Red Sun Alert! Cork rockers sort out a lockdown single

Having worked through two lockdowns and come out on the other side with a new single and video, Cork post-hardcore four-piece Red Sun Alert are approaching 2021 with optimism. Mike McGrath-Bryan talks to frontwoman Julia Pawlak.
Red Sun Alert! Cork rockers sort out a lockdown single

Red Sun Alert: Writing throughout lockdown.

Falling somewhere between more tangible alternative rock influences and odd nods to hardcore, punk and prog-rock musicality, Cork four-piece Red Sun Alert have thrown themselves into gigging, recording and honing their craft in the wholesale manner that’s become characteristic of the current generation of young Leeside noisemakers. EPs and singles have been backed up by steady live activity in the city, Irish touring, and earlier in the year, the band’s first UK excursion.

New single ‘Sort It Out’ released on Bandcamp and other services last week, following the success of pre-pandemic single ‘I’m Upside Down for That’, released back in February. The process of writing and production for tunes was different this time around, with lockdown-related necessity being the mother of invention. 

“The lads and I are in college together. Over the first lockdown, when we had no access to the School of Music, we started using an app called BandLab to record assignments with other students while isolating. We took a liking towards it, and started using it with Red Sun Alert, to write and record ideas to share with each other. We ended up writing more over lockdown than we ever, ever thought we could.

Red Sun Alert: Dylan Walsh, Julia Pawlak, Cian Mullane, Enda Boyle, and of course Luna.
Red Sun Alert: Dylan Walsh, Julia Pawlak, Cian Mullane, Enda Boyle, and of course Luna.

“For the production side of things, as soon as the restrictions allowed us to, we went straight to Eoin Hayes of Rebel Recordings in the city. He is an absolute wizard, and completely understands our sound. He is also a lovely, lovely human.”

The video for ‘Sort It Out’, recorded in socially-distanced fashion with all attendant responsibilities taken, places the band and their friends, both human and animal, in focus, in keeping with the band’s dichotomous aesthetic, that welds the loud, rowdy but accessible rock they’ve been honing with warm, pastel colours across their visual palate, and a welcoming, inclusive worldview. Pawlak talks about the concept and how it came together.

“While in studio recording the single, we received a message from Callum Casey, saying that he’d be in Cork over the summer and would be interested in working on a project with us. Callum had also previously done photography for us in Leeds, during our UK tour earlier this year. We love his work, and there was no question that we’d love to work with him again. So, taking this as a sign, we got a plan together straight away.

“When we were talking about the concept of the video... well, we’re all just huge animal lovers, and we wanted to show off our furry little friends. Taking from the song lyric, “I want to take care of you”, we thought there is no one other than our very own pets to bring this to life. We asked some of our friends who have an affinity for small creatures to be part of the video, and we are so grateful that they were onboard with the idea. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

Those same four-legged friends have been a constant through the band’s existence. Among the recurring motifs of the band visually have been cats - be it appearances on album artwork and CD labels from Julia’s own family member Luna, or other feline friends in the band’s merchandise, like the cat that adorns the band’s most recent T-shirt.

“We, as a band, love cats, and everything they get up to. We have repeatedly mentioned and featured Luna on artwork and in songs throughout the band’s history, and this time around we felt the need to include some other lovely, and some slightly more grumpy, animals.

“Luna, as a pet and as a band mascot, brings us so much joy, and we can’t help but have her be a big part of our music!”

It’s an odd stage of the whole Covid crisis for most of the city’s artistic community now - we’re far enough into lockdown where prior plans are firmly in the rearview mirror, but the coast isn’t clear enough to plan for gigs. After a busy early 2020, the band made the best of the circumstances, balancing their music with their college responsibilities.

“The college assignments didn’t stop, unfortunately. For all four of us, these have taken up a big portion of our time. When summer came around, we were finally able to meet up and practice again as the restrictions eased up. “Honestly speaking, I can’t really remember what else has happened in the past few months. It’s been a bit of a blur with all the days of the week meshing into one.”

2020 has been busy overall for Irish music, as well as in the city, as live gigs have given way to live streams and a huge influx of studio recordings in the meantime. Pawlak talks about the state of play for musicians in the city, as well as some of her favourites from a very odd year for Irish music.

“I think artists and other creatives are doing their absolute best at the moment to keep things alive.

There’s some amazing people out there going above and beyond, like Bad Reputation Ireland (metal promoters out of Limerick).

“They ran a weekly series of live stream gigs over the summer, aiming to raise money for various charities, and we were so thrilled to be able to take part in this. It gave us the chance to do something good as well as showcase some new music that we were working on.


                        Red Sun Alert frontwoman Julia Pawlak.
Red Sun Alert frontwoman Julia Pawlak.

“As far as releases go, there have been so many amazing tunes coming from Irish artists this year. Some of our favorites include Shifting and Bitch Falcon’s newest albums and The Love Buzz’s newest single that just came out last week, as well as Scathed’s new banger of a song.

“We also loved seeing The Altered Hours releasing a collection of tunes that they self-recorded in their houses over lockdown. Unreal vibes.”

What’s next for yourselves, what are your hopes for 2021, and what are your thoughts on what could be next for music in Cork as the Covid-19 situation continues?

“We’ve been busy planning and rescheduling gigs for 2021, and we have some of our most exciting plans to announce yet. We’ll be hibernating for the rest of the year, trying to pass our college exams and writing, but we’ll be sure to come back bigger and better than ever.

“The Cork music scene will never fade, because of the amazing work done by the legends involved — venues, and promoters, and all the beautiful music lovers that make our city what it is. We’ll get through it!”

  • ‘Sort It Out’ is available now at https://redsunalert.bandcamp.com, and all streaming services. The video is available now on YouTube. Find Red Sun Alert on Facebook, and on Twitter: @redsunalert.

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