By Jillian Dawson
There’s no denying when Travis Schinke enters the room, you notice. In my mind, he is the quintessential rock star. He’s got that look to him – the beat up jeans and Chuck Taylors, scruffy beard and some sort of sunglasses with black or neon frames. He is loud but charismatic. The times I’ve encountered Schinke during a happy hour, the scene always plays out the same: He entertains the bartender with stories from the road which always leads to hilarious and occasionally crude conversation. At first the other patrons don’t know what to think about him, stealing uncertain glances at him and laughing nervously. By the end of the night, everyone is engaging in conversation with Schinke and telling the bartender to throw his next round on their tab. This is exactly why Schinke is the perfect front man for a rock band.
In an often overlooked genre around the Fox Cities, Red Light Saints have had a successful run that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. This past year earned them a WAMI for ‘Best Hard Rock Band’ and ‘Best Male Vocalist’ nomination for Schinke. The band boasts two previous coast to coast tours, performances at Summerfest and Rock USA four years in a row, not to mention touring with the likes of Judas Priest, Buckcherry, 3 Days Grace, Hoobastank, Candlebox, Bret Michaels… the list goes on. The band is currently working on a new album and has a spring tour in the works in support of a major band they’re anxiously waiting to announce.
This Thursday will feature the Red Light Saints at Rock Garden Studio for a live-recording performance of new and past material starting at 7pm.
Getting stories behind the music from Schinke proved more difficult than I anticipated. Comparing his band mates, Luke, Lane, Ben and Andy to Power Rangers and taking inspiration from chicken nuggets was not exactly what I had in mind from a singer who is so passionate about not only his own band, but music itself. However, in true Travis-fashion, he came back swinging at the last minute with some words on where it all began:
“When I was younger, I was pretty lost. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I never had something that I believed in. There was a void. When I was about eight years old, I had a ton of great rock albums. MTV was at its peak, life was great! My favorite band at that time was Guns N' Roses. There was one particular afternoon I'll never forget. My friends and I were gathered in my mom's living room and had been drinking Mountain Dew and rocking out for hours. My mom came through the door at the exact moment that Janet Jackson was licking her own boob in a music video on MTV. Now, I knew that music was a powerful thing but I hadn't seen anything yet. After the initial screaming and freaking out, my mom sent me up to my room to collect my CD's -we're talking R.E.M., Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, etc - and drove me down to the CD exchange. I was forced to trade in my records for Bon Jovi. BON JOVI! Now, I have come to love Bon Jovi over the years because, let’s face it, I'm older now and I love cheesy music from my youth. But, at that time in my life, it felt like my world had collapsed. The music that I had identified with had been stripped from my grasp and I didn't know what to do. I remember sitting on my bed and it was at the exact moment I realized that rock n' roll was the most powerful music in the world. It's because of that singular event that I was going to be hooked on music for the rest of my life.”
“When I got older I went with a good friend to a Deftones concert in Milwaukee at the Eagles Ballroom. I saw their singer, Chino Moreno, climb the speakers in the Rave Hall- he looked like a god. I remember Chino preaching from the top of that speaker stack. He told us that we could achieve anything we wanted. It was the most powerful thing I had ever heard anyone say and I took it for gospel. I remember how empowered he made me feel, like I had found my people. I've been in many bands since that day but every time I take the stage whether it be in front of hundreds or thousands of people, I think of the much younger version of myself that once stood in the crowd. That kid who just thinks the world of the music I play. I set out each night to reach that kid. I feel like if I can do that, I have succeeded. Why this band? This band is my vehicle. It is with this band that I can accomplish anything. This band is extension of self. This isn't just a band. It's a culture, it's a lifestyle. It's pure. It's beautiful. This band is for everyone who wants to feel something. Like really fucking feel something. It's here to inspire us all”
Catch Red Light Saints this Thursday, September 29th at Rock Garden Studio, 7pm and Friday September 30th at the Shack Concert Hall in Fon Du Lac at 8pm with Pop Evil.