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Joe Rickard started playing the drums when he was 13-years-old after getting a drum kit for Christmas. He began playing for his church a month later and fell it love with it. When he was 17-years-old he dropped out of high school and hit the road and has been on the road ever since. Now 23-years-old, Rickard is in the rock band RED, where he’s been the band’s drummer for three years. RED released its third album, Until We Have Faces Feb. 1, and it debuted at number one on iTunes and number two on the Billboard charts.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: So RED just came out with its new album, Until We Have Faces. How long had you guys been working on it?
Joe Rickard: We were working on that for a while. We started writing on the album probably about a year ago. We had a meeting with our label in July, and they told us that they wanted it turned in by October. And we said “Okay” and got to work. Things took a little bit longer and we had to turn it in in November, but that’s pretty typical, having to turn it in a bit later. We spent a lot of August, all of September, and all of October completely working on it. The whole time, we didn’t tour or anything except for some weekend shows. It was a pretty quick process, a lot quicker than our last album. It was kind of cool though because it forced us to come up with creative parts quickly and it ended up being better. We all feel like it’s our best record yet.
TCC: Do you guys write all of your own songs?
JR: We do. I come up with a lot of drum ideas and Anthony (Armstrong), our guitar player, does some stuff for guitar, and we all just collaborate together. Then we write with our producer, who co-writes basically every song. He writes a bunch with us, and then we have another guitar player who used to be in the band, Jasen Rauch. He wrote with us a bunch on this record. And then Randy (Armstrong – bassist) and Mike (Barnes – lead vocals) did some vocals on the record and we had a couple of outside writers come in, too.
TCC: Wow there’s a lot of contributors. Are there ever disagreements over things?
JR: Yeah, I mean everyone has their own opinion. But we all have the same kind of mindset. We all kind of know what we want. And then Rob Graves, the producer, always has a good vision. He can always see things a lot better than we can. He’s really good at what he’s doing. So we just trust in him.
TCC: So is there a theme for this new album?
JR: Yeah. It’s called Until We Have Faces, and it’s just about trying to find your true identity. Everybody kind of struggles with that growing up. You don’t know who you want to be, especially when you’re like 17. And you kind of what to go to college, but you don’t know where you want to go or what you want to do with your life. Or if you’re just in high school and you don’t know who you are, if you’re a loner or something like that, you just can’t figure out what kind of person you are. Nobody really finds out who they are until they get a lot older. Basically all the songs are about finding your identity. For example, the song “Feed the Machine” was actually my idea content-wise. I thought it’d be cool to write about this crazy machine that the world is. Basically everybody buys everything, everybody wants to have a Mercedes, crazy things like that. Like you have to look a certain way, eat a certain way, and nobody really has their own identity. And they all just kind of give into this machine. That’s basically what that song is about, and it kicks the record off.
The second track is called “Faceless.” It talks about how we’re all just kind of hollow inside, we don’t have faces. We are anybody, just zombies basically walking around. And we just want everybody to find out who they are, just be themselves. Don’t give into the world. Be who you want to be. It’s kind of an anthem for everybody. Everybody can relate this. That’s the cool thing, we want to reach anybody. It doesn’t matter who they are – if they’re 8-years-old or 72. If they’re black, white, Asian, it doesn’t matter, they can all relate in finding out who they are.
TCC: So I know that RED performed on Conan last week. What was that like?
JR: That was crazy. Very surreal. That was the biggest thing we’ve ever done. I still can’t believe we did it. It’s so weird. I go back and watch the performance and think ‘This is crazy that we just played on Conan.' That was nuts. It all happened really last minute. It was pretty intense. We were all really nervous, especially me. I was pretty nervous before we went on. [Laughs] Once I got going during the song, though, it was good.
TCC: The album released Feb. 1 and debuted at number one on iTunes. How exciting was that?
JR: That was awesome. We were one on iTunes for a little bit, and the coolest thing was we ended up debuting at number two on the Billboard charts. It was unreal. We were also number one all the rock charts and alternative and all the Christian charts. But we got beat out by Nicki Minaj, but that’s good, I’m happy for her. The fact that we’re actually number two is unreal.
TCC: Do you have plans for what the first single off the album is going to be?
JR: The first single was just released Wednesday. Its “Feed the Machine,” and it was released to Active Rock Radio, so that’ll be our rock single. “Faceless” is out already on Christian radio, and we’re number one on Christian rock. But yeah, “Feed the Machine” just came out and there’s talks of maybe a video for it. We’ll have to wait and see.
TCC: Now you were talking about a lot of different genres: rock, alternative, Christian rock. What genre would you say you guys are?
JR: I just say we’re a rock band, but we’re all Christians. I don’t like to label ourselves as just a Christian band, because it kind of gives off the wrong vibe. We’re just Christian dudes who play rock music. But we do tons of mainstream stuff, we do tons of Christian stuff. We’re out on a massive Christian tour right now with tons of Christian bands, and it’s awesome. We love it. And we’ll be doing just mainstream touring after this for the year.
TCC: Now I know RED’s last two albums were praised by the critics and even nominated for Grammys, but you’re getting so much more press coverage with your latest album. What do you think makes it different from the last two?
JR: I don’t know. I think we’ve just finally built up our fan base and we have amazing fans that all went out and bought our album the first week. That’s why we’re getting all the press, because we’re selling so much. It’s pretty crazy. I think it just took our first two albums and tons of hard work and touring to get us to this point. It’s our best album I feel. We have killer songs, and everybody is just talking about it. Reading all the iTunes reviews, there are tons of fans that just love the album. It’s really cool.