Red Dirt

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Red Dirt - Picture (1)
Red Dirt are a rising Devonian folk-rock band with plenty of passion and talent. Nickie Shobeiry caught up with vocalist and guitarist, Russell Middleton, to discuss line-up changes, unhappy hippies, and the powers that be.

How did you all meet one another?
I met Ian in the Palladium, Bideford in 2000. The original bass player’s van got into a spot of bother, so he couldn’t get to the gig. Ian was at the bar and said, “I’ll play bass for you!” After a very quick run-through, we did the gig, and the new Red Dirt was born. Chloe did pretty much the same thing – our fiddle player quit, so Chloe stepped in at the last minute and saved the day.

What was it like the first time you all performed together?
Spot on. It’s always a pleasure when you’ve got top class musicians like Ian and Chloe.

How has the sound of Red Dirt evolved since then?
It takes time to get the sound, but I think we’re almost there. It will always evolve, I hope.

Your last album release was The Art of Trickery. What was the recording process like, and what inspired the title?
Mm… we had to do it live, because we could only afford two days. To be honest, it’s not actually finished yet, but we’re working on it. You need the dollar nowadays hence the “art of trickery” – the establishment and how they get away with it. I won’t bore you with that subject as I’m having a nice day, and talking about powers that be might ruin it, ha ha!

In that case, who are your musical influences?
Ooh, I like all kinds of music if it’s good, from dance music to folk. I would say the most influential album for me would be Entertainment by The Gang of Four. Great album!

Could you share some of your favourite on-stage memories with Red Dirt?
That’s a tricky one. I won’t go into details but it involved an amp, a pond, some electrocuted fish and a very irate hippy…

Your songs carry important messages. What is the writing process like, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Life in general, I guess. Some songs just fall into place while others can take years. Sometimes I get a bit lazy, but I’m not allowed to now, because we’ve got a woman in the band, meaning I’ve got to pull me finger out, or there’ll be trouble, hee hee!

Do you think your music has a particular audience?
I hope not. I’d like to think it’s open to all kinds of audiences. I don’t think we fit in one genre. Someone recently said we were a bit like R.E.M., and I’d be happy with that.

The band has been described as “folk Nirvana”. Could you expand on this?
Mm, no! I guess there’s a little bit of angst in some of the songs, but I’m not responsible for that description. I don’t mind it, though.

Do you have a specific song that you like to perform the most, and what’s the story behind it?
Rhododendrons. There’s a rinsing sink and there’s a washing sink. Apparently I was using the wrong sink, and that was totally unacceptable. I never did get that one, what difference does it make? Oh well, I got a song out of it, but the relationship went out the window!

What’s the best advice you’ve received as a musician?
I don’t drink like I used to – I’ve stopped doing that at gigs now. I was told off once by someone, and I thought about it, and realised she was right. Horrible when that happens…

What’s next for Red Dirt?
New songs! I’ve got a few on the way, while practicing and teaching myself how to use this friggin’ computer! I’m looking forward to the future. We’re improving all the time. It’s a privilege to play music with these musicians, and I’m excited about the future of Red Dirt – although I will probably be using a Zimmer frame by the time we get to play Wembley Stadium!