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RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW KEVIN RIETH

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide to start the band / become a soloist?

I’ve always been naturally drawn to music. I have been a massive Beatles fan since the age of three and picked up the trumpet in about fifth grade. This got me into learning new instruments, and I picked up several more over the years. More recently, I also went through a painful breakup, which inspired the works on my new album, Up & Up. The album provided an outlet for my emotions and allowed me to express my grief.

Introduce us all to the members and your musical history?

Kevin Rieth – vocals, keyboards, bass, guitar, trumpet, trombone, charango, percussion

Rob Hanzlik – lead guitar

Gage Markey – lead guitar

Jake Matthew Rivers – cello

Aaron Russo – drums

Kevin and Aaron met in 2018 when they formed the Chicago-based power pop group The Donderos. Aaron was able to fly out and complete all eight drum parts for the album in one day, allowing Kevin to layer more instrumentation. Finally, Rob, Gage, and Jake are personal friends and provided their spice to the project virtually from all over the USA.



What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?

As a musician with songs that are frequently cross-genre, I don’t particularly enjoy being asked to put a genre label on my music. It’s tough!

We have set up RGM USA sharing USA music with the uk scene and vice versa, what are your thoughts on the UK music scene?

As an artist who is heavily inspired by generations of UK artists (The Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Adele, The Kinks, etc.), I am SO excited to have some exposure to the UK scene! With these influences in my music, it only feels natural to finally reach this audience.

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? 

I don’t, but there sure are a lot of interesting ones!

What support is out there for new artists in San Diego?

The radio station 91X in San Diego has a long history of promoting local artists. They host showcase shows for up-and-coming bands as well as feature new songs on their radio program.

Who is inspiring you at the minute on the San Diego unsigned scene?

I’ve really been enjoying the band Pinkeye – I’m in a band out here called King Whisker and we recently had the pleasure of playing a show with them. The textures in their music are phenomenal. I’d also highly recommend State to State, an LA-based band with an incredible sound!

What useless party trick /talent do you have/? 

I can fold my tongue in half – pretty useless!

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

A band that I play with, King Whisker, recently headlined a Halloween show for our album release. We dressed in an Addams Family theme, and I got to be Uncle Fester. My favorite part by far was watching Cousin Itt flail on the drums.

What was the worst experience on stage?

Years ago, I was leading a band in a version of The James Gang’s “Funk #49.” When it came time for the guitar breakdown in the middle of the song, I was suddenly struck by an anxiety attack and totally froze, leaving the band wondering when we’d kick it back in. Luckily, I saved it after a couple seconds, but so embarrassing! I still think about that to this day…

If you had to describe your band to an alien how would you describe them? 

I’d describe our band’s music as an alternate reality that will take you on a textural and melodic journey.

What makes you stand out as an artist?

I think the combination of modern and vintage textures as well as the cross-genre influence in the music helps me to stand out. I also have a very identifiable voice that serves as a trademark on my tracks. 

Right now, what’s pissing you off the most? (Can’t say the virus )

I am in a pretty good mental space right now, but I’d have to say toxic people on social media. I see so much negativity for absolutely no reason, and it is very damaging to those who are creative. For example, I see (and have experienced) negative comments on TikTok from people hiding behind their keyboard, only seeking to obtain a reaction. We should encourage everyone to do what makes them happy; anything less is just wrong.

Whats your favourite song to play live and why?

I love playing my song “Hug The Line” live because the vocal performance is a challenge for me and I can really lay into it. I absolutely love a song that allows me to belt, so I’ll pick one of those every time.

I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?

I do! “When I Sleep” will be the final song on my debut album, Up & Up. It was written several years ago, and I have been waiting to release it until I had the right project; I am so excited to share it with you! The track features, Jake Matthew Rivers on cello, and Aaron Russo on drums. It was mixed by Dan Molad (Lucius, Coco, CHIMNEY) and mastered by Jennifer Munson at Taloowa Corporation.

Talk me through the thought process of the single?

The song was inspired by the political turmoil and violence in the United States over the past several years. “What am I supposed to be doing now?” How can I make a change? Am I doing the right things? Throughout that painful time, these kinds of thoughts would keep me up at night, and I wanted to chronicle that in this song. The strings and synthesizers provide a dreamy and surreal vibe, which is interrupted by anxious moments of intensity. 

What was the recording process like?

This song and the rest of the album were actually self-recorded in a DIY studio space in San Diego, CA. I began with drums, and Aaron Russo was able to fly in to record all of the drums in a single day. Following this, I layered the arrangement on my own until I had a full rhythm track; this includes bass, guitars, synths, etc. Finally, I had some wonderful friends provide guitar leads and cello virtually from across the country. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?

This song probably has the biggest arrangement of any of my songs. As such, it was a learning experience to sculpt the arrangement without it becoming too busy or distracting. I became much more effective at self-editing (a challenge when you aren’t working with a producer), and Dan Molad’s amazing mixing skills were vital here as well.

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

This is a very interesting question – because I sat on this song for years, I was able to iterate it a bit over that period, allowing me to make any changes that I could personally imagine. With that in mind, I can’t think of anything I’d personally change, but I am always open to hearing other opinions!

What are your plans for the year ahead?

I plan to relocate back to the Washington D.C. area to start a brand new band as well as a new chapter in my life. I hope to release several more singles and continue to improve as a musician.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

When I Sleep is available 1/14 on all streaming services! Thank you so much for your support.