INTERVIEW: RIVALS Remind Fans That They're Not Alone with Their New Album, "Damned Soul"
2018 has been an incredible year so far for dark pop/rock band, RIVALS, and it is far from over. From the release of their emotionally vulnerable and incredibly powerful new album, Damned Soul, to tour dates with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (which are still underway) and even a stint on the Vans Warped Tour, the LA-based quartet have been busy, and people are starting to pay attention. With an incredibly positive message, a bright outlook on the future and openness to discuss mental health and self-care, RIVALS are not only creating a dialogue among themselves and their already-devoted fans, but they're also establishing a safe space for listeners to open up and truly be themselves.
RIVALS currently have tour dates planned throughout the rest of the summer and into October, meaning they're not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Get to know the band more below before they come back through your city in the coming months!
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about RIVALS for any readers who might not be familiar?
Kalie Wolfe [vocals]: we are like a dark pop, alt rock band, we’re from Los Angeles and our new album is titled Damned Soul!
You guys started off the new year with the release of your new album, Damned Soul and recently released the music video for the title track. When it was just an idea and you first began working on it, what did you want to accomplish with Damned Soul?
Kalie: We wanted to write something we were proud of. Something we knew not only we liked but others did too, we showed the album to a lot of people who pretty much only had good things to say so we knew we kinda accomplished our goal. Now that it’s out, I feel like we did a great job, so many people have been connecting with the album and tell us their stories.
Micket Woodle [guitar]: We wanted our music to become something more than what it was. Sometimes you need to evolve a little to really help define the sound and/or message that you want to convey.
How do you feel you’ve grown as a band since the release of your EP, Haunted/Hunted back in 2015?
Kalie: We as adults have grown, we wrote H/H in 2014, I was 19/20 back then, I think everyone grows as time passes. I’m not who I was, we aren’t who we were and we probably won’t be who we are now in 4/5 years. We’ve become family, we look out for each other, we praise and try to uplift each other. I feel like not only the music has grown but also us as humans. Our imperfectly little family haha
Micket: The band itself has molded into a tight family now that understands one another better and musically we all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and fill in for each other where needed. It’s a working system that started in a garage and let to the open road.
Sebastian Clarke [bass]: The band and us have grown significantly. We’ve started to figure out who we are not just as individuals but as a unit. We’ve become a team to fight for what we want and we push each other to achieve anything.
Josh Alves [drums]: I’ve been able to see the band evolve from the side lines for a while until I was asked to be part of it. I think the most interesting thing to me is what we thought mattered (or what we felt was most important) at the beginning to where we are now and what we collectively believe in now. We all believe that support and positivity are truly what matters and will help elevate all of us.
You’ve been very strong advocates for mental health awareness with your music, which is obviously something the music scene really needs these days. What would you want to say to anyone who might be struggling? What would you like them to take away from your music?
Kalie: I just want everyone to see life as beautiful as I do. With every mess that life can throw at you, there will always be that sun that shines through the light. There will always be pain and struggle but when you pass those moments, life is like a high. It’s about understanding and forgiveness, but don’t forget about yourself either. Don’t let people push or boss you around, do things for you. Find balance in the craziness. I just hope you take all this away in our music and in my words. Be strong and keep going.
Micket: that no matter what anyone else says you’re your own person and you’re awesome. Strive to be the best version of yourself and when life hits you hard just remember to keep going.
Sebastian: That everything in life is a lesson, but it’s up to you to perceive it as one. To understand that what you’re going through right now is only temporary. And it’s for a reason, wether you think so or not. It’s a lesson. To make you stronger, wiser, to build you. When you think times are hard. Just remember. You got through this far. And you’ve been through many trials before and conquered them. It’s not so different from the next.
Josh: Don’t be afraid to talk about what your’e feeling. I think one of the biggest reasons why kids, teens and adults struggle so much with these issues is because they’re afraid of showing weakness, afraid of what people/loved ones would think and also they them selves don’t know what they're feeling... and that’s ok to be afraid but hiding it is only going to make it worse. The second thing is honesty. Once you’re honest with your self then you can be honest with others. The last thing is “keep going” no matter how hard the struggle is. You can overcome anything.
Were there any challenges you came across when working on Damned Soul?
Kalie: So many haha, from jumping from producer to producer to get the feeling we really wanted, to funding, since we paid for it alone. The mental craziness for me, whenever I write I tend to get really depressed in those months, something about writing opens up the parts of me I really hate sharing. But it ends up being so good for me because it lets me release all that energy I’ve been storing.
Micket: What the CD started out as and what it is now are very different things. I feel like it’s a good starting point for something much bigger and more epic to come.
I also wanted to talk about the video for “Damned Soul.” What inspired the visuals that go along with the song?
Kalie: Honestly, Micket wrote the plot so I’ll let him explain! I ended up doing those underwater scenes and I’ll be honest, I’ve never had so much water up my nose in my life
Micket: After talking with kalie about the lyrics I really just wanted to show what it really feels like to be ignored or feel like you’re drowning in a situation that you don’t understand how you got into. We’ve all been there and we’ve all been scared, RIVALS is big on making sure you know you’re not alone and whether it be finding a friend in one of us personally or making a new friend at one of our shows (or any show for that matter) we all go through it and we all need help so don’t be afraid to reach out. And don’t forget to be friend when someone reaches out to you.
Josh: Micket really spear headed the concept and story has he has for most of the videos. This is our third time working with Cody Blue and he killed it yet again with the cinematography. Also we were able to collaborate with Ghost Circus again on wardrobe which really helped push the High-End fashion vibe that Kalie and I wanted. Over all it was a great experience.
On top of the release of Damned Soul, you guys have been really busy this year out on the road! What have been some of the highlights of tour so far? What are you looking forward to?
Kalie: Getting to tour with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus has been such a blessing, they brought us on when they didn’t have to and that’s the nicest thing anyone’s done for us so we’re so thankful. Also Kevin Lyman and Shiragirl invited us to play some of the dates on the last Warped Tour and that was amazing! We have more planned for the end of the year but we can’t talk about it yet :p
Josh: Our tour with RJA has been a big one. Getting to meet our new tour family in THE SCARS HEAL IN TIME, playing EMO NITE LA with Shira Girl which led into us being invited to play Warped Tour (huge goal for us). Much more is planned for the summer and fall so there is a lot!
Do you have any other big plans for the remainder of 2018?
Kalie: Yes! Just lots we can’t say yet.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kalie: Always keep going. Never give up and be sure to stay strong!
Sebastian: Like I said before. Everything is life is a lesson. Just see it as one. Learn from it. Take the lesson and grow from it. Keep pushing. Keep building and keep going.
Josh: NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER!