Rival Sons Talk "Head Down"
Tue, 04 Dec 2012 08:14:59
Rival Sons give rock 'n' roll a much needed kick in the ass with their brand new album, Head Down.
It's been far too long since a group guys strolled into town guns blazing and locked and loaded with the kind of swaggering bluesy riffs and howling vocals that classic records are made of. Now, it's Rival Sons' chance, and they're going all out with Head Down. It's as timeless as it is tough, and it's everything rock music needs and more…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Michael Miey of Rival Sons talks Head Down and more.
Did you approach Head Down with one vision or vibe in mind?
We got off the road after pretty much a year of touring straight. We intentionally go into the studio without any songs written. We wanted to expand a little more than Pressure & Time, but we didn't really have a strategy or game plan. Everybody is pretty broadly influenced. It's simply a snapshot of growth. We can play a little better from touring so much. The telepathy was a little heightened. We did want to jam a little bit more. You might hear a couple extra extended guitar solos here and there.
Was there a thematic thread at all?
Well, Jay [Buchannan, singer] writes all of the lyrics. I think he's always coming from a place of trying to tell truthful things that everyone can relate to. I was a huge fan of Jay even before he was in the band. From my vantage point, I call them "blue collar lyrics". They're lyrics everyone can sink their teeth into and relate to. There's always a man struggling to support his family, working really hard, and wanting to have that dream of the white picket fence. That's really about all I can say. After we mixed the album and listened to it, it started to take shape. We're so excited. I can't even really wrap my head around it.
What's the story behind "Manifest Destiny Pt. 1 & Pt. 2"?
That's definitely the plight of the Native American. The lyrical content is really heavy. The dude is going to hunt for buffalo and sees the tracks from the army's wagon headed for the camp from yesterday. You made it home, but your horse is dead and there are burning bodies lying around. Part 2, we're dealing with godless men over and over again. It's a paradox because the white man kept calling the Indians, "Godless" and "dirt worshippers". When really, here are these totally spiritual beings who are one with the earth and don't leave a trace, and the white man comes in and calls them, "Godless". They're really godless. Part 2 is about the revenge. "We're taking lives at dawn". They'd stake out the army camps, attack in the morning, and scalp heads. It's the answer to Part 1.
Where did "True" come from?
Scott [Holiday, guitarist] wrote "Nava", which is before "Manifest Destiny Pt.1". It was supposed to just be a guitar piece, but Jay had this idea to sing a Joan Baez-style part over the top of it. Scott was like, "No, I want it to be a cool little acoustic piece". Jay said, "Well, let me go in and sing over it so we have something". This was the last day at the studio. Our flights were booked home the next morning. We had to finish up a bunch of stuff. They did that in one take. Jay actually changed the form of the song. It's interesting you're hearing Scott follow Jay, when Scott wrote the piece. Jay wrote these beautiful lyrics that touch people's hearts. It's those kinds of moments that make really good songs translate because there's an honesty to them. It just so happens to be ironically called "True".
What's your favorite song on the record?
Selfishly, I've got to go with "Until the Sun Comes". Of course, I'm more into the deeper album cuts as a musician. There's a magic in the groove I think we all caught. There's a Charlie Watts, The Rolling Stones vibe to it. We've always gotten this Led Zeppelin comparison, which is cool because they're the greatest rock band of all time [Laughs]. It was cool to bring in some of our other influences. The first time I heard that, and every time since, I just wanted to get up and dance. As a drummer, that's what's supposed to happen.
What artists shaped you?
My dad is all about Eric Clapton and David Gilmour. Everyone in the band has dads who were musically influencing us. We're really lucky in that way. My dad was into jazz fusion as well so I was exposed to badass musicianship like Chick Corea and '70s Miles Davis at an early age. I know Robin was too. We actually met on a jazz gig. We're not a jam band though. We're coming from more like the progressive nature of Bitches Brew. That's in our blood. Scott loves John McLaughlin. Steely Dan was huge for the soundtrack of my childhood.
If you were to compare Head Down to a movie or a combination of movies what would you compare it to?
I'm definitely going to have Quentin Tarantino direct it. It's Kill Bill meets No Country for Old Men. There's a sense of revenge on it. "Manifest Destiny" takes the cake as far as the strongest thematic presence on there. The first half of the album is more digestible. Chicks in the front row can dance to it. Then, you hit "Jordan", and it's like, "Whoa, somebody died". We bring it back a little bit.
Have you heard Rival Sons yet?