Interview With Rival Schools - 16th April 2011

Photo Of Rival SchoolsBen caught up with Sam Siegler from Rival Schools to talk about their new album 'Pedals', how the band got back together and much more.

Your new record Pedals was released last month, having been such a long time between this release and the last, were you nervous?
Sam Siegler (Drums): Not really, we were all pretty excited. I guess in the beginning we were a little bit nervous, we wanted it to work and to keep it on track. The release date got pushed back a couple of months for one reason or another, but at that point I knew it was done so I was excited and very happy with the way it sounds.

There was a great deal of expectation surrounding the release, are you happy with the way the album has been received?
Sam: I don’t really follow reviews too much, but the ones that I’ve read have been good and people seem excited about it. I got really close to it when we were making and recording it, so I get to step away from it and give it a proper listen and I think it’s a really good record. We’re all happy with it, so I guess that’s the most important thing.

Did you feel under pressure to meet these expectations?
Sam: There was just the pressure of us wanting it to be as good as it could possibly be.

You got back together in 2008 and haven’t released anything since then, so had you been working on some of the songs for a long time?
Sam: Yeah, we were on this hiatus for seven or eight years, so I suppose when we got back together the idea was to play some shows and release some songs. There were some older songs that were sitting around that we revisited, then we wrote a few more and there were songs where we liked one part but we didn’t like the other. We were in a nice position, we were able to sit down and listen to some demos that already existed, but at the same time we were able to write some new stuff and we’ve already started writing stuff for the next record.

So when you initially got back together you didn’t really have any intention of writing a new record?
Sam: I suppose the idea was just to play some shows at first. We didn’t do this to make some money, the hope was that we all had fun. It was a long process, we had to find the right label to put it out, that was tricky. It’s amazing how long this takes, three years ago we were like, “Hey, we’re back!”, and here we are three years later and the record has only just come out.

Whilst taking some time off from Rival Schools you all worked on different projects, are these going to be taking the back seat for the time being?
Sam: This is the party now for us! Some of those projects were temporary, I was in the band Nightmare of You for four or five years.

So Rival Schools is now your main focus?
Sam: Yeah, Walter (Schreifels, Vocals/Guitar) still pursues his solo stuff, Ian (Love, Guitar) does some producing, we all sort of do different things, but yeah, I would say that Rival Schools is now our main focus.

Many bands have cited Rival Schools (or United by Fate, in particular) as a massive influence. How does it feel to have achieved this, essentially, off the back of one album?
Sam: I think when people look at us they still kind of associate us with our backgrounds with the hardcore scene. I think United by Fate is a really awesome record, but I always thought that we were capable of more. I think that comes across when we play live.

What initially attracted you to the New York hardcore scene all those years ago?
Sam: I was really young, I think I was about 12 years old. I just met a bunch of guys who needed a drummer. Really it was about the music but there was also this sense of camaraderie, I guess it’s similar to how people get into sports or whatever, they were my friends, we’d go to CBGB’s every Sunday and play music the rest of the week.

You released a special 7” version of ‘Wring it Out’ especially for Record Store Day, is this something you feel strongly about?
Sam: To be honest I’m just kind of getting familiar with it, but I believe it’s sort of like a celebration of vinyl?
Yeah, that and a celebration of independently owned record stores across the world…
Sam: I’m a huge vinyl fan and a record collector. I think that this EP is cool, it’s got a remix of ‘Choose Your Adventure’ by Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw).

Do you have a favourite record store?
Sam: There was a place called Second Hand Rose by my house when I was growing up, I liked it there. But now there’s Amoeba in San Francisco which is pretty intense.

What was the last record you bought?
Sam: I can’t remember the actual record, but I maybe bought a few off iTunes. I got some Band of Skulls stuff and some of The Black Keys too.

It’s been ten years between this album and the last, how has the industry changed?
Sam: They’re definitely not throwing money around the way they used to, it’s a little bit tighter in that sense. Obviously the internet and social networking help you to get the word out. There was someone on our Facebook who said that he missed us on tour, so we were able to connect directly with him, that’s nice. It’ll be really interesting to see where it’s at ten years from now.

Would you say that it’s better for a band starting out now?
Sam: It really depends on how you go about it, I think that there area couple of different directions that you can take. If you choose to do it yourself then it’s way better now, but if you choose to get into a label scenario like we did then it has changed. I guess some of the money from back then just made things easier, it definitely made touring easier and stuff like that. It needs to be shaken up.

This tour is co-headline with …Trail of Dead, how did this come about?
Sam: I was walking with my daughter in Union Square, New York City at a farmers’ market and I ran into Conrad (Keely, Vocals/Guitar in …Trail of Dead) who I sort of knew. I just said that we should tour together and that our record was coming out in March and he was like, “Wow, ours is coming out in March too!” The next day our manager told us that they wanted to tour with us, it was like the maple syrup to our coffee!

That sounds quite romantic, like the premise for a cheesy film!
Sam: Yeah, it really does! I think it’s a good fit, they’re good guys and I think we have somewhat similar fans.

Finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Sam: We’re going to be doing a little West Coast jaunt in May and we’re going to be doing this festival called Sasquatch! in Washington State. Then we’re doing Lollapalooza in August and then we’re going to come back over here for Reading and Leeds. We’re going to try and play some more festivals around Europe too, so that should be fun.

Interview By Ben Connell
 Band Members

Walter Schreifels
Ian Love
Cache Tolman
Sam Siegler
 Latest Releases
Rival Schools - Pedals
Release Date - 8th March 2011

1. Wring It Out
2. 69 Guns
3. Eyes Wide Open
4. Choose Your Adventure
5. Racing to Red Lights
6. Shot After Shot
7. A Parts for B Actors
8. Big Waves
9. Small Doses
10 The Ghost Is Out There
 Band Related Links
Rival Schools Myspace