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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Interview: Rival Sons


SHINDIG!: You sound like you kick ass live - what have you got coming up that you're excited about gig-wise particularly in the UK?

SCOTT HOLIDAY: We're basically wrapping up a full year of almost constant touring on the back of Pressure & Time. We did a TON of UK dates. It was great. We basically did a solid month tour of only the UK, which is rare for a band from the States...or anywhere I guess. Finished up this album cycle for the UK at Download this year. We might have been the only band that the rain stopped for. LOL. The UK is definitely our 'home away from home'. Here's a funny story: we played the Classic Rock Awards last year and actually got introduced (by Gene Simmons- who we've worked with previously) as "the UK's own - Rival Sons"! Although a classic douche bag move on his part (what a surprise), we could actually dig, as it is near and dear to our hearts.

We will start another tour right at the release of our new album Head Down, which is being released September 17 worldwide. The tour will start in the UK -we'll play all sorts of spots.
Not one in particular sticking out so much yet. Bristol will be great. We have some friends there, in the band Phantom Limb - SOLID people - and a really great band. Looking forward to the lot of the UK dates. Sweden and Norway...Switzerland...those places are always quite good to us. The whole tour is gonna be a blitzkrieg! Everyone has been too good us.

SD!: New bands: people always bang on about the retro side of things - who are your favorite bands around at the moment, thinking Black Keys, Sheepdogs, Gentleman’s Pistols, Black Crowes, Wolf Mother, etc?

SH: The Retro tag is tired. I'm sure you guys get a bit of that too. We live NOW. Make music NOW for the people of, you guessed it, NOW. Definitely not trying to re-live another era at all. We just make rock & roll. My influences span from the turn of the century till right now…
It would be foolish for me to deny the BIG influence that the early blues artists, or 50's and 60's rock has had on my musical appreciation and on my life. But I listen to everything...everything GOOD that is. And y'know? Good is good in ANY era or genre.
I love the Black Keys, Brothers is a damn masterpiece. Tons of others: Graveyard (great guys, great band), Jack White is THE man, love everything he does is brilliant dude. One of my current faves is The Greenhornes. How about Dungen (from Sweden), The Black Angels, Alabama Shakes, Howlin' Rain, Wilco, Alexander, I dig that first Wolfmother record.  Phantom Limb, loved the first couple Kings Of Leon records, dig the Hives, Soundtrack of Our Lives, Radiohead never fails, earthlings?, PJ Harvey, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, tons more I'm leaving out...

SD!:  If you do want to talk old bands - tell us your inspirations please. Led Zep, Free, The Doors? Anything weirder also?

SH: This could go even longer...and get much weirder than the three bands you mentioned. Listening to the Small Faces Ogden's Nut Gone Flake as I'm doing the interview here.
Listen, I dig a lot of music. Maybe I should just throw out a couple from a few genres and eras to make it easier on myself. I wont go too far back, don't wanna get too crazy. I'll stick to Blues, Soul, and Rock n Roll...leaving out other genres to not get too outta hand.

Everyone should listen to:
-early blues: Son House, John Lee Hooker, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Earl Hooker, Blind Willie McTell, and Blind Willie Johnson.
-Gypsy Jazz guitar great Django Reinhardt - anything
-jazz icons like miles davis, Coltrane, thelonious monk, duke Ellington, charlie parker, wes montgomery, and count Basie.
-great soul singers like - billy Holliday, nina Simone, Aretha, ella, otis redding, Stevie wonder, sam cooke, wilson Pickett, Mavis Staples, Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, and Ray Charles.
-The architects of Rock N Roll..chuck berry, little Richard, Fats Domino, Ike Turner and Bo diddly...
-White boy architects — (Sun Records recording artists) …Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis...plus Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Bill Haley, and Les Paul.
-The first british invasion- Beatles Beatles, Beatles, stones, stones, stones...the who, the small faces, yardbirds, the animals, the them (featuring Van Morrison), the zombies, pretty things, and the KINKS!
-American garage rock/psych like: the chocolate watchband, the amboy dukes, the kingsmen, the knickerbockers, the barbarians, the SEEDS, the Standels, the Blue Magoos, and the 13th floor elevators..many more.
-the funkateers- James brown, parliament/funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, the temptations, sly and the family stone, and more
-the usual suspects and other tops for me- Jeff Beck group, HENDRIX, john mayall, cream, fleetwood mac (peter greens), zeppelin, Dylan, Floyd, Neil Young - Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, CCR, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top, the Faces, Traffic, the stooges, MC5, Allman Brothers, Zappa, Captain Beefheart, the Band, Flamin Groovies, Dr John..

SD!: Clothes - looking great - where do you get them from / influences?

SH:  Thanks. I'm not overly particular about origin. I'll vintage hunt: go through mum and dads closet (old hippies/hipsters), hit the regular shops for stuff, AND I have some handmade one of a kind pieces too. I have a beautiful pinstripe suit I quite like, custom made for me by Ray Brown. I actually designed it with him. Also recently got a kick ass pair of boots from my pals over Jeffery West. The skulls and evil doodads they'll do aren't my bag at all, but they also create some very clean stylish stuff. Getting another pair soon. Always picking new stuff up though, influences are from all sorts. I can, of course, dig the smart digs on the Mod dudes. I wear a lot of jackets, clean pants, slacks, suits, clean boots, and then I'll mix in a little more looseness. I dig what Keef had going on in their heyday, I probably riff off him a bit. What rock guitar player doesn't? George Harrison had it right for a minute. The Smalls…Really just trying to pull from, overall a handful of these feels and do something personal with it, y'know? And keep it evolving. It might change drastically at any moment.

SD!: Anywhere you want to go to in London while you’re over, rock history-wise?

SH: We've done a fair few things over the course of the last couple years. We're in the UK more than the US these days. We played the Roundhouse, did Abbey Road, I recorded for a couple months (a few years back) in Olympic Studios (before they shut it down), my drummer just played with Steve Winwood and Daltry (among others) at the Royal Albert Hall - I attended that! Denmark Street is my favorite guitar shop street, hands down - and our label is right around the corner. Played a fair few pretty legendary spots around town too. Not too sure what we'll aim for next. Recently did BBC 2 with Bob Harris. That fellas' rock history in the flesh! 

SD!: Looking forward to the album coming out. What do you feel you’ve achieved with this one?

SH:  We toured for over a year straight on the back of Pressure & Time, lots of improvisation. Making a lot of shit up on a nightly basis - getting very tuned in. Doing this made us closer to each other, the songs, and our audience. Much more in touch. That said, I think we put together a more live, conversational record (musically) than any of our others. It's our 4th record technically. We knew where we wanted to fill in the gaps. It's more of a "long-form" record for us too, which I wanted because that will better reflect the live show. We really got to stretch out, hit some new influences. I definitely got to explore and show a few new tricks in my bag. That's what its all about though, right? Pushing your personal boundaries. It still sounds very much like a Rival Sons record though. I think it's definitely our best 'sounding' record sonically. And most complete, as far as the concept, songs, artwork. And I will mention it's a DOUBLE VINYL which I can really dig, with gatefold cover of a beautiful painting created for us by Jason Holley.

SD!: How’s L.A. for bands in 2012 - healthy?

SH:  Los Angeles is a happening place, so theres always something going on. I'm actually a little unqualified to speak on my hometowns behalf, as i've spent most of the year in Europe and the UK. And most of my serious musician buddies have been on the road too. So I don't know. Its seemed a little dry at home for a while now, like an in-between stage. Even when we started the band we'd play tons of local gigs and just kinda make our own scene. I'm really from Huntington Beach, a beach city about 20 min south of LA, and I'm now living in Long Beach. That town has a pretty great musician pool, and a cool scene. Healthy enough. 

SD!:  The album sounds like you rocked up and just banged it out (as it should do) - where was it recorded & who with?

SH: We certainly did. 22 days to write, record, and mix the whole thing...exactly the way we did Pressure & Time. Recording together live, capturing 1st, 2nd, 3rd takes not only that we played but that we had EVER even played the song TOGETHER. Very raw and off the cuff. Keeps it fresh and inspired. We want to give the listener that experience, like you're hearing the moment of inspiration, you're hearing our first instincts. I've always felt you're either gonna get it right in four takes, or 40. Meaning if it's not 'there' when take a stab at it initially, you'll have to go thru a process of learning it, adjusting it until its perfect then loosening it back up again to sound natural and alive. We recorded with the same producer we've done all our records with: Dave Cobb. He'd been living in LA (Silverlake) for the last six years or so. We'd work at his home studio. Now he's moved to Nashville, built a new home studio there so thats where we worked this time. Nashville, Tennessee: great city, great people, just INUNDATED with music and recording studios everywhere.

SD!: Anything you’d like to say to Shindig! mag readers in particular?

SH: This mag is the shit! Many of the stories and bands covered in here are in danger of moving into deep obscurity. Don't let that happen. Keep the good stuff alive! And if you go check out our records, or are a fan already just know - this is OUR shit too. It's not about 'copying' or plagiarism, its about catching a spirit, an influence. Taking it in, and turning into something new, something your own. More people/bands should catch the spirit of the acts covered in Shindig!

SD!:  Career highs to date - Alice Cooper and AC/DC?

SH: Alice was all right. Don't get me wrong, I'm a great fan of the early 70's stuff. "Love You To Death" is my jam.. But for me it seemed his show leaned a little heavy on the sonic territory and visual aspect of his 80's career, which doesn't appeal to me at all. Still a great honour - the man's a total classic. Would love to hit a round of golf with him. AC/DC on the other hand were absolutely MIND MELTINGLY awesome. Little tiny balls of fire, they are! Thoroughly enjoyed that one. We did a really fun show with the Eagles Of Death Metal this tour in Prague. We have a bunch of mutual friends with those dudes, I love that band. Good guys.

Our shows right now are getting bigger and bigger. More of them are straight selling out or at least packing in. Festival slots are getting pretty good, money is getting better. The most recent tours feel like the real 'career highs' to me. Playing with our heros and big bands is very very cool, but gaining ground on our own merit and hard work feels like more of a career high than a support slot. We're riding the high...as we speak.

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