Rival talks about there new LP- Damned Soul, which is set for release on February 2, 2018 via Smartpunk Records.
Interview Took Place 12/18/2017
By Dan Locke
LA’s RIVALS was formed in 2014 by vocalist Kalie Wolfe, bassist Sebastian Chamberlain, and guitarist Micket Woodle. Driven by Wolfe’s powerhouse vocals and the band’s infectious yet raw sound, RIVALS is fueled by powerful and energetic songwriting, bringing forth a type of fearlessness in their music that stands out among the rest. Since the release of their debut EP in 2015, titled Haunted/Hunted, the band has been making waves and for good reason. In 2016, RIVALS gained mass attention with their unique take on twenty one pilots’ track, “Heathens,” which has garnered over 350,000 listens collectively across Spotify, YouTube and other streaming platforms.
Unrated – How did you find each other? Tell me about the development of the band?
Micket – Kalie and I actually went on a tour years ago when she was a photographer and when that band ended I contacted her and we created RIVALS together. Later on we found Josh and Seb through our local scene
How did you pick your name?
Micket – We all write down a bunch of names, chose the one we thought would fit the best and put them in a hat, pulled one out and RIVALS is what we got haha
Tell me about your backgrounds?
Kalie – Seb, Josh and Micket all come from metal backgrounds, they’ve all played in lots of metal core styled bands, josh even comes from some of the way darker, and blast beats kinda metal haha. I come from pop, before RIVALS I was solo and made pop music, which was very Kesha and not very good but it led me here!
How do you describe your music?
Seb – Definitely dark pop with a mix of Alt Rock
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
Micket – I think I can say we all have a very eclectic taste in music but for the most part it was metal and hardcore for everyone but Kalie who listened to a lot of pop
Kalie – Hey! I dabbled in Fall Out Boy, The Used, and Memphis May Fire also! I Wasn’t ALL pop haha!
Who influences you and why?
ALL – 30 Seconds to Mars. Bring me the Horizon, Underoath, The Plot in You, Panic ! at the Disco and Too Close to Touch to name a few! We also have been dabbling in some rap recently as well
What is Ridgeline Media?
Kalie – Ridgeline Media is my graphic design company! It’s how I make my money on tour and at home 🙂
You are from LA. What is your favorite club there to play?
Seb – There are many clubs in Los Angeles and to say that any one is better than the other is difficult. I think they’re all great in different ways but to name a few we like, Malones, Chain Reaction, House Of Blues is dope, PBW
What is Dark Pop and what do you feel, what direction the music is heading?
Kalie – It’s the line between what mainstream lighter music and underground heavy music is. Being that the band is divided into two vastly separate background it’s the union of those two styles coming together.
How did you get signed to the label?
Kalie – A friend of a friend knew the dudes at Smartpunk, they liked our stuff and it just kinda worked out!
Let’s talk about your new project your first full-length LP, Damned Soul, which has been set for release on February 2, 2018 via SmartPunk Records. Why do you feel this cd is ready to be release?
Kalie – We started writing Damned Soul almost right after we finished writing Haunted/Hunted, it was weird because we didn’t really try to change sounds, it just happened so naturally. We knew after finishing H/H that we wanted to go huge with the full length but that was three years ago and we were all so clueless on what was going on lol. The first song we wrote that stayed on the album was”Over It,”and tbh it didn’t change really at all from start to finish. Over the progress of two years, from writing and demoing to actually recording, to mixing and mastering, it was finally finished December 2016. It took us about a year to get everything ready to release and in the process of getting it all together, we hooked up with Smartpunk who really put all the final touches on it.
Why did you release Moonlit as the first single?
Kalie – Actually “Low”was our first single off the CD Damned Soul and we released it because we felt with the evolution of our band at this time it would really help bridge the gap between what we were and what we are now. We chose “Moonlit ” second because it was so vastly different from Low, we wanted to show the diversity on the record. Some super pop songs, some heavier songs. Seb even pops in with some screams on the end of one of the songs; P
How did you pick your team to help you developed this project? Damned Soul was produced by John Espy (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus) and Aaron Edwards (Sick Puppies, Elohim, The Cab), with additional writing for drums and mixing/mastering by Cody Stewart (The Browning, Rings of Saturn, Falsifier).
Kalie – I don’t think we really chose them lol, it all just happened. I met John Espy at a festival randomly, he knew who I was and expressed interest in producing us. Later on in the game, John introduced us to Aaron but it was funny cause Aaron had in the past reached out to me to make pop music and I kinda ghosted him lol. We all ended up working together and it was dope. Cody came way later in the game and he freaking killed it, our record came out insane and were insanely thankful for that. We love them all so much as people and were appreciative of everything they’ve done to get us here.
I love your cover of Heathens by Twenty One Pilots. How did you start recording that? I love it so much better than Twenty One Pilots. Where did you record it? On the team who helped you with it how did you get the Director – Rachel Renee? And what did Director of Photographer- Mark Zolotov do for the project?
Micket – Haha that’s a very short and funny story actually. I and Kalie were talking about doing a cover and she heard “Heathens” in passing at one point and pitched it to me and the next day he sent me back a demo cover of the song. From there we had it mixed and mastered and the rest is history haha Rachel/Mark and Colby Jackson were all in film school at the time and just wanted to film something, and it just happened haha
What make and model of instruments does you play?
Kalie – Seinheisser wireless mic with Shure in-ear wireless system with MEE audio in ears, I also have a TC Helicon Voicelive rack unit as well that I love!
Micket – Fender Telecaster H/H, Marshall 1960a cab, Line 6 pod pro HD and a Crown 1502 power amp
Seb – Ampeg 8×10, Ampeg STV micro and a Sansamp pedal
Josh – SJC drums and TRX cymbals
What type of clubs have you played in (size)?
Seb – we’ve played places that only fit 10ppl to the House of Blues, Anaheim. It all just really depends on the scenario but either way, we rock out like there are 1000 people!
Tell me about your experience playing the 2014 Vans Warped Tour? The best part and the worst part of the tour?
Micket – The best part about playing was the people. Everyone who saw us were just the nicest most awesome people ever. The worst part was the heat since we played in Phoenix, Arizona haha it was like 113 that day, it was crazy.
What are you feeling that next year is the last year for it?
Micket – Sad, we all grew up with Warped so it’s almost like our home away from home, were very appreciative that we got to play it at all, a memory we will never forget.
Have you looked into SXSW?
Seb – We would love to play SXSW, such a cool festival and a really good environment!
Are you thinking about doing the US for a tour?
Kalie – We actually just finished up a full US tour with Story Untold and Knockout Kid. We plan on doing it again at least twice in 2018! Plus I LOVE the east coast and Midwest haha
How would you explain your live performance?
Seb – Crazy, high, low, acrobats, and loud haha
Tell me about your partnerships with MEE Audio, D’Addario, SJC Drums and TRX Cymbals? How did you get them as sponsors?
Micket – Thankfully they’re all companies we really enjoy using so reaching out to them and them agreeing to endorse us was awesome. We’re thankful for them supporting us, means a lot to us since we all looked up to these companies growing up.
Who have you opened up for?
Kalie – Out Came The Wolves, The Word Alive, Oceans Ate Alaska, Story Untold, Danger Kids, Assuming We Survive, to name a couple 🙂
If someone was listening to you for the first time, what 3 videos or songs would you tell them to look/listen to and why?
Micket – “Low, ” “Moonlit” and “Heathens” because we feel like it’s the best version of who we are as a band, but soon there will be more that we can’t mention just yet!
How do you see your band in the next 5 years?
Kalie – Touring the world, playing sold out shows with our other friends in bands all together having a great time. We make music cause we love it! So getting to do this for a long time would be really awesome!
Any guilty pleasures your fans would be surprise you listen to?
ALL – We all really like Katy Perry haha
What is on your phone for music now?
Kalie – I’m rocking Billie Eillish, Chase Atlantic and Blackbear right now but half my 128gigs is music so there is so much stuff I can listen to when were on the road
Any plans for Xmas?
ALL – Stay in with our families and just enjoying the time we have to spend with them
Anything in closing you would like to say?
ALL – Check out our new music video for the single “Moonlit” up on YouTube and don’t forget to pre-order our CD Damned Soul which comes out February 2nd!