Red Rose Panic Frontman, Luminari XI
“You know what the Midwest is? Young and restless.” Kanye West
There used to be a time when Akron, Ohio wasn’t on the map. It was a nameless, faceless Midwestern town in the drowsy fly-over district of the United States. The average outsider would be hard-pressed to name a single characteristic of the city.
But then things changed.
The Black Keys
The city now had an identity. Akron could punch in and play with the biggest and best in sports and music. Not only could Akron show up, they could contribute in a major way.
2013: Two boyhood friends decide to pool their collective talent to form a band.
The result: Red Rose Panic, a jazz-rock-alt-hip-hop amalgam that may just have the capacity to be the Next Big Thing to come out of the city.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Red Rose Panic is a five-piece band fronted by emcee, Luminari XI. His verses do not disappoint. He is a talented, evocative lyricist. Luminari has a soothing, nimble delivery that beguiles listeners every bit as much as the compelling, jazzy beats of his bandmates. Styxx (co-founder/producer/guitarist), Reo (drummer), Smoke Face (bassist), and Goldframe Quis (keyboardist) have a hypnotic, free-flowing chemistry that allows for an electrifying live experience.
Tell us a little about yourself. When did you start rapping?
Akron, Ohio…born and raised. I started creatively putting words together, probably, in my 6th grade English class. It stemmed from poetry influenced by skill and art. That later grew into rapping, I’d say, my freshman year in high school. I started releasing music online, like MySpace and stuff, the summer of my senior year.
Talk a little about your early solo work.
My early solo work was fun. I released two projects, “Mental Tactics” in 2010, and “Vagabond Wolf” in 2011. I was referred to by the stage name “Matic Touch” back then. To this day, I am usually referred to as “Matic” by my friends.
How did you and Styxx get together?
Styxx and I have been best friends for about 15 years. He was the first “real” musician that I ever met. All my other friends were just into video games or their studies. He was able to resonate with my inner musical being, and we started creating rough music compositions throughout our teenage years.
What is the origin of the name, “Red Rose Panic?”
“Red Rose Panic” was initially the title to my third solo project. Styxx, at the time, was living in Toledo, Ohio. We both attended the University of Toledo, but I had moved back to Akron and put college on hold. Styxx stayed and continued in Toledo.
Years went by, and it was the first real time where we were disconnected.
While in Akron, I was working on my solo projects–and making a name for myself–musically vibing with the youth in the city.
One day I was on the phone with Styxx and I told him about the next project I was working on titled, “Red Rose Panic.” He really liked the name and told me that he wanted to be part of it in some way, shape, or form.
A year went by, and Styxx moved back to Akron. This was the early part of 2013. Once he was here, maybe a week went by before we decided to make the duo/band “Red Rose Panic” a thing.
Take me through the group’s songwriting process.
The songwriting process usually starts with me, since I’ve written most of the material. Styxx–and now also Goldframe Quis–produce the compositions with me, most times.
It’s interesting in this day and age, due to the technological aspect of things. Sometimes it’s overwhelming and makes something (that should be) easy, not so simple. But, basically, I usually write the core of the song, the band rehearses the music, and we improvise from that point.
What is a typical RRP performance like?
The typical Red Rose Panic performance is a cumulative effort on our end, a show that basically grows stronger as it goes on. We start off mellow, and kind of feel the crowd out. From there, we are very improvisational, and take it up a notch song by song. We want the crowd to get involved in certain spots. We also add a bit of commentary, here and there. I feel as if all our shows are unique. We have a set list going in, but, we usually feel everything out; feel the energy of the room. We dictate the emotion and pace of the show constantly, based on the crowd and type of event. And we always, ALWAYS make sure we are having FUN.
The band has a solid presence on social media, especially on emerging applications like Periscope. What impact does social media have on a young band like Red Rose Panic?
It’s invaluable. Social media can really launch us in a positive direction that would otherwise take years to reach. It’s a way people can contact to us, communicate directly, inquire about gigs, and check out past moments and photos. They can also tune in live if they are out of town or just not able to make a show. We love it. I try to stay on top of it the best I can. (Instagram finally allows the user to seamlessly switch between accounts, thank God!)
As of right now, for 2016, we want to release a new project following up our initial 2014 iTunes release, One Night Standard. This time around, the songs will be more inclusive of other minds. We plan to have a fully live project released mid-spring.
Another goal is to get the hell out of town and do some gigs on the road! We are supposed to go to DC next month, and Indiana this summer.
We did a lot of shows in 2015—some paid, some just to build our base. I believe we are at a point now where we are totally certain who is down for the cause, and we are ready to take everything up a notch.
-Zep the Bear