It is a common thought that good art cannot dwell in small, isolated towns; which is why bands aspire to venture into the world-class cities of New York, Chicago, and Toronto to find cause and effect. But as the metropolitan scenes of the US and Canada restlessly mixed and mashed music styles at the turn of the century, the Michaelis brothers and their high school friend, Jason Rosewell, were honing in on classic rock innovators, like the Beatles, in their small town in Parry Sound, ON.
As they began writing music for themselves, they focused on the simple elements of pop-rock songs: Sing-able choruses; poetic lyrics; classic song structure. As they developed their musicianship, they eventually invited Kevin Swartwood to join the band and Red Umbrella was officially born: Jeremy Michaelis singing and playing guitar; Dennis Michaelis playing lead guitar and keys; Kevin Swartwood thumping on the bass; and Jason Rosewell hitting the drums.
Their first album, "Wishing For Boardwalk", was almost entirely self-recorded and produced in a studio that they built above the Michaelis' family garage. After touring with the new songs and playing in such places as CBGB's in New York, the band was eventually picked up by indie-label 7 Spin Music and the album was distributed by Sony/BMG.
Like in the classic game of Monopoly, "Wishing For Boardwalk" explores themes of progress in a capitalistic society, but also begs the common man for self-examination. Listeners have found the lyrics to be strong enough to stand alone as poetry: "I glanced as much as it took/ His stare as long as a thousand-page book/ I must have dreamt that these steps are in the dark" (from "Trade Your Dreams"); "Lets see where this leads/ Follow the path through the trees/ There she's crying on her knees/ saying 'no one's ever pleased'" (from "Slide").
With minimal production, the simplicity of "Wishing For Boardwalk" displayed Red Umbrella's knack for solid song writing and the bands over-arching skill as musicians. The sound is straight-forward and is reflective of their live show.
After playing over 400 dates in a four year period and moving down to Valparaiso, IN, the band went into hibernation from touring and began focusing on their second album, "Living and Surviving". Reaching higher than their first-album, it was entirely self-recorded and produced by the Michaelis brothers. Scheduled to release in November of 2008 on 7 Spin Music, listeners will find a band that is growing in maturity on all fronts.
Sonically, "Living and Surviving's" production incorporates synth and sampling in the majority of its songs, giving Red Umbrella a new, urban feel. The album stage has even been opened for good friend and Texas-based Emcee, Playdough, to make a guest appearance on "Boompop". The songs, overall, are catchy, memorably and memorable, but by no means shallow.
"Living and Surviving" visits the idea of self-realization with new lyrical avenues of story telling. The opening track, "Prison Side" is the tale of a judgmental person ironically finding judgment upon himself: "Played his cards well, hit a land slide/ Called a losing game, bookie shouts your name/ Pulled your pockets out, pay up just the same". "Crazy" is a poem from the situations in C.S. Lewis' book, "Out of the Silent Planet", taking listeners right into the story of captivity in intergalactic space.
With their new album complete, Red Umbrella is ready to hit the road again and help listeners take a moment to reflect and figure out if they are living, or merely surviving.