An Interview With The Dark Pop-Rock LA-Based Band RIVALS On Their Debut Album, ‘Damned Soul’ And More!
Posted On 10 Apr 2018
On February 2nd, RIVALS released their debut album, “Damned Soul” via Smartpunk Records. Fueled by powerful and energetic songwriting, the band bring forth a type of fearlessness in their music that stands out among the rest. This collection is a 10-track banger produced by John Espy (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus) and Aaron Edwards (Sick Puppies, Elohim, The Cab), with additional writing for drums and mixing/mastering by Cody Stewart (The Browning, Rings of Saturn, Falsifier). Get a taste of the band’s sound by checking out the album’s lead single “Low“ and emotionally driven track “Moonlit.”
Substream Magazine stated “Moonlit” is, “monstrous; clawing at each of the verses and begging to be heard. This is the kind of chorus that bands much further into their career wish they could write- it’s emotionally wrought but soars so high that you can’t help but to move. Involuntary head-bobs come second only to this strange feeling that you’ve known the words to this song for years.” Further commenting on the track, Wolfe states:
“‘Moonlit’ is about me. It’s about my past. It’s about my future. It’s about those around me. Those who’ve hurt me. Those I’ve hurt. I’m not perfect, I never will be, but all I can do is try to be the best version of myself.” – Kalie Wolfe
RIVALS is a dark pop-rock band from Los Angeles, CA formed in 2014 by vocalist Kalie Wolfe, bassist Sebastian Chamberlain, and guitarist Micket Woodle. Driven by Wolfe’s powerhouse vocals and the band’s infectious yet raw sound, RIVALS is fueled by powerful and energetic songwriting, bringing forth a type of fearlessness in their music that stands out among the rest. Since the release of their debut EP in 2015, titled Haunted/Hunted, the band has been making waves and for good reason. Revered by many on their live performance, RIVALS has previously toured the country with bands like Story Untold, Uh Huh Baby Yeah!, and Best Kept Secret, in addition to sharing a lineup with acts like Assuming We Survive, The Word Alive, and Oceans Ate Alaska on the 2014 Vans Warped Tour. The band’s impressive live performances also led to partnerships with MEE Audio, D’Addario, SJC Drums and TRX Cymbals. In 2016, RIVALS gained mass attention with their unique take on twenty one pilotsʼ track, “Heathens,” which has garnered over 350,000 listens collectively across Spotify, YouTube and other streaming platforms.
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Learn more about RIVALS in the following All Access interview:
What is one song that you are loving right now?
The whole band really digs Doomsday by Architects. We probably play it like 2/3 times a day while in the van 😂😂
So first things first, what all are you most excited about for this year?
We’re really excited to be hitting the road with The Red jumpsuit Apparatus! We’re filming a new video for Damned Soul! And we have so much road time! Can not wait to get out and meet new people and see our amazing fans!
Can you recall the moment when you all thought you could be in a band together?
It wasn’t really something we kinda knew, we think our paths crossed on purpose, like it wasn’t an accident we all got along so well. I guess you can call it fate in a way! Really happy to be here with them though, the jokes, the laughing, the crazy adventures, happy to call them family.
Was it hard to come up with a name that you all thought fit your sound and who you are?
There are actually a few different stories on what we remember on how we came up with our name but more or less our band name doesn’t describe our music, its our music that now describes our band name. Micket remembers us drawing it out of a hat but I honestly remember us voting slowly down till we ended up with rivals. We all didn’t hate it so we thought “let’s go with it” haha
Let’s talk about your forthcoming first full-length album, “Damned Soul.” Why do you think it took so long to put out your first full album?
We really took our time so we could make something that we felt was really RIVALS in a whole, there was issues and complications but that’s everything with a band. It’s never easy but that’s why we love it, the struggle to get there is the best part. We love the hard work, the grind, the craziness of it all. Plus we really wanted to make sure that it was as good as we could get it at the time!
What was the inspiration for this collection?
A lot of the songs are about internal and external issues ranging from my mental health, to over coming those issues, to heartbreak, to pushing towards your goal and of course the open letting I wrote to my niece Leila! There isn’t really one inspiration, it kind of came from everywhere! Especially since it was written over such a long period of time!
Did anything surprise you about the process of putting it together?
What we had initially wrote for the album had evolved into something far beyond what we thought we would have created in the beginning and its been super exciting to watch the transformation. I think finally getting to see people’s reactions is also kind of surprising, we were confident in what we wrote but seeing people like it and singing the words honestly makes it all worth it to us.
Were there any unexpected challenges at all?
Always haha, nothing is ever easy but the reward is always worth it. We are so thankful for everything we’ve been given so far, it’s crazy to watch us grow. The amount of tears and nights spent awake worrying if it was good or not is crazy when I think about it.
Why do you think Smartpunk Records is the right place for this band and your music today?
They really care about us as a band and inspire us to push ourselves to new limits. They believe in us, they care and want the best for us and we knew that’s what we needed. A family environment just like our band and everything else around else. We’re all family.
How did you go about picking this label to release your music?
We really just vibe well with the people that work there, we didn’t really pick them per say, we’ll I guess technically haha but honestly it was just right. Everything about it, everyone at Smartpunk is amazing and we appreciate them a lot.
You worked with a lot of talented musicians and producers on “Damned Soul.” What was it like working with them and how did some of these collaborations come to be?
They were all people that we had met along the road and they are honestly awesome people to not only write with but to hang out with in general. John Espy, Kalie met at a show one day randomly and Aaron Edwards was met through John but technically Aaron had reached out to me way back in the day about making music and I blew him off at the time. Kinda funny how things works out in life haha.
I would love to know more about the making of “Moonlit”? What was it like putting this particular emotional song together?
it was really a song comprised of all of our emotional struggles as human beings, it’s about the mental struggles and hardships your mind can consume you in. It’s about the people who surround you and the life choices you make. Moonlit has so many different meaning but it really boils down to my own mental problems.
How do you think RIVALS has grown through the years?
We’ve learn so much, like from when we started till now has been crazy. You don’t realize how much you’re doing wrong until later. Now we try to spread our knowledge to other bands who are growing. If I had to say the number one thing that we’ve grown on is our performance. We’ve always been energetic but now we just flow together so seamlessly when we play
Do you have any 2018 tour dates lined up already?
We are on tour with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus from 3/29 – 5/27! We’re super stoked!!!
4/12 – Las Vegas, NV @ Backstage Bar & Billiards
4/13 – Scottsdale, AZ @ Pub Rock
4/15 – Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
Who would you love to work with in the future?
John Feldman! He always does really awesome albums that we all really love so hopefully one day we get to do one with him!
Who are some of your favorite artists right now?
Billie Eilish, The Plot In You, Blackbear, Lil Peep, Bring Me The Horizon, 30 Seconds To Mars, Architects to name a few!
What would be a dream collaboration for this group?
Jared Leto from 30 Seconds To Mars. This dude is so amazingly talented in so many ways and to have him on any song with us would be a dream come true. So Jared, if you ever wanna feature on a rivals song let us know 😂😂
Where do you think you are all happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording music or elsewhere?
On stage performing for sure! It’s our bliss, our happiness, our place we belong. We wouldn’t trade preforming for anything and getting to meet fans and people who enjoy our music. There is nothing better then getting off stage and getting to become friends with tons of new people.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being in this band gives you the most joy in life today?
Being in a band is like showing up to a job that you love everything about. You get to hang out with your best friends and stick it out through the good and the bad, you dont show up to the same place everyday, you meet new people constantly and you get to travel. As they say if you love your job then you never work a day in your life.
Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
Always! Music is expressive and it changes as time changes. Each musician is influence by something different, it could be family, friends, past issues, mental issues or even the outside world. Music effects the world and the world effects music. It almost seems like a cycle to me!
What do you hope is the message of your music?
To never give up, never let go, see the bright side. Life is honestly so beautiful if you just take the time to see the smallest things. And of course to always Keep Going!
What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I hope that everyone can listen to our music, the lyrics, each instrument and really feel it. To have it effect them and help them express the issues they’re having. I hope that our music is a positive reinforcement to other people’s lives.
What do you hope they take away from one of your shows?
A good live show and some new friendships, RIVALS is a family and always will be, we help each other out and support one another. Our older fans know that and I hope our new fans find some type of home here with us.