Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Rival Sons

Rival Sons have headed out for a World Tour and A Music Blog, Yea? met up with the band’s guitar hero Scott Holiday a couple of hours before a Norwegian concert a short time ago. We had a chat about memorable concerts on the tour so far, repeat fans, capturing the right songs, juicing, karate, skydiving, Mr. T, and rockstar designer Ray Brown. Besides this, we got to see this guitarist’s fine collection of guitar picks, clothes, and raw jewellery. It was most fun getting to know this artist. Follow along in the interview.

AMBY: Hi Scott. Thanks for meeting us at AMBY.

Scott: Happy to meet you. Thank you for coming.

AMBY: We are very pleased that you could take some time off at this tour and sit down with us.

Scott: We will always make time for you fine folks.

AMBY: Aww thanks, and you are busy with a tour right now…

Scott: We are busy. Yea, we are about three weeks in. Kind of right in the middle point. With three more weeks on this particular run. And yeah we have been all over the place. Spend some time in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.

AMBY: You have been touring a whole lot lately.

Scott: Yea. It have been a good six years of pretty solid touring.

AMBY: So I was wondering, what have been some top memories and well also some kind of weird moments on tour lately you can share with us?

Scott: Top moments. I get asked this several times on a tour and it is funny because I can probably reach back and think about something, but the truth is every tour produces top moments. So for instance on this tour some of the big ones that stick out already where we did Roundhouse in London. It is a very famous venue and something that we where really excited about. And we sold it out so it was great. Ehm we all wore kilts on stage in Glasgow..

AMBY: Yeah. Well, thaaat is funny..

Scott: Yea… Ehm what else… This is actually a pretty big moment.We finally stepped up. We have been looking on this venue.. If any of the readers know where it is, but they probably don’t, because they are all over the world.. well, then we are in Oslo, Norway. This beautiful city. Across from the venue we are in tonight.. We are in Sentrum.. Across the street is the venue we have played probably seven different times. It is called the Rockefeller and everyone plays that venue. This one is just a fair bit bigger and we have been looking at this one and going “When are we going to play in that one over there?!” So finally we have come to this one and it is sold out fairly quick as well. So this is another top moment already. We are happy, we are excited! And every tour produces these you know, every tour have them. I think that is the best answer.

AMBY: Alright… and have you had some pretty weird moments?

Scott: Oh weird moments. Hmm I was talking about it earlier that one time we skydived before a show. Today we went up to the top of the city where the Olympic ski jump is and we were gonna try this zipline and we didn’t have enough time but we where all gonna do this huuuuge zipline.. but we always do that kind of stuff and go on and explore the towns. Weird moments, I don’t know. Most of the weird ones are probably frightening for your readers. So we will just keep them quiet. But it can get awfully crazy and awfully tame as well. It is a job and a job we love. We have to stay healthy for it and stay on our toes.

AMBY: Yea and you mentioned the skydiving. I researched a bit on how you introduce yourselves on online pages and so on Rival Sons’s Facebook page it is told that the band interests are Juicing, Karate and Skydiving!

Scott: Oh yeah, I like all those things definitely. [laughing]

AMBY: Yea. So I was wondering if you get to do all these things on tour?

Scott: Ehm yeah we were frequent juicers. I personally havn’t had as many juices as I should had, but yeah we travel and generally are rider will be like a large table of fresh organic veggies. This is really good and everyone do it. We do it at home anyway, and now we take it on the road. And what else do say.. Karate.. Not so muuuch.. but I do a lot of moves on stage.. You just have to watch for yourself.. What was the other one? Yeah we have skydived a few times. I am not frequent.. But yeah, I have done all those things. I am sure we are just being ridicules and silly – but they are truth.

AMBY: Awesome you mention these. Nice.. Yea and I have been told that Rival Sons’ shows are pretty sweat dripping energetic, but what can we really expect?

Scott: Generally I will tell fans to bring an extra face, cause we will blow your regular one off!

[both laugh]

AMBY: Nice. Best answer I have gotten yet.

Scott: Yea and in all seriousness we will try to have as much energy as we possibly can. We really.. We feel very blessed to have people come out and sell our shows out and fly all over the world. People make this big plan and take time out of their lives and spend their money on something we are gonna do regardless, that we wanna do, because it what we are supposed to do. There are definitely no punches pulled when it comes to the shows.

AMBY: Nice to hear. So you have probably played in a great variety of venues and fields through the years. What is the ideal concert settings for you personally?

Scott: Sure. Ehm it changes. It is not one type of venue. I think it is really about everyone’s mood and energy. If everyone is feeling really good. We know the show was sold out, the crowd was very energetic and you know the symbiotic feeling is happening. It top rates. That makes a really good show. We are feeling healthy, strong, playing well, and the crowd is with us. Not.. Even a sold out crowd can be in their own world. It is really strange, you know. Some time the crowd is not totally understanding where we are at and sometimes we are not working together. It happens every once in a while for everybody.. For Instance we played a show in Trondheim last night and it was sold out. It was only about a thousand people, but it was this really classic venue, ehm like a circus tent inside and around. And the crowd was just so symbiotically involved with us and the show.. they got so fired up that it felt like five thousand people.. It was just such a great show..

AMBY: Yea, sure. I think you will get the same here. Rival Sons released the album Great Western Valkyrie last year. What material have you been working on since then? Will we hear new stuff on the current tour?

Scott: Oh stuff that isn’t on the Great Western Valkyrie, like for a new record? Ehm well you won’t hear new stuff that isn’t actually on the last record, but you will hear some old stuff tonight that is like some very deep tracks. We have some stuff in store that is following the tour we do in an acoustic set in the middle now. Like Pressure And Time done acoustically. That’s what is fresh in the set and we play a whole bunch of Great Western Valkyrie. We enjoy the record and got some great response from it. As far as new material – I am always working on material, Jay is always working on material, we always get the gears turning. But the way we do it, the nature of it is that we don’t share it until we get into a studio. That way we haven’t got any premature ideas that could end up to the record. It is written in the moment. It is the moment that we hear it together and get excited about on one another’s songs or some we all have been collaborating on, we try to capture that more than build it up like a long hideous process of building and tracking, refixing it and tearing it down and rebuilding it and making it a perfect song. The way this band records is more like trying to capture a wild animal with a net. We just try to throw the net over it – and “I think we got it, there it was!”… [both laugh] We do everything in just a few takes, and it is very, very live.. So there is new material in all of our minds I believe, certainly in mine.. That energy has been working.. and we will all find out what we are doing when we get to the studios.. We are working on getting back in there. We just try to ride back around the World and get home just long enough to get back in. So we are looking on, I hope maybe September, October..

AMBY: Ah so you have some raw recordings to capture later on. Looking forward to hear more about that.. So now I have a question you have probably been asked before, but I would like to sum it up anyway.. Must have a classic question.. So why did you actually choose to call yourselves Rival Sons back then, and how do you feel like rival sons now?

Scott: Okay. Hmm well the band name is very difficult. I think I shouldn’t go to deep into any kind of meaning or anything. It was definitely a play on words and I will just simply say that when we were just starting the band and coming up with ideas that felt like the band.. it can be really contrived, it can be really pretentious and really difficult to do, you know, and everything is taken. You come up with these great ideas to only Google it and find out “Uh oh…. there are four bands with this same name and this one is actually having a record out!”.. and this can go on, and on, and on.. So there was a source for these words coming together.. It is really simply, because we sat these words together. We brought kind of two ideas together and felt like yeah, this have like a very almost confrontational feeling to it. Not terribly confrontational, but confrontational in the words coming together. So that seemed good for us. Not that we are confrontational to each other, but musically when you have that kind of rivalry or fight inside of the music, you know based on love too, but you push eachother and you make each other work hard and quite often it is hard to tell who is on top of the song or the night. Who is the soloist? who is the star? – because everyone got a moment, you know, and the band was like that from the moment we started. It was really everybody showing themselves from every angle, and pushing very hard, some times soloing all at ones and somehow it seemed to work so the name seems appropriate..

AMBY: And so, do you still feel like some rival sons?

Scott: Oh yea. Now we are living with this name and it is like anything.. Like naming a pet, a child, an instrument and eventually it will take on the name.. The guitar will take on the name. That is it now. That is what we are now. Anything else would be strange.

AMBY: Oh sure. So speaking about guitars.. I was wondering, is it true that you have some custom made guitar picks with your name on it?

Scott: Yea I get custom made guitar picks for every tour. Not because I need picks, because I got like one billion more than I could ever need. Dunlop sponsors me with these picks and have been really great to me. I have fun with it. It is more for the fans really, because I am a fan of people and I am like that kid that would be in the crowd and be like “Oh my gosh! I got this pick, that is so cool!”.. So even more than that, we have a lot of repeat fans. They keep coming every time. So I see the same kids. I see kids that came to our shows like six years ago that are not kids now! They are like young men. That makes me feel extremely old… And I am Not! But.. [both laugh].. We are growing up together now, aren’t we fans?.. So.. I wanna make sure that when that guy comes back, he gets a new guitar pick every time..And we will see people that have like ten different additions!

AMBY: So you can see who have followed you through the years..

Scott: Yea. I am like “Oh you have that one! Ah you are an old school fan!”

AMBY: Well, what look does it have now?

Scott: The new one… I might have one.. You can’t see it on the recorder but I think I have one.. (Stepping away and looks through his bag) Ooh I think we got something in here.. For instense.. I will show you some additions.. So this is one I had made. It got the wings and it got my signature on the back. It is black with gold. And here is one that is white with black. It is from the same tour, I just got two colours. The next one is a new one I had made, and this one is with a kind of funny moniker that have been thrown upon me (says Mr. Fuzzlord). And it is a funny handle that I used with the wings.. and on the other side.. There is actually a print of Mr. T riding a unicorn…

AMBY: [laughs] Well this is the most awesome one.

Scott: ..and he is saying “Follow your dreams fool!” (said with a true Mr. T personality)

AMBY: [Both laughing] So I got this question, please tell us why did you choose this look for it? Now I see this, why Mr. T on a unicorn?

Scott: I have no idea.. I saw the picture, I laughed my ass off when I saw it… I love Mr. T and I believe everyone should follow their dreams. “So follow em fools” (Said with a Mr. T sound to it).. I don’t know, it is ridiculous..

AMBY: It is the best! [both laugh] And when the fans gets this one, they will like love it, they will love it!

Scott: This is my hope… See I am married and when I showed my wife I wanted it to be like “You are the best honey!” and I showed her the pick and told her this is the new one I have coming and you are gonna love it and she went “That is too silly!”.. She thought it was like no cool at all, it is actually too silly .. and I went like awww and tried to change it, second guessed myself, because my wife is very cool and I was like “Awww maaan!”. She is a musician as well.. And then I couldn’t change it.. They were already made.. and they showed up.. and I was like “I don’t know, I think she is wrong! I loove em!”.. and everyone I every gave one was like “This is the best pick I have ever gotten in my life!”.. So then I kind of did a “In your face!” at her.. I gave her one of those.. “In…your.. faaace! – Sorry Honey, every one loved that you were wrong..”…

AMBY: Has she started to like it now?

Scott: Now she loves it. See, I brainwashed her. Knew I was right! [both laugh]

AMBY: So do you have some plans for the picks on next tour then?

Scott: No.. I make them real quickly.. I haven’t thought of one yet.. but I have a lot to live up to now with Mr. T on a unicorn! I don’t know what I can do now.. I might as well make a blank one! Start over! [both laugh].. Actually we had Dave, our bass player Dave Beste did them this time too and we had this really awesome stuffed animal we got at a truck stop going through The States.. It is a giant stuffed tiger.. Not life size quite.. but like a huge one.. Way bigger than you want around anywhere.. And he put one of his hats on it.. and sunglasses.. and I named this little tiger Tito.. We had it on the bus for a while.. and we would just be hanging out in the back lounge with a cool look.. Just sitting in the back.. So he took it home and took a picture of this tigers face.. and that is what is on his pick.. this tiger..

AMBY: Oh nice! Keep up with that.

Scott: We are stepping it up constantly!

AMBY: I like that. Well I have seen some picks with like band names on it and thought it was pretty cool. But this, this is awesome.

Scott: We have put some thought into it.. [both laugh].. Yeah and the guys that make these for me, they do them for all sorts of people directly. My guy makes them for like Slash and Metallica.. He designs them and that is his job.. He makes it basically for everybody.. and my buddy Scott that works at Dunlop and personally works it out for them all.. He saw this one and you know what he said?.. “Gayest pick I have ever seen in my life!”.. because of Mr. T… And the unicorn.. (Both laughing a lot.. Still laughing out loud as I wrote this down for the article).. And there was a rainbow too.. but I took the rainbow off.. because it was too much color on it.. But there you go..

AMBY: You definitely have some cool picks.. Well, and then I will walk a bit astray and tell that you are a group of quite stylish guys as well.. yeah.. with your very own details. The band members are often seen wearing this pretty raw Native American styled jewellery and —

Scott: Well, thank you. Jay wears that. He have some very custom made stuff, something that is very special stuff to him. I have been lucky to come across some.. (showing the jewellery he is wearing).. My mother in law made this one (A wooden bean-based wristband) and a nice jewellery designer made this one (showing the necklaces he is wearing) and this one I bought.. What else? A friend in Germany actually made this gave it to me.. and this is a gift.. it is all like gifts and stuff.. With the clothes we are all like.. I do some different things.. For the last few years now I have gotten clothes made for the tours.. Otherwise I just got sick of… It sounds really rock star prima donna and maybe it is.. at the same time.. You can see the suitcases in the room and the clothes hanging up..You see yourself in enough pictures and you start feeling like… alright enough with the pedestrian stuff I want to wear stuff that looks right for the stage and getting photographs and videos.. But where do you buy that kind of shit.. and I found out.. You actually don’t buy it.. You have it made.. And we are all to design and fashion in some degree for sure.. So we wanna come up with ideas, custom design things.. I personally have used a great designer named Ray Brown. He is pretty famous. He is doing Muse, Arctic Monkeys and Miles Kane.. Lady Gaga.. On and on and on.. He has a huge client base, but I do most of my stuff with him.. and the jacket that goes with these pants up are there and some suits are from him.. (Pointing on the cloths hanging in the dressing room).. And the guys, they will do some stuff with him too.. and we are always looking around for things. I come from a time in my mind with the music I like.. That I love.. That was when music not only sounded great, but it looked great. Like the prime example would be somebody like Bowie. I look at Bowie and think that is part of it. We are seeing it. It is not just radio. There are concerts. There are videos. There are photographs. So you feel like you want to do something and make that statement.. So what you like is the style you want to wear.. Sometimes you can’t buy that at a store, you have to find someone that can make that.

AMBY: Incredible. I didn’t think that.

Scott: Yea, I wouldn’t have thought that either.

AMBY: That is cool. We have seen you guys were these Native American styled jewellery a lot as well.

Scott: I have had some stuff. That is more Jay’s zone. I am partial. I have been partial just being from the part of the World we are from. You know, by being from California and going through Arizona, and New Mexico. I have travelled through this area. That is really prominent. I think there is some real, real strong symbolism. There is just some strong emotions that run with that culture.

AMBY: I see. Yea, and as we talked about before then the style is an important point in the whole presentation of someones music. So when it comes to fans and their style.. Let me know, what is your best styling tips to the readers?

Scott: Ehm pay attention to it. Too often you see people that don’t think that it is a thing. I have done stuff with people and done music with people that was like: This is my style, it is minimalistic, like no style, I am not trying to have anything – Well, guess what.. That iiis your thing then. You can’t have nothing. If you go for simply. Then you are a simple style. So pay attention to it. Have fun with it. I think that is a humongous tip. Look what people you like wears.. and find a good tailor. Don’t be afraid of tailoring. Take it in, make it look right.

AMBY: Nice. We will try that! Last I wonder, what do you believe is the future for Rival Sons?

Scott: Well, I think we are on a pretty nice conspicuous rate now. It is easy to say we would like to go further quicker… But we are happy with where we are.,, And we are working hard to move forward quicker. So it is difficult to say. We never know if the band is going to end in another year or be the biggest band in the world in another year. So I kind of stay focused and logical and pragmatic. My hope is that it continues to grow in a even quicker rate.. My capricorn logical reality says we will keep grow in the way we are growing.

AMBY: I do hope so. Cross my fingers for that! Thanks for the chat.


Thank you Rival Sons, for giving us your answers!

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Interview and Photos by Jules Faurschou | @rockonpoets

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