After a technological snafu, Brett Ditgen got back with us on a few questions we had for him. Get ready for some seriously insightful responses.
Brett Ditgen (Vocals), Andy Breit (Guitar), Dave Fyten (Guitar), Tom Brown (Bass), and Mike Mazzarese (Drums) make up this five piece from Kansas City, MO, Red Line Chemistry. Having recently put out Chemical High and a Hand Grenade, the band’s follow up to Escape Plan, the guys are beginning to enjoy the fruits of hooking up with Pavement Entertainment. Brett talks about all this and more. So, without further delay, please enjoy the interview below.
NRR: I’m sure this is a question you dread getting right of the bat, but tell me about the band. Where did the name come from and how did you guys come together to form the band?
Brett Ditgen: I was fronting another band in the Kansas City scene back in the early 2000s and the rest of the guys were involved in another KC band as well with Tom as their lead singer. In 2004 my project split right around a time where these guys wanted to restructure their project moving Tom to bass and bringing me in as lead singer. After one practice it was very clear that this was going to be a line up that fit very well together in many ways… musical taste, talent, goals, personalities, and work ethic. The band name really came about just as a reflection of our working dynamic and friendships, how we interact and push each other to the limits in different ways. We are all very passionate and strong minded about music our individual contributions to the overall processes that envelope being in this band.
NRR: For those not familiar with the band or the Kansas City, MO music scene, if you had to describe your sound to a new fan-base how would you pitch your vibe?
Brett Ditgen: Melodic Hard Rock with a dynamic range of heavy to mellow and frequently featuring multiple part vocal harmonies.
NRR: Your latest album will come combined with bonus tracks from the CD version of your self-released 2007 follow up, Escape Plan. How did that come about for the new album, Chemical High & a Hand Grenade?
Brett Ditgen: Technically only one track from Escape plan is being used, “Becoming of Saints.”
NRR: Ah, I see. Okay, so you guys joined Pavement Entertainment for this new record. What can you tell me about how it came about or what makes the relationship between the label and you special?
Brett Ditgen: It was out of the blue. We had been on hiatus after splitting with our former record label and were all just really taking time away from the band, focusing on our families, and re-evaluating things as a whole. In June of 2014 I got a call from Tim King at Pavement Entertainment expressing interest in working with us and we had some good talks over the course of a couple months. He had a good understanding of things from a musician’s standpoint regarding where we the band was at after splitting with a record label and downshifting to hiatus as a result. However, at the time the band just wasn’t in the right place to begin working on a new record.
I began talking to Tim about our first record Chemical High and a Hand Grenade which was recorded in 2005 and taken out of print in 2008 before any national exposure. Releasing it officially through a record label in reinvented form with better sound and through national channels was an opportunity we had always wanted for this album. In addition we had our 2007 self released EP, Escape Plan, in virtually the same situation. Both albums with music we feel is a crucial part of our history that wasn’t ever officially released through effective channels and has been unavailable to the broad scope of fans we were able to reach as result of exposure from “Dying for a Living” and “Tug of War.”
We all saw it as a great way for us to get more of our music out into the world, re-engage with our fans ,and get some blood flowing again as a band on our own terms. So I sent the tracks the Tim and the rest is history. We reconvened with our long time friend and partner in recording, producer/engineer Wes West (Chemical High and a Hand Grenade, Escape Plan, Dying for a Living, Easy Does It) and he delivered a fantastic and re-invented remix of the the record including “Becoming of Saints” from Escape Plan. The new single, “Meds For A Hypocrite,” is out at radio now and the album is currently available for pre-sale through the Red Line Chemistry Facebook page. Without Pavement Entertainment this opportunity would not have been possible so it’s with much gratitude we thank them for bringing us into their family.
Meds for the Hypocrite
NRR: Every band I’ve interviewed has a slightly different answer for this one, but how does a typical track from you come to be? Is it the work of mostly one person and then shared to flesh it out or is it a truly group effort for every song?
Brett Ditgen: It’s a multitude of evolutions. Sometimes it’s one person with one riff and the song is collectively built around it with everyone chipping in on ideas. Sometimes is just a jam session that spawns entire songs. There have been a handful of tracks like “So Many Days,” “Fire Rising,” and “Fall of Man” where I have brought a foundation to the band with my rudimentary guitars skills, lyrics, and a vision where they would work their magic and evolve it into a Red Line Chemistry song. Sometimes it’s quick and sometimes it takes years for a song or idea to actually come to life in the right form. There is no single formula for us.
NRR: Is there any projects going on right now that have you excited as a band, other than the album, or maybe tours getting ready to start that you’d like to share with me?
Brett Ditgen: Right now we are just happy to be able to continue putting music out into the world on some level that allows us to enjoy it ourselves and keep connecting with fans who like our music.
NRR: Speaking of being out on the road, you guys have been around the circuits more then once or twice. Has there been any moment that stands out as that one defining moment that when brought up now will always lead to laughs or a slightly embarrassed telling? Your Spinal Tap moment if you will.
Brett Ditgen: Spinal Tap moments are plentiful and inevitable for every band. No way around it. One moment comes to mind years ago, and there is footage out there somewhere, of band members and crew pushing our deathly RV and trailer as it stalled out 15 feet shy of the gas pump.
NRR: Out of the many national artists you’ve played with Evans Blue, Saving Abel, Filter, Buckcherry, Nonpoint, veteran rockers Whitesnake and more, is there a band or a show with a certain band that is the defining experience that just proved to you you were on the right path musically or, say, career wise?
Brett Ditgen: The Whitesnake tour was the most professional tour we have been on with regard to accommodations, crew, operations, sound checks, and simply being treated with respect and professionalism. It was pretty amazing.
NRR: There has been a bit of debate to the issue of artists doing original work versus the bands that may take a cover and make a huge hit out of it. Do you think all is fair in the climb to be a successful band or are you more on the side that making a name for yourselves on your own music is more important to you, and why?
Brett Ditgen: Original music is more important to us in the grand scheme of fulfilling ourselves musically. It’s rewarding to create. It builds a unique dynamic within the band. It creates an intimate connection with fans that take something from your music and apply it to their personal lives. However cover songs are a great way to connect with audiences, praise the idols, and have fun so that can be a great thing too.
NRR: In the time that the band has been around, I’m sure you have had good days and bad. What has been one of the hardest lessons to learn since you’ve been after musical glory and immortality in this industry?
Brett Ditgen: Keep ownership of everything you can.
NRR: An adult beverage company comes calling saying they want to throw money and free product at you to take on your next tour. If the thought of a sponsorship doesn’t sound too bad, who or what brand would be on the top of your list for that chance?
Brett Ditgen: Jack Daniels.
NRR: How important is social media to the band as far as interacting with your fans and perspective new converts? Is it the best way for you or would you still rather have people see your live show and come away from that a fan?
Brett Ditgen: In this day and age you have to engage with the fans and social media plays a critical role but there is no substitute for the raw and organic energy of a live show and connecting with people on a tangible level.
You can see the review on Chemical High & a Hand Grenade that National Rock Review did, here.