THE REVIVALISTS Talk About Life In New Orleans, Their Third Album, “Men Amongst Mountains” And More!
Posted On 04 May 2016
Tag: All Access, All Access Music Group, Andrew Campanelli, Artist Interview, Ben Ellman, Billboard, Bogalusa, Chicken Box, City Of Sound, David Shaw, Ed Williams, Erroll Garner, George Gekas, Hiatus Kaiyote, iTunes, Jazz Fest, Kendrick Lamar, Men Amongst Mountains, Michael Girardot, Nantucket, Naughty Professor, New Orleans, Nine Inch Nails, Orpheum Theater, Rebirth Brass Band, Red Rocks, RiTE Music Group, Rob Ingraham, Rolling Stone, Snarky Puppy, Spotify, Stevie Wonder, Studio In The Country, The Afghan Whigs, The Revivalists, The Soul Rebels Brass Band, To Pimp A Butterfly, TODAY Show, Vital Signs, Vulpeck, Wind-Up Records, Wish I Knew You, Zack Feinberg
Since forming in 2007, the seven-piece New Orleans roots-driven rock band, The Revivalists logged countless miles on the road, cultivating a high octane live show and a studio presence equally steeped in instrumental virtuosity and charismatic vocal magnetism.
Following two independent releases, 2010’s Vital Signs and 2014’s City of Sound, that time and dedication came to a head on the group’s third full-length album, Men Amongst Mountains [Wind-Up Records]. As much as it’s the culmination of their work thus far, it opens up a new chapter for the band— David Shaw [vocals], Zack Feinberg [guitar], Ed Williams [pedal steel guitar], Rob Ingraham [saxophone], George Gekas [bass], Andrew Campanelli [drums], and Michael Girardot [keys, trumpets].
“The title sums up our collective feeling,” says Shaw. “We started to find ourselves on festival bills with our idols and in front of huge crowds. We thought, ‘We’re amongst these giants, but we’re holding our own.’ We felt like we stood up and met the challenge by simply being who we are as The Revivalists.”
That honesty turned both fans and critics into believers. Upon release, Men Amongst Mountains debuted at #2 on the Billboard Alternative Albums Chart and Top 10 on the iTunes Alternative Albums Chart while quickly racking up over 3.1 million plays on Spotify all through word of mouth.
Whether it’s Ed’s show-stopping pedal steel fireworks, Zack finger-tapping out bluesy licks on his fretboard, or Rob and Michael’s horns adding just the right touch of bombast, Men Amongst Mountains consistently surprises. In order to capture that unpredictability, the band recorded the album live on tape in just 21 days at the iconic “Studio in the Country” [Stevie Wonder, The Afghan Whigs, Nine Inch Nails] in Bogalusa, LA with producer Ben Ellman.
“We had been playing a good amount of the songs live,” explains Shaw. “We had a feel for them, but we also had a few new ones. Ben was a breath of fresh air in the process. There are seven people in the band and a lot of strong personalities, to say the least. Ben guided us through our ideas. With his encouragement, we’d work it until we felt that magic.”
Named one of Rolling Stone’s “10 Artists You Need To Know,” The Revivalists are quite far along on their own path now, and there’s no turning back. “All that matters is that the art makes you feel something,” the singer concludes. “I’d love for it to take you away into the mood we felt when the song was actually created. I hope you can feel the general vibe of a song and have it be an escape—whether you’re listening to it at home or in the crowd at a show.”
Here’s their video for “Wish I Knew You”:
Learn more about The Revivalists in the following All Access interview:
Thanks so much for your time today! So what were some of the band’s highlights last year? What are you most excited for this year?
There are a few major highlights from last year that come to mind. In July we released our third studio album, Men Amongst Mountains. Making an album takes immense focus and energy, so it was great finally seeing it out in the world. We were also fortunate enough to play at Red Rocks which is definitely a bucket list venue. We started the year taking time to start working on new material which brought us into the beginning of the spring/summer tour fully refreshed. We made our first national appearance on the TODAY Show April 12 and really looking forward to our show at The Orpheum Theater on 4/23 with Vulfpeck and The Soul Rebels Brass Band. Shows during Jazz Fest always have a little extra because there are a ton of musicians running around town sitting in with each other so you never know what’s going to happen.
Despite the fact that none of you are actually from New Orleans, how do you think being a New Orleans group has influenced you all and your sound of course?
Although none of us grew up in New Orleans, we all moved there partially because of our love for the music. The beat of New Orleans is heard in the streets and gets into your blood. It encompasses a spirit of tradition and further elaboration that fuels creativity. In clubs, parades, funerals, and street corners the music is alive and there’s often a flexible line between audience member and performer. Our first tours with Rebirth Brass Band taught us a lot, and we approach our live show with a New Orleans mentality of moving people and finding unique new ways to play the same songs night after night.
Can you remember first starting this group back in 2007? How do you think the band dynamics have changed over the years? What has stayed the same?
When we first started the group we had the goal to write good songs and play them in front of people. Over the years we added members, started making records, and began traveling a lot. After nine years of playing together we’re better at listening to and playing off of each other on stage and in the studio. As we’ve gotten better at writing and recording our ideas, we’ve been able to explore new avenues of songwriting but in many ways the core dynamic is the same as it was in the beginning.
What was the inspiration behind your newest collection, “Men Amongst Mountains”? Can you describe the group’s process when it comes to creating new music? Can it get a bit hectic with having 7 members in the band?
A lot of the songs that eventually turned into “Men Amongst Mountains” were written when we were first starting to tour a lot between 2011 and 2014. We were starting to play all over the country on bigger stages with some of our musical heroes and it felt like we were all of a sudden in this giant world. The songs that were written during that time all seemed to reflect that on some level. We’ve written songs in almost any configuration possible from an individual songwriter to full seven person collaboration. When we’re on the road we’re always writing and recording demos or ideas to bring home. Often one or two people will work on something and bring it to the band to flesh out and arrange.
You have been touring a ton lately! What have been some favorite shows of yours? What about the best crowds? What do you think are the most important factors when it comes to an amazing show experience for you the performers and being in the audience?
We’ve gotten to play a lot of really great venues and festivals in the last few years. The best shows depend on the energy coming off the crowd more than the size. It can be 10,000 people shaking the mountains at Red Rocks or 300 people crammed in the Chicken Box on Nantucket. A lot of the places we’re playing these days are in cities we’ve been playing for years so we have a lot of friends and fans who’ve seen us grow from half empty bars to bigger venues and their excitement often helps create the best shows from both the audience and the band’s perspective.
Your music video for “Wish I Knew You” has recently been released. So, what’s it like making music videos with all 7 of you? How creatively involved are you all with them?
Making a music video is sort of a similar creative dynamic to writing a song. The concept for the “Wish I Knew You” video came from band discussions and we worked with RiTE Media Group to produce it. They were great to work with because we were really stepping into their world as far as the set, actors, and cameras. We shot it during an off day in the middle of a tour so we had limited time to get the shots we needed but once we got on set we started having fun and it came together pretty easily.
Who are some of the group’s favorite artists? What bands continue to inspire you all year after year? Is there anyone that you would love to work with in the future?
We all grew up with different musical influences so we all appreciate a wide range of styles. This year we listened to the Kendrick Lamar album To Pimp A Butterfly a lot while touring. Its creativity sounds like it’s in the audio equivalent of 3-D and the musicians employed to make the record have been making true music fairly under the radar for many years. Lately I’ve also been listening to Snarky Puppy, Hiatus Kaiyote, Naughty Professor, and Erroll Garner.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
Our songs stem from the lives of the songwriters chronicling our good days as well as our questionable decisions. Everyone has their good days and their questionable decisions, but there’s a humanity to imperfections that can encourage people to be more understanding of each other’s differences.