Wednesday 11st April, we rush to a Parisian venue called La Flèche d’Or for the last gig of the Rival Sons’ European spring tour. In just a few years, this Californian band has achieved more than some band in a decade. Tough deal to play some high gain, powerful rhythm & blues in an era of electronic music and sampled dancefloor hits. We are going to meet these rock n’roll outlaws who make us travel back to the 70’s and say “rock n’roll is not dead!”. Jay Buchanan (vocals), Scott Holiday (guitar), Robin Everhart (bass) et Mike Miley (drums) are the Rival Sons. Just before the show, we were awarded by an interview with Scott, the six string killer and riff master of this four piece band.
Hi Scott, thank you for your time. How was the tour?
Scott Holiday (guitar) : The tour has been amazing man! Very busy, we had a first ride in the UK, a big UK run with Black Stone Cherry. And before we even set foot in the UK, the entire thing was sold out, which is pretty cool. It’s pretty fun to go on tour and know that it’s wacked down for the whole run. That was actually pretty cool. They had a pretty chilled schedule, where they have like two days on and a day off, and then three day on and a day off. When we do our tours it’s rather like five days on and a day off. Really busy, you know… So, yeah, this time it was more restful, the drives were comfortable and everything. And then, we’ve been over here, in Europe, I think it’s been three weeks now. We’ve been doing our headline tour, and it’s either sold out or doing very very well every night. That’s amazing because we played through Easter, and in some countries vacations go on all week. Even in Norway, that was our closest show to Easter time and it was one of our biggest headlining gig. There was like 1300 to 1400 people. That was awesome.
So you got some good feedback for the European tour. Pretty satisfied by it?
S : Yeah, entirely man. We’re good on schedule and we’re lucky.
Are you happy to be back in Paris less than six month after your last show here?
S : Yeah, this was a good time in Paris too, we went to the French Mojo Magazine release party last night and then we did a bit of tourist stuff. Like Notre Dame, downtown, and have some French lunch, with French onion soup & coffee. That was actually very nice, with the grated cheese on top and all. Yeah, good times.
Going a bit in the deep of the subject, how would you explain the band’s growth in a small lapse of time? Do you have any hints for fresh new bands who would like to follow your steps?
S : Well, I think that being confident and sure of what you are doing is probably the entry to accomplish your art. Beyond that, I think that it’s a real lot of work. You know we are not being paid back monetarily in a huge way or anything at this point. Now we’re just constantly on the road, constantly meeting the fans, constantly talking to find people like yourself, to familiarize people, and bring it to them, you know what I mean… That’s what you have to do, it’s a breakneck phase, but that’s how it is, and it’s usually pretty great. I guess the feedback we’ve had, has made it a lot easier. It’s a lot of work; get the right people behind you too. The team is like planets aligning, for a band to search the break through. You don’t usually realize that when you’re a kid, you don’t have the knowledge of the industry, and when you’re in it you start to realize. When a band barely starts to get noticed, it’s literally like 10 planets aligning, the publicist is onboard, and the record label is pushing it at the right time, radios on different territories pushing at the right time. All of these are moving parts, you know what I mean.
Cool. What about your influences? All of you guys have a very strong musical background. I’ve seen that funny part, in the Rival Sons’ EPK, of Robin going on and on about his influences in fast motion…
S : Oh yeah, I’m responsible for that part. I was putting the stuff together with a video friend of mine. And I was like, ok, that’s what we’re gonna do, cause he gave like so many, fast motion made it really funny. Since I saw the first editing I kinda knew which ones I was gonna throw in. As I could see what everybody already said, I was like, ok, no one is gonna say these really obvious Rock n’ Roll. But, yeah, we listen to all lot of music, on a daily basis we’ll have, Jazz, Classical, Funk, Soul, besides Rock n’ Roll. We play such raw rock n’roll, that listening to a live Miles Davis, or classical music, erases the mind. Cleans it up really quickly. Just before we put our “slob” all over it. We appreciate it all; of course dirty rock n’ roll too. Mid 60’s sounds like Martins, Small Faces, The Who, Animals, all of ‘em. We sure appreciate the dirty stuff too.
Although your sound is very contemporary we feel a strong classic rock fluid in it. Do you consider yourselves part of a legacy of rock n’roll?
S : Hummm, I don’t think we are part of a legacy, but maybe we will become part of a legacy. You know there are a few bands nowadays that I see, and I know that they did it. They won’t be easily forgotten, they’ve played a role in the linage of rock n’roll. It is really forthcoming from me to think about us at this time. But I think that we could help that, we might fit in some area. In people’s musical heart, you know what I mean. Just being in someone’s record collection would be cool for me. You know, as I said before, there’s so much work involved, and not so much pay back. It comes so much further down the line. Even for a band like The Black Keys, they’ve been working so hard for a good decade at least, and they’re just barely noticed now and joining the line ups on major festivals. And, at last, financially getting paid back for all that time. They are doing good over here, but many years for many years of not. So if you don’t love it, and don’t have the good reasoning on why you wanna do this, and what it fulfills for you as a person, as an artist, as a mission, then it becomes really difficult or almost impossible.
Speaking of legacy, you guys play some raw high gain blues rock type of sound. What I realized while listening to your previous records and to “Pressure And Time” is that on this release you’ve got a real Rival Sons signature. We just get it straight on. Do you use some vintage gear? Is it a way to make people remember the “Good ol’ days”?
S : I think that there are tones in my head and in my record collection that I can recognize and say that’s the sound; I really like it, and so on with another band, another song, another part of a song. That tune, that area. Of course, as any type of musician, you tend to achieve some kind of sonic goal that tickles you in your life. So yeah, that is a search of sonic, kinda like, similarities. But the overall feeling is that, even in a song, we’re not aiming to have the same solo tone, the same drum tone. It’s more about spreading it out as a fabric. A lot of elements get into the creative process. We all share our ideas. It is a melting pot where we all try to achieve different things. Some other times, we’re just playing, you know, with beautiful instruments.
Like the Reverse Firebird 99?
S : Yeah, on this record we just finished I played a 1960 335 with the Bigsby, which is just a beautiful. We were not aiming at any tone, it was just, let’s try a few amps and see what it sounds like. That’s what we do on all our records, just experimenting. Trying to have a sonic honesty and playing what sounds the best. On tour in the UK I used the Orange OR50, and it’s a killer amp. One of the best amps for me so far.
Yeah! So last night of the tour here in Paris, I’ve recently seen an interview of Ben Dorcy, the world’s oldest roadie, who toured with Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons…, and still touring. He’s got this quote: “The road is the most beautiful and toughest place on earth.” What do you think about that?
S : That’s quite wise and accurate. When you go over so much territory, you meet so many people… and strange for a band too. You get praised on and all… you can’t let that go to your head to much, because you’re doing your job. But, sure it is the most beautiful thing to meet all these people, visit all these places, and see all these cool things. Like where we are right now, this spot is so cool or seeing Notre Dame yesterday and the Eiffel Tower or just wondering in this beautiful city that Paris is. At the same time, we have families, we miss home, it starts to grind you down, it becomes a bit hot and cold emotionally. A lot of people have problems with intoxication on the road. It starts out very mild and by the end of the tour everybody totally yanked, and they are of their rope. So, yeah that statement is pretty wise.
Last question of this interview: Our webzine is called “RockYourLife!”, what does rock your life Scott?
S : What does rock my life? Hummm. Paris rocks my life man! Paris rocked my life pretty hard for the last few days. I didn’t even realize how many beautiful women you had here until we hit the city center. Wow, that rocked it along with the beautiful architecture, smells and sounds that come from here. So, yeah, Paris rocks my life. And I shall say that the French men have that shit on lock down because all the beautiful women I saw had a man on their arm. These dudes got them down. Don’t let them fly away…
Thank you again for your time Scott.
Thank you man, it was nice seeing you again
Website : rivalsons.com