Rival Sons guitarist Scott Holiday is a pretty chill guy but his band is already starting to burn red hot. Having already become a huge buzz band over in Europe, the Huntington Beach, California guitarist and his band have now set their sights on their home country with the release of their latest album, “Head Down” and some stateside tourdates. The band makes great albums but is becoming legendary for their live shows which are steeped in old school, ass kicking rock and roll with very little pretense. I recently talked with Scott about guitars, influences and touring, among other things, read on…..
LRI: Hi Scott….where are you calling from today?
Scott Holiday: I am in sunny California, amen! We’ve been everywhere on the globe either touring or doing promo and it’s nice to be home for a change.
LRI: There is so much good Rival Sons footage on YouTube and half of it is in countries I cannot spell or pronounce…. (laughs)
Scott: Yeah, I know and the other funny thing is, when you show up and you go “Where are we at?!!” and then it’s like “Where the hell is that on the map??!!”(laughs). Then we show up later in the evening and it’s sold out and we are like “Huh, what the….how in the hell do they know about us here??!!”” (laughs). I mean, it’s really, really great to be thousands of miles away from California and have people be into us, I can’t say that enough. It’s amazing, especially considering a lot of the shows are small theaters that hold a thousand people or so and they are sold out, it’s fascinating, gratifying and cool. We are just starting to tour and do pr properly here in America because we’ve been so busy out there in the U.K., Europe and even Canada.
LRI: It’s awesome that you’re playing stateside shows this summer. Are your longtime, local fans in California aware of all the buzz you’ve generated overseas?
Scott: Yeah, yeah they are. They’re all following it all on the internet and seeing us here when we’re home and I think it’s just fascinating to them. They’re like, “You guys sound like a California rock band, you don’t sound like an English or European rock band” so in some respects our fans here are a little surprised that the U.S. market hasn’t moved quite as quickly or woken up to us quite as quickly as the overseas markets. I just think we have to put in some time here at home touring and promoting and that will go a long ways but it’s been difficult because the places in Europe and the U.K. have not settled down and haven’t stopped throwing us good offers.
LRI: You guys have a great video for “Keep On Swinging”. Is that a fun part of the creative process or is that just a drag for the most part?
Scott: I’m actually not really into the music video thing. We’re really lucky to have a great guy like Greg Ephraim to direct it because he comes up with good ideas and we always end up having fun making them but just thinking about I go “Oh god, the music video!!” We have to play so many times, the same song over and over and it’s so not our thing. We’re a live rock and roll band and we just prefer to let the live show do the talking and set up and play. It’s great that we have a good video that people like though.
LRI: Most of the You Tube clips are great quality which is better than what a lot of bands have to put up with. Do you have a problem with all the live videos circulating out there?
Scott: You know, there’s two sides to it. First of all, I get it. If I’m at a show and I’m having the time of my life, I wanna remember it. We’ve had so many people come up to us and actually say things like “This is the best show of my life”…people from 14 to 60 years old saying things like “I saw the Who in 1971 and you guys just destroyed it” or “I saw Led Zeppelin in 1970 and this was wayy better” and you’re hearing this going “Are….are you serious? I can’t believe you’re thinking that, let alone saying that” so I get it when people are excited and wanna tape it but at the same time…..we’re at the show and you’ve been to shows or reviewed shows man….nowadays at concerts what do you see?
LRI: Everyone on earth with an iPhone in the air….(laughs)
Scott: Yeah, LEAGUES of people with their phones in the air…they’re watching the show through their phones!!! It’s kind of like, disenchanting in a way because we feel like “Put that shit down….and connect with us, be with us”. it’s not so much that we’re bummed that it’s gonna be on YouTube or any of that stuff, it’s just that we feel like “Put that down man, we’re in a moment together, enjoy that, remember that”. It should be a very symbiotic relationship, we just need to be together and when we see people watching the show through their cameras it feels just a little disconnected somehow. There have been shows where we’ve told people….”Put that shit down” (laughs), especially when it’s like some guy in the front row and he’s holding that up all night. Eventually, you’re like “Dude, you should put that down, and feel a little bit of the rock and roll in your face man not your camera…you should do it right now because we wanna have fun with you and we wanna do this together” (laughs). You came out to see the show, just chill and enjoy yourself, there’s plenty of footage out there already. At the same time, I will say that I started looking through all those YouTube clips and it’s amazing to me that probably every song that we’ve ever played live is there on YouTube. It’s really weird and I stopped even paying attention to them about four tours ago, I couldn’t even keep up with it because it was just so much and it was unreal. I think it’s cool though when I’m looking up a band I love on there and there’s shitloads of videos, that’s really cool.
LRI: You’re so well known for the live experience, have you thought about recording or releasing a live album?
Scott: We record live all the time, we make sure we have a good setup and an engineer who’s really keen at capturing us live because we wanna hear our shows back as much as we can and hear what we’re doing and how we’re interacting because when you’re onstage it can feel like a big blur with all the energy being exchanged and so much happening. We’ve been recording a lot of shows on this past tour and I would love to put something out officially.
LRI: You’re also really big on vinyl which I am as well. It just sounds better.
Scott: Yeah, god bless you. I don’t like listening to anything else either. I get so excited when I find a cool vinyl, I got this Stones album from the “Some Girls” tour which is a double vinyl thing that is just insane packaging. We really set up this whole record, “Head Down”, for a vinyl presentation and that is for no “retro” purpose whatsoever. I want to make that clear. I just think records sound the best. I have a little player at home and that’s all I have in my living room is that record player and a crate of records. I don’t listen to anything but vinyl so with this record we really set up the asthetic look and sound of it to be tailored to the LP format. If you buy it on vinyl, its a 180 gram double vinyl so we could ensure the best sound quality and we’ve done lots of limited editions so far, we’ve done orange and white as well as regular black but I have plans to do a whole bunch of them like a clear, a clear with something else, a picture disc. I saw this thing that Jack White did which was liquid filled vinyls, I’m into all that. I think it’s just really cool.
LRI: There needs to be more pressing plants in America.
Scott: Yeah, theres really not enough but I will tell you, it’s catching on, especially in Europe it is really catching on. If you go to Scandinavia or even in the U.K., people are very hip to vinyl and we actually do pretty decent in Europe overall in terms of vinyl sales. People are into it, not just for nostalgia but for the sound, it’s coming back bigtime.
LRI: “Head Down” was also recorded in Analog which helps immensely. Bands are always telling me that it costs too much to record analog but you got it done.
Scott: We always record analog, the older equpment and the analog recording… it just sounds better. The thing with analog is it can be done, you just have to find the right tape, it’s usually old tape. Once you find the right tape and get started it’s just the way rock and roll was meant to sound. Also, we don’t spend a lot of time in the studio second guessing, for the most part we record live in the studio like bands used to. Digital recording can be a little more difficult because if you’re not using the older equipment you tend to not capture a lot of the warmth of it. Some of those old machines just sound like they have a lot of magic in them, you know.
LRI: Would you agree that you explore a little more soundspace and stylistic range on “Head Down” also? Maybe a few more moods?
Scott: Yeah, I mean we’re still and will always be a rock and roll band that hasn’t forgotten about the blues or the key elements of rock and roll or soul music but we’re absolutely also about pushing the boundries a bit with each record and hopefully challenging our fans a little with each step. It’s not ever going to be that big of a step or that deep of a challenge but we all have big musical appetites and enjoy a lot of different kinds of music so we’re never going to be afraid to try new things.
LRI: Could there ever be a day in the future where you record a little less like a traditional four piece live in studio or where you incorporate a lot of other instruments or sounds onto the Rival Sons palatte?
Scott: Absolutely. Sure, sure. I mean, there’s no set thing for us, this method has just worked for us for the last few years but we could absolutely be open to that someday. I mean, I’ve spent tons of time in the studio with other bands making records which is actually what brought me to this with Rival Sons. My feeling with making the type of rock and roll that we’ve been making is that, in general, you’re gonna get it better in four takes than you’re going to in forty takes. Too much of rock and roll has been overproduced, overwritten and you can hear it, it sounds labored and that’s not what rock and roll’s about to me at all. My favorite rock and roll does not sound over-labored. Now, that definition would exclude Queen who are great but those are way, way more far out recordings and that can be a very different thing for certain bands at certain times. Right now, for this band, this has been a very raw, dirty sound that we’ve been making up to this point but I could completely see us changing that up or changing our melodies because as we grow we have different musical aspirations and different ideas and appetites. I think right now, we’re just in a groove with what we’re doing but that could very likely change, even on the next record. It could be all didgeridoos and oboes….who knows!!??
Rival Sons on tour!
Wed 05/29/13 Grand Rapids, MI The Intersection
Thu 05/30/13 Chicago, IL Reggies Rock Club
Fri 05/31/13 Detroit, MI Shelter
Sun 06/02/13 Rockford, IL District Bar And Grill
Mon 06/03/13 Madison, WI The Frequency
Tue 06/04/13 Minneapolis, MN The Nether Bar
Appearing at “Kivenlahti Rock Festival”
Sat 06/08/13 Espoo, Finland Kivenlahti Rock Festival Grounds
Appearing at “Bergenfest”
Fri 06/14/13 Bergen, Norway Bergenhus Festning
Appearing at “Norwegian Wood Festival”
Sat 06/15/13 Oslo, Norway Frognerparken
Appearing at “Download Festival”
Sun 06/16/13 Derby, United Kingdom Donington Park
Appearing at “Open Air St. Gallen”
Sat 06/29/13 St. Gallen, Switzerland Festival Ground