I love and adore my family and cherish the moments when I can spend time with them which nowadays comedown to a week or two a year.
(((o))): The stage show, the costumes, the painting human canvases, releasing balloons from strange locations with goodies attached, and so on are seen by some as adding to the entertainment, others as varied elements of a broader artistic work, and others as a gimmick. How important is it to you that people see what you do in a particular way, and if so, what is that way?
Trash: I create art or ideas that I don’t see others creating or that I would personally like to see. I’m one for going the hard road then the easy as I’ve come to learn its all about the artists true experience that makes true art with great substance. I’m all about open interpretation so I’m happy for people to see my art how ever they feel most comfortable.
(((o))): You have some new band members – can you tell us about them and what they bring to The Red Paintings?
Trash: The Red Paintings has evolved into an all girl international act. It wasn’t something I purposely set out to achieve, it just naturally happened that way. They are all super talented and I think take the live show to a perfect energy.
(((o))): What about the hamster? Is it true they didn’t get on very well with your alien-in-a-jar Jimmy Urine?
Trash: Haha my stage show tours certainly cause some controversy. Last tour we had some battles, but all is sorted now and everyone seems to be getting along. It’s a pain for everyone when the alien fetus has a drinking problem and doesn’t pull its weight.
(((o))): Tell us about your upcoming tour. Will it be a mix of headlines and supports? Will there be any acoustic sets?
Trash: The UK tour is a The Red Paintings headline run. It will be a full 90 minutes show with all our stage antics in place. A rock show with no acoustic sets on this tour.
(((o))): Have you got any other events in mind of a non-musical nature that fans should be looking out for?
Trash: Not at this time no. We are currently touring to support new single and video ‘It Is As It Was’. Certainly some grandiose ideas in the pipeline.
(((o))): Why should someone who has never seen or heard of The Red Paintings come to your show? ”
Trash: We mix it up with theatrics and music and allow audience to participate via paint brush on stage