The Red Well
- Doug Johnstone
- 19 March 2009
Loud or quiet, why choose? The best rock bands manage to combine ear-shredding wig-outs with moments of blissful acoustic gentility – and so it is with The Red Well.
The Edinburgh-based quartet are part of Fife’s Fence Collective, but stand apart sonically as the label’s big, kick-ass rawk outfit, although that’s not how they started off. Coming out of another seriously noisy gang called The Supergun, singer and guitarist Jim Abel wanted a complete change of scene.
‘I still wanted to play songs, but I tried something different,’ he says. ‘I got the acoustic guitar out, but in the end I couldn’t resist the rock. When we started I just didn’t want to be loud anymore, but the songs just got heavier and heavier as we turned the amps up, bought some more pedals and found ourselves rocking out again.’
It’s not all pedal to the metal, though, as their fantastic debut album testifies. Amid Storms We Arrive is a wonderful journey around the finest parts of American-influenced indie, post-grunge, acoustic country and Scottish folk. It showcases a band of diversity and originality, just don’t ask Abel to describe it.
‘I don’t even know what we sound like,’ says Abel, gently bemused. ‘But I’ve always liked artists or bands that can mix it up – Neil Young can turn it up to eleven and deafen everybody, and then he’s got these really quiet tender songs on acoustic guitar. Same with Bruce Springsteen.’
Ambitious touchstones, but then you can’t fault a band for aiming high, can you?
Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Sat 28 Mar.