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    [ Red Eye Nine ]

    Red Eye Nine

    Most groups nowadays have a similar approach to music making. They lay a simple pop formula as a foundation and then see how far they can tweak it and bend it into something a little more unique, twisted and original.

    Red Eye Nine seems to take the reverse approach. Guitarist/vocalist Eric Waxwood assures us that "we start out pretty bent to begin with; we then see how we can shape something coherent out of the original warped foundation." One listen to this up and coming Boston trio's debut disc Standing On Ceremony (out this month on Lunch Records), and it is easy to see the spectacular results of this composition style.

    Red Eye Nine may have only just released their first full length album, but the group is no stranger to Boston's music scene. Over the past four years, despite lineup changes, Eric Waxwood and his cohorts have taken their unique brand of rock music to many a New England stage, all the while maintaining an individual and ever-evolving sound. That sound is still changing and moving into exciting uncharted musical territory.

    The roots of Red Eye Nine begin in 1995. Formerly of the band Puzzlehead, Eric Waxwood and bassist Chris Fournier formed Red Eye Nine with the idea of doing something different. Along with a drummer named Dave, the trio's first collaboration together yielded some very uptempo melodic pop punk. This lineup was captured on tape and featured on the short-lived Fat Baby Records' compilation From Under You, which also featured another up and coming trio called Vic Firecracker.

    With the acquisition of a new drummer, Fernando Medina, the group's sound became more complex and aggressive. The so-called "Red Tape", a 3 song promo which the group circulated around Boston, caught the attention of several Boston music papers. The group's live appearances became more frequent. Personality differences, however, forced Eric and Chris to part ways with Medina and the group was once again drummerless. An ad placed by Waxwood was eventually answered by Dan Gold, formerly of Talking to Animals. This time, the group new they had found a perfect match.

    The entrance of the solid, thick style of Gold ushered in a more heavy and groove-oriented sound to Red Eye Nine. Excess was trimmed and songwriting and performance became tighter. The group's new songs reflected this startling growth. The group set about to capture these performances on tape for a full length album. Red Eye Nine entered Fort Apache Studios and set about to record with the great Bob Weston (ex-Volcano Suns, current member of Shellac, producer of countless indie rock titans, Polvo, chief among them). Satisfied with the results and eager to embark on a performing spree, the group's momentum was suddenly derailed by the departure of Chris Fournier.

    Undeterred, Waxwood and Gold continued composing songs while searching for the missing bottom end. Brian Church, recent arrival from New Jersey and veteran of several groups (notably the late, great AKU) stepped into Fournier's formidable shoes in October of 1998. Much rehearsal ensued, as well as, composition and soon the new lineup of Red Eye Nine made its debut on Mikey Dee's On The Town radio program on WMFO in January of 1999.

    With the new release of the Weston-produced recordings and slew of upcoming live appearances (as well as a backlog of promising new material), Red Eye Nine appears to be the band to watch in 1999.

    On paper, a description of Red Eye Nine's music doesn't sound much different from those of other groups; pop punk songs with an edge; melodic and rocking; a power-trio instrumentation. However, RE9's music is very distinct and individual.

    Eric Waxwood's guitar playing is at the center. Using a combination of aggression strumming and nimble arpeggios of unorthodox chords, Waxwood is able to achieve the width and depth of multiple players from one guitar. Effects are minimal, carefully chosen and tastefully used. Sonic color and melodic beauty are achieved even in the most warped chord positions. Eric Waxwood is truly one of the more unique guitarists in Boston today. More remarkable is the fact that he is able to sing over this guitar deluge. And sing he does with remarkable presence, engaging lyrics and a both subtle and powerful delivery. It is a voice that channels the swirling kaliedoscope of instrumental sound with consummate ease.

    Dan Gold has never been about showing off. You won't find 100mph 16th notes or double bass pedal flourishes with him. Instead you'll find groove, taste and solidity. Gold's restraint keeps Waxwood's soaring guitars from zooming off into the stratosphere. His tasteful approach is a fresh relief for those who tire of the speed metal/hardcore drumming frenzy that is all chops and no soul. Dan Gold's drum episodes are wholly unique and rock-steady. His immense stoicism also belies untapped power.

    Rounding out the ensemble is bassist Brian Church. Doubling as both a rhythm instrument to Gold's hypnotic beats and as an accompaniment to the demented slicings of Waxwood, Church's bass occupies a seldom-explored middle ground. Eric's spacious guitar frees Church to lock in with Gold, adding an extra heavy groove. Other times, Gold's rock-solid poundings free Church to add further color to Waxwood's six-string tapestry. The result is bass playing with a twist. Brian Church is picking up the reins from where the talented Chris Fourier left off, but at the same time, he is leaving his unmistakable fingerprints on the group's sound.

    An examination of Red Eye Nine's recorded output (from the Fat Baby comp., the "Red Tape", a 1996 7" up to the new Standing In Ceremony) reveals a progressive evolution. Eric Waxwood calls the new album "the History of Red Eye Nine up to this point." The record is a series of wonderful snapshots of the group's blossoming songwriting style.

    But the band is already looking ahead; looking ahead to further explore musical avenues; looking forward to re-enter the Boston scene in this new lineup; looking forward to recording its recent output (10 new songs and counting); looking forward to leave its mark on audiences everywhere with its exciting live show...

    Its unique approach, ever-evolving musical stance, promising CD debut and spectacular live presentation indeed mark Red Eye Nine as a band destined to make a big impact.

    ******** the following is an update as of 09-12-00 ********

    Red Eye 9 played their final show in May 2000 following a strong appearance at 1999's WBCN Rumble and a twice extended hiatus. The group mutually parted ways. Dan Gold is working on recording and possible drum and bass projects. Eric Waxwood continues to sing and play guitar for Auto Interior (formerly Kilowatthours). Their debut recording, produced by Bob Logan, is expected to be available in the fall. Brian Church formed Tristan Da Cunha with ex-AKU mate Ernie Kim and ex-Spineless guitarist Steve Budney. Look for shows and recordings in the upcoming weeks. He also continues to play in New York with Monkeys Writing Shakespeare.

    Written By: L. Jones