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Today we chatted with Ronnie Winter, the lead singer of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. In a day and age, where most people are only concerned with themselves, interviewing Ronnie was like a breath of fresh air. Not only is he polite and considerate, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus genuinely care for their fans and how they try to make them feel like they are performing at home instead of in a city hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Ronnie Winter of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
FES: You can briefly give our readers unfamiliar with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus the band 411?
Ronnie: Basically, we are a five-piece band from Middleburg, FL, which is on the outskirts of Jacksonville, FL. We started almost 5 years ago now, a couple of friends from high school, we made a band, wrote some good songs, got a record deal and now we are touring our first record with our first single and having pretty good success.
FES: Can you recall the first show The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus did and how the band has changed since that first show?
Ronnie: The first show we ever played was at The Aardvark in Jacksonville, FL it was a small club that holds about 150 people, which is really small. We played for about 80 to 90 of my friends from high school and people who just found out about the band from us practicing in my trailer. It was amazing for the first show it was already fun and different there was a good vibe to it and everyone seemed to enjoy it, but you know the first show was sloppy and the songs were not ready yet and stuff like that. We evolved and worked on our musical ability and musical writing and performance.
FES: How many demos/showcasing did the band have to do before getting inked by Virgin Records?
Ronnie. It was interesting. We were actually showcased six times in the past with six different labels and basically our manager set up a showcase route because we got an offer from one label and we listened because all these other labels came back all of a sudden and wanted to sign us after they had already passed on us after this one label gave us an offer. So we were like listen we’ll play for you guys one more time just to be nice and we’ll talk business. Basically we played for almost every single label there was in the country with in a week. We did six showcases in four days and Virgin was the label we decided to go with.
FES: How did the band decide which songs would be released as singles?
Ronnie: Basically it was just as simple as the band deciding what songs we that think rock harder or sound better or we just like playing more. That’s it. We just sat around and talked about it and picked the songs like that.
FES: Your debut album "Don't You Fake It" was certified Gold by the RIAA [sales of 500,000 copies]. What are your thoughts on this?
Ronnie: Cool. It’s an honor, but at the same time, we’re just focusing on our tour right now and playing every night. It’s good news and it’s always good to hear stuff like that but we’re just focused on the road really.
FES: We're you surprised it went gold so quickly?
Ronnie: We’ve had a lot of support from our label [Virgin Records] and management and our fans are incredible. It’s like we’ve been telling everyone about us for a long time and kids have always known about us for a while, believe it or not, it’s just that everybody else didn’t know about us. [Laughs]. It’s definitely a surprise it happened so fast, but it wasn’t for me a surprise because we’ve always had a lot of fans and they’ve always been extremely dedicated.
FES: Do you like playing radio station shows held outdoors?
Ronnie: I like it for a few reasons. First of all I like it because it’s a lot of people and there’s that much more energy and outdoor show party atmosphere which is cool I’m down with that. I always use to go to those concerts when I was a kid and I still do when I have down time, I’m definitely cool with that, but at the same time it’s just a little bit weird because you’re not with your normal touring band and your not in your normal daily routine but that’s just for us some bands tour like that for them it’s probably a little bit more normal. We usually do sporadic ones; we did four (4) radio station shows in a weekend once. We don’t really do them all the time but when we do them they’re fun for me it’s like a breath of fresh air like a warped tour [type] reminiscent show almost like we’re back on the warped tour when we do it. I think it’s cool and I like it.
FES: How important does RJA feel it is to write songs with a positive message?
Ronnie: You only live once if you’re going to do something you should try to do the right thing.
FES: RJA and your label [Virgin Records] partnered with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for a fundraiser and the band has donated sales of specially designed T-shirts and merch. How important does RJA think it is to support such good causes as the NCADV?
Ronnie: Well, obviously it’s extremely important. Most of the things you just mentioned we’re brainstorms by me. I’m not trying to take credit for it. You don’t hook up with an organization like that unless you’re pretty serious about what your doing. That’s another reason we’re headlining The Take Action! Tour. Which is a tour that is raising awareness against teen suicide and against animal cruelty. Now you have Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
with the NCADV as the headlining act bringing our own agenda in and the two causes of theTake Action Tour, which are both awesome also. We’ll continue to always try and do the right thing. We’re not perfect people or trying to be saints or anything. We’re just trying to do the right thing. That’s it; it’s not even something we talk about a lot. We’re just trying to help anyway we can.
FES: What are your thoughts on RJA headlining the 2007 Take Action! Tour?
Ronnie: We’re very proud we were offered the spot.
FES: How important do you think online publications such as Florida Entertainment Scene are in helping to get the word out about bands such as The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus?
Ronnie: The internet is a medium of communication like any other and it’s extremely valuable. It’s a resource that has to be used if you’re a band that is serious about your business, your product and about your music. Many, many websites have helped us out and spread our name and music and a lot of people have found out about us from the internet. As far as I am concerned it’s great! It’s something that can help any real
musician. We’re on a major label but we weren’t always on a major label and that didn’t stop us from putting our music on the internet and that didn’t stop us from selling 20,000 copies of our own record in one year without any distribution from a major label. I think the internet allows unsigned musicians to have a chance which is good.
FES: Where do you see RJA five years from now?
Ronnie: You know, I guess only God knows that one. We’re going to give it our best shot and see it through best we can. We plan on being around but everybody says that and I know everybody says that. I don’t want to be another guy saying what everybody else
says but at the same time I don’t want to be overconfident so I’ll say I hope we are touring and our second record will be out then and people will still think we’re worth listening to.
FES: do you have anything to say to your fans that read this Interview?
Ronnie: Sure. First of all, obviously thank you for giving me your time for this interview. To our fans thank you for not only buying our record but thanks for all the prays, emails, letters, the gifts, the cookies, the chocolate milk, sweaters, toys, just everything we’ve been given from our fans on the road trying to make it a little more home for the holiday feel for us. Good health to everybody.
FES: Ronnie, thank you for your time, I wish you guys much success.
Ronnie: Thank you very much.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are from Middleburg, FL and tour on a regular basis. Their latest album 'Don't You Fake It' is available at the usual outlets.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is:
Ronnie Winter – Vocals
Elias Reidy – Guitars
Duke Kitchens – Guitars
Joey Westwood – Bass
Jon Wilkes - Drums
For more band information log onto the official Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Website.
To sample music visit The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus page at Myspace.com.
Musician Interview by Michael Montes - Copyright © 2007 Florida Entertainment Scene - All Rights Reserved.