The Revivalists perform a free show in Vail Tuesday
Special to the Daily
If you go ...
Who: The Revivalists play Hot Summer Nights.
Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail.
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
More information: Visit http://www.vvf.org. Tailgating starts at 4:30 p.m. with live entertainment preceding the show at the Live Local Lounge in front of the Amphitheater. Main gates open to the public at 5:30 p.m.
A few years ago, The Revivalists got the chance to open a show for the Radiators, a group that throughout a history that began in 1978, became one of the most popular and enduring bands to ever emerge from New Orleans.
As another New Orleans band hoping to stay together for the long run, Revivalists bassist George Gekas had a specific question for Radiators guitarist/singer Dave Malone.
“I remember I was talking to Mr. Malone, Dave, and I asked ‘How have you guys done it, been able to stay together this long?” Gekas recalled in an a recent phone interview. “‘He goes ‘If I have any word of advice, I’d say get your own hotel rooms.’ That’s always stuck with us.”
Seven-plus years down the road as a band, the seven members of the Revivalists can take satisfaction in knowing they were eventually able to follow Malone’s advice.
“When it started on the road, if we knew somebody there, we would all crash on their floors, or we would meet somebody (at a show) and we’d try and stay there, or we’d get a motel room and all seven of us would stay in it with air mattresses,” Gekas said, “Now we’re at the point where everybody can get their own hotel (room).”
The ability to pay for separate hotel rooms says something about the growth the Revivalists have seen in their career since forming in New Orleans in 2007.
The heavy tour schedule the Revivalists have maintained since around 2008 (when the group released its self-titled debut EP) has paid off.
While the band tours nationwide, the growth of its audience is especially apparent in the Southeast, where crowds have really picked up over the past year.
“All of a sudden, like this last tour in particular, most of the places in the Southeast we seem to be doing better than we’ve ever done,” Gekas said. “I think it’s a combination of us constantly touring and word of mouth … I remember years ago, there would be like maybe 20 or 30 or 50 people and they’d be up front, and now they’re in front of quadruple the number of people. They’re still able to get up front there.
“We’ve definitely grown exponentially in the past couple of years.”
‘THE DEEP SIDE OF THE POOL’
The band — Gekas, David Shaw (vocals), Ed Williams (pedal steel guitar), Zack Feinberg (guitar). Rob Ingraham (saxophone), Andrew Campanelli (drums) and Michael Girardot (keyboards/trumpet) — is now positioned for even bigger things after being largely a do-it-yourself endeavor for most of its seven-year history. Last year, the group signed with Wind-Up Records, the label home to Filter and Five For Fighting, and a company that in the past has released hit albums by Creed and Seether. This puts the Revivalists on a significantly bigger platform moving forward.
“We wanted to sign with a label to play with the big boys, to jump into the deep side of the pool, so to speak,” Gekas said.
What’s also helping the group is the musical growth that has occurred over the course of three releases — the self-titled EP, 2010’s full-length “Vital Signs” and the current album “City of Sound” (which was re-released in March 2014 on Wind-up with a second disc of live tracks).
“City of Sound,” which was produced by the team of Ben Ellman (of the band Galactic) and Mikael “Count” Eldridge, found the Revivalists sharpening their songwriting, while also broadening their music stylistically and adding a variety of textures to music.
COMING SOON: ‘MEN AMONGST MOUNTAINS’
Like many bands from New Orleans, strong elements of funk and soul run through the music on “City of Sound” and are especially pronounced on “Upright,” whose measured pulse and dark overtones create a pleasant tension, and “Chase’s House,” which has a little folk to go with its smooth, horn-centered sound. But the Revivalists are first and foremost a rock band, which means songs like “Navigate Below,” “Masquerade” and “Criminal” have some snap, crackle and pop to go with their grooves.
The Revivalists are finished recording a new album, “Men Amongst Mountains,” with Ellman and Eldridge once again producing. It will be released July 17.
“We probably had 30 (song) ideas that we were fishing around with (initially),” Gekas said. “Some were completely done, and some were literally a jam. Some were songs that were just vocal and an acoustic guitar. Then we cut that down to around 20, and then we fleshed out enough of those songs to be able to be comfortable to take it to a studio setting. And then from there, we went to 14. Now I think we’re going to try and get back (in the studio) and maybe cut a few more. I’m just realizing it now, this is a process we’re going to have for the rest of our careers.
“We’re really excited about what’s going to come out,” he said. “It’s been awhile (since “City of Sound”). It’s been almost four years for our fans, but we think they’re going to be really excited.”