Standing backstage before a show in London, the Rival Sons had a lot to look forward to. They'd relentlessly toured Europe, opening for such legends of rock as AC/DC and Guns N' Roses, but nothing could have prepared them for the praise that was about to be heaped upon them by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page. The band's publicist informed them the legendary guitarist not only was in attendance, but also wanted to meet them before the show. To their surprise, seconds later, Page walked into their dressing room and told the band how much he liked their music. Any doubts about their legitimacy as a rock band should be flushed after that sentence.
Overseas, the Long Beach natives are budding superstars, having been on the cover of the British magazine Classic Rock along with being named its Breakthrough Artist of 2012. Their combination of hard rock and blues has many recalling some of the great bands of yesteryear, including positive comparisons to Page's Led Zeppelin as well as the Black Crowes.
Before joining what would become Rival Sons, Jay Buchanan was known in these parts as a singer/songwriter, not the front man of a rock band. But then he got a call from drummer Michael Miley, a friend who was already in the band, asking if he'd consider joining the outfit, which also includes guitarist Scott Holiday and bassist Robin Everhart. Although they had already gone through multiple singers, Buchanan agreed, albeit apprehensively.
"In the back of my mind, I didn't want it to click because I was too busy at the time," the singer confesses. "I thought to myself that I didn't have time for a side project and it would be fun to be in a rock band, to play some shows locally and get my kicks. What an [understatement] that was!"
Though the Rival Sons' shows and albums caught on in Europe (which can be attributed to the push from their record company, Nottingham, U.K.-based Earache Records) and Canada, the band haven't carved out a strong following in their homeland. While this ongoing struggle has frustrated the band members, they're optimistic 2013 will be the year they surge ahead domestically, and if the end of the past year is any indication, they're starting to be recognized by influential sources. Last December, for a cover story in Rolling Stone, Page was asked what bands he was listening to and enjoying. He mentioned Muse . . . and Rival Sons.
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"Him giving us accolades in Rolling Stone, a publication he's had problems with, and he only talks about two bands, one being us, is not only validating, but also so strange and surreal you can't really think about it very much," Buchanan says.
Rival Sons' third album, Head Down, was released in Europe this past August and is slated for a March 5 release in the States. Though they don't have a crystal ball, as they embark on an upcoming tour of the West Coast and Canada, the band have their sights set on conquering America.
Rival Sons perform at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Founders Hall, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.scfta.org. Tues., 8 p.m. $10. All ages.