The Red Paintings

The Red Paintings
The Red Paintings
Origin Geelong, Australia
Genres Art Rock, Orchestral Rock, Experimental Rock, Cinematic Rock, Experimental
Years active 1999–present
Labels Independent
Website Official website
Trash McSweeney
Ellen Stancombe
Mike Langdale
Andy Davis
David Sue Yek
Past members
Wayne Jennings, Amanda Holmes, Josh Engelking, Bo Whitton

The Red Paintings are an Orchestral art rock band originally formed 1999 in Geelong, Victoria but have been based over the last few years in Los Angeles, USA. The band consists of lead vocalist and songwriter Trash McSweeney on guitar, sequencing and samples, Trash also is the brainchild behind all the bands stage and musical concepts. Current touring line up is Ellen Stancombe (violin, vocals); Mike Langdale (bass), Andy Davis (drums) and David Sue Yek (Cello).

The band is known for their unique, confronting and intense themed performances incorporating elements of theatre and art, often dubbed "orchestral sci-fi art rock".[1] Band members often dress in elaborate themed costumes, ranging from geisha outfits, alien costumes and more recently, sea creature\Neptune themes. They employ elaborate and eccentric stage props to support their shows, varying from virgin mary statues, giant robots, children toys, Tim Burton-themed props and self-made video projections. They often invite members of the audience to paint on blank canvasses during their shows, and sometimes 'human canvasses' are painted on instead.[2]

The band has a strong underground fanbase in Australia [3] and the USA, and their debut studio album is being produced almost entirely on fan donations.[4] Their many costumes, props and street performances are often organised and produced with help from their large volunteer street teams. They are recently also known for their vocal support of animal rights issues, and in particular, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.[5]



Formation (1999-2002)

The band and concept was formed in 1999 in Geelong, Victoria by songwriter Trash McSweeney after he suffered a violent seizure. As a consequence of the seizure McSweeney was purported to have developed colour-sound synethesia. During this period they had little success breaking into the local music scene. They mainly managed to confirm shows in battle of the bands gigs, however, despite being successful in these they still were unable to break through. While on a holiday in Brisbane, Queensland, McSweeney received more positive feedback and offers at an impromptu gig, and thought relocating there might give the band better chances.[6] Frustrated with the Geelong scene, McSweeney offered other band members to relocate, but eventually moved to Brisbane and formed a new lineup. During this period the band produced three independent EPs, Angel Flummox EP, Reality (Ahead of Schedule) EP and Cinema Love EP.

Robot Trilogy Concept era (2003–2007)

In Brisbane they soon became known for their unique shows, experimentation and friendliness.[7] After some initial hardships, McSweeney soon found like-minded musicians in Josh Engelking (percussion), Bo Whitton (bass guitar), Ellen Stancombe (violin) and Wayne Jennings (cello).[8] The newly formed lineup soon released the "Rain" single. Based on the single and performances, McSweeney soon began to feature heavily in local media, becoming known for his revolutionary views on music, eccentric interviews\performances and the influence of his colour synesthesia on his music and art.[1] In 2003 the band conducted two extensive national tours, including sets at the coveted Livid and Big Day Out festivals. Following this success, a live performance was recorded with Brisbane community radio station 4ZZZ FM and was released in 2004 as the album The Virgin Mary Australian Tour Acoustic/Strings Album, which received yet more positive feedback.[9] They also headlined the 2004 Valley Fiesta, and played support for Australian singer–songwriter Missy Higgins. 2005 saw the band conduct a two-week tour of China, and release the Walls EP with Modern Music/Sony BMG, to critical acclaim.[10] The EP received high rotation play on the national Triple J radio station and generated plenty of new fans. The title track, "Walls", entered the stations "Net 50" chart at #3 [11] and charted for fifteen weeks. Sometime around this release bass player Bo Whitton left the band and was replaced by Amanda Holmes.

The next release from the band in 2006, the Destroy The Robots EP,[12] would see the emergence of the Robot Trilogy concept. Also, after a period with no regular percussionist, current drummer Andy Davis was hired. Clashes with their Modern Music label/Sony BMG [13] label at the time over creative direction saw the band ending its relationship after the EP was released, and becoming independent of label or outside management. The band toured Australia's capital cities and regional centres for the Destroy The Robots EP. In each capital city centre unannounced 'Robot Marches' were staged also, where fan-made giant (up to 9-foot) robots were paraded through pedestrian malls. Recognition and radio airplay from this tour saw them picked as support for Mogwai, and play at The Great Escape (festival). Off the back of this success, their sounds reached the ears of Amanda Palmer, of The Dresden Dolls, who contacted the band with an offer to support their 2006 Australian tour. The tour was a great success for the band,[14] although the band's van was broken into twice and equipment and paintings were stolen, and they were invited to continue as support for the tour in New Zealand, the UK and USA. Before leaving for the USA, long-time cellist Wayne Jennings departed the band, and upon returning to Australia current cellist David Sue Yek joined the band after answering a university advertisement. The band received significant attention in the USA, and were able to release a live EP and documentary DVD both from the tour; Live In Minneapolis and Seizure & Synesthesia.[15] The band returned to play two special Christmas-themed charity events, and released the third album in the Robots Trilogy, the Feed the Wolf EP.[16] This EP was funded entirely from fan donations and was also the last album bassist Amanda Holmes featured in. Mid 2007 saw the band on another large national Australian tour for this EP, with accompanying street parades as seen before, albeit with genetically engineered animals marching into a giant Ark.[17] The EP received good airplay on Australian and US radio stations, and spawned the single and music video for "We Belong In The Sea", which received top honours on Youtube.

In June 2007, songwriter Trash McSweeney announced his plans for recording their debut LP record, and based upon the successful model of the Feed the Wolf EP, made a request on the band website for fan donations to support this endeavor.[18] He was met with mixed reactions from the Australian music industry,[19] but nonetheless fans responded and he achieved his goal, raising A$40 000 towards their independent LP. The band also played further support for Amanda Palmer's 2007 solo tour in Australia.

Independence and Touring (2008-Current)

In 2008 the band embarked on another Australian tour and also their first headlining tour of the West Coast of the United States. The tour was successful and saw them receive high radio airplay, including on Los Angeles Indie 103.1FM, Portland's KNRK and San Francisco's Live 505 radio stations.[20] The band were also invited to play at the prestigious Musexpo 2008. During this tour singer Trash McSweeney also met and became personal friends with Sea Shephard captain, Paul Watson. This partnership led the band to play a benefit show for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on the eve of the departure of MV Steve Irwin from Brisbane;[21] and later that year a collaboration with Paul Watson covering the Midnight Oil song Beds are Burning, titled Whales Are Dying and accompanying music video.[22] The collaboration, and McSweeney's outspoken support, received wide media coverage in the USA. Also this year the band's independent album, The Revolution Is Never Coming, was recorded in Australia and produced by McSweeney and Engineered by Tidykid.

2009 saw the band tour performing sporadic free\benefit shows in Australia, as the band took time off to work heavily on the upcoming album and for McSweeney to also personally direct the music videos for it. They did however support the national tour of punk band Mindless Self Indulgence, and open shows for the Australian tour of poet Saul Williams. The band has currently relocated to Los Angeles in preparation for their album release. They are currently in post-production and mastering of their debut album, which has taken place in Brisbane, Winnipeg, Toronto, Los Angeles and Nashville. It is said to be, pre-release, generating positive reviews and interest from US and UK record labels,[20] although McSweeney still appears determined to release their LP independently. While in the US, McSweeney has also played several solo shows and teamed up again with Captain Paul Watson to perform at Worldfest 2009.[23]

2011 has seen the band back on the road with a headline 20 date tour in the USA which included shows with Alien Ant Farm, Chad Smiths RHCP new band, appearance main stage at SubZero Festival San Jose, hand picked by The Posies for their USA show in July and support in the USA also Sept 2011 for Belgium Industrial Act Atari Teenage Riot. Trash Has spent most of this year finalising the mix on the bands album in Los Angeles.

In 2012 the band are believed to be working on releasing their full length album world wide as well as global touring and an interesting marketing idea were they will launch helium balloons in 13 countries that represent Japanese Geisha’s in space suits with camcorders and a USB stick for fans to chase in each city during the albums release dates.


  • "Rain" (2004)
  • "We Belong In The Sea" (2007)
  • "Whales Are Dying" (2009)


  1. ^ a b *Daniel Gill (November 2003). "The Red Paintings". "Tsunami". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  2. ^ *"The Red Paintings". Rave Magazine. July 2006. Retrieved 28 June 2009. 
  3. ^ *Wylie Caird (March 2008). "The Red Paintings Forte Interview". "Forte". Retrieved 29 June 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ *"The Red Paintings". "BandNation". 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  5. ^ *Darrah Le Montre (June 2009). "Whale Wars’ Sea Shepherd Nets Anthony Kiedis and Rick Rubin’s Support". "Hollywood Today". Retrieved 28 June 2009. 
  6. ^ *Gillian Corker (November 2003). "Red Paintings". "Forte Magazine". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  7. ^ *Emily Williams (March 2004). "Colour Me Dissatisfied". "Scene Magazine". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  8. ^ *Jody Macgregor. "The Red Paintings Bio". "Allmusic". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  9. ^ *Cameron Hawes (January 2005). "Paint By Numbers". "Rave Magazine". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  10. ^ *Brett Collingwood (February 2005). "Painting the Walls Red". "Geared Magazine". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  11. ^ *Adam Curley (January 2005). "The Red Paintings - Different Strokes". "Time Off Magazine". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  12. ^ *Brett Collingwood (May 2007). "Destroy The Robots". "Sputnik Music". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  13. ^ *Cara Williams (January 2007). "The Red Paintings". "Soulshine". Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  14. ^ *Sally Browne (September 2004). "Trash Talking". "The Courier-Mail".,23739,20457296-5003421,00.html. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  15. ^ *"Seizure & Synesthesia". "The Dwarf". August 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  16. ^ *"The Red Paintings". "Obscure Sound". July 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  17. ^ *Rob Lyon (July 2008). "Out Come The Wolves". "Rip It Up". Retrieved 29 June 2009. [dead link]
  18. ^ *"Red Paintings Blog". "Myspace". February 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  19. ^ *Dan Watt (April 2008). "The Red Paintings". "Beat Magazine". Retrieved 2 July 2009. [dead link]
  20. ^ a b *"The Red Paintings". "A&R Worldwide". June 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  21. ^ *"Benefit Concert". Sea Shepherd Conservation Society". November 2008. Retrieved 28 June 2009. 
  22. ^ *"The Red Paintings and Sea Shepherd". "X-Ray Magazine". February 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  23. ^ *"Worldfest2009". "SSS". May 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 

External links

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