True Rivals may be a relatively new band to the scene but the guys who make up this fledgling act (Derik Envy, Kevin Besignano, Trevor Jackson and Nate Walker) are far from neophytes. With members spending time with well established acts like Unwritten Law, Lit, Bullets and Octane and Rufio, it’s easy to see why their debut album, The Revenant sounds like it was performed by the seasoned veterans they are.The album has a familiar old school, classic punk rock sound that has seemed to go missing lately. Almost as if it was just unearthed after decades of being stowed away in a storage unit somewhere in the Bay Area. While familiar, the LP is still fresh and different. It’s a fun album, by a fun band. Filled with great choruses and blazing rock guitar riffs, you’ll see why we fell in love with this album (along with the boys themselves) so eagerly.
One of our favorite things about these up and comers is the dual vocals provided by bassist, Derik Envy and Guitarist, Kevin Besignano. Just imagine our excitement when we opened the inbox and saw an email for an interview with the two talented frontmen. So we headed over to our Los Angeles kennels and let Staff Writer, AnarchoPunk out of his cage to go meet one half of this phenomenal four piece for some brew and bowling at Pinz Bowling Center in Studio City. To keep things interesting, we decided to tackle a topic per frame (and a beer every two!), everything from their musical roots, to to that distinct, fundamental punk rock sound and even boobies, guns and drugs. So take a minute to get to know one of our newest favorite bands in this comprehensive interview below!
Dying Scene – AnarchoPunk: Where are you guys from originally? Not many people are actually from LA.
Kevin: Well, Nate and Trevor and are both from here.
Derik: Both Me and Kevin are from New York though. He’s from New York City, I’m from Upstate, which isn’t New York if you ask Kevin
K: Yea, It’s not New York. It’s “The Country”
How long have you two been here in LA?
K: We’ve both been here for about 10 years now.
D: Long enough that it’s home now.
LA has always been a pretty good hub for punk, give us an idea of the local scene and how it’s evolved in the 10 or so years that you’ve been here.
K: It feels like when we first got here, there really wasn’t one. I don’t know, maybe it just seemed that way because we weren’t playing a lot at that time. Because once we started playing more it seemed like there was a lot more going on.
D: Yea, if you don’t surround yourself with it, you’d probably think it doesn’t exist. But if you’re out there going to shows and seeing them sold out, “Oh, there are people coming out.” but I guess the competition makes it a little harder to stand out. That on top of all of the venues closing, like all of the good punk venues have been closing down. So it’s, getting a little harder but we’re still seeing shows sell out.
K: Yea, there’s still shows. It’s not gone.
There are still a few good places left over in Silver Lake/Echo Park like The Echo(plex).
K: Yea, Los Globos still throws some crazy punk shows.
There used to be consistently be a pretty good lineup at The House of Blues on Sunset, that one closed not too long ago too.
D: Yea! I played the second to last show there, with The Briggs. It was cool. I had never played the Hollywood House of Blues. So, it was real cool to play the second to last show.
K: (After returning from throwing a gutter ball) Are you supposed to hit the pins?
Whenever possible, yes. Any good local bands we need to know about?
D: Suck it chumps!!!! (Admittedly, a tidy two pin spare). I always have beginners luck. By the end, I’ll be missing all the pins. I really like a band named Aeges is a great local band, they just signed to Century Media. They’re friends of ours. It’s so cool to have friends whose music you really enjoy. So, I like them alot. If you get a chance, check out Wild Roses too.
K: The Vitals. They are a super rad band, also friends of ours. They just have two guitars a female singer and drums. They’re really awesome and artsy but it’s controlled. It’s not a not a mess. They’re fantastic.
How did you guys get into the punk scene?
D: I feel like I grew up with metal. I learned to play music because of Black Sabbath and Pantera, Metallica and then somewhere along the line, I went to a punk concert and just kinda went, “ Oh, that’s fuckin’ bad ass! That’s what I want to do.” I’ve always liked fast music though. I’ve always liked shit just chopped down to the necessities. You don’t need all of these guitar solos and shit like that. And then the message is just something I knew I related to. Then you get to know people in the scene and you know “Oh these people are more like me than these metalhead kids.”
K: Everyone in my school listened to hip hop and dance music so for me and the six other kids that didn’t listen to rap it was Metallica, Pantera and then one of my friend’s sisters had a bunch of Goldfinger tapes. You know and it was slightly different than metal and then it was like “This is a lot easier then trying to learn the guitar solo from Creeping Death”. From there I started getting into Rancid, Offspring and then that lead me deeper into the other bands like The Clash.
D: You know we’re from the age where that 90’s punk revival is what we grew up with.
K: Yea, like Lagwagon that Epi/Fat kind of sound. You know, one of the first punk albums I remember borrowing from a friend was a Fat compilation. You know and then from there, it was like “Metallica is cool, but this is cooler.”
D: But we’ll still throw down with some Pantera during rehearsals!
What’s your definition of Punk? Now with all of the sub-genres, it can be a little hard to define. So, everyone has a slightly different definition.
K: It seems like in the 70’s and 80’s it was almost like there were rooms in a building. “You’re in this room. You’re over here in this room” but nowadays with so many sub-genres, there’s really no clear definition. So if you pick something or you’re forcing something, it seems kind of fake to me. It’s really a personal opinion. What you personally make of it.
D: I would say for me, I just was punk. It wasn’t because I would rebel against dumb shit or break windows and shit. I think it’s just, when it comes to music there’s a sound to it but it’s also like, you’re going to play what you’re going to play. Maybe people like it, maybe they don’t. But it’s not like you’re purposely trying to make this sound to make money or whatever. We’re just doing it to try to be something else. That whole stupid idea of “selling out” also comes into it. You know, “Oh, you can’t be punk because of this”. Like is Green Day punk? I don’t fucking know. As far as I’m concerned they are.
What did your parents think when you first started getting into the scene? Were they supportive?
D: Shit. Mine didn’t give a shit. I grew up listening to The Clash because of her. I think the first concert she went to was Black Sabbath. They listened to Thin Lizzy and all that shit. So, my mom was always so cool and always supported my music. I can’t say that it really paid off! But no, she was always very supportive, she bought me my first drum set. She was the kind of mom that saw what you liked and was going to let you do that, for better or worse. I mean, I probably could’ve used a little more direction. But even when I started playing in a band and we started booking our own tours and shit, she was always cool with it. So I was lucky in that sense, no one telling me to go get a real job because she still doesn’t even want a real job!
K: Now that I think about it, my mom, when I was seventeen let me get in a car with my other seventeen year old friends and drive to different states to go play, she was awesome. My parents normally listened to The Beatles, James Taylor, Rod Stewart, that kind of music. But sometimes, I would come in the house and she would be listening to some of my CDs. My Mom and her Brother are very close, he’s a guitar player. He would always be playing around the house. So when I said that’s what I wanted to do, she was pretty happy about it. She would get her old guitar and teach me how to play.
You learned how to play on your mom’s old guitar?
K: Yea. My mom’s old classical guitar, which I recommend for NO CHILD (laughing)! Trying to play Glycerine by Bush on nylon strings……eight years old trying to play an F Power Chord! But they were really, super supportive and even to this day are supportive.
D: Yea, my mom, everytime I tell her we’re doing something, she’s like “Oh, that’s awesome!” I guess that’s what Moms have to do though. Tell you you’re doing great.
You guys recently played with one of my my favorite newer bands, The Flatliners. We know you draw your influence from older bands like Social Distortion and the Ramones, but what newer bands have you guys been listening to?
D: Flatliners! Those guys are so rad. As far as some other new bands, there is a band called Success. They’re doing a lot right now, they’re really good. I just saw them at the Roxy with Millencolin. They’re a really cool band you know? They’re a guitar, keyboard and bass player. They play punk but it’s a really cool, different sound because of the keyboard. I’ve been listening to older stuff lately though gearing up for the It’s Not Dead Fest that’s happening. I’m, a little out of touch with the newer bands. I’m also the guy who’s iPod looks like it hasn’t been changed in 20 years.
K: The Atom Age, I listen to them all the time. I love them! Those guys, I’ve noticed they work really hard. It’s starting to pay off too, they’re doing really well right now. I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff though. It’s not like I don’t like any of it. I think it’s just more the fact that I haven’t taken the time to discover much. I find myself still discovering older things. You know, like a record from a band that I like and know, but one that I skipped over 10-15 years ago.
D: Yea, lately I’ve been rediscovering old shit that I never really listened to before like Bad Brains, shit like that. I knew they were around, I just never really put myself into it because I was two at the time they were around. A lot of older bands like that like Articles of Faith from the early 80’s they were actually pretty rad. I was like “I didn’t even know what I was missing”.
K: Man, you just inspired me to go write some new music! There’s a lot of great musicians out there writing great music. It’s just impossible to wade through all of the shit to find it.
It does seem to be more of a global scene now.
K: Yes! You know that’s so true. When we were over in Japan, there was this band called The Four Get Me A Nots with a female singer. They were the radest! Remember how awesome they were?
D: And the Meat Buns!
K: Yea! The Meat Buns! They were these bands that no one will ever really hear of but they’re out there playing this great 90’s sounding punk.
You guys have one of the coolest formation stories. Was it really just as simple as making a few phone calls and done?
D: Yea, it all basically stemmed from Warped Tour 2011. Me and Kevin were playing with Unwritten Law at the time. I’ve known him for a long time and we’ve always thrown around the idea of starting something. Well, Trevor’s wife works the guest list at Warped, so through that we met her, through her we met Trevor. Then Trevor called Nate and said “You wanna be in a punk band?” Nate said “Sure” Literally done. No one even tried out.
K: I knew Trevor too from Bullets and Octane or maybe Sex N Violence, this other weird band I was in. Weird as in Awesome. I miss that band!
D: I was in that one too!
K: Everyone in Hollywood has been in Sex N Violence. (laughter)
D: At some point!
K: Anyway, we would play a lot with Longway which Trevor was in. My first show in LA was at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach and I remember watching Trevor, he still does this same shit, he ran out into the crowd, jumped up and ran across the bar. I was like “This guy is fucking crazy!”
Speaking of the Unwritten Law gig, how exactly did that whole thing come about? They were pretty much punk stalwarts when you two were “called up”.
D: We’ve been friends with (lead singer) Scott’s little brother Johnny (Russo) for a long time.
K: Yea, and I knew Dylan (Howard). Scott and I also played together in a band called Big Big Bang. So, I went on as a guitar tech for about fifteen shows. Then Steve (Morris) quit and I was in the band! Then they needed a bass player and I was like “Well, there’s only one bass player in Hollywood….ever.”
D: So, I got the phone call!
K: Yea, so we hit up Derik and that was that. But you know, we were hired to be in that band. We weren’t part of the band. We weren’t writing or influencing anything. It wasn’t our band. It was a day job almost but we did learn a lot on those tours.
That experience had to help when starting up True Rivals though?
D: No. I mean it couldn’t hurt, for sure. But I think we had the experience (we needed) from doing this our whole lives. So, I feel like that was definitely the highest level and it was really cool, but it was just another level. We met a lot of really cool people and that certainly didn’t hurt.
K: Yea, you know you’ve been touring in a van for years and then you get onto a bus, but it’s the same fucking shit. You’re still looking for a shower, trying to get drunk, trying to find food. You just sleep a little better.
D: It’s all about the same. It was definitely a great time and through that, we came up with a lot of ideas for True Rivals while we were out on the road.
As an older guy, I’m glad you guys are out there keeping that old school, fundamental punk rock sound alive.
D: Yea, you know I think it’s because I like choruses. I like to sing along to stuff when I’m at a show. I like my fair share of Math Rock but for me it gets a little old at a live show, you know? You don’t see people having fun and running around and singing and jumping off the stage, you know? I don’t really care if you can play your instrument, you know. I’m just there to have fun!
K: You know, I think we have this thing where we can’t write a just a two chord song. It’s like we try to challenge ourselves to put something interesting or a little weird in it. That’s where I think the blend of all of our different backgrounds works well for us.
D: I think the newer stuff we’re working on is gonna be a little different, push our sound along. We’re still a relatively new band so finding our sound is still kind of happening. On top of that, we’re all coming from different bands. I already feel like some of the newer stuff is going to be us but it’s going to be different. We’re definitely going to be throwing some curveballs in there.
The Revenant was a great LP, I loved “Turn It Around”. It’s almost like an instructional pamphlet on how to get that sound. With references like “Gimmie four on the floor” “Playing those same three chords”. That’s the sound!
D: Yea, I mean that’s what the song is basically written about, that three chord sound. To me, simple is better. I feel like as a musician, you go through this thing where first you suck at what you play. You suck at playing your instrument, at everything. Right? And then one day you get good and you start overthinking, you know? “Everything’s lame. That’s only three chords, we can’t do that”. So then you want to make it difficult. But, eventually you come back around, you know? I love going to a Rancid concert because, yea it gets unique here and there, but it’s more just that it’s really good music with good choruses and good melodies. Everyone’s gonna have a fucking good time. You just leave there feeling better.
K: If I had it my way, all of our songs would be easily, simply broken down into just a voice and acoustic and nothing would be lost. You would still love the song just for what it is.
D: A good song is a good song. A Techno song, a metal song. If it’s good, it’s going to translate.
K: Perfect example: That Ellie Goulding “Light” song. It’s a Pop song but it’s just a good fucking song. It doesn’t matter what genre it is. Add a gravelly voice and it’s Punk Rock. All we were concerned about was writing good songs.
How about the lyrics? Who does most of the writing? Because I want to punch whoever thought of “I’ve got one foot in my mouth, the other in my grave” before me. That’s a sick line. “White Collar Crime” is another really well written song.
K: That’s Derik.
D: That’s one of the first songs we wrote together.
K: Oh yea! In the livingroom at my old apartment. Derik, Trevor and I sat on the couch and just cold called that thing. “Everybody, sit down, grab a guitar and write the fucking song!”
D: And we wrote that song, that day.
K: But I believe it started with that line. Fucking fantastic line.That song was kind of a group effort but the majority of the songs are Derik’s on the first record.
D: I think it was a collaboration. I brought stuff to the table. I think there was only one song that stayed true which was “Dead Weight”. I still had it on my phone, where it was just me on the acoustic. But the rest, I’ll come with a verse or a chorus and then we all sit around and off of it.
K: I call them “Halfies”. You know, Derik pushed the beginnings of the band so I feel like on the first album we were all in the car but Derik was driving. You know, so he was the driving force for a lot of the writing on songs.
In the rare instance that you have free time what floats your boat? You guys get to the beach?
D: I think last time we went to the beach we were going for surfing lessons and the very first wave, Kevin’s popped his shoulder out. He’s notorious for his shoulder falling out of it’s socket and I’m the only one that will put it back in because I don’t get grossed out by it.
K: Yea, Derik has been my doctor many, many times. I hadn’t surfed in a long time and Derik is a snowboarder. It was funny. We were on these like, 40 foot boards in Santa Monica, they were huge! First wave, Derik stands up, I stand up and then BOOM! Nope! I get slammed down and it popped out. Lifeguards wouldn’t touch it. They were like “You gotta leave, bro”.
D: The time before that, when we were at the beach, it was in Perth.
K: Oh yea! Derik almost died in Perth. He had to be rescued.
D: Yea, I almost died. Fuck beaches! Fuck the water! But no, most the time we’re just busy working. Everyone knows that music doesn’t pay the bills. I try to get out to shows.
K: I play a little golf. I’m more of a mild hobbyist and I’m kind of ADD about it. So, I’ll flow through a lot of weird shit and not be good at any of it. Jack of all trades and shitty at all too. I have a weird interest in scoring and orchestral music. I put a TV over my computer and I’ll put on a creepy horror or suspense movie and score it. So, I like doing some weird orchestral stuff like that. It’s good to get those ideas out because they would rattle around in my head. It’s a lot of fun.
So, I heard that you guys are hitting the studio again this month?
D: Yea! We’ve got some songs, I don’t even know if Kevin knows this yet or not but yea, we’re going to start recording those. Everyone’s kind of been on summer vacation.
K: We’ve all been in bands long enough that we think it’s a good thing to take a break and come back to almost rediscover the band. Fall in love all over again.
As we mentioned earlier the sound is pure punk rock. Was that planned or is it just like the base of the cake? Is this album going to keep that same sound? Or do you even go into it with an idea on what the ultimate product will sound like?
D: I don’t think the sound on the first record was really planned. It was just a reflection of everybody’s personal thing. I think overall we just set out to make a good punk rock record. We always kept that in mind. As far as the sound changing, it’s literally just two guitars, bass and drums. There’s very little overdubs, very little extra vocals that aren’t singing, you know. There’s not layers. So we always just try to take an organic approach. “Roots Rock and Roll”!
You’ve got the HiFi Rock Fest coming up this coming weekend and you guys have played a lot of other fests and hit the road in the West/Midwest, any plans for long haul trip around the country or an East Coast swing?
D: We’re working on it. Man, it’s hard, especially being a 100% independent band. There were some talks about it last December, but it’s like, we’re not sixteen years old anymore, so it’s more like, It’ll work out when it works out. We’re willing to do whatever it takes come back broke if we have to but it has to make sense. When you make those long drives, there’s no guarantees. You might start a tour and in literally weeks have to cancel because you’re out of money. So, we just trying to be smart about it.
K: It wouldn’t make sense at least right now because we’d be so far behind when we got back that we’d probably have to get a 9 to 5. It’ll work out, we just need some time to do it right.
Anything else in the works besides the new album?
D: Yea, like we said earlier, we’re just now regrouping after our Summer Break, but I think we’re also finally going to release our No Use For A Name cover.
K: Yea, our goal was to release it and sell it with all of the proceeds going to their charity.
What song are you guys covering?
K: Invincible. We’ve been playing it live for awhile now.
Frame 10 – Turkey Time!
What’s in your Netflix/DVR queue?
D: Dude, I’ve been watching the shit outta Seinfeld since they put that on there.
K: Our DVR at home is 79% full, all Seinfeld. My newest jam is Narcos though. There’s boobies, guns and drugs, what’s not to like? It’s fantastic!
What was your first Car?
K: Mine was a ‘95 Honda Civic. I think Derik has had some really cool cars though.
D: Yea, I had a ‘66 Chrysler Newport. I had to sell it though because I move to a bad neighborhood and that thing would’ve been gone! I don’t drive shit now. I ride the big old Orange LA Metro bus now! I forgot my first car though. I remember it was purple and had spoke rims that stuck out.
K: What?!? You’re kidding me! This is just getting better and better!
D: Yea, no shit. It was a two door Chevy something. I don’t know.
Derik, great job on the win. I’ll get you next time! Kevin great job sandbagging, almost pulled off the comeback. Growing up behind a bowling alley finally paid off (once you knocked the rust off). We’ll be keeping a sharp on you guys! Keep up the great work and thank you so much for your time today!