Outrun the Sunlight have proven themselves to be a vital force in the metal community, and their mix of progressive and post metal have gained the attention of more and more listeners in recent years. Red Bird, their newest release, flies high above previous material for its natural and authentic sound- the music on the record is a reflection of their live performance, leaving behind backing tracks, layers, and any electronic aspects to their band. “Red Bird”, the title track from their album, is a perfect example of the musicianship they were aiming for this time around, centering on their skills rather than their weaknesses and playing with emotion at the forefront. Arctic Drones, in conjunction with Audiotree, is happy to premiere the exclusive music video for “Red Bird”, which you can watch below.
The progressive metal outfit have come a long way from their humble beginnings as a 2-person studio-based band back in 2011. They began OTS solely as an online project, gaining fans from various metal promotion pages that dominated Facebook several years ago. Since then, both members gained a hunger for performing their music live, and after spreading their music throughout the Chicago area (band members Austin and Cody would hand out CDs at shows, hoping people would like their music enough to check them out and possibly consider playing for them), they found two musicians who finally completed the band. Earlier this week, I got to chat with founding member and guitarist Austin Peters on the history of OTS, the themes of the “Red Bird” music video, and love. It was an engaging and captivating conversation that gifted me greater appreciation for the band and for the musician and person Austin is.
First of all, props to the wonderfully shot Red Bird music video.
I know the video was shot in conjunction with Audtiotree, so how did the working relationship start with them?
Well, I actually am the Art Director at Audiotree (laughs), but the video was directed by my friend Cody Packer, and after we conceptualized what the video was going to be, he took off and ran with it. The people behind Audiotree are really just concerned about great content, and that’s always been my interpretation of the owner’s outlook on what gets shot there. If it’s going to be sweet, you should do it and you shouldn’t ask questions.
“Red Bird”, to me, has themes of growth, connection, and even nature. How did you translate the musical themes visually for the music video?
Red Bird has the clearest theme of any of the songs on the record to me personally. It’s a love song at its core, and I just wanted to make a visual representation that showed the complete story of what it feels like to fall in love. I needed it to feel like a short film and not a music video, and I needed it to be a genuine representation of falling in love, so Cody and I collaborated and started workshopping on these ideas for the music video. His wife is amazing, she made all of the props for the video. We went back and forth for a long time on how we were going to tell this story, and eventually landed on the idea of showing young love, and showing really young love, with two kids in a fantastical environment alone, just being kids and not having any care in the world. And when they lose each other, it feels devastating and it feels disorienting.
That part of the video hit hard for me, and I think it portrayed that loss really well.
And when they find each other again, I think it sends a message that life will change and love will change no matter what. In the case of these two kids, it turns out to be a misunderstanding. He thinks he lost her when in reality she was actually doing something for him, building him wings. It has so many personal meanings to me in terms of my life, but I think it can be translated universally – many of us have fallen in love and know what that’s like. When you get to the other side of that love and realize what the love really is, or isn’t, you’ve come to a point to make a decision about staying in love or getting out of love, and we wanted to encapsulate that in a very innocent sense.
I was surprised to see that there weren’t any birds in the video.
But there were feathers! (Laughs)
Where did the ideas of the masks come from?
It actually came from the idea of not making the video cliché. One of my biggest fears was that we were going to make a love-story type of video in a metal band setting and it was going to turn out to be something everyone had seen before. We also watched the movie “Frank” where a guy wears a Paper Mache head as a part of his musical performances and never takes it off, and I think watching that movie and pondering about what that was symbolizing, I wanted to mesh that idea with the music video. When you remove the human face and replace it with a mask, you throw out a bit of the audience’s expectations, and that’s one of the things I think is at the root of clichés. So it made sense for us to do it that way, and it honestly looked really cool.
Red Bird as a whole feels like the full culmination of all band members coming together and finding out what they want to do as musicians. Do you feel that it’s the most authentic OTS release?
It’s a short record, but it feels like the most complete representation of our band. We wanted to make a record that sounded differently, not only different to us but to other people. I think the precedent has been set for too long about what the convention of progressive music is, and we wanted to change that. We played to our skills this time around, building upon what we know we do well.
So you guys have a record release show tomorrow in Chicago. Are you all excited to present Red Bird in full for the first time for your fans?
It’s funny man, a lot of people have heard the record for the past year kind of being workshopped on the stage when we played in Chicago and everyone got their initial perceptions of it. We haven’t played a show since the record came out, which really changes people’s perceptions of the music. Once you go home and play it over and over again and dissect it, you find the deeper, personal connections with the music. If you’re able to see that on stage it totally changes the experience as an audience member. It’s going to be fun to play the record knowing that people have that experience with the album now.
This is my last question, and it’s as serious as it is a joke. How much do you guys love Cloudkicker?
Is it obvious? (Laughs) Probably too much?
There was a lot that I was unfortunately not able to keep in the interview above, but it is worth mentioning here. Our conversation lasted a long time, and there were a lot of things brought up. One thing that stuck out to me was how perceptive Austin was of his music and listeners. He knows how to play to his skills, and since he is the primary composer, his band member’s skills too. He also likes the idea of finding new audiences through different channels of music, like touring with bands outside of the metal realm completely (fingers crossed for a Monobody/OTS lineup if schedules align). Austin, above all, is a person filled to the brim with thoughts, feeling, and ideas, and he has found a way to express that in the work he does. This is what drives the music behind Outrun the Sunlight, and it is why, in my opinion, they will continue to grow and connect with fans.