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Saturday, 28 May 2011

“It’s about time we started to make a living”: I meet Rival Schools

Rival Schools are an exemplary show of how music matures and intensifies with age. Despite music critics yearning for the previous ‘post hardcore rock’ album from almost a decade ago, Pedals is just as good, if not better than the classic United By Fate. We caught up with their guitarist, Ian Love and bassist Cache Tolman to talk about the long break between albums, their kids and nudist art parties.

How’s this year been for you, together with the reception of the new album?
Ian: It’s been good; the shows have all been good. We made the album over the course of 4 or 5 months, in little chunks. It took 18 months from when we actually recorded it to when it came out. But people seem to be happy with it.

Pedals sounds a lot softer compared to the previous album. Was this intentional?
Ian: I don’t know… our sound develops. We didn’t really think about it too much it just came out; we have to make a softer record. It’s this age and it’s just the way it goes.

So how would you say you’ve changed in the past decade?
Ian: Of course we’ve changed…
Cache: I hope so.
Ian: Cache had a daughter when we were playing before but now all four of us have children. We’ve all done a lot of music stuff over the years and Sam had a sex change…that changes things a little bit…you know?

Is it hard managing the band with kids and do you hope to inspire them to play music?
Ian: I think we’re all pretty respectful of what each other can and can’t do. My daughter has a drum set, guitar and violin but I don’t push it, she’s just naturally gravitated towards that…probably because I have a recording studio in my house.

Do you think the music business is a place you’d want your kids to end up in?
Ian: No. It’s constantly changing and definitely over saturated. At the moment it’s all really bizarre – bands aren’t really selling records that much anymore and there are all these weird ways of making a living out of being a musician like television and stuff. 10 years ago you would’ve gone this is fucking stupid… Then again, it’s about time we started to make a living.

There have been a couple rumours floating around that you reformed for the sake of having more cash in the bank. What do you think of this?
Ian: We never really deformed and there was always conversation about it. I’d say that rumour’s really funny, we don’t have that much money and it’s not what we’re really looking for.

You’ve toured with The Gaslight Anthem and The Offspring . Did you get up to anything at the after parties or have any tales to tell?
Cache: Not really. If we did we couldn’t tell you. Well…I went to one the other night in Copenhagen, a nude art party with artists and performers. It was really packed and late at night, and I had this feeling I just wanted to head back to the bus and hang out with my friends.

Did you end up going nude?
Cache: No, they put it on that way though. When they did, I just ran home.

So back to Pedals, what’s the story behind the name and artwork?
Ian: Walter came up with the title. The artwork came from Walter’s friend (Alex). It looks like flower petals but he didn’t want to call it that because it was a little too feminine, and then he thought Pedals. It sounded similar and had a meaning too – like stuff about guitar effect pedals, movement, and action. So that was that

What made you feel like you had to go through a label to get your music out there again? Why didn’t you just opt to do it all DIY?
Ian: Labels weren’t coming to us…we talked about it. I don’t think any of us have it together enough to do it. It’s a cool thing to do, but if you don’t know how to do it and fail…it’s not so cool. We thought about many ways of releasing it and we were going to sign to this one label and there was a few months of getting it worked out then last minute it didn’t happen, so we had to start over again. There was a moment where we were like shit; we’re not going to release this record – which is very possible in this day and age. It blows me away we even got a deal with the label because we never really sold that many records.
Cache: We probably got signed on our good looks.

Obviously… and what are your favourite lyrics from the album?
Cache: “Do the right thing and the right thing counts.” I think about that a lot because there are a lot of times in your life where you’re at the crossroads and you’ve got to make a choice: one decision might be easier but not so right, but the other might be harder, but the right thing to do. You’ve got to choose the right thing.

You apparently did the right thing by changing the name of your single, ‘Sophia Lauren’, really last minute. Why was that?
Ian: Yeah – for legal reasons. The day we were shooting the video, the director decided to put titles on cards in the video itself. Later that day, our label called us and said, “oh by the way you have to change the name of the titles. You don’t want to get sued.” There wasn’t anyone in particular wanting to sue us at the time but they had bad experiences in the past with Outkast and ’Rosa Parks’. Ultimately they won the law suit but got sued $20 million and we didn’t see the point of going through that.

That’s a lot of money… Any last words?
Ian: We’ve got a tour coming up this month in the USA and are playing two weeks of UK festivals in August.
Cache: Trail of Dead rule.

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