“I think we are rock’s greatest odd couple,” says Mike Ruekberg, who comprises one half of the retro-sounding duo, The Red Button. “We don’t agree on much, but we do agree on music!”
“I was finishing up a solo CD in the studio and there was Mike just hanging out and we just got into a conversation about music,” elaborated the other half, Seth Swirsky. “We both love the three-minute pop songs and thought, ‘We can’t do this.’ Then we thought, ‘We both listen to and love music ranging from Smokey Robinson to Celine Dion. Yes we can.’ I mean; why not? I’ve written songs for Taylor Dayne (‘Tell It to My Heart’), Rufus Wainwright (‘Instant Pleasure’), Tina Turner and Al Green as well as three bestselling books about baseball and I’ve made a documentary called ‘Beatles Stories.’ I think we can write some pop songs (laughs).”
So the duo set out to write the music that they enjoyed. In 2007, they released their first album, She’s About to Cross My Mind. Then, in 2011, a second effort, As Far As Yesterday Goes.
“Mike and I didn’t want to be The Rutles,” said Swirsky. “We are both good at writing three-minute pop songs, so that’s where we went to work. I brought the pretty stuff and he usually dirtied it up (laughs). Me personally, I want to make a melody that you can’t get out of your head.”
“Seth and I bonded immediately,” says Ruekberg. “I heard his record before I ever actually met him and he was singing with an English accent; I think I made fun of him (laughs). Then we both discovered our love of the Beatles and we got into a deep discussion about ‘Lady Madonna.’ We were like a couple of Talmudic rabbis.”
As he laughed about his analogy, he went on to summarize his take on the band: “This is where we indulge ourselves. We get to go British.”
Swirsky wholeheartedly agrees with his partner. Both he and Ruekberg are ecstatic with what they’ve achieved thus far and are very excited about the recent release, on the Jersey-based Jem label, of their latest two-CD set called Now It’s All This!, featuring 33 tracks of re-mastered previous releases, six new songs and four “Unplugged Rarities.”
“Marty Scott over at Jem Records is really the one to thank for this,” said Swirsky. “We had a bunch of songs recorded and wanted to get them out there, you know, to give our fans the latest and greatest (laughs). We just felt that it was time. Our first record sold like 15,000 copies and that came out of the blue and took us by surprise. We then figured, ‘Okay, maybe we’ve got something here,’ so we made another one and this one revisits some of each and some new tracks with some surprises.”
Even though they’ve both had behind the scenes writing for others, as Swirsky explained, they are quite dedicated to the product that they produce for the public: “We don’t just write songs to take up space on an album. When we write, we write with the intention of being really good. We never say, ‘Yeah, okay, that’s close enough.’
“Albums are a lot of work. In spite of all of the dangers of putting one out, we just do it and I think it’s because Mike and I have a real passion for what we do. We just want people to feel good and to us that is the coolest thing.”
For more about The Red Button, visit theredbutton.com.
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