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Ghost Canyon

The Red Button The Red Button

'Breaching Our Musical Memories With A Familiar Melody'

A first-time listener could be forgiven for thinking they had just stumbled onto the second wave of the British Invasion. But never fear—their music may suggest vintage Hollies, Peter and Gordon, and even the Beatles themselves, but The Red Button is home-grown and their songs are brand new.

The Red Button is truly, honestly, the next best thing, as two brilliant L.A.-based singer-songwriters ( Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg ) explore their mutual love for concise, melodic pop songs to create She's About To Cross My Mind, an unabashedly retro debut collection that, while expressing every emotion possible over 11 tracks in a wonderfully crisp 32 minutes, has all the hallmarks of a timeless pop masterpiece: consistently infectious songs wrapped up in air tight harmonies and jangly early Beatles power pop guitars.

Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your music today? Mike: "Of course the Beatles come first. I still credit them with essentially saving and then ruining my life. Then the hormones hit around age 12, so then it was The Who for a few years. They were more aggressive and "male" which really hits the spot when you're overwhelmed by testosterone. Then the Jam. I guess American rock only entered the picture with The Replacements when I was about 18. They all factor into my/our music very heavily. And obviously The Red Button music makes it clear that I found my way back to the Beatles in the end!"

Seth: "With me, it starts and ends with the Beatles, with more pop-oriented stuff in between: Elton John, The Beach Boys, Donovan. Loved Phil Collins’ Genesis . “Follow You, Follow Me” is one of my all- time favorite songs."

For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your debut CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? Mike: "Refreshingly retro. My other favorite way to describe it is this quote about us from Kool Kat records: "She’s About to Cross My Mind is the new soundtrack to the old Swinging London!"

Seth: "The jangly Rickenbackers definitely are of a time, but for me this record is about the songs. The thing I took for granted with Beatles records was that you put them on and they played straight through because every song melodically and stylistically took you somewhere different. I like to think we accomplished that on this record."

Your album title 'She's About To Cross My Mind' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? Is there a theme to it, perhaps? Mike: "It was the first song we ever wrote together. And it was a pleasure to write. The title was Seth's, and once he sang that first line to me I knew I had hooked up with the right guy. I also knew he was obsessed with girls--no--not girls, but obsessed with thinking about girls."

Seth: "It was our first writing session and this line popped out and Mike said “wait, stop, we have to finish that one!” This record was destined to happen at that moment. Funny, I was musing about a title for the record and Mike said confidently, “The title for the album is definitely ‘She’s About to Cross My Mind’ – so, I give him total credit for knowing what phrase tied the whole package together."

Also, please reveal to us why your joint fascination for the sound of the British Invasion compelled you strongly enough that you brought this wonderful retro-sounding musical masterpiece to the fore? Mike: "This style of music is the one that comes most naturally to me. I've spent my entire life in rock-n-roll trying and struggling and learning to incorporate those Beatle-ish roots into other styles-- that is, to hide that influence. It took me until I was about 15 to stop singing in an English accent. In fact, Seth is only now learning to sing without his English accent, and I like to think I've helped him with that! But he was a "bad" influence on me this time around. He tricked me into indulging all my guilty British '60s influences. Which of course was incredibly fun and satisfying. The first time I cracked out Seth's 1967 12-string Rickenbacker (to play it on the song "She's About to Cross My Mind") I was literally cackling with delight every time I plucked out a new phrase. Instant '60s! Ohhhhh, the sheer pleasure!"

Seth: "I was very comfortable heading down the road that I knew this album would take. It definitely took a tad bit of lovable coaxing from me to get Mike to fully jump in the water and do the songs the way he and I knew they needed to be rendered. But, we really did have fun making it. The sessions were always enjoyable."

How easy (or hard) was it to re-create such a crisp, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound from that era in today's era - surrounded by new technology, raised eyebrows and for the most part unfulfilling songs that seemingly top the charts due to star power names only?! Mike: "There were very few raised eyebrows 'cause nobody was paying attention. And the few people that were paying attention already know that Seth and I are both Beatle obsessives, so they weren't surprised. I suppose if anything, my friends were surprised that I had indulged myself so shamelessly! And ironically, the modern technology actually makes it much easier (and cheaper) to re-create all those vintage sounds we all love so much."

Seth: "I always believed, and still do, that people are attracted to 3-minute melodic pop songs with harmonies and good lyrics. It’s a simple formula that has worked for eons in different genres."

Please tell us more (in a quick fashion!) about what was going on in your life when these songs were being written and recorded:

'Cruel Girl' - (Mike:) "The second song we wrote/recorded. I have to say, it didn't relate to anything current in my life at that moment. For me it was more about all the pain inflicted by women in the past! But honestly, it was about that 12-string Rick as much as anything. Such a cruel, cruel girl she is. It once took me five hours to re-string her, but it was worth every second. She arouses such passion in my heart!"

Seth: "I was sitting on Mike’s couch with an acoustic guitar. We were working on another song. The hook popped out and again Mike said “hold everything!”. He put on his tape recorder knowing this was going to be a good song for us. I remember him loving it immediately. He then wrote the verse and we both wrote the bridge. It was like the way John and Paul used to write –two guys in a room, excited about writing songs."

'She's Going Down' - (Mike: "My favorite. Lyrically this one was about the many relationships I've had with, uh, very dramatic women. Black and blue memories all wrapped up in a candy-colored, laid-back, mid-sixties wrapper."

Seth: "Another one I started and Mike jumped on, knowing exactly where to take it. I thought that the obvious double entendre of the title should be played up but Mike, correctly, didn’t take it there. Very Lovin’ Spoonful."

'I Could Get Used To You' - (Mike: "Pure Seth. He'll tell you..."

Seth: "Pure pop song.. A song I wrote with a terrific producer/writer Roger Greenawalt. Again, the hook and title happened simultaneously and the rest wrote itself. In true Lennon fashion, Mike suggested changes in the bridge which we did during the vocal session. I was proud of the lead guitar instrumental on it – one take, done. Very “Wings”."

Has work begun yet on a follow-up album to 'She's About ...' and if so, any thoughts on what we can expect? Mike: "We've got a few from the first batch that we started and haven't finished yet. And we're looking forward to writing some new ones. I think you can expect us to move forward into the early '70s! I'd love for our next record to sound like Tea for the Tillerman meets Hunky Dory. I think we're uniquely suited to writing that kind of wonderful stuff."

Seth: "I could write pop songs all day but they wouldn’t be TRB songs. It’s the unique combination of Mike’s pop sensibilities and mine combined that made this record. He leans a little Elvis Costello while I lean a little Donovan and we meet sqaurely at The Beatles. ‘Nuff said. We would love to do another record but for now we’re preparing to play some live gigs in L.A., possibly this April. We’ll have updated info on this at our site,"

Is it true that one of you is currently working on a "bookumentary" project called 'Beatle Stories'? And is so, just what IS a "bookumentary"?! Seth: "That’s a term I coined meaning half-book, half documentary. I started filming people who had a story about them and The Beatles – George Martin, May Pang, Norman Smith (their first and longtime engineer) and many, many others. I also spoke to many people on the phone who told me their Beatles stories: former first daughter, Luci Baines Johnson, The Doors, Ray Manzarek, the late Denny Doherty amongst others. The phone conversations will be transcribed into a book and a DVD, with the filmed interviews, will be included in the back of the book, thus, a “bookumentary”. It will be called “Beatles Stories” and it will hopefully, come out in 2008."

Lastly, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! Mike: "Funny you should ask! I'm an animal nut, and they're one of my favorites. So effortlessly elegant at all times! I think this photo of me at age 5 says it all...!"

Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for the future Seth and Mike: "Thank you!"

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