When Rival Sons kicked off the UK and Ireland leg of their current tour, in Norwich on June 27, 10 years and 364 days had passed since the release of their second album, Pressure & Time.
A 10th anniversary edition was originally due to be released in March this year – on gold vinyl, with a reimagined sleeve, hardcover book and 7-inch bonus single – but the release has been delayed. It will finally ship next week.
Each of us suffered during the lockdown, but how difficult were those times for you?
It was hard because we were in the cycle of our most successful album [2019’s Feral Roots], which had earned us two Grammy nominations, and everyone in the group felt good. A tour had been booked, and suddenly the brakes were lifted.
Many people learned a new skill or perhaps spent time working on some flaw. Has something like this happened to you?
The advantage was that each of us in Rival Sons is a family man. I have two children and at Christmas I gave them a puppy. I learned to be a better father, which did me good. I got comfortable and did some DIY. Right before everything shut down, I had found myself thinking, “I could really do with two years off.” I hope I didn’t do this to myself!
Did you use the time to write new music?
Yeah, we’ve written tons of new songs. The second the tour was canceled, Jay [Buchanan, vocals] and I sent them back. This new record of ours is now practically finished. But not only that, I also started producing other bands.
What can you tell us about your seventh album?
We should be mixed in a month or two. When it will be released is a commercial question, but it will be next year. It’s a little early to say too much.
The group did live streaming during confinement. How nice was it?
It was fun. It was trippy [to play without an audience]. I saw other bands and I was like, “Wow, why are they doing this?” And then we did. But we were really special. We took a boat to Catalina Island [just off the coast of California] where there was a beautiful historic ballroom, and we played our first album before the fire  in the middle of this room. We also did another night at a movie theater, where we played our self-titled EP . Both were really cool.
Tell us about the first comeback gig with an audience.
Oh, that was fantastic. The feeling was so exciting, not only for the audience but also for the band. We all live in different parts of the world so being together again… I was with my guys, I missed my friends. I felt really good, very natural.
Rival Sons were due to play in the UK with Aerosmith earlier this year until the headliners were canceled.
Yeah. Even before the pandemic, we had heard from the grapevine that the tour might not happen. With a band like Aerosmith, there are always a lot of ups and downs. When the dates were drawn it was a real disappointment.
All of your recent dates revolved around the band’s second album, Pressure & Time. What is your relationship with this record?
It was cool to rediscover these songs. Some of them had never been played live, or at least very rarely. In terms of range, they were a little too high, even for Jay, so we did some fancy things to make them work. For example, I play White noise on a baritone guitar, and it gives it a whole new life.
How has Rival Sons progressed in the eleven years since that record?
As writers and artists, we have really evolved. And it is the responsibility of each group. You take on new influences and grow as people. Once each record has been recorded and shot, it’s like an exorcism – you go completely somewhere else. Revisiting the pressure and time for the tour [which began in the US] almost felt like time travel.
Rival Sons has backed so many legendary bands. What do you remember sharing a stage with, say, the Rolling Stones, Deep Purple and Lenny Kravitz?
You learn that it’s not just about the four or five guys that are on stage. Tourism is a big family of the road. You would expect great artists like the ones you just mentioned to lose that kind of connection. I was happy to learn not.
Apparently the Rolling Stones invite their backing numbers into the locker room on the first night to make them feel at home.
They do. But I’ll be honest, it was a bit clinical. They have a wonderful assistant who says to you, “Guys, get ready, [in hushed, reverential tones] you will meet the Rolling Stones. The camera will be here. When the Stones arrived, they were none of that. They entered like gods, but they were friendly – their personalities were exactly as you expected them to be.
The 10th anniversary edition of Pressure & Time can be ordered now (opens in a new tab).