BY AUDREY WILSON
FOR FANS OF: CHIEF STATE, YOUTH FOUNTAIN, BEARINGS, HOMESAFE, AND REAL FRIENDS
Ontario Pop Punk band Rival Town is starting 2023 off strong with a single titled “Run”, released today on all platforms! With 109.6k Spotify listeners in 2022, Rival Town has proven themselves in the music scene, even when they slowed down on releasing new stuff for us to listen to the last few years. The 6-piece consists of vocalist Mike Julian, drummer Devon Forbes, guitarists Bryce Smith and Russell Wood, bassist Stewart Drake, and keyboardist Jared Smith. Even with lineup changes since their start, Rival Town is going strong at the moment and will not be slowing down any time soon.
“Run” is 2 minutes and 45 seconds of emotional lyrics with happy chords, combined with experimental synths, something new for the band! The song starts with a very atmospheric and calm introduction followed by Mike Julian making a subtle (but catchy, nonetheless) appearance in verse one before bringing his passionate vocals into the chorus, vocals that show a lot of angst, energy, and emotion… perfect for pop punk!
What makes this song and Rival Town as a whole incredibly unique are the electronic elements incorporated into the guitar riffs, and Mike’s distinct vocals. Rival Town’s previous work does not have as many electronic features incorporated, so this song seems to be signaling a switch. After the chorus, there is an absence of singing and an emphasis on the guitars and keyboard, which happens to be my favorite part of the song. It is super vibey and fun.
Towards the end of the song, the chorus is repeated and bassist Stewart Drake makes a huge statement followed by a traditional metalcore scream by Mike, giving us something that is heavy, even if it just for a second. The ending is satisfying and almost suggests metalcore elements, which are super popular right now (Bad Omens, Dayseeker, Spiritbox). It did not give me a sense of “this song left me hanging.” Everything was built up into a very passionate ending. Props to Rival Town for succeeding in this area.
I was able to chat with guitarist Bryce Smith about his take on this upcoming release:
A: Tell me about the writing and recording process for “Run”
B: We recently went independent, so this is our first release without a label in a while! In the past we were more of a traditional pop punk style band. We wanted to sort of push ourselves in a slightly poppier direction while maintaining a heavy edge. Stepping a bit out of our comfort zones. We actually started the song with just a groovy bass line and some cool synth and the rest came together very quickly. The song is also fully in-house production, recorded/mixed/and mastered by us. We feel like it sort of falls into the new Bring Me the Horizon style of music. We’re excited to see how fans react to it!
A: How is this song going to influence and shape future releases for 2023?
B: We’re kind of playing with a bit of an 80’s retro vibe with our next few releases. A lot of synth heavy stuff with super catchy vocals. We’ve been fortunate that we are able to experiment and expand our sound without really losing our core audience. Everyone has always been very accepting of us trying new things! I think in the future y’all can expect us to play around with different instruments and sounds that we haven’t really featured before. I think it is going to be a lot of fun and we can’t wait to incorporate them into our live shows.
Check out “Run” By Rival Town here!