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Lead singer Trash McSweeney on The Red Paintings as a uniquely artistic ride

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The Red Paintings is an experimental rock group from Australia that has been sharing their unique artistry since 2000. Their shows incorporate live art, human canvases, and theatrics and encompass a range in genre found in their music. The Red Paintings has an upcoming show with Spacehog + Sponge tomorrow, Dec. 13, at Route 20 Outhouse in Racine, WI. Today, in anticipation of their upcoming show, lead singer/creator Trash McSweeney took the time to share about the group and their style .

Emily Carl: Have you ever performed in Wisconsin before?

Trash McSweeney: Yes! We’ve played Wisconsin with The Dresden Dolls and also on another tour with …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. It was great both times.

EC: How did the group get started and how long have you each been playing?

TS: I had an idea for a band mixing art and music as one and set off to create it. I have synaesthesia (seeing music as colour) and it’s been a big part of the inspiration behind what I do. The band as a performance art concept has been alive for quite some time, though the players involved sometimes change to keep things alive – it’s hard to stay in it for the long haul when being in a band is an expensive and tough ride!

EC: Who are your influences, musically and artistically in general?

TS: Too many to name, but especially Mark Ryden, Something For Kate, Bjork.

EC: How would you describe your music/genre to those who have never heard it before?

TS: Orchestral sci fi art rock!

EC: For those who have never seen The Red Paintings show, what can they expect?

TS: An artistic delirium like no other.

EC: When writing songs, does the visual aspect come during the process or afterwards?

TS: Both really. All depends on what I'm inspired by. Sometimes a painting, sometimes an emotion or sound.

EC: What can you tell us about the live onstage art show and the submissions you're seeking from local artists?

TS: People submit their works to us and then we invite them to paint with us. We look for people passionate about their art to share their energy with us on stage in real time painting with the music. If you’d like to get involved, email us at or visit our artist submissions page where we post artworks submitted from all around the world and those created on stage each night.

EC: How would you describe synesthesia to others and how has it affected your work?

TS: In my case it's music as color. I now write songs in color and sometimes it’s difficult to express that verbally! I look for the music to match what my head and my heart and seeing and feeling.

EC: What inspired you to incorporate live art, human canvases, and theatrics into your shows?

TS: The art movement DADA from the early 1900s, an incredible fusion of art, politics, music and other mediums used to influence society and culture. I wanted to bring that energy and passion into the 21st Century.

EC: What do you hope people take away from The Red Paintings performance?

TS: Inspiration to change the world.

EC: Is there anything else you'd like to share about the band/live performances/album?

TS: We love animals. We hope one day people will stop eating them.

The Red Paintings will perform with Space Hog + Sponge tomorrow, Dec. 13 at Racine's Route 20 Outhouse starting at 6:30 p.m. Their new album, "The Revolution Is Never Coming", was released on Sept. 30 and is available via digital album on iTunes or in stores. The album uses a 35-piece orchestra, a 22-piece choir, and took 5 years to create. The album's first single "Wasps" premiered with its music video at mtvU, where it was compared to Nine Inch Nails and 30 Seconds to Mars. For more information on The Red Paintings and to see upcoming tour dates, visit

View the video for “Wasps” now online at:


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