"It was never about money, it was never about fame, it was about having fun": six things you need to know about The Revivalists

The Revivalists group shot
(Image credit: Alysse Gafkjen)

New Orleans roots-rockers The Revivalists formed back in 2007, and slowly won over an army of diehard fans with their soulful rock’n’roll anthems. Then Wish I Knew You, the lead track from 2015’s Men Amongst Mountain album, became a massive US hit, and everything changed. Frontman David Shaw says he arrived at their new record Pour It Out Into The Night with a new appreciation of what the eight band members bring out in each other. 

“I’m at my best when I’m a collaborator,” he says. “I know that people can see things I can’t see, and those things can lift me up to new heights.” 

He also says that while enjoying the success, they always keep in mind why they formed in the first place. 

“It was never about money, it was never about fame, it was about having fun.”


Their new album is a leap forward

Shaw says it’s the sound of the band pushing everything to the next level. “It shows a growth lyrically, musically and aesthetically,” he says. The singer is keen to stress that it’s not a ‘pandemic record’, although that period looms large in the album’s message of finding something uplifting to hold on to. 

“Some of the material speaks to the hardships but every song has a bit of hope in there,” he explains. “The thing we’re realising about our band is that that’s the thread we want throughout our career. This record is a shining example of that.” 

They have a track that was absolutely massive

Despite the fact everything about them screams “albums band”, The Revivalists had a huge hit with 2015’s Wish I Knew You, which currently has 179 million plays on Spotify and went to No.1 on Billboard’s Alternative chart. “We had very small amounts of incremental success,” Shaw recalls, “and then ten years into our career we had this lightning-in-a-bottle moment. It blew up in a way that none of us could’ve expected. You always hope something like that is gonna happen, but you can’t plan for it.” 

Looking back, he says it brought new pressures. “It was like: ‘Oh my God, all eyes are on me now.’ The spotlight gets way bigger. It was very hard for a number of years, but I’ve got a handle on it now."

New Orleans has shaped who they are

Shaw reckons it’s impossible to be a band in New Orleans and for the city’s vibrancy not to infiltrate your set-up. 

“It’s inevitable,” he says. “It’s such a community-based city. It’s a music community. There are no cutthroat activities, it’s: ‘How can we lift you up to succeed.’ That’s why they call it The Big Easy, because it was easy to get a gig here. It’s what the city thrives on, it’s what keeps the city going. Everything is secondary to music here.” 

An American football legend gave the band some sound advice

Shaw was asking quarterback hero Peyton Manning about the key to performing to your best in front of a crowd of thousands, and was given some words of wisdom. 

“He was like: ‘Dave, it’s all about preparation. When I hit that field, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ve done every single thing possible to make sure I’m prepared. There’s always inevitable things that happen outside of that realm, but as long as I know I’ve done everything I can do, I feel calm, I feel cool, I feel collected.’ I’ll never forget that.”

The Revivalists run a charity fund dedicated to supporting local causes

The group launched Rev Causes to aid a variety of organisations in the New Orleans area, donating a portion of their ticket sales and also raising money through fan donations. 

“For a while we were scraping by, but now we’re in a place where we can actually give back,” states Shaw. “We pick causes that are near and dear to us. There’s one organisation we’ve worked with quite a bit called Songs For Kids, and we’ve just started working with the Innocence Project New Orleans [an organisation dedicated to freeing innocent people and those serving unjust sentences].” 

They’ve worked out the key to solving band arguments when there’s eight of you

Shaw says it’s essential to have someone in the studio who can act as dictator, and that person is the producer. “They have a unique perspective, they can see things we might not be able to see,” he says. 

Usually, though, they arrive at an agreement themselves. “If five or six people are going: ‘This is how it should be,’ then you’ve gotta be like: ‘Alright, maybe I’m wrong.” But I feel like our tastes over the years have refined and aligned.” 

Pour It Out Into The Night is available now via Concord Records.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer for The Guardian, Variety and Classic Rock, and co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former editors of Q magazine Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. Niall has written for NME, X-Ray Magazine and XFM Online and interviewed some of music’s biggest stars, including Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, St Vincent, The 1975, Depeche Mode, Radiohead and many more.