Interview: Rival Sons – Michael Miley “We’ve got to put the blues back into rock ‘n’ roll”
Have you set aside some time later this year so you can go back to it?
We have a month off from touring coming up so at that time we will go home, visit friends and family and mix and master the record. I’ll be surfing so I don’t know how much I’ll be doing [laughs].
Is there still any work to be done on the actual songs themselves or have you got everything pretty much the way you want it?
The album is there, everything to do with the recording of the song is done so it is just the post-production and artwork before we move on to the release stage.
Bands who made this style of music popular, if that’s the right way to put that, used to release an album every year with no issues so do you think that you are capable of releasing an album every year with fresh new material?
Definitely and that was when music was good. There was an appetite to write then and we are the same, we love to write new music. Jay is an avid songwriter and Scott [Holiday] – we all put the songs together but they are the two main songwriters. It’s funny that people look at us like a classic/retro type of band but for us, we just play rock ‘n’ roll that has a blues influence which was just a very prevalent thing back in the sixties and seventies. I understand why people say we’re a retro rock band but we’re kids who grew up listening to Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden but we also listened toand . We have that modern rock, big drum sound but me and Robin [Everhart] went to jazz school so there is a nice well rounded sounded there.
A nice diverse group of influences.
Yeah. We’re not going to give you the cookie cutter song form with this typical length and groove or to a click track, we don’t play with a click track, we wavier tempos intentionally. If Jay is feeling a little laid back and wants to hold a note for a little longer we’ll all just feel it and come in a little later. It gives music that drama and excitement, that danger and visceral quality that all of the bands that our parents grew up loving, taking acid and all that [laughs], were doing. That was a time when people’s ears were open. I just went on a complete tangent there I’m sorry [laughs].
[Laughs] No problem man. I want to ask you about your recording style, you did the same with this new album as you did with ‘Pressure & Time’ when you just wrote and recorded everything within a few weeks. Do you prefer that snapshot style of working and focussing on what is meaningful to you in your life at that moment instead of a timeline that may cover two to three years?
Oh yeah man. Typically, when you are there in the studio, people’s first instinct is usually the right one; whether they executed it correctly or not is another thing. Like when you first hear a riff, we want my drum part to be the first instinct reaction to that. Same with Jay, the first idea that comes to his mind he begins to write down as we’re still jamming and within a few hours we have a full song formed and ready to put down. Our producer would then say let’s go to dinner and when we get back he would just say, “Yeah you guys got it. Jay why don’t you throw on some vocals” and by the end of the night that song is complete. It is just like BAM! [laughs] and when you hear it, you hear the – if you hear ‘Pressure & Time,’ I don’t know, I call it dangerous or visceral but there is an element of danger. We’re not married to a grid, we’re not changed or bound to anything. It’s like jazz. This is rock jazz man [laughs].
[Laughs] Does it feel as easy as that or do you feel a lot of pressure when trying to make sure you get everything done within that short period? Obviously ‘Pressure & Time’ sort of answers that question but in regards to this album.
There were definitely some nights were we felt we were not getting it and just said “we should we scrap this” and we did, we scrapped a lot of stuff during the recording. We scrapped a lot of stuff that I loved and that Scott loved but you get emotionally invested when you try to make it all happen. The main pressure comes when you say “okay it is February sixth and we have to be done March first, let’s go do this thing.” We’re all pretty laid back dudes.
That doesn’t combine too well then [laughs].
[Laughs] Yeah, the worst combination in the world, laid back musicians and a deadline. There is no reason that it shouldn’t be done though in that period.
Yeah that is a whole other approached to doing it. You go in and you spend time getting sounds then you have the pre-production process, the writing process, the rehearsal process before you spend a long time trying to get the perfect take and all of that. Bands will spend two years constantly in a studio and yeah they can make awesome records but then you have bands who spend two years and it sounds absolute shite.
I like how you said “shite” with a Glaswegian tone there.
[Laughs].used to go in and do their stuff real fast in the early days as did [Led] Zeppelin, and . The Beatles did their first album [‘Please Please Me’] in one day and if you listen to that, it is magical man; it’s The Beatles dude [laughs].
The vibe from those type of records will always be special, it will always feel different when everything is emotionally invested to have it done in that timeframe.
Exactly man. It’s raw, it’s naked, honest and truthful that way. When you hear John Bonham mess up people think “I can’t believe they left that in” but when you listen to the rest of the track it is golden and that one little part makes it human.
That goes back to your comment of avoiding click tracks where everything must be exact, precise and faultless.
It removes everything from a song and a performance if you do it under that restriction. If you want it perfect then you should program it in, if you want it real then let what happens happen and go with it.