From the bass to the saxophone, The Revivalists bring a big sound to the stage — complete with a pedal steel guitar.
With the recent release of their third full-length album, the seven-piece band also brought fresh songs to the inaugural three-day Kaaboo Del Mar festival.
After the band’s 2014 album “City of Sound,” drummer Andrew Campanelli explained that much of the material on “Men Amongst Mountains” was written while on the road. The 14-track album, released in July, covers issues that came up in band members’ lives, such as their busy schedule on the road.
Formed in 2007, the band has performed consistently for the past five years. The two shows in Del Mar brought its West Coast tour to a close, as The Revivalists are set to play across the country through the end of the year, including two November dates in the band’s hometown of New Orleans.
How did you like Kaaboo?
We were fortunate enough to play two days at Kaaboo, so we got to actually experience Kaaboo more than most festivals we play. It’s always inspiring seeing bands like Allen Stone and No Doubt put on that kind of high-energy show.
What do you enjoy about performing at festivals? What is the first festival you performed at?
The first festival we played was Jazz Fest at home in New Orleans. Festival crowds are often a mixture of diehard fans and new people who are there to see another band. I think knowing that there are a lot of people who are hearing us for the first time adds to the energy of the show.
Have you ever played in San Diego before?
A few years ago we played with Gov’t Mule at House of Blues in San Diego, but for some reason, we have only played there sparsely since then. The crowd during our set on the main stage at Kaaboo was almost entirely new people, so hopefully we will play San Diego more in the future.
You recently released “Men Amongst Mountains.” Did you get to play material from the new album?
We are always writing and constantly touring, so we’ve been playing a lot of the songs that are on “Men Amongst Mountains” for the last few years. We write the set usually right before we go on stage, so it changes a lot from night to night, and we focus more on the flow of the set than making sure we always play the new songs. Our sets have focused a lot on newer songs since the album came out, but we always play a good mix of all of our material at every show.
What was the inspiration behind the album?
The title track to the album, “Men Amongst Mountains,” was written during our first tour in Colorado. We wrote most of our last album, “City of Sound,” when we were getting used to living in New Orleans and being a part of that music scene. In contrast, a lot of the songs on “Men Amongst Mountains” were written either on the road or about issues that were raised in our lives since we started the relentless tour schedule that we’ve maintained for the past few years.
How would you describe the album for those who weren’t able to attend Kaaboo?
Sonically, the album flows from high-energy rock through soul songs, ending with a stripped-down piano ballad. We strive for the arrangement to fit the mood and message of the song, whatever it may be, so we’re not going for any one specific sound across a whole record when we go into the studio.
When and where did you record it? What was the process like?
We recorded “Men Amongst Mountains” over three sessions in three of Louisiana’s best studios. In February 2014, we spent eight days with producer Ben Ellman at Studio In The Country. We recorded most of the album live to tape to get a warmer sound than our previous albums. In October 2014, we recorded a few more songs and overdubs at Esplanade Studios in New Orleans before finishing the album at The Living Room Studios. About half of the songs we recorded were well road-tested, so tracking those songs was about getting the right sound and the right performance with minor changes to the live arrangement. The rest of the songs were pretty new in the studio, so it was more about trying out a lot of different ideas and directions for each song.
Do you have a favorite song from the album?
I really like the oddball arrangement and go-go percussion Mike Dillon recorded on “All In The Family,” but it’s really hard to choose a favorite song because each one is so different.
What’s next for the band? Do you have any plans to return to San Diego soon?
We’re continuing to tour through the fall ending back in New Orleans with two nights at Tipitina’s in late November and then New Year’s at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta.
Would you want to be a part of Kaaboo next year?
I would be glad to be a part of Kaaboo next year. Playing music in Southern California is one of the best parts of the job.
For more about The Revivalists, visit www.therevivalists.com.