July 15, 2015 Interview – Dave Beste of Rival Sons
There is an old saying Rock-n-Roll will save your soul, and there is plenty of validity to that statement. Taking the scene back into the past where the roots of Rock-n-Roll blossomed from Rhythm and Blues and Soul have been a band out of California calling themselves Rival Sons. Begun in 2009, to a wave of interest, the band signed with Earache records, and by 2011 released their first charted record with Pressure & Time. Now only four years later, they have produced two more powerful records, including their 2014 album Great Western Valkyrie, their best selling to date. Now considered one of the hottest Rock-n-Roll bands around, Rival Sons show no signs of slowing down as they tirelessly tour, and lead a movement that could save Rock-n-Roll. Recently we sat down with the band’s bassist, Dave Beste, for a personal look into the recording process behind Great Western Valkyrie, life on the road, plans for new material, and more.
CrypticRock.com – Rival Sons has built a strong name for themselves in Rock-n-Roll since their self-titled album debut in 2009. You in fact joined up with the band in 2013, how did your involvement come about with the band?
Dave Beste – I had been friends with Jay Buchanan for a long time, and I had known Mike Miley a long time too. I was also a fan of the band already, but when Robin Everhart quit, they called me up out of the blue and asked me if I could come out and do some fill-in shows. I did a little run with them, then ended up making the next record, and became a full-time member of the band shortly after.
CrypticRock.com – As you just mentioned, the band really wasted no time making a new record. As a result you were kind of thrown into things right away with Great Western Valkyrie. What was it like writing and recording with the band for the first time?
Dave Beste – It was great actually. It was a lot of fun. The way these guys have always recorded their records, as you may know, is really kind of flying by the seat of your pants. You have thirty days to knock it out; write and mix everything. It was a fun process being able to come in and kind of add my take on things. The guys were really open to the ideas, having me help write. It was a really good process.
CrypticRock.com – That is great, especially since it is your first experience with the band recording. Great Western Valkyrie has in fact been the band’s most successful to date commercially. Since you were given that creative freedom to contribute on this record, do you think that helped with your comfort level with the band?
Dave Beste – Definitely, I was already pretty comfortable just because I had already known the guys for so long and they have been friends for a long time. Definitely as far as going forward, being able to go in and make this record with them made me feel more like a part of it. We are hoping to make another record soon and I am looking forward to that too. I am even more comfortable than when I was starting.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, of course, that comes with time. As you stated, yourself and the rest of the band have been friends, but chemistry on the stage and studio are two different things. It has clearly been working very well.
Dave Beste – Yeah, definitely, it was a real easy transition. Miley and I locked in right away, and Jay and I had played together over the years. It was a pretty smooth transition actually.
CrypticRock.com – That is wonderful to hear. What makes the band really compelling in the Rock scene today is that Rival Sons are staying clear of trends. The band is really doing their own thing and sticking to a Classic Rock with a Blues sound. Was that something that immediately attracted you to this project?
Dave Beste – Definitely, it is all about making good songs and playing your ass off every night, that has a lot of appeal. Not trying to be something that the band is not. It is a really organic thing which was really attractive.
CrypticRock.com – Right, you mentioned the band’s recording style is going in there and sort of seeing what happens. The band has worked with David Cobb since the second record, and there is no doubt that he has helped the band achieve this really warm texture to the music album to album. As a musician, what are your feelings about the modern recording styles opposed to having something that is a warmer, thicker sound?
Dave Beste – You know, that is tough. I think the way we do it, I prefer. It is a really old school approach, we are doing everything live. Most of the things you hear on the record are literally first or second takes. Doing the record that way really keeps you fresh, on the edge, and makes you push yourself. It is opposed to months of pre-production and going in and finally putting the tunes down in their perfect little places the way you think they should be. I really love our process a lot, that is how records used to be made. I think that comes across in our recording and it really helps the energy and the texture as you say.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, a good song is a good song no matter what, but if you add that feeling to it, that is what makes it really special. It seems as if that root feeling is kind of coming back in Rock-n-Roll. Do you think that the modern Rock fan has been yearning for this return to the soulful sounds?
Dave Beste – I think so. I think it is because it is sort of a natural and organic thing. I think it is inevitable that it starts seeping its way back into Rock-n-Roll, and Rock music itself. We like to think of ourselves as more Rock-n-Roll than Rock. Kind of having that groovy part, like you said, more like a Blues influence, I definitely see that coming back, and I think it is great because it goes back to the root of what Rock-n-Roll is. I am happy to see it happening.
CrypticRock.com – Certainly, as you mentioned, there really is a difference between Rock, and Rock-n-Roll. The roots of Rock-n-Roll are much different. One of the most impressive things about Rival Sons, if not just the music, is the band’s live performances. The band puts on a phenomenal live show that is really entertaining. With that said, does the band have any particular rituals prior to performing each night?
Dave Beste – Everybody kind of has their own things that they do. Miley is really religious about warming up for a good hour before. Jay has to do at least ninety minutes of Yoga before he performs. He is singing at such a high energy, at such a high level, that he needs that time before. Everybody has their own little way of getting ready for the show. As far as the group together, not really, we kind of meet maybe half hour before we get on stage, just kind of hang out, and get ready for battle. Everybody has their own little thing happening.
CrypticRock.com – Interesting, whatever works best. Now you guys have spent a lot of time on the road of late. Obviously it has to be a lot of fun, but one can imagine it is also stressful on the body as well?
Dave Beste – It is, it is something that you kind of get used to, but you never get used to at the same time. There is always something different everyday and you never know where you are going to wake up when on the bus (laughs). You never know what is going to be around, hopefully you are in a place where there are going to be things close by. I try and get out and see as much as I can. If I can get out the day before the show, especially in Europe, I try to go to museums and that kind of thing. Home is always great, you get to recharge. We tour so often that it really gives you that little spark when you get back out. It is a grueling thing, we pretty much go non-stop. We have little mini breaks, but otherwise I feel like we are permanently on the road.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, well you are building a lot of great memories as well. Seeing that you are spending a good amount of time in European countries in the next couple of months, how are you feeling the European audiences are responding to the band?
Dave Beste – European audiences have always been really good to this band. Since I have joined, I have gotten to see that first hand. I do not know what it is, and I cannot pinpoint what it is, but I think it is just more of an openness to Rock-n-Roll. It is easier to get around over there, it is much smaller. It is easy to get from city to city and country to country, opposed to in The States, which is so spread out. It is a different market and different culture whenever you go from state to state. Not that it is not like that in Europe, but I think it is easier to get around and get to more people that way. Audiences there are really enthusiastic about the band, and the band is really growing at a pretty quick rate over in Europe, which has been great to see.
CrypticRock.com – Fantastic to hear that European audiences have taken to the band so well.
Dave Beste – Yes, it is funny to see how they all respond to the band from country to country to0. The UK is a totally different experience from playing in France for example. The enthusiasm, I think, is sort of equal, but French audiences are more reserved and kind of respectful, and the British audiences are more excited as well as more in your face. The enthusiasm is on an equal level, it is just the way they approach it that is different. It is interesting to see that from culture to culture.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, anywhere you go in the world, people are all going to have different ways of showing emotion because it is just part of their culture. You had mentioned that there are plans to work on some new material, has that happened at all? Has there been any conjuring of ideas, maybe on a tour bus or something like that?
Dave Beste – I think everybody is always going to be writing, but we very rarely will ever share anything with each other. We really wait until we are in the studio to share the ideas. I think there are definitely ideas in people’s head, but we do not ever really ever practice them, we do not learn them, because when we get into the studio we want everything to be as fresh as possible.
CrypticRock.com – That is good, and it will be exciting for the fans when the new material does eventually hit. It will be good to keep that level of anticipation.
Dave Beste – Yes, definitely, we are excited. We would make a record everyday if we could. It is exciting when you get in there because you do not know what is going to happen next. It is funny, because in the process, you think, “Is this crap? Are we making a terrible record right now?” When you are so involved, it is hard to be objective about it. Fortunately, there is a lot of good talent in this band, as far as song writing goes, so I think the stinkers are few and far between (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, it seems many young bands are shying away from writing full-length records now a days due to the way the music industry is. This is kind of sad because records are what make Rock-n-Roll what is is. A record should be a cohesive piece of work listened to from start to finish. Would you agree this is important?
Dave Beste – Absolutely, I think the idea that releasing a single or something is more of a Pop world kind of concept. That obviously has the biggest audience right now, but that is not going to change our thinking. We want to go in and make a proper record from front to end. It has to be cohesive, it has to make sense. We are not interested in going in and saying, “We are going to write a hit song today.” We do not do that. We just go in, write songs, make a record, and hopefully people dig it.
CrypticRock.com – That is what Rock-n-Roll is all about. What are some of your personal musical influences yourself?
Dave Beste – That is a huge range (laughs). I think all of us in the band all like different stuff. I think that a lot of people think we are on the bus listening to Led Zeppelin all day, but it could not be further from the truth. Jay’s got some Country on, and Miley is in the back listening to Steely Dan. Our influences are all over the map. I really started playing Blues when I was young, and that was a big influence on me. Aretha Franklin was a big influence on me, and Stevie Wonder. Then I got into the the Police, Tears for Fears, I love that stuff too. I play classical guitar too, so I have always loved Classical music. We are all over the map, we listen to it all.
CrypticRock.com – It is great to be so open with music. You mentioned some fantastic New Wave bands there too.
Dave Beste – Yes, when I was a kid, that was what I was listening to. It has translated into really subtle ways into the music that I do now.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is what is interesting about influences and makes them inspiration to create. I had one last question for you. My last question is actually pertaining to movies because CrypticRock.com covers all types of music, but we also have an interest in films, particularly Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, do you have any favorites?
Dave Beste – It is not the first genre that I would go to, but I definitely like a good Horror film. If it is good, it is just like music, there is good, and there is bad. I am kind of a film nerd myself, so I just like good movies. I love The Shining (1980), that is one of those if it is on, I cannot turn it off kind of movie. The Shining is at the top of my list, definitely.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it is certainly a great film. Since you do enjoy films, what are some other films you enjoy of any genre?
Dave Beste – I am fortunate enough to have a little art house theater where I live. When I am home, which is not that often, I get to sneak away in the middle of the week to see a movie. I will go there on Tuesday at 2 PM when no one is there. I always try to see the movies that nobody else is seeing; the indie films and the new filmmakers. I am always looking for the new thing, the new well-written and interesting film. You will not find me at an Action film on a Friday night ever.