The Revivalists: “We’re cooking up some good stuff for you guys!” (7/12 at Skyline Stage w/ The Head and the Heart)

Last month 8-piece roots rockers The Revivalists released Pour It Out Into The Night, their first LP since 2018’s Take Good Care.  Associated Press said of the release, “The...

Last month 8-piece roots rockers The Revivalists released Pour It Out Into The Night, their first LP since 2018’s Take Good CareAssociated Press said of the release, “The Revivalists return with their fifth full-length album, promising more of their spicy gumbo of horn-accented alt-rock, blues, folk and gospel. The New Orleans-based band offers three very different takes on their sound, with the driving anthem ‘Kid,’ the folky ‘Down in the Dirt’ and the political protest tune ‘The Long Con.’”  The band are a little more than a month into a tour that goes into October and includes stops at major festivals like Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, and Austin City Limits.  However, the band are currently on a double-headlining run with indie folk rockers The Head and the Heart, which will have them at the Skyline Stage at the Mann this Wednesday, July 12th.  I recently got a chance to chat with The Revivalists’ bassist, George Gekas, via Zoom, who tells me about the band’s latest album, the changes brought about by the past five years, and what people can expect of them live in 2023.

Izzy Cihak: Considering this is a Philadelphia publication, I have to ask your thoughts on the city, as you’ve played here a ton of times over the years.  Any favorite memories?

George Gekas: I grew up in Connecticut, so I have a soft spot for any of the East Coast cities that we’ve gone through.  And, specifically, I remember way, way, way back in the day, we used to go through this spot called The Blockley, which was right by Penn’s campus.  And Chris over there now runs Ardmore Music Hall, which is another great venue.  Some of my favorite moments are when we cut our teeth going through there, because I’ve made friends for life that I met there.  And I know how important that place was to the scene and everything, and I’m glad that they’ve opened up Ardmore and taken a little of that juju and brought it over there.

Izzy: You recently released Pour It Out Into The Night, your fifth LP.  Have you had any favorite reactions to the new songs so far?

George: Ya know, Man, that’s an interesting question because once we write it and record it, it almost kind of no longer belongs to us, and it’s all down for interpretation of the fans.  And some of these tracks we had road tested a little bit, where we had to fight with the producer to have them on the record because we knew that the reception live was so great.  So, like I said, it’s up to the mercy of the fans, and they kind of let us know which ones they’re really feeling, and those will probably stay longer in rotation as the years go on.

Izzy: How do you think the album compares to previous releases, both in terms of sound and just the process of writing and recording it?  I’m just realizing it’s been five years since your last full-length.

George: It’d been a significant amount of time between this record and Taken Good Care, which was released in 2018, and I think that it shows a level of maturity from the beginning stages of writing, to early pre-production, through the record.  A lot has changed in our lives.  Ya know, monumental life shifts, whether the pandemic, a lot of us have been married since and have children now…  So, there’s that element, which allowed us to change.  And then, using Rich Costey as a producer was monumental to this process.  He was really able to tie in a collective, cohesive sound for us that I don’t think we had quite yet gotten a wrangle on on the previous record.  So, between us being different, and getting the right captain to lead the ship, it allowed the record to come out great, and we’re incredibly proud of it.

Izzy: Your most recent single, “Don’t Look Back” dropped about a month and a half ago.  How did that particular track come about?

George: That was one of those where — talk about being road tested — that was one of around three songs that we were starting to play before we ended up releasing the bulk of material.  And Dave [Shaw, lead vocals/guitar] had this idea for the song, and we just kind of fleshed it out and hodge-podged it to the point where it could get in front of people and be played, and the fans immediately started to react to it and love it, so we knew that we had to make sure that it was one of the tracks that would be on the record.  And that was one that we had to fight for, because at first the producer wasn’t on the same page as us with it, but eventually we fought for it, and we snuck in some time at the end and nailed it in a few takes, and it made the cut.

Izzy: You currently have a ton of tour dates, running through October.  Are there any shows you’re especially excited about, whether it be venues, or even cities, where you always play great shows, or places you haven’t seen in a really long time, or even just one of the huge festivals you’re playing among a plethora of other amazing acts?

George: Yeah, you know, you start with the festivals.  It’s always a blessing to play Lollapalooza.  And, in terms of this week, right now we’re getting ready to headline Merriweather Post Pavilion for the first time, in a couple days, and that’s incredibly exciting for me, personally.  Like I said, I’m from the Northeast.  We’re playing Bridgeport, Connecticut, and that’s kind of a pseudo home show for me, so I’m excited about that.  And I’m really excited to get up to Portland, Maine, because the weather is absolutely lovely there right now.  It’s a bunch of stuff.  It’s been a great tour so far, and it’s going to continue to be a great tour through the rest of the summer, and it’s like summer camp in a way.  It’s awesome!

Izzy: On a related note, you seem to split your time between playing either these large festivals and outdoor amphitheaters, or large theatres and clubs, depending on the season.  I’m curious, do you and the band approach playing each type of setting differently?

George: It all depends on if we’re on an album cycle or not, if we’re showcasing certain songs and we’re trying to put out a certain vibe.  But there are certain songs you would plan for a snowy night in Boston that are gonna translate better than playing like a happy, sunshine song in the middle of Florida.  So, you kind of play to it a little bit.  But, at the same time, the fans wanna hear certain songs, so you gotta play those every time.

Izzy: You’ve been on this double-headlining tour with The Head and the Heart for a few dates now.  How have those shows been going so far?  Have there been any particular highlights?

George: It’s been incredible.  Every show gets better than the last.  You can hear behind me, they’re soundchecking right now for our show here in Raleigh.  And they’re a wonderful group of humans, and playing with a band of equal stature to us I think breeds a healthy competition of making the show better, because everybody wants to play their best.  And, as the tour grows, we grow into playing the rooms with each other and creating more bonds, and it’s been an incredible experience.  I’m sure we’ll probably do it again sometime.

Izzy: What can be expected of the live show when you play Skyline Stage next week, both relating to setlist and just the general vibe of the evening?

George: I will say, by that point in the tour, in a handful of days, I would expect to see many more cross-collaborations between bands.  I don’t wanna give away too much with sit-ins and covers and stuff like that, but we’re cooking up some good stuff for you guys!

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you, after this currently announced batch of dates wrap this Fall?  Is there anything you’re especially excited about?  You seem to tour on a pretty constant loop.

George: Without divulging too much, there’ll be some announcements at the tail end of the year of stuff for people to look out for.  And then after that, we’ll probably break for the holidays, and then start up right in 2024, back to touring!

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.