Rival Sons: Honest Rock n’ Roll

From Long Beach, California, Rival Sons (which is comprised of singer Jay Buchanan, guitarist Scott Holiday, bassist Dave Beste and drummer Michael Miley) landed one of the most coveted touring assignments in all of rock—opening Sabbath’s farewell tour (dubbed “The End”), which hits Jones Beach on Aug. 17. Miley spoke with Pulse about RS’ new album, Hollow Bones, their sound and how the Sabbath dates have been going so far.

Let’s start by discussing the new album, Hollow Bones.
It’s different in that every album that we do, we write on the spot in the studio. It’s like a snapshot of who we are in that moment. Over the years, we’ve grown and developed as a band, songwriting-wise and musicianship-wise, playing together and touring so much. It’s really kind of an evolution if you look at all our albums. We never try to repeat ourselves. We don’t have a “signature groove” or “signature tempo.” It’s just song by song. Drumming-wise, I think it’s the heaviest, funkiest album we’ve done—as far as groove stuff. As a drummer, I’m pretty proud of it.

Favorite tracks?
“Thundering Voices” is a good, “light and shade” kind of thing. It’s got the heavy verse, and psychedelic chorus. That’s probably one of my favorite tracks. “Fade Out” is a band track with a haunting vocal melody, and it’s got a huge jam at the end of it. It’s one of the only times on the album where we’re opening up with that kind of jamming—heavy guitar solo with a lot of drum accompaniment.

How would you describe the band’s music?
Simply put, it’s rock n’ roll. The ingredients we have for our music is blues-based, gospel-influenced. The Who called themselves “Maximum R&B.” I would describe our music like that—Jay’s vocals are really soulful and a lot of our grooves come from James Brown, Tower of Power. It’s R&B/blues music turned up really loud.

How has the tour been going so far playing with Black Sabbath?
Couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s pretty surreal, pretty absurd, to think that we got offered the direct support for one of the biggest bands of all-time on their farewell tour. Every night, after we’re done, I towel off, grab a beer and then go and watch them. To hear those riffs is so nostalgic, because growing up, one of the first songs that I was scared of was “Iron Man.” I remember my brother would put it on and I would run out of the room! But I can speak for the other guys—we’re all totally over the moon to be on this tour.

What can fans expect at the upcoming Jones Beach date?
That’s going to be our first show back in the U.S. [after touring Europe with Sabbath]. It’s going to be an ass-kicking, hard rock, blistering show. We’re going to give it everything we have—we do every night, whether we’re playing for 300 or 3,000 or 30,000. You’ll hear a lot more new tunes off our new album, Hollow Bones.

Future plans?
To keep making rock n’ roll records. We don’t make music that’s based on algorithms, we don’t use click tracks—we get together in the studio. I guess if there’s anything “retro” about it, is that we record it in an old school kind of fashion. Just more rock n’ roll, more truth, more honesty—and trying to keep that alive.

greg prato

greg prato

Greg Prato has lived almost his entire life on Long Island. He has written for Rolling Stone, and has penned many a book on either rock n’ roll or sports. See what he’s up to on Twitter @gregpratowriter.