River City Rebels
Contributed by ben_conoley, Posted by Springman Interviews

River City Rebels are back with a new album. In Love/Loveless follows their 2007 effort, Keepsake of Luck. The band only printed 1,000 copies of the album and sold them only on their recent tour. Our own Zack Shapiro caught them on their Denver stop and talked with both Brandon Rainer (keyboards, harmonica, vocals) and Dan O'Day (vocals, guitar, bass).

River City Rebls are six albums deep, do you guys feel that each of your albums has lead up to what you’ve created in In Love/Loveless?

Brandon Rainer (keyboard, harmonica, vocals): I would say so. I think it’s an evolution musically where each one takes a new step in a new direction and you learn from the prior one. I think right now as a band we can play pretty much anything we want to play. You know, just to explore multiple music genres that we really enjoy.

What were your inspirations in writing this album?

BR: Relationships would be the biggest, probably. Girls. You know musically, everything from The Replacements to Bob Dylan to Graham Parsons, Rolling Stones. The list could go on and on but those would probably be the biggest.

Would you say that River City Rebels are in a transitional stage or how would you define the band right now?

Dan O’Day (vocals, guitar, bass): It’s always transitioning from every record it’s just different. You’re always transitioning or you’re not moving musically.

How was the experience recording and distributing In Love/Loveless internally as a band?

DO: It was a first in a lot of ways. We recorded it ourselves more or less, with our engineer Sean. Basically the record is divided into two different recording sessions. One we did in January of [2008] in New Hampshire and then another part of it was done in Florida towards the end of [2008]. We kind of combined those. Up in New Hampshire was more of a band-oriented sound. The ones down in Florida were more of the acoustic-y type, those type of songs.

It was all kind of done on our own and it was put out by Bermuda Mohawk which is a company in Michigan and they’ve been great for us; we’re both kind of like minded and like doing things independently and having a passion for what you do. It’s been working out great.

BR: The distribution is obviously isn’t as widespread as it has been in the past but at the same time it doesn’t matter. If people want to find the record they can find it. They can mail order it or they can come to a show, which, to me is how it should be. That’s how it all started out years ago. That’s what you’d do, you’d order the record if you liked it from the band. You’d mail order it. I don’t care if people make copies of it, if they download it. I really don’t care, it doesn’t matter as long as the music is out there and it’s on our own terms and someone isn’t making shitloads of money off of us because we’re not making shitloads of money. It’s not about the money but at the same time if anyone’s gonna make money it should be the artist. We’re in a position right now with a label that will allow us to do that kind of stuff. They take care of us and we take care of them and it goes both ways.

Can you talk about the vinyl release of In Love/Loveless?

BR: It’s gonna be a picture disk which will be a first for this band and it should be out in [early 2009] and then we’ll do a full US tour kind of like what we’re doing right now but for the vinyl release

How is this tour different from past tours that the River City Rebels have done?

DO: Well it’s being done in a mini-van, which is a first. We’re traveling with bare essentials; it’s a four-piece band right now. We’ve got three combo amps and just the essentials. Everything kind of fits in the back of the van and then I do all of the driving. DO does all of the navigating and that’s different. We haven’t really booked a tour like this in years and years where it’s all done on our own. DO and I pretty much headed it up in terms of getting in touch with people and figuring out the routing and it’s taken like two or three months.

BR: It came together fairly fast. We just have so many contacts from over the years of playing that we’re kind of able to go out and be all right and then throw in shows which could seriously be like five people but at the same time there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the spirit. It’s about getting out there and doing it and not waiting for anyone else. We’re one of the few bands that do tour on our own constantly and just stay busy. We don’t sit around and wait for someone to take us out or for a record deal or anything like that.

Did anything interesting happen in the recording process of In Love/Loveless? BR: No because it was like pretty much recording in a bedroom with Sean and Dave. Dave is like considered the fifth part of the band. On occasion he’ll play the tambourine. He’s been with us for years. It was relaxed, it was easy. There was nothing to happen especially the second half of the recording, in Florida, it was ust me and BR pretty much. It was simple.

DO: The percussion from the record was interesting how the percussion came together.

BR: Merch bins work well as drums in certain moments and you wouldn’t know it’s a merch bin.

What’s your favorite song off of the new record?

BR: "Here Comes My Love, Running" is probably my favorite. I like the lyrics, I like the feel. I like the violin playing on it. I think it’s a beautiful song. It’s something that we’d never done before musically so it was exciting for it to turn out so well.

DO: I like "Josie," I think that’s probably my favorite. It came out really well. It was an ambitious structure with all sorts of different elements in it. I thought that was a stretch for the Rebels and I think we pulled it off really well.

What do you want listeners to take away from the new record?

BR: Just to listen and to actually recognize that you don’t have to be a cookie-cutter band. Just to inspire people because the state of music right now is fuckin’ awful. I can name maybe five bands in the country doing something kind of cool and evolving and making it exciting for kids to get into. The rest of the bands are fucking copying each other. It’s all about a dollar or trying to sell out a club. It has nothing to do with the music at this point. I want the people who pick up the record and get it to really get it. I think that means more than selling ten thousand of ‘em. I don’t care. If I sold 100 and everyone got it and understood it, I think that’s what it’s about.

DO: Exactly.