Last Saturday night, I was in Leicester doing something that partly resembled skanking (if you squinted) to the infectious, warm ska/reggae sound that By The Rivers create. Having first encountered the band when I reviewed Leefest for Impact in the summer, it was a joy to see them again on top form but this time playing their own hometown gig to promote the new single, ‘Take Control’.
After an emotive set from support act Demons of Ruby Mae and an energetic one from Jimmy the Squirrel, By The Rivers were met with a loud, appreciative homecoming, launching into gleeful summer single ‘One Word’. This was followed by spirited, exuberant performances of other previously released tracks such as ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ and of course ‘Take Control’. They also offered fans a sneak peak of new unreleased material that could feature on their debut album that they have been working on for most of the year.
What was most enjoyable about this band, though, was the way that you could see how much they enjoyed playing together. Bassist Matt could hardly keep still as he strummed out a slick groove during ‘Vulture’, and most of the audience couldn’t help but join in. It certainly made me feel less conscious about my aforementioned poor attempt at skanking, but also illustrated By The Rivers’ wonderful ability to create a sense of carefree abandon and community in their music. It was hard not to watch this band without a large grin on your face with the chilled euphoria that the set evoked.
Having already supported the likes of The Specials and Fun Lovin Criminals, this six-piece band will undoubtedly soon start making larger waves across the Midlands and the entire UK. Prior to the gig, I sat down with Nile, Jordan and Will backstage to talk about their past year, ‘Take Control’ and their upcoming debut album.
Impact last saw you guys at Leefest in the summer. How was that experience?
Jordan: It was cool. It was our second year back and it was good to go back with a bit of a better slot on the main stage.
Nile: It’s such a cool, chilling festival. They’ve kept it really nice. Lee’s a really nice guy too
Are you excited to be back in Leicester, your hometown?
Nile: It’s nice to get another gig on the go in Leicester. We try not to play here too much but when we do, we like to put on a nice big event. We’re chuffed to hear that it’s sold out.
You’re here to promote your new single, ‘Take Control’. Tell me about it.
Jordan: We’ve been playing it and it’s been around for a while. There was an acoustic version on our last single ‘One Word’. It’s one of our more political songs. The idea of the last single was that it was about having fun, love and all that rubbish (laughs), but this one and its message is a lot more serious.
What’s the message?
Jordan: I guess it’s about government and our personal perception when all the elections were going about. That’s when we wrote it.
You guys have a very distinctive reggae sound. What are your influences?
Nile: I guess not just reggae really because we’ve all been in previous bands and had different influences. Indie, soul, all different kinds of stuff. Will used to be in a college band for a while that used to play soul and ska. I guess in terms of reggae more the old school stuff that if you weren’t a hardcore reggae fan then I guess you wouldn’t know.
You’ve supported a lot of bands in the last couple of years, in particular The Specials. What was that like?
Nile: It was amazing actually (laughs). We’ve never done anything at that kind of level. It gave us a bit of insight on what it’s like to be a proper, top, famous band. We learned a lot from being on tour and it was a great experience at some great venues.
Jordan: It was every night playing to thousands of people. The first night was the scariest when we first went on stage pretty nervous but it was weird how comfortable we got going on stage dead excited saying ‘Oh yeah, it’s going to be a sick night. Look at that crowd- 10, 000 people!’
You’ve released a lot of singles this year. Any insight on when you are thinking of releasing the album?
Nile: We’re thinking about February time, beginning of next year is the plan. Everything is pretty much there, it’s just things can always end up being adjusted. We’re not very good to sticking to plans. (laughs)
Are you planning to play at any festivals in 2013?
Jordan: This year we did a lot of festivals, but next year we’re hoping to do a lot more and maybe higher up the bill, maybe bigger festivals.
Any plans of playing in Nottingham?
Jordan: We will be.
Will: We did The Beat Show in 2011 and the fanbase is kinda building up in Nottingham. We’ve done a few gigs at The Maze and one supporting The Skints. Yeah, we should be back there soon.
…Emily has been listening to Imagine Dragons- Radioactive…