Red Door Exchange
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Red Door Exchange

Easthampton, Massachusetts, United States

Easthampton, Massachusetts, United States
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Behind the Red Door"

Behind the Red Door

Locals Red Door Exchange offer a new album of sophisticated indie pop.

Red Door Exchange released an intriguing EP called Sidestreets a couple of years ago, full of sophisticated arrangements, ambient guitar and pop-savvy piano-based grooves. Now the band (Jesse Lee Pietroniro, guitar, vocals; Kate Stephens, keyboard, vocals; Michael Wyzik, drums, percussion; Jim Elliott, bass) have their first full-length album, and they're raring to go.
The new CD, which is self-titled, is in many ways a refinement of the band's earlier sound. That's in large part due to a fortuitous encounter. "I'd always dreamed about it," explains Pietroniro, "that someone would show up at a show and say, 'I want to record you.'"

That is, of course, exactly what happened. Norman DeMoura, who runs a studio in Haydenville called Sunday Mail, happened upon the band playing at Easthampton's Brass Cat. The resulting collaboration proved so comfortable and productive that plans are already afoot, new release notwithstanding, to record again with DeMoura. "We're working on a lot of new material, and we have a backlog of material too," says Pietriniro.

Having the right producer can often prove enlightening to a band, and Pietriniro seems utterly pleased with what DeMoura did for Red Door Exchange's sound. He points to the song "Sunny Bone" as a good example. "The song is simple--it's kind of dreamy. He [DeMoura] took the percussion and mixed it in a way that was almost arranging it," says Pietriniro. "And we added some cello--synthetic cello--in some really good places.

"There's actually a transition between the song prior to that and 'Sunny Bone,' as well. I'd always heard it as a seamless transition between the two. ... We added layers of synthesizer and it created this kind of breath, and then this accidental effect occurs right before the changeover to 'Sunny Bone.'"

That "accident," a knob twist on an analog delay (a machine that produces echoes), sends the guitar pitch reeling in a sort of space warp, then the whole settles into a pleasant piano part. That's just the sort of move that makes Red Door Exchange not your average rock band. The album sounds like a band exploring all sorts of corners of the noise they can make with the instruments at their disposal. That could be a mess, but the band's sense of movement and progression in their compositions keeps things interesting.

It's a gargantuan task to make indie rock sounds that haven't been made before. And since Radiohead blew the usual pop conventions on their heads with Kid A , the task is even harder. Red Door Exchange pulls it off as well as many better known bands, mixing disparate sounds--a touch of early Pink Floyd, a Beatles-esque arrangement, a strange but hard-hitting explosion of guitar that might nod toward Modest Mouse, Yo La Tengo or The Pixies--into a savvy, appealing whole.

Pietriniro and Stephens trade vocals, but Pietriniro is usually up front, sporting a plaintive, off-but-in-a-good-way style that immediately places the band in indie territory. Red Door Exchange ought to do great things for the band--there are songs like "Lack in Love" that are beautifully constructed for the radio-friendly crowd. But it's also smart enough and unusual enough to stand out from by-the-numbers rock--"Lack in Love" finishes as a piano-based tune whose rhythmic play evokes late-era Beatles or the better moments of the Ben Folds Five.

Like another local success story, The Mobius Band, Red Door Exchange possess an expansive sound that's very different from most bands in the Valley, with its more common sounds of metal in Springfield or roots rock in Northampton. It seems likely that Red Door Exchange, too, will find broad appeal with their new album, one of the most interesting and sophisticated Valley offerings this year.

When they take the Iron Horse stage Nov. 3 for their album release, you can expect a slightly different take on the Red Door Exchange show. "I think our sound's been evolving a litle bit," says Pietriniro. "I don't think the album was over-produced, but it has elements that you might not hear [live] without your imagination. Our live sound is getting to be more energetic and potent."

- The Valley Advocate (cover story)

"Heads in the Stars"

The Valley's Red Door Exchange plays a moody brand of acoustic/electric rock that's hard to pin down because its influences are farflung. This is, thank heaven, not more alt-country. This is not a return to the roots, rather, an attempt to make new branches from such roots as Camper Van Beethoven, the Moody Blues, Eugene Chadbourne and early (Syd Barrett) Pink Floyd.

Reverbed vocals, a bit dreamy, a bit off, wander atop mid-tempo guitar chords and piano. Keyboardist/vocalist Kate Stephens provides high backup to Jesse Lee Pietroniro's achy tenor. The lyrics, stuffed, sometimes askew, into the mix are: a) cheeky b) way earnest or c) both. Their concerns are large-scale: "the cyclical nature beneath a linear veil/ some call it 'creator,' some the bars of their jail." They call themselves "a three-member group dedicated to the creation and realization of original music" (hmmm -- a "band"?), so the cheeky/earnest answer may be elusive.

The EP is full of big washes of guitar that alternate or combine with spacious, moody piano interludes on lengthy compositions; call it back-porch space rock with a dose of rainy-day Martian cathedral music. Red Door Exchange possesses a nice sense of movement in its ever-evolving songs -- rarely does one get to relax in the assurance that the rest of the song will be just like the current sound. This is dramatic, moody and elusive fun. You can catch Red Door Exchange Nov. 15 at the Brass Cat.
- James Heflin, Valley Advocate

"Freestyling frenzy at Diddyfest 2003"

"As far removed as possible from that vibe was Red Door Exchange, a quartet led by vocalist/guitarist Jesse Pietroniro and pianist/vocalist Kate Stehpens and rounded out by a drummer and bassist. The band's polished sound inhabited the realm of dark pop and angst-colored rock, and had a strange allure thanks to the ghostly, wordless cooing that the two vocalists returned to often in the songs." - Ken Maiuri, Daily Hampshire Gazette

"Red Door Exchange — Red Door Exchange"

Red Door Exchange — Red Door Exchange
Produced at Sunday Mail Studios
Produced, engineered, and mixed by Norman DeMoura
Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless

The inside cover of Red Door Exchange’s self-titled CD is a psychedelic black and white silhouette of the band, a huge black daisy, and a starry grey sky. The image is mysterious, with no faces revealed, and the daisy dwarfing the silhouettes. A clear plastic covers the picture, and gives the impression that the group is within a bubble in an otherwise limitless sky. It’s an image that parallels the band’s music, eerie and abstract, yet solid and true. Kate Stephens provides backup vocals on many of the tracks, lending an angelic, choral sound to the work, and preventing lead singer Jesse Lee Pietroniro’s straight-up rock voice from sounding, well, too straight-up rock.

Red Door Exchange has composed songs with catchy beats and pop attraction. They’ve also come through with some longer pieces, namely the seven-and-a-half minute “Dawn on a Red Church.” “Sunny Bone” is deliberate and symphonic, and sparse lyrics accent the largely instrumental piece. Stephens carries the melody in a voice so pure it’s difficult to hear when it fades and the instruments rise. The slow, shimmering cadence carries over into “Our Day Off,” then abruptly switches gears to a distorted, guitar-infused bridge, which sounds suspiciously like the Cranberries’ “Promises.” Pietroniro’s voice flails like a controlled seizure in “War of Love,” establishing it as a natural choice for the film score of any Chuck Palahniuk adaptation. (Self-released)

-April Wachtel

- Northeast Performer

"Door Re Me"

Steve Rullman continues his run as one of the area's most consistently creative talent scouts. Thanks to Rullman's wandering eye and good taste, the Western Massachusetts-based Red Door Exchange is making a three-date run through South Florida this week. RDE plays the kind of smirking, intimate rock that made Sebadoh and Yo La Tengo perennial faves of thinking-people's-rock types. Sure, it's emotional, but don't call it emo. And yes, it's quirky and lofty, but don't call it twee. These guys (and a girl) balance a pop-songwriting sensibility with a deft instrumental imagination, puncturing brash fuzz guitar with pin-prick piano, swerving from pounding rock riffs into swaying choral harmonies. Subtle layers of percussion, electronic flourish, and wah-wah guitar add atmosphere; songs unfold with multiple movements, like ambitious micro-operas. It ain't easy music to classify, which is just the way the art-school kids and fuzzy-sweater set like it. And you should too.
-Jonathan Zwickel - New Times

"Sheryl's Top 10 CDs for 2005"

Alternating between crunching guitar chords (that seem to have been summoned from the depths of the sea) and ethereal female harmonies, Red Door Exchange has produced a rock album that ranks as one of the most accomplished to come out of local scene in recent years. The band, which hails from Easthampton, wears its influences on its sleeve (Radiohead, late Pixies), but guitarist/singer Jesse Lee Pietroniro's songs are both original and strong. The three-song suite of "Whaddya Know," "Sunny Bone" and "Our Day Off" is achingly beautiful and their success owes much to the vocals of keyboardist Kate Stephens, bassist Jim Elliott's fluid lines and drummer Michael Wyzik's tasty fills.
-Sheryl Hunter - The Greenfield Recorder

"Lunch Records Four by Four: Volume 1"

Red Door Exchange, from Easthampton, have an unique sound, a smart lyricist with a nice falsetto and a talk-singing approach that is like a mix of the guy from The Violent Femmes, or maybe a more polished Will Oldham from the Palace Brothers. This is a very musical band with nice piano work, tasteful drumming (understated work on "Givin' Up," good rim-shots) and even hints of a jazz background; they actually do stop on dimes. "Givin' Up" hits about five genres in one minute---a Mr. Bungle for fans of Neutral Milk Hotel? The song, and the band, pretty much defy categorization. They are clever, but as Tyler Durden (from Fight Club) notes "How's that working for you? Being clever?" I think that people who like this band will adore them. - The Noise


Red Door Exchange - 2005 (LP)
Safeguarded - 2005 (single/EP)
Quiet Union Volume 1 - 2004 (compilation)
4X4 Volume 1 - 2004 (Lunch Records compilation)
Sidestreets - 2003 (EP)


Feeling a bit camera shy


From the valley that gave rise to Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Sonic Youth, and The Pixies comes an original melodic rock band Red Door Exchange. The western Massachusetts quartet features a variety of well-orchestrated songs, ranging from calmly melancholic to triumphantly euphoric.

The earlier stages of the band's evolution began in October of 2001 when Jesse, Mike, and Jim recorded an EP entitled "Fool in the Rain," which consisted of excerpts from their first improvisational session and a completed First Song. Kate assisted Jesse in the laying down of vocal parts over the First Song; then, in early 2002, Kate, her voice, and her pianism joined the band following the departure of Jim and his bass. Over the next year and a half, the trio formation made their mark on the local music scene with a regular performance schedule--interspersed with regional appearances in Boston and New York--alongside artists such as as Royal City, The Swords Project, Sufjan Stevens, The Ware River Club, Cerberus Shoal, Tarantula AD, Lou Barlow, and Cass McCombs. In addition, the three-piece recorded a four-song demo, a four-song EP, and was slated to release a full-length album by December 2003, until the music's craving for a bottom end beyond the lower registers of the piano was fulfilled by Jim's rejoining the band.

This event, occurring in the late Fall of 2003, had a pronounced effect on the solidification of Red Door Exchange's sound, and with it came a sense that a missing piece of the puzzle was found. The process of introducing Jim to the established set of songs was undertaken vigorously and completed rapidly. Live performances with the new lineup were well-received, prompting the band to record in Februray of 2004. Selections from these sessions as well as from the previous Sidestreets EP were placed on Lunch Records' "4X4: Volume 1," a compilation released by Lunch Records in October 2004.

The once triangular, now spherical chemistry between the members of Red Door Exchange offers a dynamic unique in its spirit and instrumental character. Michael brings over eight years of experience in drumming and percussion and has combined with Jim as a rhythm section in various settings over the past five years. Jim has played the bass for fifteen years, trained at Berklee College of Music, and participated in several bands, including the former St. Johnny. Kate has studied piano and choral singing for over ten years, and has acquired a music minor during her days in college. Jesse’s past ventures include scoring for a theatre production in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, soundtrack work for New York-based visual artist, Nora Stephens, as well as experiences in various bands, including the former Cast of Lyndon.

Red Door Exchange’s current endeavors include fine-tuning their repertoire, continuing to perform locally and on tour, actively promoting their web presence, and seeking out an appropriate record label for distribution of their debut full-length album, recently self-released in November 2005.