Words: Mike Kennedy
[Guest Writer – Welsh Connections/SWND Records, Director | Oystermouth Radio – Presenter]
It’s been one whole, crazy and disturbing year since the release of ‘Life In General’, the debut EP from valley-boys, The Rivers.
In twelve months that’s seen worldwide political turmoil, uncertainty and a pandemic – with all its lockdown restrictions, back-peddling and about-turns – it’s a credit to any creative force to still be around and making music.
But making music these guys are. And it’s damn fine too.
SWND’s Mike Kennedy caught up with them to find out just what’s in the water that makes Merthyr Tydfil such a hot-bed of world class music.
Michael (MK): We’ve had The Bystanders, The Cheatin’ Harts (sic), The Stereophonics, Catatonia and The Manic Street Preachers to just name a few, what is it about Merthyr and the Welsh Valleys that produces such great music and musicians ?
Evan: Music is ingrained in Welsh culture, with a history of great singers and even poets like Dylan Thomas…..
Lloyd: And growing up singing in school with no escape from the many male voice choirs has given the valleys an identity all of its own.
Dan: I think you only need to look at all the bands and artists that have come before us it’s inspiring to all the young bands, bands like (the) Stereophonics, The Manics have all had an impact, Wales and the valleys have so many great bands, so it’s an inspiring place for sure.
MK: When did The Rivers form ?
Dan: Well, this line-up has been going since 2017. The name had been going around for a year or so before that but the original members left to do other things. I got Evan in through a mutual friend and we found Nathan
Lloyd joined later when we borrowed him from another band – he was on the same bill as us just before lockdown and we asked him to join ! So, yeah, I formed the band in 2016 but nothing really happened.
I had these songs, we’d recorded one with the original line-up, and I knew that I wanted to do something with them and that’s when the present line-up came together and now we’ve added Lloyd we’ll be sounding bigger and better than before.
MK: How have you seen the music scene change recently ?
Evan: Well there’s been no gigs at all.
Dan: But we have seen loads of bands doing DIY recordings and there’s loads of new music being released so that’s a good sign.
Nathan: Everyone’s live-streaming.
Lloyd: Music’s gone on-line big time – live streams have taken over but it’s good to know that people still wanna to hear it.
Dan: But it’s sad to see the music venues closing down. I’m just hopeful that when the live music starts up again people will want to support it more than ever before and get the gig economy back on its feet.
MK: It’s a year since you released ‘Life In General’. What’s next ?
Lloyd: Hopefully a tour, maybe headline Glasto or something !
Nathan: Mega important to us to get out there and for us to grow our fanbase.
Evan: More music.
Dan: We’ve got new songs ready to be recorded so it’s just waiting for the time to get them down.
MK: How has the EP been received ?
Dan: The reaction’s been great – fair play, and there’s still people getting into it a year on. All the reviews have said nice things and people like it so we can’t complain really.
MK: You released physical copies of the EP, what are your thoughts on streaming and streaming payments ?
Lloyd: Everyone should buy physical copies of the EP. It lets us make more music and gives you something real to hold on to that you can look at for years to come.
Evan: Streaming is a valuable tool to help artists get discovered but nothing beats owning physical copies of music, and it’s hard to make money through streaming.
Nathan: Streaming payments suck. Literally paid peanuts.
Dan: The payment side is awful but the accessibility part is amazing, but physical copies are needed just as much I think. You can’t sign a download, but we have over 10,000 streams for our EP and we could never have reached that audience with just CDs.
MK: How important is it for you to connect with your fans ?
Dan: The gigs are the best part for me, it’s why you write a song in the first place – to see people go mad for a song that’s connected to them. That’s why lockdown has been shit for bands.
Lloyd: There’s no feeling like playing in front of a live crowd. Music lets us all connect with each other, it’s a really special feeling to connect with the crowd at a gig.
MK: What do you think the future holds for live performances ?
Evan: Hopefully more shows. I hope we’re not headed for some Orwellian nightmare scenario without any gigs.
Nathan: Until COVID has gone it’ll be more socially-distanced gigs and live-streams.
MK: When lockdown is over, what’s the first thing you’re going to do ?
Nathan: Go outside !
Evan: Get on it like a car bonnet !
Lloyd: Go for a well deserved pint !
Dan: Agree with Lloyd ! But just seeing the outside world is going to be mad, ain’t it ? I’m looking forward to seeing the boys and getting back into our rehearsal space to get the new stuff down…that’s the plan (laughs) but whether that happens after we’ve visited the pub remains to be seen (laughs).
MK: What does the future hold for The Rivers ?
Dan: Bigger songs, bigger shows and bigger crowds.
Lloyd: Good times and tunes to die for.
Dan: We’ve got some exciting things that have been offered to us so the future’s looking good. Just got to keep the ball rolling, get the new tunes out there and make the gigs bigger and better. Oh, and get the new single out!
Click here to discover more music by The Rivers.
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