RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN BAND OZARK RIVIERA
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
As a kid, I was always obsessed with sounds that made me want to move, and once I found my uncle’s old guitar hiding in storage, it was just that much more ingrained. That has yet to change, and now with multiple albums worth of music written I don’t believe it ever will. I just can’t get enough. – Ethan McKinney
Introduce us to all to the members and your musical history.
Lucas Small: From Frisco, TX. I got my first drum kit when I was 8 years old, and have been playing ever since. I played in multiple rock bands in Frisco growing up, then played in a contemporary worship band from 2015-2020, then began playing for Ozark Riviera in September 2021.
Ethan McKinney:From Corning, AR. I began by playing bluegrass with my grandfather at about 8. We would go to little bluegrass jams in southeast Missouri where I would mostly play mandolin. I was obsessed with classic rock, although my parents were not too fond of the idea. I eventually joined a cover band and did that for my highschool years before beginning to write a lot of acoustic tunes. This writing eventually culminated into Ozark Riviera.
Trevor Diaz: From Longview, TX. I got my first guitar at 10 years old as a christmas gift. I took one lesson and immediately decided that I was going to try and learn as much as I could on my own. My childhood upbringing was accompanied with a massive influence of classic rock and hair metal with all credit given to my parents. I played throughout my highschool years and on occasion would sit down with dad’s friends or friends of mine that played, but I never got serious with it during that time. After moving to college I didn’t bring my guitar along with me, and it was until the shutdown due to the Coronavirus when I decided to saddle up and learn more about the theory aspect behind playing. Once the restrictions on shutdowns began to ease up is when I happened to find Ethan playing a solo gig at a local bar one night, and the rest from there is history.
Name me your 3 favourite albums.
Boston by Boston
Currents by Tame Impala
Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
Luke: Hey Nineteen by Steely Dan
Ethan: Wrapped Up in You by Garth Brooks
Trevor: Shoot To Thrill by ACDC
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, how do you feel you are doing?
Imagine the band and its proponents (management, promotion, etc) as a human body. The heart is songwriting and the brain is the ability to sell yourself and your brand. We have a strong heart and brain but we currently lack the promotional outlets that make for good lungs. We were hesitant to promote ourselves on TikTok and that was a mistake. This body can’t get up and run without better promotion and exposure and we’re looking to grow in those directions in our next few planned releases.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Ozark Riviera holds a sorrowful empathy for situations where individuals feel unsafe. We admit that as men we will never truly feel the same anxieties that a woman does in an uncomfortable situation. It is because of this that we are careful of the venues we play. We do not tolerate individuals who make others uncomfortable and we hope fans know that us and our security team will intervene at the drop of a hat. We believe this sort of awareness and vigilance should permeate all social interactions regardless of set or setting.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
We have found that people enjoy it most when we are simply ourselves. Do this enough and your fans will find you.
Tell us two truths and a lie about you.
We have over 50 songs written
We like cheese.
We are all lactose intolerant.
Whats your thoughts on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry.
We love Spotify for a few key reasons: curation and availability. It has been super helpful in spreading our music to listeners of the retro rock genre. Some people hate how it has affected the music industry and plenty of artists will never make $100 from it, but in reality, it is a tool that was bound to be invented, and it provides more of a promotional service than a financial one.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Do these still count as theories? Aliens have visited Earth within the past 80 years, and JFK was assassinated for trying to pull out of Vietnam and shut down the CIA.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Way too much DoorDash!
What was the worst experience on stage?
Equipment failure left us frantically repeating a section for like 2 minutes in the opening song of our last show. We were all running back and forth trying to find the source of the signal loss while playing. The song is called ‘Flying Cars’ and we can’t wait to share it!
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about?
Luke takes three months each summer to live in Colorado and work as a whitewater raft guide
Ethan writes all of our music.
Trevor, as a child, sang the national anthem for multiple sporting events at Lonestar Speedway and the Gladewater Roundup Rodeo.
What makes you stand out as a band?
We’re actually utilizing the supernatural-power-bearing water of an ancient and mythical natural spring hidden within the Ozark Mountains to feed us inspiration. That’s how we write our music. It basically comes straight from the Earth.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
D.Y.R.W. is like being punched in the mouth by a ray of sunshine. We wanted to immortalize the feeling of the summer stars on your skin, the breeze in your hair, and the confidence in yourself. Our next track will be a story of overcoming self doubt when those feelings inevitably re-emerge. Check in with us then, but for now enjoy the end of your summer!
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune.
Luke: On a cold, snowy January 28th, 2023, Ethan and I sat down with the intention of jamming. I asked Ethan if he had any ideas of chord progressions, and he played a Dmaj7, then a Gmaj, followed by an A7. He strummed these chords in what I remember to be roughly 60 bpm. I loved the chords but decided they sounded so happy that they needed more of an upbeat feel. I strummed the same chords back to him in a tempo closer to 120 bpm, and just a few seconds later, Ethan sang “Do You Remember When?”. Immediately after, he added “The summer came and went”. Right then, we decided to write a song about the feeling of warm, sunny days and how we missed them dearly on this cold afternoon. Roughly one hour later, we had a full song called “Couldn’t be better” fully complete. Eventually we named it ‘Do You Remember When’ and the rest was history.
What was the recording process like?
Ethan: We started this track with recordingdrums and bass. Then, I focused on the acoustic guitars and shakers because they provide the track with a greater sense of rhythm. During that process a new bassline appeared to me as if the music was asking for it instead, so I re-tracked the bass and focused on pulling all the parts together into the grooving force that the song is. Then came lead vocals, followed by background stacked vocals and a vocal pad type of effect that provides a slight ambiance to the choruses. It’s very quiet but it makes a huge difference. From there I fine tuned until the magic of the song overtook everything.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tune?
Luke: The biggest learning curve for me was to not second guess myself. I came up with the first line of the chorus: “every night, when i look up to the sky”, along with the halftime feel, but then shook my head and mumbled “no, i’m not sure about that”. Ethan immediately looked at me and said “No I really like that” and we ended up writing the rest of the chorus with that feel.
Ethan: Some songs write themselves
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Ethan: The guitar solo was better before it was mastered. It lost some acoustic volume in the process. I’m not a fan of the mastering style that was used. The song was written organically and I think the final track lost some of its magic to a mastering style that was more modern than it needed to be. Perhaps we’ll release a remaster in the future.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
So, so many groovy tunes that we’re currently recording. We need better management. If you’re interested, reach out to us.