To live and breathe your art, make a living in an industry that survives because of your art and support existing avenues for sharing your art while creating new ones … only in a dream world, right? Wrong. Belonging to a diverse and creative musical genre that struggles to find a home outside of metropolises such as New York, L.A., Chicago and Detroit, Negative Red defy the odds thanks to the perseverance of founding member Carson Duke. A Michigan native, Duke made a new home for himself in Fort Wayne in 2007 after accepting a position with Sweetwater.
“I have realized that through this music I can incite change in myself and the world around me. I can be anyone and accomplish anything I want to. Negative Red [have] been a metamorphosis, a brain change and an awakening. My deepest thoughts and emotions are expressed through electronic instruments and computers. These are my paint brushes, my tools and my art,” said Duke.
Duke has spent the last 10 years honing his skills through various successful projects such as performing his personal brand of electronic music as a DJ, writing songs for and playing with other bands and fronting his own bands. It was with his band Vermiculum that Duke realized a future as a working artist was possible. And it was only shortly after forming that they began opening for national acts such as Rasputina and Genitorturers. These opportunities allowed Duke to develop his own sound, and in 2005 he started Negative Red. A Michigan band until Duke relocated here, they performed primarily in the Lansing and Detroit areas. Their first live performance was opening for experimental metal band OTEP.
The current incarnation of the group consists of Duke and Nick Meade (a.k.a. Nick Danger), an Indiana native who joined shortly after they met. Negative Red are also occasionally joined by other musically inclined friends who assist in recording and live performances. The music was for the most part already there. Duke had written and composed much of it, and Meade contributed by bringing his studio and production skills to the table.
“(We come) from different places ... have different backgrounds and experiences ... and we meet in the middle,” says Meade.
The two are active not only in creating their own brand of music but in contributing to that of others as well in the form of remixes for such mainstream acts as Shania Twain and Ventana.
“Music is an art form,” says Meade. “Musicians are good at their craft. They are well trained and can perform when called on … but, in contrast, an artist is trying to connect with the audience and convey a message.” This quality is what he believes separates and distinguishes Negative Red.
Both Duke and Meade agree that for them, “[Music] is more of a lifestyle than just a weekend gig.” Evidence of this mindset lies not only in their choice of day job and nights spent working on new music for Negative Red. They also spend their free time on solo projects creating remixes for other bands. Negative Red headlined the Rock in the Fort show at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and have performed at Miss Q’s with the likes of Butcher Jones and As Summer Dies. In addition, they’re also working to establish a local scene for the musical underworld, and they’ve created and currently publish an online magazine dedicated to promote goth, industrial, electro and noise genres of music.
Entitled Razorblade Society, the magazine supports Midwest regional acts but also features national and international bands as well. It’s free and can be viewed at www.razorbladesociety.com.
“All of these things are steps to advancing our careers ... The sky is the limit for what we want to do with the technology we have,” says Duke.
Meade and Duke have collaborated to produce the band’s first album, Arteriole. Their sound is self-described as a “new breed of industrial.” Through innovative use of the electronics and technology Negative Red are unlimited and uninhibited. The result is a first offering that challenges any traditional notion of what an unsigned act can deliver.
“There are dozens of extremely talented groups in the area, many of them close friends and allies, but not enough who dare to push the envelope,” says Jae Stevens, a friend of the band who helps with promotion. “[Negative Red] are not afraid to step up and challenge what people in this area think they know about popular music.”
Every aspect has been given meticulous consideration. And, for a genre that sees little mainstream attention, Negative Red’s Arteriole has an appeal for Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails fans alike. You can have a listen by selecting the links option on the band’s website, www.negativered.com. Songs are available for download, or an old-fashioned CD can be purchased by contacting the band. The album is also tentatively going to be available through iTunes.
“Negative Red [are] pretty much the best local band ... They are like nothing else I’ve heard or seen in the local music scene. The sound is simply indescribable and is something you really have to hear for yourself … People who don’t know them, will know them. [Even)]people who don’t like industrial music like them. I can see these guys making it big ... actually I would love to see these guys making it big,” said local fan Ruben Torres.