About Red Umbrella
Take four boys that grew up together in the deep woods of the north in Canada, a style of music that borrows from classic artists from every era mixed with powerful originality and two mad scientist-like song-writing brothers and you get Red Umbrella.
Growing up together in Parry Sound, Ontario, lead singer/guitarist Jeremy Michaelis, his brother Dennis Michaelis (keyboards and guitar) and drummer Jason Rosewell started making music in high school. Eventually, the guys recruited another Parry Sound native, bassist Kevin Swartwood, and Red Umbrella was born. With music that is almost entirely self-written, recorded and produced, Red Umbrella continues their almost decade-long musical journey.
One listen to Red Umbrella’s debut on 7 Spin Music, Wishing For Boardwalk (2006), and you realize that you’ve stumbled across that rare combination of smart lyrics and inspired, artistic music. From the opening strains of “Storm Warning,” and the driving “Straight Jacket,” to the anthemic “Already Won” and “Home,” among others, this project speaks to the breadth and depth of the Christian faith, while marrying the message to melodies that will be swirling around your brain for hours after you’ve turned off the music.
But as complex as it may sound, Wishing For Boardwalk drives home the simple point that every human being has one thing in common—an unspoken longing that only God can fill.
"The song ‘Wishing for Boardwalk’ is kind of like the idea that everybody knows they have that certain thing that they are wishing for," lead singer/guitarist Jeremy Michaelis explains. "Ultimately, the idea is, like C.S. Lewis said in “The Problem of Pain, it’s kind of this longing that everybody has, this yearning that, if you try to grab hold of it, disappears. If you push to discover it, you’ll be lead towards God and Christianity, ultimately. It’s kind of the God-shaped-hole concept, but it’s not that simple. Everybody knows what it is, and it’s not meant to have its fulfillment in anything but God.”
With music that is almost entirely self-written, recorded and produced, Red Umbrella's members owe some debt to their shared love for a certain iconic Irish rock band. “I think we all really liked U2 when we started,” says Jeremy.
“With that being said, we knew what we didn’t want to sound like,” continues Jason, “and that was too much like U2 or Coldplay, or anyone else. We’re trying to really be distinct, as much as possible. We like those influences, but we don’t want to be completely in a box. But every band is usually compared to somebody, and if we are going to have comparisons, those are good ones to have.”
Growing up in church, all of the Red Umbrella band members were exposed to, and fans of, various Christian artists. But this album is their first attempt at making a more specific Christian statement. As the primary lyricist, Jeremy admits that this was something he had to be somewhat deliberate about. “Prior to this record, I was writing all sorts of random, poetic things. But I prayed throughout the making of the album, that God would give me things that maybe were more appropriate or more real. I never wanted to say something because that’s what somebody thought should be said, but because it was true.”
“We wanted this album to encourage Christians, but we didn’t want to alienate non-believers, in hopes that maybe sometime our lyrics would make them ask questions and see what we’re really talking about,” Kevin elaborates. “So there was a conscious effort to limit the ‘Christianese,’ and not just say things in a way that people would expect.”
After playing over 400 dates in a four year period and moving down to Valparaiso, IN, the band went into hibernation from touring and began focusing on their second album, "Living and Surviving". Reaching higher than their first-album, it was entirely self-recorded and produced by the Michaelis brothers. Its production incorporates synth and sampling in the majority of its songs, giving Red Umbrella a new, urban feel. The album stage has even been opened for good friend and Texas-based Emcee, Playdough, to make a guest appearance on "Boompop". The songs, overall, are catchy, memorably and memorable, but by no means shallow.