RDGLDGRN Discuss Recording With Dave Grohl, Pharrell At Sound City
With little more than a YouTube video circulating on the web, Washington, D.C.-area trio RDGLDGRN (pronounced “Red-Gold-Green”) were able to land a session at Sound City studio, now called Fairfax Recordings, where everyone from Neil Young to Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine has recorded.
While RDGLDGRN were cutting their self-titled debut EP, released on Feb.12, rocker Dave Grohl just happened to be there filming ‘Sound City,’ his recently released documentary about the famed studio. The group asked him to sit in on drums for the song ‘I Love Lamp,’ and being a fellow D.C. native, not to mention one of the hardest-working rockers in the game, Grohl offered to play on the entire album.
The members of RDGLDGRN, who go simply by their color names — Red, Gold and Green — formed the band in 2011 from the defunct foursome the One Five. As a trio, they’ve focused their rhythmic, punk-influenced hip-hop sound into new style — one that caught the ear of Fairfax Records label founder and producer Kevin Augunas. He was one of 200,000 YouTube viewers to see their first video, for the song ‘Lamp,’ and the first in the industry to reach out to the group.
Shortly before the EP’s release, Green chatted with Diffuser.fm about YouTube opening the group up to collaborations and how if you want to work with your idols, sometimes all you need to do is ask.
With a lot bands using the Internet to self-promote, how were guys able to make enough of an impression on YouTube to get 200,00 views?
We recorded the song ‘I Love Lamp’ in Red’s mother’s basement and spent about eight hours one day posting to people’s Facebooks and sending out emails to as many people as possible. It was literally an entire day just sitting in the basement and sending around this link to everyone we knew, and everyone we wanted to work with. The video started circulating around with different companies, and it just went from there.
How did you first get the attention of Fairfax and Kevin Augunas?
It’s from the work that we put in from that video. I was staying in Red’s mother’s basement, where our studio and all our drums and equipment were, and I woke up one morning and had all these emails from A&Rs from different companies. The first person to hit us up was the A&R of Republic Records, which is who we’re signed to now with Fairfax. I didn’t really believe him, so I didn’t reply. Then I got five or six others from different labels, so I went back to the first guy, and we talked to him, got a manager. We met with our management at Republic, who introduced us to Kevin and got the song to him.
What was is like recording in a legendary space like Sound City?
I personally wasn’t aware of how legendary it was. We’d heard some things, but I really had no idea. When you get there, though, all the history comes in. It was like going to a prestigious college, and you know it might be prestigious before you go, but once you starting going to classes, you learn more about it and everything that happened there. That’s kind of how felt going in the studio there. The Beatles used to rehearse there. Michael Jackson went there to record. Everyone’s been there and done something there.
The EP has some pretty big names, and from your home state. How did Dave Grohl get involved?
We basically met Dave when he had the whole ‘Sound City’ thing going on, and we were about to go record there. Kevin stepped in and said, “Hey, if you’re going to be here, these guys are from your area, maybe you’d want to drum on this one track.” It was just a shot in the dark, because we really didn’t think Dave Grohl would want to play on some no-name band’s track [laughs], but Kevin basically said there’s no reason not to ask. He agreed to do that one track, but then he kept wanting to hear more and do more. He’s just a legendary machine, doing five tracks in one day, and he pretty much offered to come back and do drums on the whole album. I guess he really liked the beats that we were coming up with.
Pharrell also made an appearance on the song ‘Doing The Most.’ How were able to hook him in?
With the YouTube video going around, Pharrell heard the track and wanted to work and write with us. Fortunately his new management was friends with our label head, so they set up for us. After a few weeks, everything got confirmed. It was really off the strength of [he and Dave] liking our music that we got to work with them. We never thought, “Oh let’s get Dave Grohl and Pharrell on our first album.” You can see how different every song is, but they all come together. That sound comes from those two influences, so our music is basically Dave Grohl and Pharrell [laughs].
Have you collaborated with other artists previously?
We’ve never really worked anybody before like this. We were all in a band previously, and there were four of us, so there wasn’t much room for collaborators. We were all writers and producers, and it was kind of all over the place. This is more honed in, so collaboration is easy because we know who we are.
Asking to work with other musicians seems work well for you guys, so are there other artists you want to work with in the future?
Yeah, since that worked out so well, we’re shooting for the stars now. Paul McCartney is at the top of our list, but so André 3000. Whenever anyone asks us who we’d want to work, André 3000 is always our number one, or you know, a Beatle [laughs]. But we respect of rap and hip-hop, so there are so many we’d want to work with in terms of guest verses or producers. If Quincy Jones or Rick Rubin is still available, we’d love to work with those guys. We just need to keep sending around the video and sending out emails, I guess.
Other than Warped Tour this summer, what do you guys have planned next?
It sounds like it’s going to be a big summer vacation. Warped Tour is going to be great — It just sounds like it’s going to be summer camp. We’ll hopefully catch a tour right before that, something small. There’s definitely a full album already completed, so we hope it comes out sooner rather than later. Other than that, nothing is confirmed just yet, but our part is done.