The aesthetic seems simple enough: The three members of Reston, Va.’s RDGLDGRN wear their favorite colors all day, every day. Red, the band’s guitarist, wears red clothing; Gold, the bassist, wears nothing but gold; and Green, the keyboardist and frontman, wears green at all times. From there, it gets a little hazy, though. The band members say they live their lives as colors and want the world to exist as one giant rainbow. Their music is an ambitious mixture of breezy island rhythms, garage rock and go-go — the homegrown sound of nearby Washington, D.C. RDGLDGRN (pronounced Red, Gold, Green) will release its debut EP this month and a full-length album this summer. Hive spoke with the up-and-coming band about its influences, color philosophy, and working with Dave Grohl and Pharrell.
Explain the color concept. Where did that come from?
Green: Everyone just kinda responds to the color they love. As a band, it’s about us being individuals while being unified through colors. It’s like, Red is specifically red, I am specifically Green and I am a color, and the same thing with Gold. We live the same lives and have the same perspective on a lot of different things, but we’re completely different at the same time. Being a color is our identity, it’s the idea of us being self-actualized and knowing ourselves.
How is the color concept reflected in the music?
Gold: There’s a song we have on our album called “Stranger” that’s completely about that. It also talks about being a D.C. artist — the whole “crabs in a barrel” mentality and people looking at you because you’re different. We don’t think about the color theme when we’re actually writing the music. We all bring something unique as individuals to the table as well. We’re so deep into this shit that we don’t even think about it. I don’t understand people who aren’t colors. [Laughs.]
What are your musical influences?
Green: Entourage, for sure. For this particular band, it’s clear that we’re influenced by indie go-go music. Backyard [Band] is the reason why “I Love Lamp” exists. That whole breakdown that they had, we just flipped it into a drum beat, put some guitars on there, and that’s the concept of how the band started. Strong rhythmic go-go drums and whatever guitar shit we wanna come up with.
Do you have to explain that to people who may not know about go-go music?
Gold: We show ‘em. For the people we meet, we’ll play the “Thug Passion” or TCB, and they’re like, “Oh, this is so energetic and funky!” Then we tell them that the energetic shit we’re playing actually comes from the tracks we’ve played them. Then they understand very quickly. We have to actually show them the music because they have no idea what the music is. We would actually just play them shit on YouTube.
With Pharrell, he knew about old-school go-go sounds. Apparently, he flipped out when he heard “Lamp.” When we heard that was his reaction, it was a no-brainer to get together and work on a song. That went really well. He was really responsive and put together a song in like 15 minutes.
Red: With some of the people we were working with, we kinda had to show them where we were coming from because we were working together. The music’s hard to fully explain, so you kinda had to show it to people for them to like it. With the album, we were conscious about not breaking off a Led Zeppelin riff or something like that. We didn’t want to draw so directly from other influences. We wanted to challenge ourselves to come up with something that we’d heard before kinda, something that we didn’t feel was a straight cop-out.
How did you all land Dave Grohl on your album?
Gold: Kevin Augunas, who’s our producer and indie label head of Fairfax Recordings, had a vision of Dave playing his drums on the album. The first phone call we got was from Kevin, who said that Dave was interested in working with us. “I Love Lamp” is the song we showed him. After he came him and recorded a track, he was like, “You got anymore?” He knocked out the entire album in two days.
Since the album is heavily influenced by go-go, did you feel Dave Grohl understood it because he’s from the area?
Green: That guy is a true musician. He understands it and he gets it. He’s telling us shit about our music before we can tell him about it. He’s like, “you don’t hear these beats in popular music, but you guys should keep doing what you’re doing because it’s really unique and catchy, too.” These are things he was telling us.
RDGLDGRN’s EP is out now via Fairfax Recordings. Stream the new single, “Million Fans,” below.