Well over a decade into their career, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus emerges from the studio with their most exciting material in recent memory.
Time is a cruel mistress. Artists spend their entire life wishing to create something that changes their lives, but when that happens, the moment passes in an instant. The so-called fifteen minutes of fame feels much shorter in reality, and when the hype wears thin, artists find themselves back at square one. Fans want the next big hit, the next soundtrack to their lives, or the next thing that makes them feel less alone. But delivering that work is a high-pressure scenario that ultimately crushes artists.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus hit it big with their debut album, Don’t You Fake It. The band’s connection with fans was immediate and impressive. Subsequent singles were chosen not by label executives but by the audience. The group understood early on that those in the crowd were the ones determining their fate, and they let the preferences of their listeners guide their sound. Their sophomore record and the releases may not have been mainstream successes, but they did make a meaningful impact on those who looked to the band for support, which was always the goal.
Things changed after frontman Ron Winter got sober. Suddenly, a band that spent the previous decade toeing the line between good times and excess while performing was fronted by someone with clear eyes and a full heart. Ron’s experiences in recovery revealed the extent of humanity’s suffering in a manner he could not ignore or drown. He found himself confronted by the need for a savior, or maybe more than one, and took it upon himself to play his part in making his music mean something to as many people as possible.
The Emergency EP, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ first new material since The Awakening in 2018, seeks to offer hope to the hopeless in a time of great uncertainty. The title refers not to the current global pandemic, but the loss of humanity’s common decency. We are becoming an increasingly selfish species that is both depressed and lost. The digital age promised to bring us closer, but social media has only produced lies, and each one takes us further and further from the reality of the human condition. We are all we have, and we are all created equal.
In hopes of bringing us back to a place of empathy and understanding, The Emergency EP offers stories of perseverance. Each track works as a standalone narrative of people caught in the struggle of life. “Don’t Buy Into It,” for example, is a soaring exploration of acceptance in the face of religious and societal persecution. The song addresses transphobia and racism, with a specific mention of people ‘building a wall’ to keep out those they deem different. The band doesn’t have solutions to offer, but they do want listeners to know they are loved, and that no one should buy into the lie that being who you are is not enough.
The problem that many artists encounter when they begin to explore more inspirational or optimistic themes in songwriting is the fear of being considered corny. We’ve all heard so-called uplifting songs that are so shamelessly cheesy from a lyrical standpoint that one cannot help chuckling at the artist’s sincerity. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus stop short of succumbing to this common problem, but not at the expense of delivering the exact message they are hoping to send. The Emergency EP provides the same heart and energy that helped the band establish themselves, only now it has the added benefit of being handled by career musicians who know how to craft engaging rock songs with craftsman-like precision.