This week, we sat down with Leo Bautista and Sam Ridgell of Rival Summers in their studio in Madison Heights, Michigan to talk about their writing process, their new album and more.
Read part two of our Q&A below:
BTS: What is your writing process like?
Leo: A lot if just starts with like simple ideas, like me and Sam in here, and I’ll come up with the chord progressions, and I’ll have something starting, like some simple lyrics, and structure it out, we’ll record it really super quickly, demo it out really quickly. Everything is super fresh and we are able to capture ideas super quickly because we have this space and so this new album came together like that.
BTS: What was the recording process like for the new album?
Leo: The recording process was awesome, like, seriously can’t be more excited about this new album. This was the most we’ve ever been stretched as musicians and as a band. We went to California to record with a producer in San Diego, his name is Jesse Barrera and he really worked us and we had really long days, like 12 hour days, like three weeks straight and in the heat, at like the top of the summer, in San Diego. The recording process was incredible. It really felt like this. He works out of a home studio that he built in his house and it felt like we were taking songs that we had written in this space and over to our big brother’s house. And he helped us like turn them into…gold.
BTS: What was it like to see your Kickstarter goal met?
Sam: Ridiculous. I still can’t believe it.
Leo: We took a giant risk with this album. We went and like we didn’t have the funds to make this happen on our own. We had like, a quarter, if that, as a down payment for the recording time. We just kind of like, stepped out in faith and just kinda really kind of like…I don’t know…like our community is super important to us and we do because we’re able to connect with our community and it’s the most gratifying thing for us is that we make these songs that we put our whole selves into and whole hearts and our whole lives into and really put ourselves out there. So for people to connect to our music the way that they do has really been one of the most foundational things that for, not just this band but our lives. We haven’t released a full-length album since 2012. We released like an EP but it wasn’t something this full production and something we put so much time and so much effort into and so for our community to show up the way that they did, for them to kind of say, like ‘we value what you do and we value you guys as people and we want to be a part of this with you’ that’s what this kind of said to us, that was the biggest thing for us. It wasn’t about $10,000, it was about this is a huge undertaking that we can’t do ourselves. We just put it out there and everyone showed up, that’s what that meant to us.
Sam: Nailed it.
BTS: How is the new album different from past albums?
Leo: Sonically, it’s a lot it’s different but it’s…we’ve shown it to some friends and we released a new single too. The coolest thing to hear is it’s definitely different, in the sound we’re going at, but it still has the same heart of Rival Summers. It’s not like we’re trying to be anything that we’re not. It’s authentically who we are and our taste in music. But we don’t lose the heart of what Rival Summers had in the beginning.
Sam: I feel like it’s Rival Summers as the storyteller, like the lyric content, and it’s storyteller meets really amazing pop music put together, but still not losing the aspect of a really good song.
BTS: What is your favorite thing about this album?
Sam: That there’s not a track that won’t make you dance.
Leo: This album is just super special. We put so much work into this album and so much time. We took our time with writing this album and I think the whole entire process has been my favorite thing about this album. With every step, we’re an independent band, we’re learning with every step that we take, we grow a little bit more. The whole entire process from writing the songs and knowing how we’re gonna record them to deciding to step out of our comfort zone.
BTS: I saw you tweeted about being part of the Not Safe To Drink compilation [in support of the residents of Flint, Michigan], is there anything you can say about that?
Leo: We’re doing a new version of one of our older songs for this compilation. I talked to John [previously of The Swellers] at a show and he had mentioned how he was putting together this and so we got an e-mail a few days later and so we’ve been working on that.
BTS: What song is it?
Leo: Oh, it’s “Hold Strong, Have Faith.”
BTS: Your songs have a lot of positive messages and themes about hope; can you talk a little about that?
Leo: The biggest thing about that is like I said with our community, our community is really poured into us as people and not even just us as a band but people and growing up, playing music, writing these songs. It started out writing songs about girls and heartbreak and love, but through sharing and through conversation and the community that we share…I don’t know like I grew up not knowing what to do with myself and not knowing where my direction is and even now it’s not something I know completely 100 percent know what’s gonna happen in the future, but we put out these songs and write these songs and to share our lives and to just kind of be vulnerable and honest and like Sam said, it’s the connection we have the people who come to our shows and the people who listen to our songs…that’s the place that we write from is just wanting to share our lives with people and that’s where we find our hope is being able to share our lives.
Sam: I think where is stems from too is we have a strong church community background…and I feel like God is a big part of it for us and knowing that’s our foundation.
BTS: What should people know about Rival Summers if they haven’t listened to you yet?
Leo: Our main thing is to really share, like our main goal is to share our lives and bring people into the story with us and to encourage people to write their own story and chase their own dreams. We wouldn’t be doing what we do if we didn’t believe in it. We wouldn’t be sharing these intimate parts of our lives with people if we didn’t believe that it could be of encouragement to other people. We just want whoever first hears about Rival Summers or anyone who is new to hearing about Rival Summers, that we’re here for you. That’s literally why we’re here, just be of service and to share our lives.