From His Experience on X-Factor, To Forming The Group Rival City Heights, JEFF GUTT Opens Up About it All!
Posted On 24 Mar 2016
Perhaps Detroit rocker, Jeff Gutt may be best known for his appearances on two seasons of The X Factor. However, now he has formed his own band called Rival City Heights and since September 2015, they have been touring the Middle East (Jordan, India, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon) for a series of concerts in association with the Princess Alia Foundation. Since the tour has wrapped, Jeff and his band-mates have gone on to write and record their debut full length album with multi-platinum producer, Matt Squire.
Learn more about this upcoming album and Jeff’s choice to start this band in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! So, what were some of the highlights of 2015 for you?
Glad we could chat… first and foremost I would say finishing the record was the biggest highlight of the year. Beyond that, the band was lucky enough to tour the through the middle east and india toward the end of last year, and that was a life changing experience. It’s amazing to see how music can cross over so many cultural lines and connect people.
Can you talk about why you decided to start Rival City Heights? Why not continue on as a solo artist?
Well, I’m a singer. I like to be a singer but I have always felt like being a singer was a function of the band. Just like a guitar player or drummer. There is no better feeling than getting in a room or on stage with your band-mates and creating something together. In the back of mind I always had a group of musicians I knew I wanted to make a record with and this seemed like the right time and the right opportunity.
How did the band first come together? Why do you think you all work so well together?
I have known a few of the guys for a long time. Gary and I have been in other bands together and quite often we would see Cyamak at the same gigs. I always appreciated his playing and over time we became good friends also. KC is also a friend I met while working in Nashville. He wanted to play my guitar while I was doing some warm-ups. At first I was a little hesitant but I handed it over. I’m glad I did because he thoroughly impressed me with his skill and we became friends. Will Hunt is our newest addition and he’s just a consummate pro. we come from the same school of rock and roll, and from the start it was really easy and fun to work with him.
Looking back on your time on The X-Factor, what do you think was the best part of it all? What do you think that you learned from the experience? Do you think you would do it all over again today?
The best part was the learning. Seeing so much of the behind the scenes and meeting people. Getting advice from people I looked up to. learning even more about the industry that I’m a part of. Win or lose I would do it all again simply for the knowledge gained.
Later this spring, you and your band, Rival City Heights will be releasing their debut self-titled album. What’s that feel like? What was the process like of putting this collection together?
It was a long, but fun process of writing and re writing and working and recording. When we went to the middle east it was being mixed and we were playing long sets. So the new songs were mixed in with some X Factor favorites and some older songs that aren’t on the record. So while we focused on that tour, it kind of felt like the record release was still a ways off. Now that we’re getting close to actually sharing it though it’s starting to feel really fresh and exciting again. We’ve been playing the songs live out on the road with Trapt right now, and the crowd response from people has been overwhelming. I’m really proud of the work we did, and I think our fans will love it.
Where did the inspiration for this record come from? What are some of the stand-out singles on it?
We were inspired by all things most humans are inspired by I think. Love, hate, anger, redemption… I don’t want to make this record sound typical or anything, but I think humans right about a lot of the same things… I think we want the record to inspire people. We want them to find their own meanings and things that they relate to. So, in an odd way I would say the inspiration for the record was to inspire others with our music the way our favorite bands inspired us.
You are about to head out on a big mid-west – east coast tour. Where are you most excited to play at? What’s been a favorite show of yours? Who do you think makes really amazing performance?
We are just excited to play everywhere. anywhere new. Anywhere someone might be seeing us for the first time.
From what I’ve read, you have quite the following in the Middle East, Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, Finland and Australia. What’s that been like for you? Have you been able to travel much overseas?
We have definitely been over seas… it’s nice to have such an international following. I’m sure well be traveling abroad again sooner than later.
Where do you think you are happiest – on stage performing, in the studio recording or elsewhere?
Definitely the stage. right now we’re out doing a thirty minute set and those are the best 30 minutes of my day.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who continues to inspire you year after year? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Guns N Roses, Bon Jovi, Alice in Chains, Sting, I mean… this list could get ridiculous. I’m not sure who I would like to work with, I think collaboration is a personal thing between the people collaborating. there has to be a connection. Sometimes you know right away that you connect with a persons tastes, and that’s when you know it’s time to work together.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
Not to give you the same answer again, but I just hope people are inspired. That the can relate. I think we all go through a lot of similar emotions and feelings in our lives. So I just want someone to listen to any song on our record and be able to find something that they relate to. that maybe helps them get through a day… or reminds them of a girlfriend or a great party. We just hope people find something they can connect with.