The Red Army
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The Red Army

Band Rock Punk


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"The Red Army questions conventions with 'Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun""

It's criminal, how easily we loyal lackeys of academia forget the importance of questioning the world around us. Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun, the latest album from Athens' incendiary ensemble The Red Army, demands listeners halt and recall the importance of "why?"

A howling revolution of consciousness via auditory thrill.

Speakeasy had the recent opportunity to sit down and speak with The Red Army, an illustrious crew of OU students comprised of Will Cooper (lead vocals/rhythm/lead guitar), Austin Young (rhythm guitar/vocals), Christopher Miller (lead guitar), Jon Moore (drums/percussion), Matt Johnson (bass) and Leon Allen III (vocals/percussion/sound manipulation). The boys converse with an ease that invites both laughter and comfortable argument, discussing topics that range from top secret tattoos to the digitalization of tunes, to the painful prevalence of racism.

The Red Army was born a much smaller unit in '07. Cooper and Young met as freshmen in '06 and had chattered about getting together to play some guitar, but plans just never seemed to pan out. "[Will] egged me on to play guitar with him," Young said, grinning, "but he lived on West and I lived on East. So we never played."

A year later, in an entirely apropos twist of circumstance, the two united once again in a History of Rock class. They finally sat down together - and ended up cranking out five or so songs in a single go. It wasn't long before Cooper and Young, an acoustic act at the time, started hopping on every open mic in town.

The first show The Red Army played was last year's Courtside Fest, which the band refers to with rueful smiles as rather disastrous. Courtside Fest was a hip hop show, and the two fellows wailing on acoustics weren't especially well received. Cooper and Young point to their entirely-acoustic beginnings as a little problematic at the outset - the force and depth of ideas behind The Red Army simply didn't translate well on acoustic guitars. "We kind of came off as this weird cheap novelty, a trying-to-be-serious Tenacious D," Young said. "We knew from the get-go that wasn't what we wanted to do."

The two slowly started acquiring instrumental comrades, starting with Miller, who shared a bathroom with Young in Bromley Hall. Now, with the release of their third album Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun, The Red Army has morphed into a pounding, powerfully electric voice that commands notice - a proper vehicle for the ideals that spur the band onward.

The fact that these boys have something to say is clear in their very name - the Red Army was, after all, the armed forces of the Soviet Union, so named to represent the blood of the working class. The connotation is powerful. However, to say that the band is simply political would not quite cover it. The Red Army is personal and philosophical, sharp and realistic.

"We're just acknowledging our situation," Cooper said. "Take for instance - misogyny. We live in a society that is overwhelmingly misogynistic. We're trying to battle against that, but at the same time we acknowledge that we were raised in this society too, so we have that as part of who we are."

The band seems to grasp the reality of today's world, wherein inequality is all-pervasive and most would prefer to ignore it. Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun confronts this disquiet, recognizing that the only way we as a society can move forward is by calling our collective demons by name and facing them down together.

The Red Army is hopeful that that seminal moment, that epiphany, that crucial thrust forward, is imminent - thus, the title of the album. "What we were thinking when we finally brought all these songs to life is that there's going to be a point in time, somewhere in the near future, where a lot of the things that we are rallying against, a lot of the things we are going up against in society will come to a tipping point," Cooper said. "We're moving toward a point in history where there's going to be...a change coming. That's why we called it Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun."

Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun ranges from delicate to furious, all the while maintaining a cohesiveness born of hefty lyrical content and tight musicianship. The album opens with "Hey," a gentle yet poignant protest anthem, which then gives way to a ragged, pulsating track, equally anthemic, entitled "Guns." Listeners are shuffled back and forth between pounding and more placid for the remainder of the album in the same fashion, and a consistent passion shines through each style.

The album is indeed reminiscent of a dynamic moment, the sort that occurs just before a decision to act. It's fraught with emotion, dashed with suppressed inner calamity, and it roars with the rabid rage of a captured animal on the verge of tearing through his restraints.

Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun was produced by Erik Samuelson, recorded in his local home. The boys point to Samuelson as having been enormously helpful in the year - Speakeasy Mag

"The Red Army: Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun"

The Red Army's first full-length album, Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun, is rich with thoughtful lyrics, tight musicianship, and, perhaps most importantly, pure passion—passion for music, surely, passion for their beliefs, passion for the hope of an imminent change—tomorrow’s unforgiving sun.

The album opens quietly with the steady strumming of an acoustic guitar for about seventeen seconds. Then the voices of Will Cooper and Austin Young, edged with anger and passion, emerge as the song laments the power and greed of the “system.” Cooper and Young share vocal, rhythm guitar, and songwriting duties in the band.

Is the subject of the song, titled “Hey,” at all cliché and mundane? Perhaps, but perhaps the swelling chorus of “hey” is an appropriate alarm to the blissfully unaware, and even to those who think they are aware: “Well, you thought you’d be cool and go to school/Be productive in the system/‘Til they break your balls/And make you feel small/Trade science with religion/Now, if you speak out of turn/They’ll put you on a cross to burn/And learn your lesson/But you can only speak/If your pockets are deep/Or you own a Smith and Wesson.”

The lyric refers to the largest manufacturer of guns in the United States, Smith and Wesson. As the lyric states, violence, as executed by the police, and wealth, as used by the rich and powerful, are often the only ways “freedom” can be utilized in the “system.”

The lyrics are driven by a hatred for authority and distrust of the government, sentiments inspired by Cooper’s father, who was raised during the Civil Rights Movement and later became a Cleveland police officer. The song is the ultimate protest song, a timeless expression of frustration over being part of an oppressive, stagnant society.

Much of the album continues in a similar vein, pulsating and vociferous, at times even soothing and delicate. Its music is constantly confronting the ignored injustices, including racism (“Hey”), war (“Gun”), misogyny (“When I Realized”), rape (“727”), and corruption in politics and corporations (“Washington”), to name a few. But the songs are not self-righteous. The Red Army does not have all the answers to all the questions. They are not preaching. They are, to borrow from “Arson to the Edifice,” simply “opening your eyes to what is sad to see/Showing you the world around and what’s happening/And isn’t it a God damn tragedy?”

Not every song is brash and political, however. One of the gentlest and most beautiful songs on the record, “Bailey,” celebrates escapism, the art of getting lost. It seems an odd subject choice—getting away, forgetting problems—when so much of the record centers on confronting and resolving those problems. But perhaps the music of The Red Army embodies the possibility of escaping those problems and the possibility that, one day, they simply will no longer exist. The music suggests that this is possible if society recognizes them and works together to eliminate them, as The Red Army has done with unmatched vigor and authenticity on their fine debut. -


4,000 Dead & Counting EP
Hey single
Could We Ever Love single
Lucid Dreams EP
Searching single
Tomorrow's Unforgiving Sun LP
Searching single
727 single
Hey single



The Red Army is unified in our mutual distrust of authority and general distaste for the American political wasteland.

We met as college students at Ohio University, attracted to each other by that magnetism that allows outcasts to locate one another amongst a sea of douche bags and Natural Light.

The band began playing rather unpleasant political acoustic songs that were filled with a quasi-punk rock attitude and screaming vocals. We often played to empty rooms, sometimes the sound guy if we were lucky.

When we weren’t scaring kids with our violent acoustic serenades, we would shoot the shit around Athens, Ohio, an “everybody knows this is nowhere” kind of town. The quiet desperation of Athens turned out to be a great catalyst for angry tunes about snorting pills, the ills of capitalism and the emptiness of religion.

Eventually the group evolved adding drums and electric bass and guitar. Finally our music matched our energy. Once we were able to drown our voices and guitar flubs under an ocean of distortion and pummeling drums, we gained a fan base and self released two EPs and one LP.

Tomorrow’s Unforgiving Sun, like all of our releases, was recorded in the bedroom of our engineer’s home in Athens. All of our recordings are intended to be the kind of collection of songs that take people places, like “London Calling” or “Day Dream Nation”. Each song is desperately gripping towards some kind of truth or clarity about the strange world we live in and why it is so frustrating to be young and powerless.

We are an old school bunch. We still believe in the album format. We still believe music can be cool and genuine. We still believe music can bring about a revolution. And we still think there is a lot of change that needs to happen in this country regardless of who is in the White House.