Red Wanting Blue have become part of The Rock Boat family that sets sail every January for warm Caribbean destinations. The Rock Boat Cruise was founded by the members of Sister Hazel and Sixthman. This year the Rock Boat is going to be heading out to sea for its 22nd year in 2023.
The cruise will sail on the Norwegian Pearl from Miami to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and Nassau Bahamas. Onboard, fans are treated to five days and nights of live music with some of the best singer songwriters and alt rock bands touring today. The Rock Boat is also known to bring some dream collaborations that can only happen when bands are together on the high seas for a week of fun in the sun.
I covered the Rock Boat back in 2017 and one of the bands that I discovered on that trip was Red Wanting Blue. That trip was one of my first tastes of a community of music fans coming together on a boat year after year. Songwriters work together to create new songs and perform them live before the end of the cruise.
We caught up with Scott Terry, lead singer of Red Wanting Blue to talk about The Rock Boat and a little bit about what fans can expect in this year’s edition at sea. Terry also discusses creating new music coming out in the new year.
You’re returning to The Rock Boat in 2023. What’s your favorite part of doing those cruises?
For me now, The Rock Boat is like a family. The Sixthman crew who put it on as a company are such a great group and they’re so supportive of artists and so helpful. I’ve been to their weddings and we’ve all become so close over the years. Our band is going to be celebrating its tenth Rock Boat in 2023.
The same fans come year after year and you get to know them.
It’s a testament to our fans who can’t seem to get enough of us that they’ve insisted on having us back that much. I mean, we’re very lucky. The fans on the boat that come year after year, they’re such a family in their own right that everyone is looking forward to getting together and seeing each other. If you’re a band like us that’s been lucky enough to be sort of inducted into their family, it does very much feel like you’re all going to summer camp together each year.
Rock and roll bands don’t have a Super Bowl or a World Series, you know, we don’t have anything like that. But we do music festivals and it’s a really cool feeling to be like, wow, we’ve gotten to do this music festival and see other bands and friends each year.
There’s a lot of collaborations on The Rock Boat that you’ll never see anywhere else as well.
Absolutely, I totally agree. We have a set that we specifically do on the boat, Red Wanting Blue and Friends. Once we got on the boat the first time, the general sense that I felt was that we were like the little brother band to so many of these other bands that were finally like, we’re glad to know you got on and made it.
We were on the boat with a bunch of friends and we were asking our friends to do a song with us. It just became so easy because we knew so many people already. I think that helped get our foot in the door with fans because then there’s that association with the other bands, which helped get people to see us quickly and they liked what they saw.
We started doing one set on every boat we play where it’s just us and friends. As the years go by, you meet new people. This upcoming boat is great because we have some old friends like Carbon Leaf, Sister Hazel, and Welshly Arms on the boat. But then there’s bands like Magic Giant from California who we met on the boat. So, when you find out they’ll be back on the boat, you say, let’s do a song together in our set. I love it. It’s a lot of work.
If I wasn’t doing music in the way I am now, I would be constantly hounding them to have a job for their [Sixthman] company. They do an amazing job creating an experience that fans and music lovers can’t find anywhere else.
We meet people all the time that say, “So I have friends who go to the Rock Boat, they’ve been going for however many years. They invited us to go. We ultimately decided to do it [and] had one of the greatest times I’ve ever had in my life. And we fell in love with you guys on the boat, now we’re just coming back every year.”
The boat is not only great at making people fall in love with bands, but people fall in love with how they see them. This is such an amazing experience. People have never had anything like this, never felt anything like this before, so they’re definitely doing it again. I personally don’t understand how people can go on cruise ships without a music festival attached. Doesn’t make any sense. Like, what do you do all day? [Laughing]
It’s great to have bands like Barenaked Ladies, the energy of having a band like that or Better Than Ezra, Tonic or Vertical Horizon. I never got to see a lot of these bands when I was younger. And then you get to see them now and they’re collaborating and doing stuff with other people.
It’s such a weird world. You can have a festival where everyone is young and up and coming, which is fine, but what’s cool about Rock Boat is you’re seeing people from all different times in their career. I’ve always appreciated that about this festival [cruise]. You’ve got this great mix.
Someone like Andrew McMahon, I met on the Rock Boat. He’s a super cool dude and he’s a funny guy, too. He’d be like, “What are we all doing here?” I’m excited for this boat. I hope that this boat is going to be a good one. It leaves an impression on you in a way that a normal music festival may not.
We just finished a two-month tour around the United States and everywhere I go, there will be a group of people that are from Rock Boat and we love it.
When we recently interviewed Andrew McMahan, he talked about how he didn’t want to write during the pandemic or remember that time at all. Were you writing during the pandemic?
We will have a new record coming out next year and we’re hopefully finishing up the record in the next few weeks and getting it off to be mixed so we can get it out.
Artists had one of the unique perspectives during the pandemic. A lot of people were asked to stop their work and from that moment forward there were no more live shows. That’s insane. How were people allowed to make that decision for everyone?
We all sat back and I remember people saying, we’re going to take advantage of this time and get some writing done. What do you find yourself writing in those moments? I think a lot of people wrote records that were pandemic-driven and maybe there are some people that are really interested in listening to that. I think it’ll be unique to listen to years from now.
I remember calling and talking to my buddy Will Hoge who produced our last record. I was struggling because everyone I talked to was saying they were writing songs. I called Will and was like, “Hey man, can you be real with me?” And he was like, “Dude, I’ll tell you. I haven’t really been writing, and I’ll tell you why. Because I’m trying to look at this time that we’ve been given for what it is. For guys like us who have to work away from home all the time. It’s a gift to be able to enjoy the time with your family. You should not be stressing out about writing at all right now. Don’t feel like that’s what you do.”
And he was one of the first guys who said, I have a feeling if you do write, you probably won’t necessarily love to sing about or remember what you’re writing about in the first place.Don’t worry about writing. That will come. And it does, it always does. So, I give him a lot of credit for that. He’s a he’s been a good friend. And he talked me off the edge there for a minute.
The songs I wrote right away about how I was feeling and after sitting with it for a while, I didn’t want to write about that and I didn’t think anyone needed it right now. So those songs were scrapped. The people out there who listen to our band, look to our band for energy and the live shows.
We’ve got a strong following for our live shows. So, when the world got back to normal, we thought people would be looking for stuff that was uplifting and good energy.
You have a new single out called “Hey, 84” and the video is nostalgic, how did you come up with the concept?
The record before this latest record, was called The Wanting. And there’s a song on that called “Younger Years”, and it was a song that we kind of broke bread as a band writing and started writing early on, and it came out that way.
I think we kind of said to ourselves let’s go in that direction. It just always seems like the nostalgia of youth and fun. It also helped that Eric’s guitar playing and his writing is so fucking cool. I was like, dude, that sounds like a video game. It was definitely getting into new musical territory. I haven’t heard a guitar sound like that.
When we were sitting together and jamming as a band, which is always fun when you can write songs like that because it reminds me of being a kid. It’s amazing how sometimes you need that kind of literal energy in the room to create songs like that, and I’m grateful for it. I love the moral of that song, which is that “we knew love before we ever even knew what love was.”