This story appears in the Fall 2013 issue of Eidé Magazine. Read it here, or click to read it in the issue below.
STEP ASIDE JUSTIN BIEBER, THERE’S A NEW GROUP IN TOWN — ONE THAT HAS YET TO PEE IN A BUCKET OR BLASPHEME A FORMER PRESIDENT.
Georgia-based band Revel in Romance (RIR) is garnering more and more attention in the southern music scene and beyond with their original sound that diverges from the over-processed and digitized quality that has become a radio staple of late. Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Parker Rehklau, 21, says the group is attempting to return to “pure music.”
RIR combines the deep soulfulness of Evanescence with a southern folky sensibility reminiscent of Mumford and Sons, creating incredibly catchy tunes saturated with meaning. They cite a wide scope of inspirations from Matchbox 20 and Avril Lavigne all the way to Beck and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which has helped the trio find a fresh sound that they credit to a mix of many different genres.
“We have a couple different sounds and sometimes they show in one song more than others,” says lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Devin Maier, 21. “We have some folk influence, for some reason, that comes out in us – pop, post-grunge, alternative rock…so every- thing is kind of based off of that.” Vocalist and songwriter Saxony Raine, 18 — who happens to be Rehklau’s sister — added that each member of the group has different influences they draw inspiration from when writing songs. “We’ll sit down and come up with something that doesn’t sound like anything, but it sounds like us,” Rehklau explains.
RIR will release their first acoustic EP, Stripped, this summer and are currently recording their debut full-length album, produced by Jan Smith, owner of Homegirl Entertainment. Smith is known for her vocal coaching of artists such as Justin Bieber and Usher. Also working to produce the album is Shawn Grove, who has worked with Collective Soul, Sevendust and many others.
In the last year, RIR has already gained some notoriety, opening for a number of prominent artists, such as Josh Groban and The Band Perry. But RIR’s name is no southern secret. In 2011 the group organized a self-promoting summer tour through parts of the Midwest, including Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan. “You learn so much just by being on the road alone,” Rehklau says. “Not only are you playing a show every day, and you get infinitely better just from doing that, but you get back and realize ‘Oh my God; a week ago I couldn’t do this.’”
The trio formed with the collapse of their previous band and a shared desire to keep playing. “[After the split] us three just looked at each other and were like, ‘well moving forward…let’s do this.’” And thus the birth of RIR.
But, as we all know, a yearning to play is not enough to make a successful band. On top of that, you need talent and a way into the industry. RIR has the talent: Rehklau competed in a Battle of the Bands competition at age 14, which put him in contact with Mama J, as Smith is affectionately called. “We were playing this Battle of the Bands thing for the south- east, and we were the youngest band in competition,” Rehklau recounts. “There were 30-something bands competing and my band ended up winning…One of the judges there said to me, ‘You need to go see Jan Smith.’ I had never heard of Jan. I was just this little teenage kid in a band. She had me audition to work with her. Now, she’s very particular about who she works with, so when I got the offer to be one of her students it wasn’t like a ‘yea, sure,’ but more like ‘hell yes, absolutely!’”
Once Rehklau started playing with Raine and Maier, Smith had the trio come into the studio to work on their music under her tutelage. Smith has become a real mentor, helping the group work on their vocals and composition. “We go in and show her a new song and she says ‘try this, try that, do these layers with the harmony, why don’t you try it this way’… she’s amazing,” Raine says.
Although Mama J has been instrumental in this young group’s progression, it was a stroke of luck that landed them in Grammy-winning recording engineer Ralph Cacciurri’s studio at Parhelion Records. Last December, RIR attended a Grammy mixer at Criminal Records in Little Five Points. The event was a platform for local artists to network. When the trio found out there was a raffle involved – prizes included a free recording day in Parhelion Records’ studio as well as other goodies – they each bought a ticket.
The trio describes having a strange sensation that destiny was on their side. “Once we got down there…we were looking at each other and we all just thought ‘we’re going to win this,’” Rehklau says, a giant grin making its way from ear to ear. “We were just feeling it,” Raine added.
Rehklau explained that the first ticket that was drawn belonged to a guy who had already left, which disqualified him. And the second ticket belonged to Cacciurri, who did not need a free day of recording in his own studio. “And then we won,” Rehklau says. “It was my tick- et,” Raine exclaims, and the guys laugh.
Thrilled, RIR spent their free day in the studio recording as much as possible. Ultimately, the day proved invaluable. The trio managed to record their entire EP, which consists of four full-length tracks. “They’re these stripped down little songs, they’re just us three. No drums, no base, nothing laid down after that, and that’s basically the EP,” Maier says.
With the imminent release of Stripped, a full-length album in the works and a fairly substantial following, it seems RIR is on the precipice of stardom. It might not be too long ’til we’re all reveling in the sounds of this band on the rise.