by Reggie Edwards
With Rock on the Range kicking off this weekend, band’s are starting to get ready for the larger-than-life festival.
This year’s Rock on the Range festival features a three-day lineup and some of the biggest names in recent memory. KoRn will reunite with original guitarist Brian “Head” Welch as well as Stone Sour, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Bush and more gracing the main stage.
Coming off a headlining club tour, Red, who played the festival on the heels of their debut, The End of Silence, will be playing the Pabst Blue Ribbon Stage on Sunday, May 19 and guitarist Anthony Armstrong says the band has been asked to come back a few times but always has other festivals or shows scheduled and hasn’t been able to return until this year.
“This year we made sure our management knew we wanted the date open and that if we were offered we would take it right away,” says Armstrong. “We adjusted our approach a little bit to our touring and decided to do certain places and certain tours.
“Rock on the Range is, in our eyes, the biggest rock festival in the country, period,” Armstrong explains, “and it’s probably one of the biggest in the world. You’ve got all the overseas festivals that are massive but here in the States it doesn’t get much bigger than Rock on the Range for rock bands. It’s a cool moment for all the bands that are part of that bill”
Armstrong says it’s good to see rock and roll alive and well with 65,000+ people there in support.
It’s a different situation leading into Rock on the Range for Red this year. In 2008 Red played the small stage with “Breathe Into Me” just growing on the radio. This year, fast forward five years and Red have released three more albums (two of them reaching number one on the hard rock charts and three on the Christian charts) and 17 more number one hits, as well as a brand new album- Release the Panic, the cards table is set for Red to destroy Rock on the Range.
“To be back with a brand new record, a single that’s moving up the charts and a whole new live show, I think as a band, we’re a better band and a better group of guys, the chemistry is even more intact than it ever has been, we’ll go back to Rock on the Range and do big things,” says Armstrong.
This year’s Rock on the Range festival also features a significant amount of Christian rock bands, more so than previous years. Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch and Love & Death will all join Red on the festival bill this year.
“At the end of all of it, if you’re asking any of those bands what it’s like to be part of Rock on the Range as a Christian band, they’re gonna say ‘well first of all we don’t really consider ourselves a Christian band,’” explains Armstrong. “We’re a group of guys who are Christians that are in a band, that make music. We don’t want people to focus on the fact that…that’s a term that separates us, that’s exactly what it does. It separates us from all the other bands because ‘oh, oh, they’re Christians, they’re probably not any fun, they’re probably not a good band, they’re not this, and they’re not that.’
“We’ll go into it with the label that we’re just a rock band and give them everything we’ve got and as they find out later that it’s a group of Christian guys that write music about their lives and about their faith, people are blown away by that,” says Armstrong.