Home arrow News & Reviews arrow Stereoboard Talk To Rival Sons Following The Release Of New Album 'Head Down' And Recent UK Tour

Stereoboard Talk To Rival Sons Following The Release Of New Album 'Head Down' And Recent UK Tour

Wednesday, 17 October 2012 Written by Simon Ramsay
Stereoboard Talk To Rival Sons Following The Release Of  New Album 'Head Down' And Recent UK Tour

With their explosive new album 'Head Down' receiving rave reviews and having recently completed a sold out tour of the UK, Los Angeles rock n' roll heroes Rival Sons are riding high on the crest of a wave that's threatening to turn into an all conquering tsunami pretty damn soon. It builds on a tremendous 2011 for the guys, with their sophomore release 'Pressure And Time' being voted second best album of the year by Classic Rock Magazine and the quartet themselves – Jay Buchanan, Scott Holiday, Robin Everhart and Mike Miley – receiving the accolade of 'best new band' from the listeners of Planet Rock Radio. We caught up with guitarist Scott Holiday to discuss the making of the new album, how the guys feel about the UK and what it takes to make great rock n' roll music.

ImageHi Scott. Firstly, 'Head Down' is a blindingly good album that's been getting fantastic reviews so congratulations! It was written, recorded and mixed in three weeks just like your previous album 'Pressure And Time'. Why do you work that way and how does it influence the sound of your music?
We've done it that way from the start. It was a conscious idea not to overwork the songs, the production or the overall feeling...and to keep the energy alive and inspired on the records.

'Head Down' is bigger, bolder and stylistically more diverse than Pressure and Time. Was there a conscious decision to make that kind of album before entering the studio or did it evolve naturally during the recording process?
Both...kind of. We're always thinking of pushing ourselves and expanding our musical output to make a new, bigger statement each time out. Hopefully all bands think the same way. Having said that, the nature of the way we do things makes it all unravel very naturally... and quickly.

Dave Cobb produced 'Head Down' after working with you on your previous albums. What does he bring to the band and was there ever any question of working with someone else?
We've done 4 records with Dave (three studio albums and one self titled EP) and he basically works like a 5th band member. It's really just the 5 of us and maybe 1 engineer for the whole process, working very quickly, and capturing everything we can. I think there's very few producers these days that want to - or even CAN - make a record the way we do. It's a lost art and whilst there's still other guys doing it that way there seems to be less and less of them all the time. Dave has worked out really well for us. He's great at finding the sounds we want and helping us to find new ones. He's also a good co-writer and a friend. So we've stuck with him. Of course we've thought about working with a few other guys, but not too seriously.

How do you start writing a new song – does it begin with an individual idea or from jamming in the studio? For example, what was the genesis of 'Keep On Swinging'?
Keep On Swinging started with me bringing in the main riff. Many songs start like that. Then we'll get in the room together and start formulating and jamming out the other parts. Right about the time we feel ready to record it our producer will peek his head in and say "great, guys!...we got it!" And we'll be like "we haven't even done one take yet!" But the tape is always rolling, and that's how it goes sometimes.



A couple of the new tracks – 'Wild Animal' and 'Until The Sun Comes' – are more mellow with Jay singing in a different style. Was that a deliberate attempt to get away from comparisons with certain classic rock bands?
No. We're always being inspired by new things and wanting to move in different directions. Trust me - It can get A LOT weirder. We've stayed pretty honed in on our sound thus far. Our influences could actually put us in deep space! We constantly have to remind each other that we're making a rock n' roll record.

Tell us about 'Nava' and 'Manifest Destiny' Parts 1 and 2. How did those songs develop and was the emotive lyrical subject a preconceived idea?
'Nava's an acoustic instrumental I wrote for my daughter. Her name's 'Nava' and I immediately felt the song belonged to her when I wrote it. I also gave it to Jay during the recording sessions, and he wrote the album's closing track, 'True', to it. Each version felt important and special in it's own way, so we decided to put both on the record. With regards the Manifest suite, I had decided to take 'Manifest Destiny pt1' into improvisational territory before Jay had written to either pt1 or 2, then he decided to connect them both with the lyrical concept. Which totally made sense to me, musically and conceptually.

How many takes did you need to nail the awesome guitar solo on 'Manifest Destiny Part 1'?
That's one take. The first one!

Who writes the lion's share of the lyrics and is there an overall theme for the new album that ties all the tracks together?
Jay writes all the lyrics. The only time I wrote lyrics was on our debut album 'Before The Fire', which was technically before Jay joined the band. I wrote all those lyrics with some co-writes from Dave Cobb. There are a few themes from my point of view on the new record, definitely from a musical perspective. Lyrically? Well, that would be a question for Jay.

'All The Way' sounds like a hell of a fun track to record. Were the words improvised on the spot as they have a very spontaneous feel to them?
No. Jay wrote that story and had the idea for the song. I came up with all my parts, just ear candy and fun little fuzz bits. It was actually one of the least likely songs to make the album, but in the end we all felt it was important to include because it's a really fun track. I'm glad it's on there.

Who designed the striking artwork for the new album and what does it represent?
Well, there's plenty of symbolism going on but it would be a terrible spoiler to give my perspective on it. It's best to let everyone see it and think what they want. I can tell you it was painted (oil on canvas) by Jason Holley. He did a great job and it's a beautiful piece that's very representative of the album.

Congratulations on you current sold out tour of the UK! How are the new songs going down live and which are you enjoying playing the most?
Thanks! The UK has been sooooo good to us. Our "home away from home" we call it! The new songs are going over brilliantly too and we play a good portion of the new record every night. Songs like 'Keep on Swinging', 'Run From Revelation', You Want To', 'Jordan', and 'Manifest Destiny Pt1' seem to be working really well at every show.

As a very spontaneous recording outfit I imagine your songs must take on a life of their own when you're playing them on stage?
Yes they do. It's a very symbiotic relationship. Not just between the band, but between the band and the audience.

You played at last year's Classic Rock Awards in front of legends like Jeff Beck – was that nerve-wracking or was it something you were able to really enjoy?
Not too nerve-wracking. A little maybe, just because we only rehearsed for about 2 hours in total, and had never played an acoustic set as a band before that! But it went OK...and I got to hang with Jeff Beck and Brian May(!) ha!!

When you and Jay first met you talked about what was missing from rock & roll and what was right with it. So – what's missing and what's right with it?
Missing: The blues, real bravado, fun, soul, danger, groove, teeth (sharp ones), swagger, dirtyness, heritage, pedigree, skill – without becoming a gay virtuoso band! Right: Bands and artists who haven't left out the above!

A lot of people see you as the saviours of rock music – does that inspire you or does the responsibility weigh heavily on your shoulders?
We don't EVER wear that jacket. We're just a band - 4 dudes that make rock n' roll music - that's it. If people like it, even LOVE it, then that's killer. We'll come to your town. Buy a ticket, buy our shirt, buy our records. That'll mean we can keep on doing it. People may say we're the next this band and that but look, we're merely standing in the shadows of the legends, trying to do our bit and have a great time. We simply want to bring good times and good rock n' roll to people. That's it.

Does it frustrate you that rock music doesn't receive much mainstream exposure and are you on a mission to change that?
Whatever. It's all on rotation, popular today and pass้ tomorrow. When something is right and good - REALLY good - people will take notice. I'm on a mission to make a living, playing rock n' roll all over the world. It's a great job to give people a great time every night. I just wanna do that.

What do you want your music to achieve – can you envisage a time when you're playing arenas and stadiums as many critics have predicted?
Sure, why not? I mean, we could get into the nuts and bolts of the business and discuss why that's not happening - and IF it can happen again. But I will say yes, I can envision this band headlining arenas. If we don't, we'll headline something else instead!

Head Down' has broadened the scope of your music – where do you go from here?
I'll have to answer that at the end of this album/touring cycle. I don't premeditate that too much as it would take away the spontaneity when we go back to make our next record.

Given how influenced you are by the music of the 60's and 70's – when are you going to release the mythic double album!?! Or better still – the double live album!?!
Head Down is technically a double vinyl ;)

What's next for you guys now you've finished touring the UK?
More touring. Into North America...then the US...then back to the UK and Europe. Make a few videos. Then make another record and do it all over again.

I'm sure I speak for all rock fans when I say thanks for releasing such a fantastic album and for continuing to fly the flag for our beloved genre of music. Long may it continue!!
God Bless You!

Rivals Sons current album 'Head Down' is available now. Check out Stereoboard's review of the album here



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