Interview: Rival Sons – Michael Miley “We’ve got to put the blues back into rock ‘n’ roll”
What can you tell us or more so what I can bribe out of you in regards to what you have for the new album in terms of the sound or the lyrical direction that Jay is going with? Is he focussed on personal stories or does he build more of a concept story to tell?
Well Jay does write all of the lyrics and I think most of the stuff that I’ve heard from him, even with his solo stuff, he is trying to tell us a story and get a point across. He is trying to put you in a place where you can sympathise with the main character so to speak. There is a lot of blue collar stuff in our lyrics with a man struggling with his job and girl, age old blues stuff. It is the blues. I think that is what has inspired him more this time around but we do have some more playful stuff. We do have some playful songs the now like ‘Get Mine’ and ‘All Over The Road’ which is all about getting a girl and a car and getting out there on the road, swerving about and spilling your beer. We were a lot more serious with ‘White Noise’ which is about technology and how it is making us all dumb and sabotaging creativity so there was already a wide range there. For the next album, I really shouldn’t be talking about this but as you bribed me, the lyrical content is going to be a lot heavier. We will still have the light hearted stuff too as we have a dance song man [laughs]. When I say that we have a dance song, I mean in the light of the Rolling Stones, not one of these [Michael sings a little bit of Lady Gaga here].
[Laughs] At least we’re not bridging into that dubstep region like everyone is now.
[Michael does his dubstep impression] That’s what we havefor [laughs].
Our time is just about over as I can see your tour manager hinting to me but I just one main last question for you. You know of
Yeah we’ve played with them a couple of times at some festivals last summer.
Last year I spoke to their bassist Micky Waters regarding their new album ‘Revival’ and as to what their vocalist Cormac Neeson had said about it. To him the title and the album was all about the revival of grassroots rock ‘n’ roll, the style that they play and yourselves. When I asked Micky about the bands he believed were reviving rock ‘n’ roll and keeping that sound alive, Rival Sons were the first name he mentioned to me. I just wanted to know if you shared their views that rock ‘n’ roll does need something of a revival?
Yeah I do. What I think has happened is that the blues has been completely removed from rock ‘n’ roll so we’re just left with a basic rock. Basically what made rock ‘n’ roll actually rock ‘n’ roll is the blues and the boogie. If you go back to, and , that’s where rock ‘n’ roll was born. The progressions were blues based, the lyrics were blues based and the guitar solos were blues guitar solos. Listen to guitar solos and you will see that those were blues guitar solos, the same with , and and those were blues, all blues. The seventies then came and you get bands like who started taking like Vincent Price and horror movie style stuff and taking those kind of horror film minor melodies to put the scary into rock ‘n’ roll as they removed the blues. That’s all awesome, I love Black Sabbath and and from there it evolved. The next band to really do a blues guitar solo was Jane’s Addiction I think. Dave Navarro, with Jane’s Addiction early stuff, played a lot of bluesy stuff and then the nineties killed it even more. I love Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, who are one of my favourite bands, but you don’t get any blues element. Now in the 2000’s it is virtually gone. So yeah, this is a long answer to the question but it is not so much about reviving the genre, it is just about putting the blues back into it. We’ve got to put the blues back into rock ‘n’ roll.
I think especially with kids now, they are not aware of that time in music and if they do happen to know of the bands, a lot of the time they don’t understand what the music meant and the impact of it. You do need the parents like you mentioned earlier to broaden the music tastes of the new generation.
Exactly and we try do that. We try to encourage people to check out Motown and, , , Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley if they haven’t yet. Some people don’t have cool parents though. If you’re born in the mid-nineties then it is likely that you’re going to have no idea who Nirvana are and what they did for music. You’re growing up to bands like and and to you, that’s rock. Zeppelin then becomes this far off thing that happened but it doesn’t mean anything. In the past I’ve spoken to kids and those who do like Zeppelin, their dad saw them back in the seventies or whatever. I think to be twelve years old right now and to put on a Beatles record, it would blow their mind. So yeah, we’re trying to encourage people to keep that era alive because it has sort of died. The record business has died.
It does become the responsibility of the parents to make their kids appreciate music and to learn about music.
In Inverness there were so many kids with their parents and I just kept high-fiving all the dads and mums as I told the kid how lucky they are to have such cool parents and how they better love them for what they are doing to their musical taste [laughs]. Dads were wearing Zeppelin shirts and the mums had on Maiden shirts, it was awesome man.