Editor’s Note: Madness To Creation recently covered Red Jumpsuit Apparatus with special guests Eyes Set To Kill and No Resolve live at Lefty’s in Des Moines, Iowa. The band absolutely lit up the club as people jammed out to their raucous set. Personally, Madness To Creation was surprised at how much the band killed it live. In this interview with bassist Joey Westwood, Joey discusses what mental health awareness means to him and the band, how they don’t necessarily like being labeled a “Christian band”, and playing live. Fans can find Red Jumpsuit Apparatus at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Joey, how’s it going today?
Joey: It’s going pretty good, just hanging out in the parking lot, with the rest of the parking lot squads.
Madness To Creation: Do you remember Headbanger’s Parking Lot?
Joey: Not sure what that is.
Madness To Creation: It was either a movie or a documentary that showed people hanging out and partying before a concert, anyways, who are some of the first bands that you have seen in concert?
Joey: The first show I went to, I think the first big and proper show was New Found Glory or NOFX, that was in Jacksonville, Florida, and then since then, I’ve been to thousands of shows, it’s been a trip.
Madness To Creation: Tell me about the very first Red Jumpsuit Apparatus show, the very first gig that you played.
Joey: I went to high school next to the guys that started Red Jumpsuit, I worked at a local mall, and I saw them play a few local shows, and I was like, “man, I’m going to weasel my way into this band eventually”, they knew me from the record store as a bass player, it led to my magic weaseling into the band, the first show I played with them was in Jacksonville, Florida at a place called Freebird Cafe, it was kind of awesome, but I was super nervous, but looking back on it was awesome.
Madness To Creation: Looking back on that first show to now, what advice would you give to Joey from the first show?
Joey: So much! I would say overall, like I feel like the shows today are more disconnected than back then, like everybody’s hanging, everybody’s sharing music and playing music, a lot of people at the shows seem to have their own bands, but today it’s a community event, so you just get more comfortable as you do that and tour more, and you realize that a lot of it is something that you do.
Madness To Creation: Right now as we’re doing this interview, there’s a local band playing, what advice would you give to that local band?
Joey: Just kind of do what you do, you just learn from keep playing shows and stuff, when we first starting touring, we were a local band or opening up for tours, you just want to make sure that you’re doing things right as far as starting when the set starts and ending when the set time says to end, staying out of everybody’s way but lending a helping hand, being a part of the event, sometimes these local bands will show up with eight million pieces of gear and crazy stuff, it’s like, “dude, just play your show and enjoy it and keep doing it, ya know?” It will become your job and career the more you do it and the more comfortable you get. Even on this tour, we found out that when we used to just bring some much stuff on tour, we found out what works for all of us individually, which makes it easier as a unit, just tour with us, we have Jesse, our tour manager drives us, we just really simplify things down to what we need to make it work nice and easy for everyone and cut out all the crap in between.
Madness To Creation: How did the tour with Eyes Set To Kill come together?
Joey: To be honest, I don’t know 100%, but we have known about the guys for a long time, and one of our old friends C.C. our old tour manager jams with them as well, so we all knew about each other and whatnot and some people kind of behind the scenes too, we should’ve toured with them a long time ago, it’s only been seven shows or whatnot, but the “broships” are molding nicely, it’s been a great tour, they’re a good band.
Madness To Creation: Would you consider yourself the prankster of the band?
Joey: I can be, we all know what people don’t like and how to push their buttons and we do that, but last night, I didn’t mean to but I enjoyed it and Josh Berger, our guitar player, and his stage monitor, I got his guitar pretty loud, and I asked them to turn it down, and they turned it up really loud, like piercingly “this hurts” loud, you just kind of let it ride for a couple of songs and then he started looking at me like “dude, please you’re killing me” and he said he’ll get me back another day, he told me last night that I sabotaged his set, those were his words.
Madness To Creation: Sabotage like Beastie Boys?
Madness To Creation: Speaking of Sabotage, what’s your favorite Beastie Boys song?
Joey: Paul Revere.
Madness To Creation: Random question for you before we talk about “Shooting Star”, if Donald Trump was in a moshpit, how would you react?
Joey: If he was in a mosh pit, to be honest, we would think it’s awesome that a President was moshing to us, in a mosh pit, it’s hopefully a friendly based community where everyone looks out for each other, we could say that Donald Trump in a mosh pit would be controversial. But the fun part of being in a band is being on stage and just watch it. Ronnie goes into the mosh pit sometimes so we all kind of look out for him to make sure he doesn’t get hurt, but at least from my perspective I would at least have a VIP seat to the chaos that would ensue with Donald Trump in a mosh pit.
Madness To Creation: What’s your favorite thing that the audience does at a Red Jumpsuit Apparatus show?
Joey: It’s a little bit of all of it, when people are singing along, it’s the best because you know that they know the song, and it’s the songs that they want to hear, we change the setlist enough to where we don’t want to play things that, we want to play songs that people really enjoy, we got a little bit from every record that we put out on the setlist, that’s always cool, but when we start certain songs and we start seeing a lot of movement, that’s never going to get old to any band since the beginning of heavy bands playing, singing along, but songs that deserve a little pit, just having a good time.
Madness To Creation: You’ve played shows at intimate venues like Lefty’s and festivals and Christian rock festivals, what’s the biggest difference between getting ready to perform at an intimate venue versus performing at a festival?
Joey: For us, honestly, not too much, we usually just hang out at the venue, or we’ll try to explore the town while we can and we all get together like ten to 15 minutes before the set and hang out, and have our huddle, and have our little talk, and talk about the small things before the set that night and depending on set times, there might be different songs that we might play or not play, but overall, we have a nice simple ritual that we’ve been doing for years, it’s real chill, we don’t have any crazy cauldrons backstage or any wild pre-show things, we just make sure that we’re all on the same page and that we’re ready, or that there isn’t that one guy going, “my damn thing isn’t working”, we just try to chill and have a good time, some of the venues have hooked us up with Red Bulls and stuff, so drinking five Red Bulls and doing stupid shit like that, you know, nothing too crazy.
Madness To Creation: You all recently released the single for “Shooting Star”, it seems to tackle the subject of sobriety and mental health awareness? What is your take on mental health awareness?
Joey: Well, mental health is obviously a huge issue, and I think a lot of people can seek help that way through music or whatnot, we just try to be a band from Jacksonville, but when we’ve done this, we wanted to be a band that does have a message, that is definitely hope based. Starting in 2007, we did a tour for suicide prevention awareness and worked against domestic violence, we really tried to put it out there, and when “Shooting Star” specifically Ronnie does write all of the lyrics, there’s no bs stories out there, it’s all about him or someone that he knows, so “Shooting Star” is super close to him, and he’s been sober for four years, it’s a huge deal to him, it’s awesome for us, a few of the guys in the band still enjoy a few beers here and there, but for him, it was something that he really wanted to come over, we all watched him struggle to come over it from time to time, and the fact that it’s been four years is honestly crazy, it just was a situation when you see someone and you really think that they couldn’t do it and he’s perfect example of how you’re totally wrong, any situation that you’re in you can overcome it tenfold, and his life got so incredible and he’s in such a great place, and when we thought he was in a great place, we realized now when we look back on it, we laugh and realize how wrong we were, he’s super happy now, and we just do the best we can to make it somewhat aware that we don’t jam it down people’s throats, at the end, we’re a rock band at the end of the day, but we want to use our platform for good wherever we can, and there’s a reason for songs like that.
Madness To Creation: What’s the feeling like when fans come up to you and say “that song got me through”?
Joey: It’s always great, that started with our first single “Face Down” 12 or 13 years ago, however long ago that was, but so many songs have come along since then and people have certain songs that they relate it to, that’s always cool to hear too, sometimes there is a song that I hadn’t even thought about, and when people say, “I listened to this song a day after this happened”, it’s awesome and it brings you back to a time when you were writing or reading Ronnie’s lyrics for the first time, when people experience that or it made their day better, it’s kind of cool, I’m not going to lie, it’s a good feeling.
Madness To Creation: Let’s say 40 years from now, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus calls it quits, what do you want your legacy to be?
Joey: Oh man, kind of a little bit of what I touched on, to tell the kids and grandkids that we had a great time touring, now we’re old, we caused a little chaos sometimes, but you know, at the end of it, did a lot of good out of it, we work with a lot of charities, donate when we can, fund raise when we can, try to raise awareness about certain issues, it’s a feelgood thing at the end of the day rather than just being like, “I toured for 20 years, and I was so blacked out that I don’t remember being in any of it”, it’s like some of those classic rock bands have those mentalities, I think the do good through something that we all love to do, it’s so much better for us and hearing people’s stories and stuff, helping anybody out is cool to look back on, my grandparents would be proud of me, I like to think.
Madness To Creation: You have a close relationship with your grandparents?
Joey: Well, I did, but they’re not here anymore but we’re all super close as a family, we all love our families, when we’re not on tour, I’m always with my family, when we’re not playing we all just kind of do our thing, we talk about our pets and our families constantly, there was a dog in the venue today and everyone was like “ahhh!”.
Madness To Creation: Aren’t dogs the best?
Joey: Yes they are! Isn’t Lefty missing a leg? I know it’s a symbol at the venue, but the dog that we saw had four legs.
Madness To Creation: Any charities that you want to plug personally?
Joey: Just whatever you believe and you can find all kinds of information, thankfully the world for the most part is a pretty good place, thankfully there’s so many people to talk to about so many different things. Don’t ignore whatever it is you’re looking for.
Madness To Creation: What’s the agenda for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus for the rest of the year?
Joey: In November, we’re going to be doing a southeast run, mostly in Florida some hometown stuff. Trying to take time off for the holidays, we’re also actively writing and recording. Our drummer John and Ronnie, they mostly bring the gear out, they both produce and write a lot, so we’ve literally been recording in our traveling vessels and in our hotel rooms, and doing the real recording, not just demoing stuff, our next release will actually be written and recorded on the road, which is kind of neat, some of these songs that you’ll hear soon, it might be recorded in your hometown in between Chicago and Des Moines, and recorded the bass in Sioux Falls, South Dakota *laughs*, so we’re kind of busy with that, we just had the “Shooting Star” video, first video we’ve done in six years, it was cool to do that, we want to do what bands do, record a little bit, release a little bit, travel a little bit, we’re kind of in a pretty cool spot, kind of typical band stuff, it always is fun doing a little bit of recording and traveling and playing songs live and recording new songs in a parking lot.
Amber: Where did the name Red Jumpsuit Apparatus come from?
Joey: I’ve made up so many lies about the name.
Amber: Let’s have a truth.
Joey: I wasn’t there at the conception of the name, but I do know that it didn’t really mean anything as I know it’s more words thrown together.
Amber: That sounds cool though!
Joey: I wouldn’t even say that sounded cool especially for a band name, but there’s a Snoop Dogg lyric where he talks about a red jumpsuit with two braids in my hair or whatever, sometimes we’ll be hanging out and someone will ask that and we’ll get into a five minute story that is totally untrue, and then they’ll walk away and we’re like, “should we tell them that it’s not true”, no great meaning behind it.
Madness To Creation: It always comes back to Snoop Dogg. I should have “Six Degrees of Snoop Dogg”
Joey: Exactly, give Kevin Bacon a break.
Madness To Creation: What else would you like to add?
Joey: My cat is at home, she can’t hear this but I miss her and I love her, that’s about it. Thanks so much man!
And there you have it! Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have a few Florida gigs coming up! Check out the dates below!
Fri. 11/8- Murray Hill Theatre in Jacksonville
Sat. 11/9- Kraken Music Fest in Hallandale Beach (w/Afterlife, Madina Lake, Memphis May Fire, We Came As Romans, We’re Wolves, Convictions, Islander, Modern Mimes)
Sun. 11/10- Raw Hyde Live in Ocala
Thu. 11/14- Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola
For tickets and further information, click here.
- Photo Credit: Amber Lyons Photography