THE RIVEN (from l-r): Arnau Diaz (guitar), Totta Ekebergh (vocals), Olof Axegard (drums), Max Ternebring (bass)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Having all met as students studying music in London, four-piece The Riven have developed, since forming in 2016, an immensely powerful blues-rock sound reminiscent of outfits such as Thin Lizzy, early Rush, and Rival Sons.
Shortly after unveiling a well-received debut EP, ‘Blackbird’, the band decided to relocate to Sweden, the native country of three of the members, and since then, they have been working hard on putting together their first album, which the quartet recorded in the Spanish capital, Madrid.
With the release of that imminent, I spoke to drummer Olof Axegard about the upcoming self-titled release, journey so far, and much more.
You’re all from Sweden and Spain, but you actually formed the band in London. How did everyone end up there?
We all went there to study music. Arnau lived with Max and Totta, whilst I was in the same programme and year as Arnau. You could say Arnau was the glue, but the idea of the band didn’t become real until Max and Arnau started writing music together, and the next step after that was to get more people to join them.
Totta was living in the same house, and as we know, she has an amazing voice, so it was a good thing that she liked what they were up to and joined. I joined later on, as they were throwing a birthday party for one of their housemates, and I went there just to party really.
Later that night, Arnau asked if I was busy, and if I would be interested to jam some music they had been writing. Obviously, knowing Arnau, I knew it was gonna be good, so I accepted his offer, and the rest is history.
How did the name The Riven come about?
It was Totta who came up with it. We, as most bands, went through a period of a lot of different names being thrown around, but nothing really stuck until Totta found this Swedish word “riven“, which she then looked up to see if there was a English word for it and there was, with the same spelling and meaning.
“Riven” means torn or broken, which captured us as a band very well. We all come from different sides of music, we all come from rock, of course, but we approach music and writing differently, which keeps everything fresh and exciting.
What inspires the band lyrically?
We like our songs to have lyrics with a lot of meaning, and that could be a story or something that has happened to us in real life. Personally, I like conceptual ideas, so, for me, it’s stories.
However, these stories need to have connections to my personal life, and a good example of this would be ‘Far Beyond’, a track from our new album.
In 2017, you brought out your debut EP, ‘Blackbird’, which immediately won much acclaim from the underground rock press. Honestly, were any of you expecting that at all?
Well, no! (laughs) I mean, we all love our first EP, but the reception we got, as our first outing, wasn’t expected, so it was a very incredible experience to hear so many good things about the first bits of music we put out there.
And the band promoted that with a tour of the UK, Sweden, and Finland, supporting the likes of Fates Warning, Elephant Tree, and The Dahmers. How was that as an experience for you all?
Fun, unbelievable and amazing! Not much more to say really, as we couldn’t have asked for a better first tour. Supporting such incredible and different bands was a huge experience, and we learned a lot from each of them. Also, being able to play in different countries just a few months after the release of our first EP was great.
Later that year, you relocated to Sweden from London. What were the main reasons behind this move?
The reason behind that is because we felt that we needed to move closer to our scene of music. I mean, London and the UK has a great live music and rock scene, but most of the bands that we listen to currently are coming out of Sweden, so that felt right as our next step.
Also, I think we had all gotten a bit tired of hustling around London, and we wanted to do something new.
And how, in the band’s opinion, how is the contemporary Swedish rock scene different to the contemporary British rock scene?
Just looking at the amount of great bands that the Swedish rock scene is creating at the moment, compared to the British, you could say it’s way more suiting to us. Don’t get me wrong, there are great bands coming from the UK like Elephant Tree or Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, however, it just feels right to be in Sweden right now.
Very shortly, you will be releasing your self-titled first album, which the band recorded in Madrid. How was the recording process for that?
It was great! We had a good amount of time to write and do pre-production with Ola Ersfjord before going to him in Madrid to record it, so once we were there, everything ran very naturally and very smoothly.
Ola made us feel like we were at home, so we were all able to get the best performance out of ourselves. We had a great time recording in, and enjoying, Madrid.
And how will the upcoming release differ to ‘Blackbird’?
There’s a lot that will differ from the ‘Blackbird’ release. First off, we have a great label behind us helping us reach new goals. Also, we have people around the world willing to work with us to be able to go into new markets, so more or less, ‘Blackbird’ was all us, whereas now, it’s a massive team effort, which feels great. The music business is tough, so having this team behind us is a joy!
And finally, what are the band’s plans following the album’s unveiling?
First of all, we have our release gig on March 15, then we have a couple of tours in Europe coming up during 2019, so keep your eyes peeled on our social media feed to see where we go next.
THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM BY THE RIVEN WILL BE RELEASED ON MARCH 1, VIA THE SIGN RECORDS.
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: