by Corbie Hill
On June 12, Durham's sociopolitical firebrand rock outfit Red Collar will release its second LP, Welcome Home, the followup to 2009’s Pilgrim. And though the band doesn’t play as regularly as it did around Pilgrim time, the three-year wait for Welcome Home comes from a desire to get this record right rather than a lack of time or commitment.
As guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Jason Kutchma puts it, the new album is the result of two years of hard work: “If we were pressed we could've released an OK EP at the end of 2010. There were a few disappointing stops and starts and lags along the way but to me it gave us some perspective. We scratched a few songs and then wrote a few more. Some are the better ones on the album.”
Kutchma credits his solo project (which recently brought in a backing band) with helping him concentrate on song structure, vocal delivery and melody in general. Drummer Jonathan Truesdale worked “relentlessly on his tone” with producer Scotty Sandwich (who not only runs Death to False Hope Records, but also bears a Red Collar tattoo on one wrist). And Red Collar even went with a label which first burned the band—at least in its music blog incarnation. If the road to Welcome Home sounds like anything, it sounds like relentless self-improvement.
“We've known Will [Miller] from Tiny Engines for a few years,” says Kutchma of Red Collar’s new label. “How we met Will and became friends is, I suppose, typical Red Collar. He runs the blog Sound As Language, which said Pilgrim was pretty mediocre.” But Miller came to see the band in Charleston, posted a glowing review and the ensuing friendship led to the deal. Though Miller told Kutchma he disagreed with the reviewer’s take on Pilgrim, it may have been a fortuitous case of negative press. “
Had the album review not been written I would have never heard from so many people how great the band was live,” Miller says. “And I probably would not have come out for the show at all.”