By Andy Freedman, 2/23/11
Rvivr (pronounced “Reviver”) were about to play a set in a dark and tiny basement of a punk house in South Seattle when they took me to their van for an interview. It was a Sunday night, and the four band show billed to start at 8 PM wasn’t even getting under way until 10:30.
“About standard for a show at this house,” noted vocalist/guitarist Matt Camino. It’s the world that Rvivr exist in, turning on their amps and hitting the first chords at a time when a lot of people are deep in sleep before going to work the next day.
“If you’re trying to find out about our relationships with each other, they’re really not that interesting,” said guitarist/vocalist Erica Freas. “We’re just four friends who love each other and want to make music together.”
Along with bassist Tammy Martin and drummer Kevin Rains Barry, the band plays what most people refer to as “pop punk,” a genre which at its most mainstream can be found in malls at Hot Topic or on stage every summer at Warped Tour.
Rvivr, however, have a different approach. They keep tight reigns on the project, keeping an impressively high level of productivity (four releases to date!) while leaving anything resembling a band image out of it altogether. There are no flashy press photos, no twitters or tumblr feeds. In 2010, the band released its first full length.
They took an interesting approach to their artwork, recycling used thrift store vinyl covers by turning them inside out and pressing their own, new designs.
The music is upbeat, with tightly wound drums, melodic chord progressions, and pop sensibility that seem to embody the sound of friendship. Camino’s voice transforms when he gets behind the microphone, his soft spoken voice suddenly howling with the force of all his insides, while Freas’ raspy yells affirm Rvivr’s group-hug sort of mentality.
Rvivr have spent a lot of time taking this sound outside of Olympia, spending five months in 2010 on the road touring. One of those months was spent in Europe, playing a school cafeteria at lunchtime in Iceland, seeing people leaving their babies in carriages on the sidewalk while they buy groceries, and avoiding English drunk drivers who were eating chips and sipping pints behind the wheel.
There’s a lot that inspires Rvivr to do what they do. On January 9, Rvivr played a benefit show with local metal act Wolves In The Throne Room to benefit local citizens who had spent time in prison for their involvement in various degrees of environmental activism. “I think it’s really important to use what power you can in your creative endeavors to bring about change,” said Freas.
As far as bands that influence them, it’s not so much classic names as much as it is their peers. “We’re most inspired by our friend’s bands,” said drummer Kevin Rains Barry, a quality that many Olympian bands seem to have in common.
Beyond socio-political change, Rvivr’s lyrics concern change of a more personal nature. Their songs are essentially about two topics, which could arguably be noted as the same topic: Feeling stuck and things changing. Camino has an interesting approach to writing the lyrics, claiming to dream them. “I’ll try to get up fast and write them down, and all the words are out of order so I have to rearrange them. For example, I’ll dream walk, dog, park, but that one hasn’t happened in a while.”
“I guess that explains the absence of all our dog park songs last year,” said Barry.
Rvivr have no plans to stop anytime soon, though they’re already gearing up for more national touring, as well as a return to Europe this fall. Look for their name on fliers around town, see them play and learn their lyrics beforehand. That way you can join in on the singalongs. ◙
Rvivr can be found online at rvivr.wordpress.com.