AURA Artist Spotlight on The Revivalists

Exclusive Interview for Appalachian Jamwich

by Taco Olmstead

AURA Music Festival is almost here once again, taking place at beautiful Spirit of the Suwannee Park in Live Oak, FL, February 14-16.  AURA has been bringing stellar lineups and amazing vibes for 3 years and in its fourth year we are more excited than ever.  We took a minute to speak with David Shaw of The Revivalists about their expectations of the festival, their plans for 2014 and more.

the revivalists

Hey David, how has everything been going?

It’s been going great, we’re out here in Colorado right now.  It’s kind of cold, but we’re making our way!

Rocky Mountain High, buddy!  I saw that since you got off of Jam Cruise you guys were in the studio?

Yes! We were in the studio for eight or nine days making our…I guess “junior” album?  Our junior full length album I guess if you want to talk about it in college terms. 

Nice!  I’ve been wanting to hear it, I’m a big fan.  Besides your music instrumentally, I really love the lyrics of the songs. There’s a lot of reflection and sensitivity as well as some attitude, like you are really hoping a certain person is listening and getting the message.  Who does the writing in the band and what inspires your lyrics?

It’s a split between me, Andrew, and Zack writing the lyrics.  If you asked me about a specific song I could probably tell you a bit more about it.  Everybody has their own views, and maybe not a specific person, but it might be an idea, or something that you’re feeling at that time.  A lot of times you probably get the gist from the song itself, what it’s about.  What’s a specific song you might want to know about?

What about “When I’m Able?”

That’s a tune that I wrote the lyrics for, it’s basically a road song.  We’ve been on the road for 5 years. It’s kind of a love song, but it’s got a twist to it.

Your song has a robust New Orleans flavor to it, did the band grow up in New Orleans?

No, none of us did.  We’re all transplants. 

How did you end up there?

Some of the guys came down to go to school there and I came down after graduating from Ohio State.  We all ended up meeting down there in 2007.

Oh so you’re a Buckeye!


Man, I can’t get away from you Ohio guys. (everybody laughs) What artists would you say influenced your sound?

A lot of classic rock, Zeppelin, Bill Withers, Pearl Jam, some Citizen Cope.  There’s a lot of different people that I could say. 

Your sets on Jam Cruise were my favorite performances from the whole week, you guys just crushed it.  There were some really special moments like when Mike Dillon got on stage with you in the jam room.  Was that your first time on Jam Cruise and how did you like the experience?

Yes, that was our first time on Jam Cruise. It was a totally amazing experience, I think we were all a little depressed afterwards from not wanting to leave.  It was awesome.  I wouldn’t change a single moment and I can’t wait to go back. 

You played the “Dre” cover on the boat and you also played that song with Warren Haynes.  I don’t see a jam band cover rap songs that often but it really works in an awesome way.  How or why did you start playing that song?

(Laughs) Uh…why did we start playing that?  (asks Jack) Oh yeah, we were playing a throwback night, Throwback Thursday at this place in New Orleans, and we were just learning some songs that were “throwbacks” and that one came into the mix.  All of us, we try to use our instrumentation to interpret the instruments that Dr. Dre uses, we built all of the instrumentation off of the beat.  It was kind of an interesting thing that occurred.  You got the pedal steel and the little kicking line, so it creates a new experience. It’s similar but different. 

What’s in store for Spring Tour 2014?

We’re going to do this little tour here, we’re going to AURA festival, then we’re gonna play a gig with Gov’t Mule.  Then it will be time for Mardi Gras, which we will be playing February 28th . What else?  We have a big spring tour with this band called Moon Taxi, we’re going to be doing seven or eight shows with them in the south and north east.  It’s a co-headlining tour and we’re all really excited about that.  So that brings us to Jazz Fest! We’ll be playing there the same weekend as Bruce Springsteen.

I bet that hurts your feelings.

(Laughs)  Well, not at the same time, so we’re all good.

You played Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park at this year’s Bear Creek. Was there anything specific that you really liked about the venue?  What are you most excited for at Aura?

You know, I just like the vibe there.  It’s laid back, all the people that come into the park are nice and laid back.  Everyone’s down for that vibe, and they achieve it.  It’s a great combination of music and fans together.

We watched your live from AURA Studios performance a few weeks ago.  Tell us about the experience of taping a live stream vs. performing a club show.  How do you keep the energy up without the crowd?

No matter who is watching your show, you want to play it the same. If there’s 10 people in the building, you rock it out like there’s 10,000 people in the building.  So the show you play for 10,000 people is the way you always play.  You never know who may be there, listening, and you gotta grab every single person in the audience.  If you grab those 10 people then the next time there might be 20.

We are looking forward to see you guys come through DC again, I’ll let you guys get back to what you do.  Thanks again for everything that you do for us, as music fans.  We saw you guys at Vibes and you were the highlight for me.  Again, you were the highlight at Jam Cruise.  Big ups to you guys, we love what you do and just keep doing it for us!

We’re doing it, brother!