Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Red Light Driver

I am sitting here today with Red Light Driver. Red Light Driver has been making quite the name for themselves in the city of Indianapolis with a much anticipated national release of their first album coming this February. For a band that plays Indianapolis only a couple times a month at most, they have created quite the buzz for themselves. Listing influences as not your typical Beatles and Rolling Stones type you get a great appreciation for their sound. With lead vocals and guitar by Derek Osgood, you will not walk away disappointed. Their album, an exact 46 minutes long set of potentially immediate hits, will take you on not only a journey of great music but incredible songwriting. Take the time to listen today as I speak with Derek himself.

How long have you guys been a together?

We have been together officially since October of 2006. As Red Light Driver, anyway. We changed the name. We went from Lunar Event to Red Light Driver.

Has it always been the same guys in the band?


Where did you all meet?

I have known Jon about half my life. I have known Drew for 5 years. I met him when he became the drummer for Lunar Event. I have known Mike for about 9 years. We have all known each other for a while and all have been in various bands. We all used to hang out with each other.

When should we expect this much talked about first release?

February 10th 2009 is the national release date. You can however get
it now at Indy CD and Vinyl, Luna Music, and Vibes as well as online on iTunes and Rhapsody.

Tell me what it was like working with MFT Records.

It’s been good. We were looking for someone to help with all the things that come from signing a record deal but not going that route for our first album. They are helping promotions and distribution and all those other things that come along with a new album release. They have been great. I sent out a pre release of the record and we started talking and they gave us a distribution deal. We solidified this in October of 2008. We also have a label/publishing company is called Mojo Tsunami. We maintain all the rights to our music so we needed to create a shelter for all of our stuff. Legally we needed to create a different entity. So if we are on tour and we hit someone we don’t want him or her to come and take out rights away. (Laughs)

Who does the writing? Where does your inspiration come from in your writing?

Musically we all have our own super powers. We all share in the writing a great deal. I write most of the lyrics although Mike writes some of them. He writes what he sings. There is not really one person that does anymore than anyone else. I primarily write most of the lyrics.

Where do you guys practice?

We have a studio at my house. We do all our demo work and rehearsals there. It’s pretty nice to have.

If you could describe genre in one word what would it be?

One word? You have to have more words than that. (Laughs) Anthems. In one word it’s anthems. Someone once said new wave anthems. Or post punk anthems.

What are the plans for a tour in support of this new album?

That is exactly what we are doing right now for the first of this upcoming year and the spring. We will be out of town heavily during those dates. I think we will probably take all this winter, spring and summer and just to support this record. We will probably go back and write another one in the fall. We are already writing new stuff. It comes out sometimes when we practice when we have new ideas. We record them and move on. And when we sit down to start a record we pick through 30 to 40 from that list. We can feel the whole tone of the album that way. We probably have around ten ideas for the next album already.

What is the largest crowd you have ever played for?

I am trying to think. It was probably a Vogue show. I would image it would be around 700 or 800 people. We have not done any main stage Deer Creek shows. I did play on the main stage at Deer Creek when I was 19 years old. It was a show called Last Blast. It was a year-end show. They picked a hand full of bands and one of them was my band called Flood Light. There were about 9,000 people there. It was during the day. Definitely a lack of audience interaction, though, when you are 30 yards away from the closest person you are playing for. I like venues about the size of the Vogue. I like that size venue. Theater venues, I guess. We are playing a nice big venue in Cincinnati called the Mad Hatter. It’s a pretty big place. That is coming up in January.

What about the smallest?

You name it. You know anywhere from 15 people on a Wednesday night somewhere to playing a Tuesday in St. Louis that might have been for 30 people. It has been better lately. (Laughs)

You are headlining at Verizon Wireless (Deer Creek). Who is your opener?

I would try to get the local band Loretta to come out of retirement. I would get them out for that show. They were great.

If you could play only one song for the rest of your career what one would it be?

What is my favorite song to play? I like the song ‘Mission-ary’. It’s a good rock song and the lyrics are fun. It’s just fun to play and is a real crowd pleaser.

Where did the name Red Light Driver come from?

Well, we had a list of about 18 names that we were thinking to use. It was a matter of voting them down. Maybe not everyone was 100% in love with the name. It was what came out during voting. We have various stories of what it might mean. Some might think it means a runner in a red light district. Someone who doesn’t stop for authority, I guess (laughs).

What did you have for breakfast yesterday?

Let me think. I had a Lean Cuisine Mac and Cheese.

What are you drinking on stage?

Usually a decent English beer. Maybe like a Bass or a New Castle, or something like that.

Who are your biggest influences?

Musically? Mine would be Echo and the Bunnymen. I like Spiritualized. The Cure. Things like that. I really like Oasis. The Beatles inspired them. They did it in the way I like to hear it though.

If you could play with any band in the world whom would it be?

That is a hard one. Probably Spiritualized. They go on tour a lot still. I don’t know if I could hang with J. Spaceman. His real name is Jason Peirce. Not sure we could hang with him. He would probably have us running around. Every other song he sings is about some opiate. I just like their songwriting and guitar playing. I think Bloc Party and us would have a good time together. Morrissey still plays. Although it would probably be a situation where they say “do not ask to have
a picture taken with him. Do not make direct eye contact with him.”

You are playing a show in London next weekend. Your plane crash-lands on a deserted island. You are allowed to save three things from the wreckage. What do you keep and why?

Anything ‘mirror like’. Probably a set of eye glasses so I can hone some light and create a fire. You know, the magnifying glass and sun technique? Something shiny so someone could pick us up. And then probably my guitar that I bought when I was 18 years old. My Telecaster. I can get fire. I can shine the mirror. That’s not to look at myself either, that’s actually to try to get attention. It’s there for entertainment. I can probably beat an animal with it or something to help with food. It’s very versatile, that guitar.

You just ordered pizza before your show. What toppings are on it?

For me just pepperoni and mushroom. I think Drew would have some sort of Cajun style. Jon would just have a cheese pizza. Mike would be down with pepperoni or sausage. Drew would have some California Kitchen sun dried tomatoes, pineapple chicken stuff. (Laughs)

Who is the “ringleader” of the band?

It depends. It really does. I think we are all kind of our own little ringleaders. I think I am the one for practice. I am the guy that says “practice this tonight” and “God damnit, we need to work on this tonight.” As far as a ringleader I think Mike may be the one of fun and going out; getting in trouble. I am the administrative ringleader.

If you were not doing music where would you be?

Listening to music.

You guys seem to understand the concept of an image. Did you have the image before the music or did that come hand in hand?

We all have our own images. We aer not ones to fall into a cetain style. Not at this age. We had conversations about needing a sound for the band, a certain mystery where people will want to know more about us. It’s more of an unspoken thing. Some bands either get it or they don’t. You may write great songs but if they are all over the place people may not jump on your train.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you guy on stage?

There have not been really any major embarrassing things for Red Light Driver. We have forgotten parts of songs and try to play it off like nothing happened. Two years prior to the end of Lunar Event we were playing in Denver and this band that played before us, I think their name was Meat or something terrible. They were not nice to us when they showed up. They had this plan. They got up and introduced themselves as Lunar Event. They were reading from our bio. They knew everything about us. They just fooled everyone. It was a big joke. I was actually in the hospital that day from an ear infection. They surrounded our band at the end of the night. We thought we were throwing down right there in the parking lot. One of the dudes even kicked a bottle at one of the girls with us. It was a pure field goal-punt kick. I was on codeine and everything else from being sick. It was bizarre. It was crazy. I was screaming at the promoter. It was just horrible. And their singing was just stomping and moaning around on stage. I am pretty well known for wearing driving hats. I always run into microphones. I have knocked over stands before. Little sound guy has to run up there and put it for me.

Ever been booed off stage?

No, I don’t think we have ever been booed off stage.

What are your thoughts on MySpace?

It is a good tool to use. It is really over saturated with bands. Just like digital downloads. It’s cheapened the whole album thing. Things like MySpace do a great job and they do help bands out. It helps to communicate and build networks with other bands. It’s great for contacting clubs as well. I would much rather work on our website and make our website cool than having to log into MySpace all the time.

Do you guys all have full time jobs or is music it?

We all have jobs. Drew and I have jobs on our own. We do integration and graphic design. Jon is a bartender. He used to bartend at the Old Pointe. And Mike drives a cab. We all have ability to do what we need to.

What kind of salad dressing do you prefer?

Blue cheese.

Do you guys have any permanent plans of branching out of the Midwest?

We will never leave here. I think it would be silly to move out of the center of the United States. Moving from the center of the US is not a good idea. But we will be touring out of the region. That will happen when the record comes nationally. We are also doing a big college radio push. That helps with touring. We have done ads in certain cities. Then you start wanting to play those cities.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Probably just doing what we are doing now. I think we have a good grasp on what we are doing. It’s rewarding. If it’s not any bigger than it is it’s going to be the same. I can see us sticking to our guns and doing it the way we have always done it. If no one wants to sign us we will release records and try on our own to make our name bigger and sell those records. Playing shows and selling records. That’s what we want to do.

What is the one thing you want to be remembered for as a band?

Just good songwriting. Good shows.

I always like to give the artists the last word. Go.

Buy the record. We want people to feel like they are a part of this. If you like our music you need to know that money is paying us, the people that recorded those tracks. We want you to know that is what is keeping us going. You are a big part of that. You are vested in us. You are not giving your money away to a mismanaged record label. You are giving the money directly to the artists that wrote the record. This is as much yours as it is ours.