Red Audio: The birth, death and possible rebirth of a cover band
Late into the night, an easygoing Jett Bailes reflects fondly on the some of the bands he’d been a part of early on that helped shape him as a musician and songwriter. Maximum Headlessness and I Am Ahab came before Red Audio. As his skill grew, so did his musical tastes. It wasn’t long after he walked away from I Am Ahab that Red Audio began to come to fruition.
Summersville, WV’s Red Audio (Mark 1) consists of Jett Bailes, Scott Hinkle, and Jeremy Morriston; vocals/guitar, synth keys/bass, and drums, respectively.
Bailes said that the band started out around 2009, explaining, “We weren’t trying to do anything real at first. We did some open mic nights at the Pioneer Inn in Summersville as Jett & the Badasses, playing some difficult cover songs by bands that we were all really into, like Zeppelin, Sabbath, Weezer, and the White Stripes.”
The idea behind the trickier cover songs was to play them exactly as they were meant to be played so their musical abilities really wouldn’t be questioned.
Not long after they started doing the cover performances, Bailes said they decided that maybe they could earn a little extra money at it.
“We had to play the covers to get the people in the door, and people actually ended up liking the covers better than the original versions,” he said, adding that the accolades came as a pleasant surprise to them at the time. It seemed the reason for the more complex cover song choices was to prove that Red Audio could actually play their instruments correctly. Bailes goes on to joke about how it didn’t take long to see that their original moniker proved to be a little too long to advertise on small flyers, so they decided to change it.
“It was a slow start at first, but once Red Audio started to get established with the name, everything started to build up pretty fast,” Bailes says of their increasing popularity. They ultimately honed a fresh sound, laden with in-your-face fuzzy guitars accompanied by undeniably catchy synthesized lines that seemed to bring the songs to life. With Bailes at the songwriting helm, the band came up with some indisputably solid electro-pop ear-pleasing cuts like “Radio Blah Blah,” “Girl From Outer Space,” and “Plasticland,” complete with some infectious Devo-esque synth lines embedded within the melodies underneath a slew memorable verses and choruses.
Red Audio soon started to gain esteem throughout the state. Rud Panuci at Radio Charleston shot a video for the song “Radio Blah Blah” during a set at Charleston’s Chilifest.
Bailes emphasized that this was somewhat of a highlight for the band at that point, though this had not been the first time a promotional video had been shot for that song. The band started to spread out and venture to new places around the state in an attempt to keep the popularity flowing. Among other places, Bailes points out, Foster’s Tavern in Beckley was an especially fun experience. “They would have roller derby girls going at it in their matches as Red Audio played,” he explains, recalling some of their nights performing there.
As one could probably imagine, this combination eventually drew some large crowds. “but then everything went to shit all of a sudden,” he says with a slight air of regret in his voice. He does go on to say that while Red Audio stopped doing its thing in 2012, it is simply an indefinite “hiatus”.
Just because the proverbial ‘pause’ button has been pushed on Red Audio, it does not mean that Mr. Bailes is done with music in any way. Having a new son in his life has him splitting his time between work, parenting, and doing some pretty interesting things musically, completely on his own. At the core, Jett says that he “just wants to be an artist.” He’s very confident that there are still viable ways to get the music to the people.
When he talks about his current project, he explains that he’s not trying to get “too deep” with it, “but,” he says, “it’s definitely more about me. I’ve been using two different acoustic guitars, drums, a mandolin, a tambourine, an old DJX2 Yamaha keyboard, and just about any other acoustic instrument. I just want to make a quality record.” At this point, he’s just focused on making great music and great songs that he’s hopeful people will like.
Jett Bailes is a man who is enjoying making music, and where he’s at in the moment. Just before calling it a night, he was emphatic in saying, “I only want to make great songs and great music that maybe someone will like.” With Red Audio on the back burner for the time being, Jett is free to go in any direction he wants, but that definitely doesn’t rule out a Red Audio, Mark 2, as he makes sure to let it be known that he’s “always the last one to quit.”
Though you’re not going to see Red Audio live anytime in the near future, there are quite a few ways to check out the host of material by Jett Bailes and company. Red Audio can be found on Facebook, Jett Bailes music is posted on Soundcloud.com, and both can be found on YouTube along with a couple of Bailes’ earlier work with his Maximum Headlessness and I Am Ahab.
Red Audio –www.facebook.com/redaudiowv
Jett Bailes – soundcloud.com/jettbailesmusic
Maximum Headlessness – www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXsIqetqsR4
I Am Ahab – www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtYTZa9U-9o