Since the release of their last record in 2012, Long Beach's Rival Sons have been traveling across the globe spreading their brand of arena-ready blues rock. As the band geared up to record their fourth full-length, Great Western Valkyrie they underwent some changes. Bassist Robin Everhart left the band and they've powered on with Dave Beste filling in. Between opening for Aerosmith in Europe, and an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman (which they compare to "playing a thousand shows because of its reach) when they return stateside, Rival Sons have a busy couple of months ahead of them. Just after the band's set at Rock Am Ring in Germany, we spoke to singer Jay Buchanan who fills us on the changes within the band, life on the road and of course, Aerosmith.
How did this album come together so quickly?
We always use the same process. Typically, we give ourselves three-to-four weeks and we go into the studio and we write together. We start with nothing and get in there, start writing and as soon as we finishing arranging, we record it right then so we get an honest picture and that creative flashpoint on tape. This time, we gave ourselves six weeks.
Is there a certain type of pressure that comes with having to work under those constraints? Do you guys go in with at least a loose idea of what you want to accomplish?
It's completely nervewracking. But we're artists so that makes us perpetual procrastinators. Every time we go in to make a record, it's going to determine the next year or two of our lives. How good of a record you make will determine your career. It comes down to what you do now and not fair to rest on your laurels and be too comfortable with your back catalog.
How did new bassist Dave Beste fit in with the band? Was it easy to pick up where the band was while adjusting to working him?
Having him join on was a necessity. We faced a dilemma when Robin left of what to do. I've known Dave so long and we've had such great respect for his craft. Within two minutes of getting the news that Robin was going to split, I called Dave, he was the guy for the job. As far as carrying on, I'm a career artist. I've been writing music and playing gigs forever and that's what I'm going to do until I'm dead. You do it because you have to because music is my donna for sure. We push ourselves because we're a band and that's how we function.
But it's a labor of love to a certain degree though.
At times, it's a labor of love, but at times it's just a labor just like any other gig. I really try to stay grounded by how privileged this job is on one hand. I just got off-stage and got a massage right next door and now I'm talking about myself. This is a very, very privileged lifestyle, but all things relative, it's a very taxing lifestyle as well, being away from home and my family. This is prime beach weather back home and I miss it! Music is that language and energy that can't quantify what it does to a person. However good or however bad we are, we still get to live in that zone. I think it's working though.
What was it like opening for Aerosmith last month?
The thing that impressed me the most about Aerosmith was Steven Tyler. For all the news about him going on American Idol and that he took a lot of flack for that, he was really down to earth, and watched us on-stage and really seemed grounded. I know that sounds insane to hear, but he really seemed that way. Watching them on-stage, It's very inspiring to see him be there and it's such an unmistakable voice. When you see them whipping out all of their hits, it makes you realize how large their catalog is. I remember being 15 or 16 years old playing acoustic guitars and singing "Dream On" in coffee shops, so it's really an "Aha" moment to be standing side stage and they're playing that song and it made me go "Wow" that I'm in this arena with 30,000 people and hanging out with these guys. Every once in a while we get those moments, and it's not as if they sustain you, but it's really cool.