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Rival Sons Are Stepping Out From the Shadows Of Their HeroesEXPAND
Robby Klein

Rival Sons Are Stepping Out From the Shadows Of Their Heroes

Long Beach hard rockers Rival Sons perform at the Fonda Theatre this week in support of new album Feral Roots, which came out in January, so we chatted with frontman Jay Buchanan about it all...

L.A. WEEKLY: Are you pleased with the response to Feral Roots?
JAY BUCHANAN: I am pleased with the response. It’s our sixth full length record. We’ve been doing this for ten years and we’ve gone all over the world. The response to Feral Roots — it’s showing me that the rock audience, rock radio and everything, have taken to it and that makes our jobs so much easier. I’m so pleased with the renaissance that rock music is undergoing, and we’re right in the middle of right now. To get such a positive response from so many people, it just validates but it doesn’t validate artistically because you do things for your own reasons. It just makes me so happy because it lets me know that our path may be a little bit easier in this next year or two. It’s a great barometer in that sense.

How has the band evolved over the years?
Oh goodness, there’s no doubt that we have evolved. I think that early on, when you’re in such an antiquated medium, we tended to vibe off of our heroes — everyone from the Black Crowes to the Stones to Zeppelin to the Kinks to the Animals. By the time we made out third record, we were finally developing our own narrative in our own voice. The funniest thing about that is when we first got going and people wanted to compare us to these different bands, and I would be like, “We don’t sound like them, we’re doing our own thing.” Oh my lord, was I wrong. Nobody wants to be compared to their older brother. You want to be recognized in your own right. But you have to emulate your heroes before you develop your own voice. That’s just the way it works artistically. You listen to Bob Dylan’s early recordings, well he’s just biting off Woody Guthrie. But I think we’ve definitely grown and I’m proud to say that I can look through our catalog from album to album and I see pretty large strides. That’s not to say one record is better than the previous one, it’s just different because we’re different individually as well as a collective.

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Is it weird now watching Greta Van Fleet getting those same accusations?
It is funny to see that, but interestingly enough it gives me empathy for them. I know that their sound is derivative but so what? The way that I see it is that they’re kids, and I want them to keep going. I expect that they’re going to turn into the band that they can be. They’re just starting out and I wouldn’t want to judge them too harshly. Whether you’re into Greta Van Fleet or not, it’s undeniable what they’re doing for the rock audience and that entire listenership.

What can we expect from the set at the Fonda?
I think it’s gonna be pretty crazy. We come from Long Beach and we haven’t played a hometown show in too damn long, but it’s also the last show on the tour. I think we’re gonna be dialing up something special over at the Fonda. I’m excited to see family and friends, because now I live out in Tennessee. It’ll be a day jam-packed with a lot of good feelings.

When the show's done, what's next?
Oh goodness. It’s basically wash, rinse and repeat. We just put this record out in January and it’s really taking on momentum. We just launched our second single. It’s just more touring. We have to hit the festival circuit in the US and Europe. Then we’ll be touring through the fall. We’re going to stay busy.

Rival Sons plays with the Sheepdogs at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 at the Fonda.

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