Interview: frontman David Shaw, takes us inside the relentless spirit of the band’s new record
“It’s a brand new world, I got a brand new heart and everyday I make a brand new start.”
New Orleans based rock band, The Revivalists, have just announced their fourth full-length record, Take Good Care — to be released November 9th via Loma Vista Recordings. For frontman David Shaw, the record embodies the resiliency of the band while at the same time offering an authentic representation of his current artistic vision. The first single “All My Friends” is a perfect example. A joyful, anthemic tune, the lyrics take you on a journey of battling through in the verses, and then celebrating your triumphs in the choruses — all while recognizing the great support around you. It’s a foundation The Revivalists have driven off of for the past 10 years. Whether it’s the community feel of their live shows or their new approach in crafting Take Good Care, the band seems to have a natural charisma you simply gravitate towards.
“All my friends take good care of me, wherever I go they bring me home.”
The friends the band enlisted with their batch of 14 new songs include Dave Cobb [Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton], Andrew Dawson [Kanye West, Fun., Sleigh Bells], and Dave Bassett [Elle King, Vance Joy]. I recently had the chance to chat with Shaw about the new record and The Revivalists inspiring climb to this point. As Shaw inhaled the big easy spirit of his hometown during our conversation, he would then exhale a joyful insight demonstrating firsthand, “they get me high, they’re on my side, as far as I can see.”
You had a summer filled with shows, your new single “All My Friends” is out and you just announced the upcoming release of your new record, Take Good Care. How are you feeling and what’s the vibe within The Revivalists right now?
The vibe is hot! It feels amazing to have the record finished. It can be a tedious process to pick the songs, record the songs and then work them into something you are proud of. Some of them come from this very surreal state. You think — it was just this idea I woke up with in the middle of the night, how did this become a song on the album? To have all these ideas and feelings come to fruition is a great feeling. Right now, we are touring at a sustainable pace. It’s not a ton, but I feel I can go like comfortably. For years, we were touring 150 dates a year with not many days off in-between. I’d get home, blink and then we’d be back out again. But now — mind, body, spirit and soul, I’m feeling pretty good.
We are Boston-based, and I feel there’s such a unique dynamic here between our music scene and The Revivalists. Whether it’s the Chicken Box in Nantucket, or being on a festival bill, it seems your music really connects here.
Absolutely. I can’t really put my finger on it. This has happened in various cities and I don’t know how. Boston is definitely one of them — where the area has adopted our brand of Rock n’ Roll quicker. It’s almost like it’s something new and that made people latch on quickly — in much more poignant way than many other regions. There are these pockets of cities like Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans or Pensacola where we’ve connected differently. The fans are super boisterous in those markets. There’s a direct correlation between how energetic the fans are and us having a good show. We can only get to a certain height without the fans. When everyone is completely in the moment, it changes everything. And that happens in Boston. There’s a large contingency on Nantucket Island that is ravenous about our music. Packy (Norton) who runs The Chicken Box, he’s the man, he has been a big proponent. That has helped for sure.
We did a private show this summer at a residence in Nantucket. We raised 90k for The Roots of Music, — an organization that operates an after-school program which provides academic tutoring and music mentoring. Packy’s passion that night was electric. By the end of the benefit, through ticket sales and donations, we raised all this money in just two hours. It was truly amazing. So, yes, there is a love affair going on between The Revivalists and Boston.
Speaking of friends, your new single “All My Friends” is out now and serving as a tremendous lead-in to Take Good Care.
Part of the song has been around for a while. I always knew there was something there with the verses. I am constantly writing these little snippets. With “All My Friends”, I connected with it right away and I did not want to rush or force the song. With the lyrics “I can’t get a hold of myself, breaking all the rules, playing games with my health” — it was a real feeling I was dealing with at the time. That line was written about a year-and-a-half ago. I realized it goes with the “In my 20’s” verse because at that time I was really playing games with my health. I had pretty large issues with substance abuse. I got totally cleaned up when I was 25. So, it all started connecting. I wrote the song with Dave Bassett, we were sifting through my journals and decided to try and make the song this uplifting feel on the chorus. It was this retrospective or acknowledging the great support of friends and adding this perspective of living through the experience.
“All My Friends” to me, is one of those songs that has that unspoken thing that just makes you feel good.
It certainly does. It’s rare for a song like that to have such lyrics of substance like “All My Friends” does. As a writer, what was your intent in collaborating with other songwriters as much as you did on the new record?
It was a decision to learn — to be open with the art. I see the benefit in collaborating with other songwriters because we have two or three within the band already. I am essentially always co-writing. Once “Wish I Knew You” hit, it afforded us the ability to branch out more. People starting approaching us to get together and see what happens. I looked at it as an opportunity to make new connections and learn from these guys.
I was making no money off my art for so long. This never came from a place where the focus was that. My thought process was, these songwriters work on their craft every day, they must have picked up some tricks along the way. I wanted to get in there and see how they did it. I knew my way and what’s worked, but if I can pick up new writing ideas and make some new friends, then hell yeah, I’m all for that.
Coming full circle here, with everything you have already accomplished driving off a relentless work ethic, and all you have ahead of you, what does this moment for The Revivalists mean to you?
It’s basically the culmination of 10 years of breaking ourselves to get to this point. It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. We didn’t have a song early in our careers that jump-started it all. We earned every single one of our fans. Night after night, we were pounding the pavement. Right now represents every single flat tire, every single breakdown, every single little victory. Early on, we’d play for 20 people at small clubs. Those 20 people would leave and then we’d meet 20 new people. It’s been an incremental success story. I’m grateful for that. We worked very hard to get here. It could have not happened. We’re just really happy right now. We are trying to stay in the moment, be present and do the best the we can. It’s also important to me that we use our platform for good — to try and create some change. There’s so much going on in the world. We’re just doing our part to get in there and shake it up a bit. We have an opportunity to showcase our art and our hearts, so, let’s do it.
“I’m a shaker and I’m a mover, got a vision coming from afar”