An Exclusive Interview with Chris Reynolds of RED FLAG
Since the untimely tragic death of Red Flag frontman Mark Reynolds, many have sited the end of output from the legendary electro-pop band. Surviving member and brother Chris Reynolds has different plans. Breaking his long silence for the first time since the 2003 tragedy; Chris stops by Grave Concerns E-zine to discuss the past, present, and future of the band. And yes, we did say future…….
Grave Concerns: Chris, It is been entirely too long since the world has last heard from you. What have you been up to these days?
Chris: Yes, it’s been a long time since anyone has heard from me. I was living in Thailand for a few years and was taking a break from music. My wife and I departed for Thailand where we had purchased some beachfront land and began building a home. The plan was to open a recording studio there where I could produce many of the bands that have expressed interest. Three months into our venture, we received the awful news of Mark’s death. We built the home and stayed in Thailand for a few years before moving back to California, but my other projects fell by the wayside.
I’ve actually been in an extreme state of grief over the loss of my brother these last years. Mark was more than a brother and band-mate, he was my best friend, and a mentor. I became completely uninspired musically after losing Mark. In fact, until recently I hadn’t listened to a single Red Flag song. It was far too painful.
Thou, I obviously could not continue with Red Flag as it was, I have still been in involved with music in other ways. Many Red Flag fans do not know and may be shocked to learn that I am a professional pianist. I play jazz piano publicly and I compose and arrange music for piano. I am classically trained and I practice about 16 hours a week. It is another professional career for me apart from my electronic music and has actually been a great influence in shaping the music of Red Flag.
Grave Concerns: To elaborate on your classical music background, who are some of your classical music influences?
Chris: If one was to just dissect the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven he would learn a tremendous amount of skill and harmony in music. I really like to play this piece. Chopin has some very nice darker pieces too. I find myself listening to the classical station much of the time. There are so many great pieces of music to hear. At the moment I am working on classical sounding piece that I want on the record. It will be the only classical song.
Grave Concerns: I understand that you have actually been working on Red Flag music lately? Can you elaborate?
Chris: Yes, Things are looking up and I have several exciting projects in the works. First, I hope Red Flag fans and enthusiasts of synth music will be receptive to my upcoming new Red Flag album. Mark and I worked very hard together making Red Flag music but now it’s just me. The sound of the new material is a true Red Flag sound -as true as it can be without my brother Mark. When it’s released its sure to take the music world by storm. I hope Red Flag fans will continue to be as supportive and loyal as the have proven to be in the past. I know they won’t be disappointed.
When I tour to promote the album, I hope to take my shows to a whole new level of entertainment by incorporating some really exciting visual type performing arts that compliment the music and theme of my album. Electronic music is made behind the scenes. It’s conceivable for one guy, like me, to virtually play every instrument in the band. But here you come to a live performance problem when you attempt to perform on stage what you do in the studio. So instead of doing the same old-and we’ve all seen and done it-I’m prepared to go a totally different course and change the protocol completely. I want to give the audience a visual performance- not just perform songs. So prepare for something dramatically new and cool from my shows. Courstesy of www.myspace.com/redflagfans
Grave Concerns: Will you actually be doing the vocals on the new RF material? How is the transition working out for you?
Chris: Yes, I will be singing on the next Red Flag record. It’s uncanny how similar my vocals are to my brothers but it only makes sense since we spent most of our time together. Recording vocals is pretty tricky, perhaps the hardest part for me. I have come up with many solutions to the problems that occur when recording vocals and am now pretty confident in my singing ability. I’m very happy with the overall sound of the new record.
Grave Concerns: Since the death of your brother and band-mate Mark, the world has had time to somewhat process what has happened. The fans and media have developed their own ideas as to what his legacy is. In your own words, can you summarize the life of Mark Reynolds and the legacy he left behind in the world of music and in the world in general?
Chris: I’m so glad you asked that since most people seem preoccupied with how Mark died rather than how he lived! Mark was an amazing person, a true individual, and a very creative artist. He was a prolific song writer and his lyrics are his legacy and tell a story about himself that he never talked about. I think this window into his soul is one factor that has so obviously touched many listeners in a profound way.
I believe Mark created a world through music where two powerful entities. Love and Truth could be embraced. Yes, A Life Worth Living. Mark was an extremely talented person, truly unique. If you ever had the opportunity to cross his path, I consider you very lucky. If you ever had the chance to really talk with Mark, you would be a better person for it. Mark had a wonderful mind. We would spend much of our time together talking about life and music. The world was in a lot of turmoil when Mark died. I think this would have really upset him. He was a very caring person. Although Mark is no longer with me I do believe he has inspired me so much in my life while he was here in the world that the legacy of Red Flag will continue. Mark would want this.
Grave Concerns: Are there any possible future plans for Red Flag releases such as «Greatest Hits» or any un-released material?
Chris: I definitely think there should be a greatest hits album in the works. I think it would give Red Flag good exposure to new listeners to offer an album with the best songs from each album.
As far as unreleased material, if you mean previously recorded and unreleased music Mark and I wrote together as Red Flag I will have to get back to everyone on this. I know we wrote some music together while he was here but its a daunting task trying to recover it. Mark ran the business side of Red Flag so now I am piecing together what I can. Many things are missing, such as artwork, photos, business records, merchandise, and even recordings.
Aside from those possibilities and the new Red Flag album I am working on, I am also considering some side projects. I’m not sure this will be of interest to Red Flag fans, but I have a notion to take some of the Red Flag songs I wrote acoustically and to record them for my acoustic piano audience to enjoy.
Grave Concerns: «Naive Art» remains one of the most influential electronic albums ever; still receiving radio play and spinned on any given night in clubs all over the world. In your own words, what is it about this album that has held up over the years?
Chris: Mark always said the songs were pure. These songs like most other songs we have written have very strong melodies making them instantly recognizable to anyone anywhere. They are just all around great songs. There are many factors as to why this record has sustained such a long life. One of them could simply be this was the first Red Flag record.
If one really wants to understand what sets these songs apart, aside from the fact that our style progressed over time, one must understand how the music industry operates. Besides Naïve Art being a great album, it was also backed and promoted by a major label with a lot of money and man-power. Fortunately, Naïve Art also happened to be a great recording and was backed. If our subsequent albums had as much money and promotion behind it, I’d be doing an interview with Barbara Walters right now…LOL!
Grave Concerns: What was it like to work with Paul Robb (Information Society)? What did you guys learn from him as a producer?
Working with Paul was one of the best experiences I’ve had while recording. He really knows sounds and how they work together. Paul also has good rhythm. I was able to learn from Paul the subtle differences between the Cohiba and the Fuente. If he reads this he will know what I am talking about.
Grave Concerns: How is the development of the «Red Flag» official website coming along?
Chris: www.Redflag.org is currently being redesigned and I think fans will enjoy the features that will be available there, including streaming. I’d like to make it as interactive as possible and will probably have a forum as well. Currently, Red Flag can also be found on www.Myspace.com/redflagfans where fans will find the latest news and information on Red Flag and where to purchase Red Flag music.
Grave Concerns: Finally, in closing… After several years of silence, is there anything you would like to say to The Red Flag fans out there as they are reading this?
Chris: Thanks so much for the avalanche of great emails and all your encouragement. Your support is very much appreciated. Your gonna love the new Red Flag record!