Reston’s RDGLDGRN rises, with help from one famous fan

December 27, 2013

True to their band’s name, the three musicians who make up Reston band RDGLDGRN show up for an interview dressed, respectively, in a red sweater, gold sports jacket and nearly all-green ensemble. But don’t mistake “Red,” “Gold” and “Green” for stage names.


REDGLDGRN's  go-go-influenced sound attracted the attention of  fellow Northern Virginian Dave Grohl, who was then enlisted to play drums on the  band's 2013 debut. (Republic Records)

“People think it’s just like a stage thing,” says bassist-singer Gold. “That’s just not the case. That is our life all the time.”

“That’s how I think of myself,” says guitarist Red. “People ask us in different ways, all the time, ‘Oh, but what does your mom call you?’ Well, she’s been known to call me Red.”

Or as guitarist and lead vocalist Green puts it in the song “Power Ups”: “I see in full color / I just choose to be green.”

Red vows he’ll change his name legally, but for now the songs are credited to their legal names: Gold is Andrei Busuioceanu, who was born in Romania; Green is Pierre Desrosiers, born to Haitian parents who moved to France when he was a baby and to the United States when he was 7; and Red is Marcus Parham, who hails originally from California.

All three are in their late 20s and have lived in Reston for at least a decade. Red and Green met in 2001 and began making music together soon after. They recruited Gold in 2005 and formed RDGLDGRN (pronounced Red, Gold, Green). The band raised its profile in 2011 after self-releasing the video for the song “I Love Lamp” on YouTube.

The video, with its D.C.-rooted mashup of rap, go-go, indie-rock and other genres, attracted the attention of national tastemakers, including producer Kevin Augunas (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Cold War Kids), who connected the band with the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl (they bonded over their shared Virginia roots) and producer Pharrell Williams. Augunas signed the band to his label, Fairfax Recordings, and released RDGLDGRN’s self-titled debut in September in a venture with major label Universal Republic Records. Grohl, a D.C. hardcore-punk veteran, played on all but one track, and Williams co-wrote and co-produced one of the singles.

"I Love Lamp"

This summer, RDGLDGRN also played the North American leg of the Warped Tour, and recently returned from a month on the tour’s Australian and European legs.

But despite spending several months this year on the road, the band members don’t think of themselves primarily as live players. “We’re like hip-hop producers who play instruments,” Gold says.

"Million Fans"

Perhaps that’s why RDGLDGRN’s lineup doesn’t include a full-time percussionist. (There once was one, unsurprisingly dubbed Blue.) For the album, that’s where Grohl came in. (He’ll be with them only in spirit, unfortunately, when the band plays U Street Music Hall; the band tours with a drummer found on Craigslist).

The band’s style recalls hip-hop, hard rock and a sped-up version of go-go’s loping beat, but often sounds like 1980s British indie-rock. The track “Bang Bang” melds thumping drums, Smiths-like guitar and bossa nova-influenced “bah-bah-bahs.” “Lootin in London” mixes rapped vocals, hard-rock guitar flourishes and a lushly pretty, if unprintable, refrain.

"Lootin' in London" (explicit)

“We’ve always loved big choruses,” Green says. “You make a good big chorus, and it’s the best thing in the world.”

While the band draws on go-go’s call-and-response vocals, it doesn’t emulate that genre’s extended jams. Most of RDGLDGRN’s songs run shorter than 3 1/2 minutes.

“That’s the D.C. hardcore side of us,” Red says. “Like Minor Threat. Their songs are, like, 48 seconds long.”

“I don’t need to say that much,” Green adds. “They don’t want to hear the song that long. I don’t want to hear the song that long. So I’m going!”

The band’s eclectic style works, Red says, even in countries where its ingredients are obscure, “especially in faraway places, like Austria.”

“People don’t what the [heck] is going on. At the end of the show, people end up just liking it without knowing what it was.”

RDGLDGRN  appears Sunday with Acme and Nike Nando at U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. 202-588-1880. www.ustreetmusichall.com Show starts at 7 p.m. $15.

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