Rival Sons’ bluesy, pure rock ‘n’ roll sound has broad appeal, with fans ranging from hard-core rockers to hipster kids sick of listening to The Black Keys on repeat. But lead singer Jay Buchanan says he doesn’t play for any of the hundreds of fans in the audience.
“I play for the band,” he tells us. “Music is such an intense affair. There’s so much energy swirling around on stage or in the studio. You have to serve the song first and because that is so consuming; the audience is an afterthought.”
Lightning in a bottle
The foursome are currently on tour promoting their album “Great Western Valkyrie,” which came out last summer. “It was a difficult record to make because we did it at such an intense, frantic pace,” says Buchanan.
The band purposely didn’t write any of the songs until they were all in the studio together.“We go in there with nothing and then create a force,” he explains. “We capture that energy, an honest snapshot of that moment. That immediacy and energy is really a keystone for Rival Sons.”
Learning to compromise
Buchanan started his music career as a solo artist, playing with Rival Sons on the side, but went all in about seven years ago. “I’ve never allowed myself to compromise so much, ever,” he says of being in a band. “But there’s something so beautiful in collaboration. I would have missed out on so many beautiful, creative moments.”
Wanting a reaction
To him, being a musician means being a storyteller, which he says has always been the soul of music. “People have always told stories through song, and the melody is a way for people to remember every detail — it’s the candy coating of the message,” he says.
He scoffs a bit at artists who try to take away from that. “People always say it’s all about the music, but if that’s true, why do you have synchronized dance moves? Why are you staring at the chicks in the front row the whole concert?”
Authenticity remains the most important aspect to him. “When I’m making music or listening to music, I’m really just trying to find the truth,” he says. “I’m just trying to find something that’s going to make me feel something I didn’t feel before.”
If you go:
May 11, 7 p.m.
Paradise Rock Club
967 Commonwealth Ave., 617-562-8800
New York City
May 15, 7 p.m.
17 Irving Pl., 212-777-6800
May 16, 7 p.m.
Susquehanna Bank Center
1 Harvard Blvd. Camden, New Jersey
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence