INTERVIEW: JD (THE RIOT)
Perpetually exceeding their raucous namesake, genre chameleons THE RIOT bring lashings of rampaging flair to the table with their unique take on slightly heavier territories. Part musical mad scientists, part thunderous social activists, there's seemingly no predicting the beautiful chaos that continues to emanate from this passionate trio; from the gutteral R&B debut Dog In The Shade to the more recent psychedelic mayhem of Same Blunt, it's continually anyone's guess what may come next - and absolutely no genre is safe.
A band who ultimately came together by chance before snagging the attention of Matt Corby and the wider industry, THE RIOT are riveting proof that positivity, unity and a refusal to conform can coexist without risk of alienation or sacrificing creative vision. And with the brand new music video for Same Blunt dropping late last week, what better time to grab lead vocalist JD to chat self-expression, collaborations and the secret ingredients to a 'Riot goulash'. Interview below!
TIANA SPETER: Hello and thanks so much for having a chat today! It’s been really exciting to see THE RIOT ignite in 2020, and you’ve continued to do so amazingly with the recent release of ‘Same Blunt’. It’s always nice to hear something truly unique (and I’m always down for stuff in the heavier veins), but how does it feel to now have these two tracks out in the world, has the reaction been what you expected?
JD: It feels amazing. I mean, it's been a long time coming for us to have some music out and now it is. The response has been great. Most of the comments we have gotten have been positive and I feel like we are in a lane of our own.. You can't hate something u don't know about lol.
TIANA: I personally love the backstory for how THE RIOT came to be, not many people can say a creative project eventuated from meeting when one person is scaling a fence at a venue. But beyond that, the three of you have a lot of shared values and interests. But how did THE RIOT go from a couple of people at a venue to a fully-fledged band? And did you all have a pretty firm idea of the band you wanted THE RIOT to become right at the start?
JD: Well, we all pretty much had the same vision I think. We all wanted something different and we all had our own projects. I approached Tyler with the idea first and said to him that i wanted to create something new.. I wanted to feel the energy of playing live music compared to all my produced solo projects I was working on. I gave him this idea of Sounds I had in my head which was mainly N.E.R.D / Alabama shakes / Led Zeppelin and Arctic Monkeys. I had a couple ideas musically, I showed him and he said he'd been waiting to be in a band just like that.. something different from his pop electronic project and that this was it. At the same time he mentioned to me that his best friend played drums in that exact same style and he was feeling bad dragging him to the pop shows to play as they were really quite chilled. He said he couldn't wait to tell him about this because he would be so excited to be part of this band! That’s kinda how it happened. We were all in need of this outlet.. that ‘scream of the unheard’.
pic: Sean Pyke
TIANA: There’s a lot of genre subversions that have bubbled away both on ‘Same Blunt’ and ‘Dog In The Shade’, and I’m always keen when a band stumps me for how to describe them in a genre setting…but with so much fluidity in the band’s style, how does a THE RIOT song come to life? Is there a recipe for these deliciously boisterous tunes?
JD: We just get in a room with drink or a smoke, quick yarn about the day, Tyler jams on the guitar, Scotty taps a beat and I start riffing and singing melodies. We record it on voice note then we link with Alex or Matt and they help bring all our parts together, make it flow and fill in some of the missing pieces and boom - that’s a Riot goulash
TIANA: And you guys have also teamed up with two musical icons in the form of Matt Corby and his long-time producer Alex Henriksson. Can you talk me through a bit how this collaboration came to be? It’s genuinely awesome to see this dichotomy of stylings unite with this team!!
JD: Well, our music was making its way around a few labels and artists.. one fell on the door step of Matt Corby's publisher, she then sent it to him to listen to he liked it and said he wanted to work with us, they chatted with our management and they tried teeing something up for a while. Then finally we got the call saying we had a session with Matt but then there was difficulty with the schedule and Matt couldn't make it so he said we should still go in and work with his right hand / producer Alex. So we met Alex and he absolutely blew us away with his genuine take on music and his understanding of all our individual styles. That was the day we made 'Dog In The Shade'. Next time Matt was there and honestly it was exactly the same - we had such a great connection with Matt. Even though we were big fans of him and super nervous, he really let us in and showed us that he was just as excited to work with us. So yeah - it's an anomaly let me tell you that 5 people can meet like this and all work so well together.
TIANA: While I know THE RIOT are two tracks in now and you’ve had a bit of time for the release dust to settle…diving in a little deeper here to yourself and your musical journey, what kick-started this adventure that led to you being part of THE RIOT? Was there a particular band or artist that really inspired you to pursue music professionally? Or was it more of a glorious unexpected series of events that led you here?
JD: We never started this band in a genre. We knew we wanted guitars, we wanted drums, big bass lines and some convicting vocals. We all have influences individually e.g. I love Pharrell Williams , Tyler loves Pink Floyd, Scotty loves Bring me The horizon, but honestly it was a glorious unexpected series of events that has led us here.
TIANA: THE RIOT are, as we’ve touched on earlier, quite an eclectic band sound-wise, but you certainly rack up some awesome genre tinges from reggae to rap and punk. But what might we catch you listening to today in your down-time? What bands or songs are doing the rounds on your playlists when you aren’t creating your own music?
JD: Brent Faiyaz and Idles are on repeat for me. I'm sure Tyler has some Moses Sumney and Frank Ocean on. Scotty is most likely listing to The Neighbourhood
TIANA: THE RIOT seem to be a very close-knit band who are determined to share a message of having power in numbers, and giving voices to those who have been unheard in the past. On that theme, if you guys were stranded on a desert island and you could only bring one other band (living or dead) along for company – who are you bringing and why?
JD: No one! I wouldn't do that to my worst enemy… It would prob suck and i wouldn't want to drag anyone with me through that haha. But if I could, I’d see myself bringing Avril Lavigne because I'm sure she is an expert at getting out of complicated situations and she might have a skateboard on her.
TIANA: And last but hopefully not least, ‘Same Blunt’ tackles some pretty hard-hitting themes about the perils of groupthink and the decline of individual thinking in an institutional setting. What’s your ultimate piece of advice for those seeking to not become “yes men” and looking to unashamedly be themselves?
JD: We just say just continue being yourself. self-expression is life and don't let anyone suppress that. Individual thinking is what makes us beautiful and unique not hiding away from who you are because society tells you to be more with the system. We are here to break down the system and rebuild it in a way help everybody grow. Fuck the enemy, riot the energy.
THE RIOT'S BRAND NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR SAME BLUNT IS OUT IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, AND KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL MAYHEM FROM THIS TRIO IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
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BY TIANA SPETER