Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: The Revivalists

In a city as crowded with musicians as New Orleans, a band must be doing something right if they stick out in the scene. And the free-wailing, high-flying Revivalists are all kinds of right. We tracked down the six-piece outfit on the road to get this Q&A with drummer Andrew Campanelli, who answered on behalf of the indie outfit who have been winning over fans with their blend of swamp swing and good old-fashioned rock.

In a city as crowded with musicians as New Orleans, a band must be doing something right if they stick out in the scene. And the free-wailing, high-flying Revivalists are all kinds of right. We tracked down the six-piece outfit on the road to get this Q&A with drummer Andrew Campanelli, who answered on behalf of the indie outfit who have been winning over fans with their blend of swamp swing and good old-fashioned rock.

Mike Hume: New Orleans is full of unique songwriters and sounds, was there any conscious decision to differentiate yourselves from the city’s other groups early on?

Andrew Campanelli: New Orleans music is all about finding the various influences that move you and putting them together in a way that sounds cool. That’s exactly what we’ve done. None of us are from New Orleans originally and we come from a range of backgrounds and influences from the sacred steel tradition of Roosevelt Collier and Robert Randolph to Charlie Parker to the ever evolving live show of bands like the Disco Biscuits. I guess you could say that it was a conscious decision in that we weren’t trying to be a funk band or make authentic New Orleans music because we weren’t, at that time, authentic New Orleanians. The ironic part is that by not trying to be an “authentic New Orleans band” we became one and joined a group of local rock bands that have widened the musical landscape in New Orleans in the past five years.

MH: How has your sound evolved over the years?

AC: Our music has taken on more of the characteristics that define New Orleans music. Not that we’re playing jazzier or funkier, but there’s something about living as a musician in New Orleans that changes the way you think about music. If you listen to our album there are moments that range from country to jazz to straight forward rock and everything in between. The second way that our sound has changed since 2007 is the instrumentation. In 2008 we released an E.P. that heavily featured keys and included no horns. Two years later we released Vital Signs with prominent saxophone and pedal steel in place of the piano. The addition of these two pieces, as well as a personnel change on the bass has taken us in a much different direction that we’ve been enjoying a lot.

MH: You recently received the award for Best Emerging Artists at Gambit’s Best of the Big Easy Awards. What effect, if any, does that recognition have on your approach to writing and performing?

AC: It’s always nice to get some recognition for what we’ve been doing for a few years now, but we got the award because we were just doing what we thought was fun and sounded good. The biggest effect that the Emerging Artist award has had on us is that it reinforces what we’re doing. It’s a real honor to even be nominated for an award in a city with such a competitive music scene and we are very excited to have won; however, as far as changing how we write and perform, the award hasn’t changed those things very much.

MH: I saw you employed some wordsmithing in order to help define the band. What’s the origin and definition of “brilliantivity?”

AC: The “serious artist” answer is that brilliantivity concisely describes the brilliance that exists in the moment of creativity and how important that creative process is to us as musicians. The real answer is that we think it’s pretty funny when bands get too inside their own creative process and fall into the trap of thinking that they’re better than anyone else who doesn’t “create.”

MH: If you had to come up with a word – besides “brilliantivity” to define your live show, what would it be and what can fans expect at Dogwood Tavern?

AC: I would say the one word that describes our live show is energetic. We are not a noodling jam band, but we have taken a few lessons from that world. Namely, we try to make each show unique and employ a level of improvisation that leads to segueing songs into one another. The improvisation keeps us on our toes and keeps us energized which keeps the crowd energized and everybody in the room just feeds off of each other’s energy and it creates a really great fun vibe. So if I had to choose one word it’d be energetic. Or loud … on second thought, I’ll go with loud.

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