RIVAL SONS vocalist Jay Buchanan and guitarist Scott Holiday recently spoke with Sweden's RockSverige. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether the band's surroundings influence the direction of their new album, "Feral Roots":
Jay: "Absolutely. I think that those two days in Muscle Shoals [Sound Studio, a famous recording facility in Sheffield, Alabama], that was part of the last session of the three sessions that made up the recording of 'Feral Roots'. Scott and I had been working on the tracks that we were getting ready to record. He and I had been working on these songs and going back and forth on writing and arranging how things were going to go. Once we got down to Muscle Shoals, there was an environment there that informed the way we went about things."
Scott: "It's got a funky basement. Right when you walk in there, you know shit went down. We had a shape of the album — we kind of knew what shape it was taking — and we had saved these really juicier or deeper kind of tracks for the end of the session. Me and Jay knew we had songs that were like, 'These are immediately going to be gratifying. They're quick punches. They're right for the jugular. Let's do those first — let's get those out of the way.' Well, not out of the way, but, 'Let's emphasize those so that the label or any of us, we know we have this in the bank. That way, we can kind of come back to these, I don't know, diamonds.'"
Jay: "I also feel these songs that were saved for that last session, they needed time to be distilled. They were sophisticated in a different way, and they needed that kind of space — like, work on it for a while, sit back, 'Okay, does that feel right as the statement?' Those last songs were the ones more than any on the record [where we thought], 'Okay, let's let it cook a little bit longer'... I'm so glad that we went down there."
Scott: "We ended up having a great time. It's kind of funny – the record is 11 tracks, and we spent three weeks recording and mixing, and four of the tracks were cut in two days. That's how it goes."
On the inspiration behind the album's title:
Jay: "I grew up in the woods, like, two miles back on a dirt road, with a lot of silence. You're surrounded by nature and wild animals and all that. That was in Southern California, in a town called Wrightwood. I had to leave town at 19 because I knew I had to play music — I can't stay in a small town [and make it]. I moved down to Orange County and [then] out to Long Beach, and you're just trying to get your hustle on — you've got to play shows, you've got to do all this stuff. So, I find myself living in the city for years and years and years, and I just wanted to get back to the woods... Nature created us. We came from nature. We didn't create nature, and that wilderness and that feral part within us still lives there. That is part of why we always try to get back to nature — we try to go camping and spend that time [outdoors], and that's why it calms us. 'Feral Roots', that narrative is really from giving recognition to the wild nature that is still within you – that part of you that you won't let be domesticated."
On the band's soul music influences:
Jay: "Aretha Franklin's kind of a big one. She, along with so many other people, have tracked some of their finest work in that very studio — and not just Muscle Shoals, but also [Nashville's] RCA Studio A, where we tracked the majority of the record. So many of these giants have made history in that very room that we were recording in. It makes you want to bring your A game, and I believe the band definitely did."
On the band's relationship with producer Dave Cobb:
Jay: "It's just no bullshit. Dave knows exactly who we are, and I think that he'll jump in and he'll assert himself, and it's not that he's right 100 percent of the time. You can't expect that of anybody. He just has great instincts. He's got a great musical memory, and he knows how to get these tones. We've been working with him for so long, there's a social and mental shorthand and familiarity. It doesn't mean that we're not going to argue about things, and that's normal in any working relationship. He's just looking for authenticity. He's just looking for a true, honest word, an honest take. He demands the best of you, and at the same time, he's just asking you to be natural."
Scott: "I'm not a huge KISS fan. Sorry, guys. They're lovely people, and they've given us opportunity — all respect. They all do solos throughout the night, and I was kind of like, 'Ehh... of all the people who are going to play a solo, Gene's [Simmons] has got to be the least musician-y. It's probably going to suck.' Then I watched it — I watched all their solos, and they were all cool. They're all really great guys, too. I'm like, 'I'm watching Gene's [from] side-stage.' Watching it, I got literally completely fucking leveled. Thrashed. I was so stoked on it, I couldn't believe it — 'This is the best thing of the whole night! This is best part of the show! This is one of the best things I've ever seen live!' He does the samurai thing on the lift with the green [lighting] and the blood, and it's so perfect, the whole thing. I changed my whole mind, so I now am a fan, and I really loved it."
After releasing four albums through Earache Records, RIVAL SONS signed with Low Country Sound, a Warner Music Group imprint run by Nashville-based country and Americana producer Dave Cobb, last year. "Feral Bones", the group's debut release for Low Country Sound, was released on January 25.