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Rival Sons give rejuvination to a classic hard rock sound

L.A. hard rock quartet thrive off of proven sounds, making 'old school' new again.

By Patrick Prince

Anyone out there who worships the hard rock/heavy blues sounds of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple — the electric classic rock sound of the '70s — will simply love the L.A.-based band Rival Sons. In fact, they are one of the best sounding bands in years.

Sometimes labeled rock revivalists, Rival Sons hit the scene running with 2009's magnificent "Before the Fire," then a self-titled EP in January of this year followed. Comprised of vocalist Jay Buchanan, guitarist Scott Holiday, bassist Robin Everhart and drummer Michael Miley, the band has already toured with the likes of AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest and Queensryche and even juiced up a few soundtracks to car commercials on American television. Their new album "Pressure and Time" on Earache Records was released on July 26 (check it out here).

Rival Sons, L to R: Michael Miley, Scott Holiday, Robin Everhart and Jay Buchanan

Rival Sons, L to R: Michael Miley, Scott Holiday, Robin Everhart and Jay Buchanan

In July, before the release of the newest album, Jay Buchanan answered a few of our questions.

Why an EP release this year?
Jay Buchanan: We'd had plans to hop in the studio and snap off a few to tape and print some vinyl before we'd had any interest in signing with Earache and we knew we'd be signing with someone very quickly so we wanted one last independent swing. Once we did record the EP, we signed with Earache, hit the road for two months and started recording the LP the day after we drove in so there wasn't much time in between the two sessions.

Are you satisfied with the way the "Pressure and Time" LP turned out?
Buchanan: It's good enough as a snapshot of where the band was a couple months ago I suppose but as of now I'm pretty much over it. My focus is on the next record.

What statement are you trying to make with this album?
Buchanan: Statement? No way. It would be easy and predictable to feed you a line of bullshit about how calculated and thoughtful we are but we wrote on a song to song basis. It was a very rowdy twenty consecutive days with no time for high fives.

How would you say this differs from the last releases, "Before the Fire"?
Buchanan: The last release had us recording material we'd worked out live so the songs were naturally more long form whereas this release is on the spot writing and first takes.

Do you like the classic hard rock comparisons? Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple ….
Buchanan: It is what it is. Those are legendary bands in the world of rock, so what's not to like? If you walk into a pub and people tell you that you remind them of James Dean or Steve McQueen, what are you going to do, get upset? No way. You'd do what anybody would: take the free drinks and get laid.

Some feel there aren't enough bands like Rival Sons out there nowadays: classic rock, old school, heavy electric blues ... whatever you want to call it. Don't you think you fill a void?
Whether or not we fill any void is for somebody else to decide, we just make the music and people will do what they like with it regardless of what I think..

Have you heard of the band Black Country Communion? … they rock a similar sound…
Buchanan: Black Country Communion? Rock band. There's no denying Glenn's vocal range and prowess but I don't hear nearly enough blues in their sound to legitimately call it rock 'n' roll.

How would you describe your music?
Buchanan: Rock 'n' roll.

How is the SO. CAL music scene now?
Buchanan: Good as it's ever been I'd guess. Los Angeles is always hungry and ready to devour the dreams and break the body of anyone willing to move there trying to "make it."

Is there some disappointment in L.A., i.e., a song called "Burn Down Los Angeles"?
Buchanan: I wouldn't think so, Los Angeles is always catching fire these days. The song is about thriving in the belly of the beast, not actually setting it to fire.

Your music has been featured in a few TV commercials ...?
Buchanan: Yep, got bills to pay and grits ain't groceries.

Were you psyched about the European tour? Have you been to Europe before?
Buchanan: Europe is wonderful, yes. Just got home from a U.S. tour yesterday, have just enough time to laundry the contents of my luggage and pack them back in before we leave again in a couple days.

What do you think of being packaged on tour with Judas Priest and Queensryche?
Buchanan: Either way we come out swinging and kicking every night so no one will be walking away clean.

Do you like playing big festivals? Sonisphere, for example. Would you rather play clubs?
Buchanan: Festivals and clubs are two different beasts entirely. If we're on, we're on and that's the key to any show.

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