Interview: The Riverside Sticks Together Like Family

August 8, 2016

Often times bands and artists fit the image of their genre perfectly without even trying. Banjos, mandolins, upright bass, farmers market jam sessions, camping – all of these evoke thoughts of warm, comforting folk music, and that’s exactly what Santa Barbara’s The Riverside specialize in.

A five-piece indie outfit that has undergone some line-up changes, The Riverside are locked in and enjoying the momentum of their late-June 2016 release Homestead. With five albums released, bandleader Jake Jeanson talked to us about the state of folk, why house shows have been a success for the group, and how The Riverside is treated very much like a family (of course it doesn’t hurt that his wife, Lorien, plays mandolin!) Be sure to check out Homestead and learn more about the group’s happenings below:

Folk has experienced a wonderful resurgence in recent years– what do you attribute to the renewed interest among indie fans?

Jake Jeanson: I think folk has always been the secret love in the roots of a lot of peoples hearts. I think the sound that comes from this sort of music tends to connect people with each other in ways that gives a sort of nostalgia or feelings of genuineness, which is awesome.

It reminds you of where you’ve been, and makes you think of where you are going.

How does The Riverside set out to distinguish yourselves among other folk acts?

I think the one thing we do well is love each other like family and hold each other accountable; not only to band things like honest songwriting and performing, but to life outside of the band.

We know the family- group feel that emanates from our band isn’t necessarily our “own” thing that no other bands don’t have, but we really think its been something notable that continues to shape us.

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You all finalized your lineup just last year – how would you explain the way the five band members finally ‘clicked’?

Band members over the years have always “clicked” and gotten along. In fact, there isn’t an ounce of bad blood between old and new. People were part of the band for the season that life allowed them, and when that time came to a close, we all had an understanding.

However, it is very, very exciting to have people who can consistently be there, to create and grow our music. Everyone in the band right now has always had the dream of being in a full-time group, so its extremely satisfying for everyone in the band to know that we are all on the same page in life.

How would you say that The Riverside evolved in terms of songwriting and instrumentation since 2013?

Through course of five albums now we’ve learned a lot about songwriting. There’s always the struggle when songwriting to cheese out lyrics or to write about the thing that’s easiest or that “fits”.

One of the big things that we’ve focused on more than anything is growing our songwriting integrity to never settle and to keep writing on ideas and stories that mean something to us. Not to say that every song needs a serious nature; we believe that there is always room for light hearted songs as well, because sometimes, that’s just what you need to play or listen to!


What led the group to take advantage of alternative performance opportunities like house shows and farmers markets?

To us, music is community and about connecting with people. If we can brighten someones day or sympathize with peoples harder life circumstances with our music, than that to us, is living the dream. Busking in markets and playing in a natural setting also makes you better performers and tighter as a band like nothing else can. So we have the opporunity to do both these things, we go for it.

How has the way you connect with fans (before, during and after) been impacted by these types of shows?

House shows and markets are amazing because it takes you off the stage. When people are in a natural setting there isn’t any pressure. It’s just people playing music and having a good time connecting with each other. We realize that nothing we say is any more important that what someone else has to say and feel, so if people want to listen in and spent time with us, we count it as an honor.

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Your Patreon account mentioned camping during tours. Is this something you all do?

Oh yes, being a smaller independent band is kind of crazy at times. Camping is super affordable, bonding, and just all around fun to be in nature. We have tents and camping gear in our van for whenever we don’t have a friends house to stay at. People are so kind on the road, a lot of the time you’ll get offers from people to host your band for the night! It’s the kindest gesture ever!

What other creative twists have you put on the way you hit the road?

Our new album, Homestead, we home-made and hand-stamped our art to our CD sleeves, so that way, we can bring coloring supplies so people can color their own album. We thought that would be a fun thing for people to be able to do!

What can fans look forward to enjoying about the most recent release, Homestead?

Homestead portrays a sweet old-time sound about remembering the good ol’ days with those you love, and workin’ through the hard ones. It’s an album that has sort of sound that harkins back to our self-titled first album, which we love.

This is your fifth release using TuneCore! How have you used not only TuneCore, but also other artist-friendly services to build your musical career so far?

TuneCore has been great to us. It connects you to all the places where people may want to listen to your music. We’ve been working really hard touring and reaching out to people, so being on all of these sites that TuneCore connects us with has really been key to helping us grow and continue to be able to run the band!

Tags: DIY featuring folk homestead indie interview new music santa barbara the riverside tunecore