An Interview with The Revivalists: Years of Hard Work Pay Off

Ten years of hustle have culminated in The Revivalists’ platinum hit, “Wish I Knew You.” They’ve reached an immense level of achievement with over 300 million total streams and playing major festivals such as Bonnaroo, Governor’s Ball and Outside Lands.

Since forming in 2008, the band has hundreds of performances under their belt, garnering success not only with “Wish I Knew You,” but with three years of back-to-back sold-out tours.

The band includes David Shaw [lead vocals, guitar], Zack Feinberg [guitar], Andrew Campanelli [drums], George Gekas [bass], Ed Williams [pedal steel guitar], Rob Ingraham [saxophone], Michael Girardot [keyboard, trumpet], and PJ Howard [drums, percussion].

The Revivalists deliver an array of anthems detailing moments of sonic complexity, celebration, and catharsis. Now, the chart-topping band has released the visuals for their latest single, “Change,” directed by Zev Deans (St. Vincent, Denzel Curry, Ghost). The video captures the band’s trip to Santa Fe and their visit to the immersive, multidimensional art collective, Meow Wolf, and its famous mind-bending installation, House of Eternal Return. Similar to how Meow Wolf presents itself, in the video, nothing is as it appears. COLLiDE spoke with lead vocalist David Shaw about their video inspirations, newfound fame, personal playlist and more.

CC: What inspired you to shoot your video at Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return?

David: I saw the place online and in various advertisements, and it seemed really cool. Some of the most creative minds are working on this place. It just seemed like a really amazing place to shoot a video. It was like yeah, let’s do something there. Luckily it worked out.

CC: What is the message behind your single “Change”?

David: The basic message is even though you have a little change in your pocket, you’re still not going to change anything. There’s that message there for sure, but I really don’t want to pigeonhole the song. I’d like the listener and the person who’s watching the video to make their own interpretation. Whatever it means to them I’m cool with. I think of it like a painting. You’re not always going to have the painter there to tell you, this is exactly what I meant by this. They leave it up to the person ingesting the art to  create their own view and thought. I kind of like that.

CC: What was it like working so hard for 10 years and reaching the level of success you’ve gained? And how have things been different since the release of “Wish I Knew You”?

David: Things have been pretty different. The shows have gotten bigger. We’re able to spread the music out there to a bunch of different people who might not have ever heard us. We were a live band. We hadn’t had much radio success. Once we had that, it sparked a whole other side of things that allowed our music to reach a whole different audience, and a much broader audience. It’s been amazing actually, a crazy, wild ride. It happened fairly shortly, once it happened. It took 10 years to get there, but now we’re putting another song out, and we’re in a 750-seat venue — and next thing we know it’s a 6,000-seat venue. It happened pretty fast once it happened, and it’s really amazing! We are really grateful for our success. We worked really hard to get to this point and now it just feels really good.

CC: What was it like working on your album with multiple prominent writers and producers and getting the opportunity to record at the iconic RCA Studio B?

David: It was amazing. It was so cool working with different producers, feeling them out, letting them put their stamp on the music — and having those pushbacks a little bit.  It was a very collaborative process. We worked with Dave Cobb [Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton], in Nashville at RCA’s studio, and that was an incredible experience. He’s really good at capturing that live band sound. Everybody’s in the same room, there’s no Gogos between the guitars and the amps. My vocals are coming out of the speakers into the room and I’m running around. We’re really just trying to capture the energy of a live show, which is honestly, pretty hard to do. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

We worked with Andrew Dawson [Kanye West, Fun., Sleigh Bells], and that was really cool. He’s really good at getting amazing takes out of a band. You could be in the studio all day long just searching for that take, but he was really good at guiding us. He’d say, you do a little less of that or a little more of that. Stop playing here, start playing there. He was really good at massaging the track. By the time we played it six or seven times it was, oh wow, this has come a long way since the first time we played it! That was really cool.

Also there’s Dave Bassett [Elle King, Vance Joy] who’s just an amazing songwriter and super sweet guy. He really got us. It was just an amazing experience all around. I learned so much in the studio from all these guys and they’re all different.

CC: Who are some artists currently on your personal playlist that you find influential?

David: I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music lately such as Robert Schumann, Mozart and Bach, and also Jazz like Erroll Garner. I think I get a lot of melodic inspiration from these people, because that’s all there is. It’s chords and melody and that’s it. I think,  there’s something that my mind is grabbing onto. I never really had a problem with lyrics per say, I think I just like to listen to these artists make their melodies and that’s what gets my mind going. It’s not to say that I don’t like artists such as Bill Withers or Led Zeppelin, but lately I’ve just been listening to a lot of classical.

CC: What are you hoping people can take away from the music video?

David: Art is supposed to make you feel something, whether it’s good or bad. If it makes you feel something, that means it did its job. I don’t really have a wish necessarily for people when it comes to the video. I just hope they feel something. The main thing with my art is I don’t really try to push the message anyone. There are going to be songs with an obvious message, but I don’t want to put that in any boxes.

*The new song is off the band’s latest studio album, Take Good Care, out now on Loma Vista Recordings. PRESS HERE to stream/download the album.

*The Revivalists will be taping an episode of Austin City Limits season 45 on April 9th and will play an epic hometown set at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 26th.

*In addition to two sold-out nights at NYC’s historic Beacon Theatre, a show at Boston’s House of Blues that sold out in minutes, and a sell-out at DC’s 6,000-capacity The Anthem on the first leg of the Take Good Care tour in the US, the band recently wrapped their first ever UK/European tour and will be picking things back up on March 8th in Madison, WI. The upcoming tour includes sold out shows in St. Louis, Downers Grove (right outside of Chicago), Austin, St. Petersburg, and New Orleans!

photo by: Zackery Michael