By: Maya Bustillos and Mary Welch

At the Milwaukee date for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ tour, Maya and I had the chance to sit with RIVALS and ask them about tour, the writing process of their album Damned Soul, and more! They are some of the most enthusiastic band members I have had the pleasure interviewing, so thank you to everyone in RIVALS for making Savvage Media feel welcome at their show! Their positive energy and powerful stage presence grabbed everyone’s attention, and I completely recommend catching them on their next tour and giving Damned Soul a listen. Purchase it here!


M: You previously covered Heathens by Twenty One Pilots and it has had a great response, will we be seeing more covers in the future?

Kalie: Probably not, no. Unless for some reason some song sticks out to us.

Sebastian: Chase Atlantic

Josh: Post Malone

K: If I hear another Post Malone cover I’m going to explode

Micket: We’re really big on original music

K: Honestly, it just happened. It just ended up being really cool, and we’re like “cool, let’s release it.” Then it ended up doing really well!

J: I think it gave a taste of what was going to come for the originals as far as the sound was concerned

K: It was a good bridge from out old stuff to our newer stuff, in a sense

S: The crazy thing is the fact that it blew up the way it did and it was written in like half an hour

K: We wrote it, recorded it, had it mixed and mastered within 24 hours, then released it.

J: Shoutout to Twenty One Pilots!

M: What is your personal favorite song off of Damned Soul or your favorite one to play live?

K: Reflection or Moonlit for me.

M: Off the CD just to listen to is Leila. I like the kind of 80’s slow vibe, it’s very emotional. To play live, not that we’ve played it live yet, but Keep Going.

J: I would say same with Micket- my favorite on the record is the song Leila. I enjoy playing the live a lot, especially because there’s a one-on-one thing between Kalie and I which is really personal for everyone else but also to play live on top of that is Moonlit for sure.

S: It would probably be between Moonlit and Keep Going.

K: There’s a drum solo in Keep Going, so that’s pretty tight

M: What does your album Damned Soul mean to you?

J: I wasn’t there for the writing process of the record, but to me Damned Soul is like a self reflection of how you see yourself. You yourself are your worst enemy. In essence, it’s like “I am a damned soul because of the things that I’ve done in my past but at the same time, you just keep going!

M: The writing process for Damned Soul itself was just really in a rough time for the band in general there was a lot going on. Especially now we’ve all realized we are tour people and we love being not home and out on the road. Having to be home for that long just made everything really difficult.

K: I think it reflected toward the end of the album because the last two songs we wrote were Leila and Keep Going. Towards the end of the record it became a lot more about being on the road and being out there

M: Not just as musicians but the CD itself to me is kind of finding out who you are, like finding out where you belong, what you want to do with your life. You’re not just some bum at home working some job to pay bills and wait to die. You’re worth more than that and when the CD was done I was like, “this is who I am.”

S: It really points out that you’re not alone. Everybody’s going through their own battles and their own demons and just know there are people out there that feel the same as you do- to keep going, keep striving, keep pushing… I just went along with the “keep trying, keep trying”

K: It’s “keep going.” This is the second time he’s said that. He said something totally wrong and I looked at him like, that’s not right dog. For me, when we first started writing the album, the first song we wrote was Over It and we had just wrote that song almost immediately after we finished Haunted/Hunted so were still on that pop realm in a sense where Haunted was so I think that’s where that sound kind of came from. Because the record took so long and we weren’t really doing much in between that time, I think my own personal emotions got the best of me and I started writing darker towards the middle of it. I started reaching towards my past of what was happening in my own mind from what I have done, the bullshit and all that life stuff. I think towards the end of it when I was reflecting on what the album was, I really wanted to end the album in a sense of positivity. It is hard and life is sometimes pretty shitty but it has its moments of beauty and hope, and that’s what Damned Soul means to me.

M: Kalie- You mentioned before that you enjoy photography, so does this have an influence on how your tour photos and videos are portrayed? Do you still do this in your free time?

K: Yeah, so I’m super picky about the stuff that we put up and the content in a sense and when we found Matt originally I was like, “holy crap he’s great.” He’s really good at portraying what I felt for the album with photography and videos, and also Micket wrote the music video plot lines and he nailed that one too. I felt like the collective of how it all got put together was visually perfect for me as someone who used to do photography. I don’t anymore, not as much. I’ll take some iPhone photos, but I shot so many shows back in the day so it’s weird being on the other side of the camera.

J: I think your photography then transgresses into your graphic design, a different medium but the same eye.

K: I switch, I went from photography to graphic design, and obviously now music too.

M: What do you do to annoy your band mates?

S: Just me existing annoys them.

J: I think the best thing that we could do is sing Post Malone lyrics at the top of our lungs.

K: Micket likes to watch movies when he drives. He goes over the rumble strips probably one hundred times every night.

M: I’ve watched Shrek so many times.

S: We fell asleep at the house the other day, we slept in the same room and he put his headphones in getting ready for bed and we literally heard, “somebody once told me” …he was watching Shrek again.

K: He watched Meet the Robinsons on the last tour probably about sixty times. I don’t get it.

K: To annoy each other, just being near each other all the time.

S: If you think about it, we’re all technically living in a six by fifteen foot van with no curtains or anything. Regardless if you’re not trying to annoy them, everyone wants to be alone every once in a while so tensions do run high.

K: I feel like this is what jail would be like.

S: We have this thing that she’s mom and Micket’s dad, and me and Josh are the twins because we bicker at each other all the time like we’re brothers.

K: And Matt Bender is the cousin.

S: Our photographer Matt is the estranged cousin that comes over every weekend.

K: What does that make Tayler, like the weird aunt that comes over occasionally and beats the kids? Poor Seb and Josh.

J: I’d be scared of her if she got mad at me.

S: I would say she’s like that military aunt, like you want to eat proper at the table. You don’t want to have the elbows on the table or she’ll give you the stare down.

M: Any final comments for RIVALS fans?

S: We love you and thank you for supporting us and everything that we do and you’re not alone. We feel like you feel.

K: Keep going!

M: Keep going. It gets better.

K: It does. Always.


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