RIVAL SONS: Intervju med frontmannen Jay Buchanan

Rival Sons släpper sitt femte album “Great Western Valkyrie” i början av juni och ska man bara gå efter förstasingeln ”Open my eyes”, blir det med stor säkerhet en fullträff för sverigevännerna. Rocksverige hade det stora nöjet att snacka lite med sångaren Jay Buchanan när han var här tillsammans med gitarristen Scott Holiday för ett litet promotionbesök. Förutom att hylla den svenska publiken och en stockholmsrestaurang,  lyckades han bl a att jämföra den kreativa låtskrivarprocessen med att dra ut tänder:

-You have songs that are a little bit difficult, just like if you´re going to pull out all of your teeth. Some of the teeth are smaller than others and easier to get to and that´s going to be easy and other ones are very deep rooted and they´re toward the back of the mouth, so they´re going to be very difficult. You´re essentially pulling things out of yourself that you´re unaware of. That´s the essence of creativity, you´re trying to figure out what lies beneath the surface.

Jay Buchanan, Tyrol 2012
Jay Buchanan, Tyrol 2012


What does producer Dave Cobb bring to your sound and everything that is Rival Sons?

Jay: There are a number of things with Dave Cobb, that really help us out. His judgment is very good. We´ll be jamming and putting songs together and he´s very good at staying out of the way and capturing the sound of us creating songs. Some producers will be very heavy handed, trying to make you do things that aren´t necessarily natural. Dave is very good at letting stuff happen the way it needs to and supporting us that way. The other thing is that he´s so good with understanding what sort of tones we´re looking for. Getting the right drum tone or the right guitar tone. “Great western Valkyrie” is our fifth record with him and we have such a great working relationship together. He really understands and he´s our friend. He´s a pleasure to be around.

What would you say are the biggest changes, if you compare this album to your first release?

Jay: Well, it´s interesting. We have toured so much. Our first record was when we had just come together and we hadn´t really become a band yet. We hadn´t figure out who we were as a band and so with each record, we´ve become more of ourselves. It´s just the natural progression that way. What makes this record different, say from even our last record, is that each record is just a little bit different. We´re experimenting with different tones, different styles of song writing, different narratives from a lyrical standpoint. I think with this record, another difference would be a new bass player, Dave Beste and his energy. He´s a very close friend of mine and having in there was a real treat and it brought a new energy e haven´t experienced before in the studio. Having him there and his creative input, as a good leg up. It helped us to assess things in a different way because here´s someone new, 25 % of the whole operation. I don´t know if he did anything actively, but just knowing that we´re a little bit of a new band, was invigorating in a way.

Him being a friend of yours must´ve made it easier?

Jay: Yes. When Robin was making his exit, it was very hard for us because Robin is a very close friend. It was time for him to move on and he had made the decision that he wanted to start living a different lifestyle. We wanted to support that and it´s not just music at that point, when you´re that close it´s life and you want him to be happy. As difficult as it was for us to face the prospect to bring in someone new… that´s gonna change things. We´d been in the trenches together, because with the band and our rigorous touring schedule, recording schedule, we´ve been together through so much, it becomes us against the world. Bringing Dave in was an immediate response for us. I called him the very next day. Everyone knew that Dave was an excellent musician and having him there with us, was really nice. It makes things that much more comfortable, because most of the day on tour, you´re not playing music, you´re just hanging out discussing things and just getting along. Having a friend that is that close, just makes it that much easier.

A new bass player and your fifth album. Did you feel any pressure?

Jay: Well, every record has its own pressure, because every time you record, it could be your last record. Bands break up or people lose interest for some odd reason. You never know. You have that pressure of, you´re only as good as your current work. You can´t really rest on what your past is. So you´re only as good as what you´re doing right now. We realized that we´re going to have to make a record and play these songs every night, so you have that internal pressure of making sure we make songs that we can stand behind and be proud of and that´s going to entertain us night after night. It´s a high pressure situation, but I don´t think it´s too much for us to handle because we´ve been doing this for quite a while and it´s our work ethic. In that sense it´s more of the same. Every record is a high pressure situation, going in and having to write these songs, recording immediately as soon as the song is together so we can hopefully get the sound of the song being born. So yes, it is very high pressure, but I don´t think it was any more pressure than any of our other records.

Was there any song that took longer getting done, that you struggled more with than others?

Jay: They´re all difficult in some way and they´re also very easy. Every time you´re putting together a collection of songs, you´re hoping there´s a cohesion and that they all make sense together as a collection. You have songs that are a little bit difficult, just like if you´re going to pull out all of your teeth. Some of the teeth are smaller than others and easier to get to and that´s going to be easy and other ones are very deep rooted and they´re toward the back of the mouth, so they´re going to be very difficult. You´re essentially pulling things out of yourself that you´re unaware of. That´s the essence of creativity, you´re trying to figure out what lies beneath the surface. Some things are more difficult to give birth to than others, but I don´t think there was anything on this record that was more difficult than any other record.

Rival Sons 2012 Tyrol Copyright Stephansdotter-4
Jay Buchanan, Tyrol 2012


Has there ever been pressure on you to come up with stuff for radio, since radio is so big in the US?

Jay: All of the people that we work with of the people on our team that we´ve handpicked to work with, everyone knows better than to try to tell us what to do. Otherwise our relationship would end. We do things on our own terms creatively. Of course with touring or even things as small as interviews or putting together shows, you make sacrifices and you make compromises, but when it comes to the music, we do exactly what we want. Even from a radio standpoint, when you´re building a song, it´s not really in our nature to look at it in terms of “Ok, we need to make a radio song!” For each of us, that would be a very unhealthy view of the creative process and I don´t know if it would serve us very well? We´re just not wired that way and it´s not the way we make music. We try to just make good songs and if they make it on the radio, excellent. It´s just the way we´ve always approached it, so hopefully it continues to get a little bit easier, by us just becoming ourselves.

You toured with Sammy Hagar last year. What was it like touring with him? He´s been around for a long time and I´m just wondering if you can pick up stuff from a guy like that? Learn things?

Jay: We´ve had the pleasure of touring and opening up for many huge bands, huge names and legendary artists, but what´s funny with you bringing up Sammy, is that on a personal level, he´s my favorite of anyone that we´ve played with. It´s not so much that Sammy is a direct musical influence in the way that I make music. Sammy and I are from the same hometown, Fontana in California. We both grew up there as children. It´s a dirty steel town. He and I were friends before we toured together because he asked me to write a song for his latest record. What I enjoy about Sammy the most of all the things that make him so endearing to me, is his outlook and his attitude in the business and his life with the crazy schedule and all the demands that are on him. Sammy genuinely enjoys what he´s doing, whereas you see all these other artists, these older men, that don´t have that happiness. He´s doing things on his terms. He´s never been like the coolest guy. He´s always been the guy that goes out on stage wearing sandals, shorts and a t-shirt and that´s the way he does things. He does things on his own terms. Artistically it´s not so much that I identify with him on that level, but artistry is only one part of a person. I am enamored with the person that he is and his attitude and outlook on things. It´s refreshing to see someone that age, going out there just because he loves to do it, because God knows he doesn´t need the money. He likes to play because he knows it´s in his blood and that is inspiring.

Did you have any great tequila parties?

Jay: Yeah, tequila parties happened and a little tequila is definitely part of your everyday diet. But since he sold his tequila company and started a rum company, I think there were a little bit more rum going on. Good stuff!

Rival Sons 2012 Tyrol Copyright Stephansdotter-3
Jay Buchanan, Tyrol 2012


The band hails from Long Beach. What´s that city like these days? Is Long Beach Arena still there?

Jay: Yes, it is! We´ve had the pleasure of playing there during the Indy car races. What is Long Beach like these days? I wish I could tell you. I live there and have for a very long time, but I´m hardly ever there. I know it´s still there though, I can tell you that.


Long Beach, California
Long Beach, California


It´s a pretty big city, isn´t it?

Jay: Yeah, it´s a very, very large city and it has a great art community and that´s what kept me there. It has a great artist community from visual artists, painters, musicians and the support they get there, is attractive to me. It´s on the very outskirts of Los Angeles and next to the ocean. We like to think of Long Beach as the Brooklyn of Los Angeles. It´s different. You don´t call Brooklyn New York and it´s the same with Long Beach. Don´t tell me I´m from Los Angeles, I´m from Long Beach!

Any dates for Sweden besides June 1st when you´re supporting Aerosmith?

Jay: Yeah, we´re putting together dates right now. We´re doing a handful of dates with them and then we hop off and play our own cities and service our own audience. I know the people have been waiting for us to come back through and it would be unfair for them to have to pay these ungodly prices and they may not necessarily be Aerosmith fans. We like to play theater dates just to keep in touch with our audience. We absolutely love Stockholm and Sweden in particular. We´re very enamored with Sweden in general. The audiences here are a lot different than other audiences. There´s so much support. Scott and I were walking around last night and we were thinking about our first show in Stockholm at this club which is now Debaser. It was sold out and it was so much good energy in there. We did a live podcast of the show and it turned out so good, it ended up getting released on iTunes. In the next few months we´re getting ready to release a live DVD of a show we did last year in Gothenburg. The Swedish audiences are so loving. We don´t usually release live shows or podcasts or audio or anything like that and it´s quite a coincidence that the only two we´ll be releasing so far are from Sweden. We love it here and we´re getting used to your version of Mexican food. We learned yesterday that people like to eat tacos on Fridays. We thought that was very interesting, because we come from southern California and that´s the Mecca in the entire world for Mexican food. It´s interesting when you travel all over Europe and all over the world and people are trying to make tacos, this Mexican cuisine. It´s never gonna turn out just right unless Mexicans are making it. We went out last night and actually had the best Mexican food here at the restaurant (Calexico) next to the club. Hands down, that´s the best Mexican food we´ve had in Europe. We walked in there last night so hungry and we were expecting utter failure, but it ended up really surprising us. Good job!

Rival Sons 2012 Tyrol Copyright Stephansdotter-2
Jay Buchanan, Tyrol 2012


Skivan Great Western Valkyrie släpps 6:e juni.

1:a juni är de förband till Aerosmith i Stockholm.


Av: Niclas Müller-Hansen

Foton: Therés Stephansdotter

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