Interview: The Rising Talk New Music Project

On Friday, February 21st country/rock band The Rising return with their brand new single which is an intriguing cover of the Girls Aloud smash hit ‘Love Machine’.

The single is the first in an ambitious year-long project which will see the group sharing a brand new track every single month throughout 2020.

Here we chat to The Rising to discuss their cover of ‘Love Machine’ and everything else involved in this exciting new musical adventure:

You’ve announced that you’ll be releasing one new single every month this year – what made you decide to do that?
Chris: This is in response to a build up of things really. Traditionally, we have followed the “old” industry model where you release several singles in the lead up to an album. Usually this requires an expensive PR campaign lasting several months in an attempt to reach new listeners and get the word out. However, as a completely independent band who simply does not have any backing we have increasingly found that this model is simply not relevant to us. On the last album we spent around £40k on a  very basic promotion campaign trying to get the album out. Only to find out that a month after release the album was all but old news. With one radio station even telling us after launching the second single from the album that they’ve “heard that” and “do you have anything new”. So we knew something had to change. This compounded with the changes in consumption over the last few years means that people simply aren’t listening to music in the same way. Let alone listening to full albums any more. They are typically going onto their streaming service of choice and listening to a couple of tracks and making their own playlists. We looked at our analytic data on Spotify, Apple Music etc and we were shocked to find out that not every track on the album was being listened to. People were going on and listening to certain tracks. This lead to the real light-bulb moment where we asked ourselves; “why are we making albums if people aren’t listening to them in that format”. In essence we felt that we had put so much time into putting a body of work together for no real reason. Almost like the album was an ego boosting exercise. Without realising where consumption trends are at.

Chantelle: As Chris said, the Music Industry models have changed so much and we feel that we need to evolve with it in order to get our music out to as many people as possible. Especially as completely independent artists. Personally, I have found that we are all constantly consuming content on a daily basis. So, as musicians, Chris and I felt the need to adjust to this quicker way of releasing music. For example, Ariana Grande released 2 albums and loads of singles in 2019. For fans like me it was amazing, because I love hearing her new material. Plus it kept her in the public eye and dominating both the charts and media outlets. So I thought to myself, if a major artist is doing that, then surely independent artists should be taking note. Surely, as independent artists there is more need for us to keep releasing and not disappear. So we both thought that it was super important to move more in line with how people consume music today.  It’s a challenge but it’s also a really great way to fully focus ourselves on our music.

How do you feel this new strategy will impact on your streaming numbers and fan reach?
Chris: We feel that it will help to get our name out more and keep it in the public conscious longer. To use a boxing analogy. The old model where you put all the eggs into one album is like expecting one big punch to land a knockout. But it makes more sense to use a series of continual small jabs to to land the knockout. In the past we had been putting so much focus on one single, taking months in-between releases. By that time we had left the public conscious. People had moved on. So by adopting a continuous release strategy the plan is to constantly be on people’s radar. So that they are constantly getting new music to add to their Spotify playlists. Also, by constantly being on the radar the hope is that new people will get curious about our music because they keep hearing the name.

Chantelle: Exactly. Previously we have taken way too long in between new album cycles. There are of course internal factors that contributed to this, such as Chris being involved in a major accident. More recently, I was also involved in a bad car accident. However, Chris and I never stop writing and demoing new material. But we felt that we were always held back by the industry models that said you have to work two months back from a release. Meaning that you are constantly waiting for the industry to catch up to your creativity. But now the chains are off. We both live for and have a deep passion for music. So this new strategy allows us to ‘pump out’ new music on a continual basis and hopefully allow us to reach more people and also reward our existing fans. Therefore keeping our name in people’s heads and allowing them to go, “what are they going to do next”, “I wonder what their next song is going to be”. Its basically a way to keep up with the way we consume music and content today.

The first track will be a Country version of the Girls Aloud hit Love Machine – what made you want to put your spin on this song?
Chris: The idea for this cover actually came about by accident. We were asked to do a live session on BBC introducing. We were asked to play one of our own songs and a cover that nobody would expect you to do. So we started looking at songs and artists that would surprise people. During our research we stumbled across Girls Aloud and we joked to each other that we should do a full on Country version of the song as it would be funny. However, the response to the session was crazy and we found out that the BBC had began playing a recording of the session across several regional BBC networks. As soon as we heard this we thought that we have to get a studio version of this together.

Chantelle: In a weird full circle moment – the first concert I ever went to see was Girls Aloud in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast when I was 6 years old! So when BBC Introducing asked us to do a cover of a song that people wouldn’t normally expect from us I had the idea of going “old-school cheese pop”. That’s when we came across “Love Machine” and my inner fan-girl re-appeared and was totally up for Chris’ idea of creating a fully-blown country version of the song. It’s a lot of fun to perform and went down well at a trail gigs and acoustic sessions – so why not release it? Why not blend my love of pop and country even more?

What made you decide to choose this cover as your first release of 2020?
Chris: We had just released an original Christmas EP at the end of 2019 so we thought it would be fun to put out something a little different. Also, we are always getting caught up in the “this isn’t country” debate. So we thought that a full on Country version of the song would allow people to see a completely different side to us. That we are in fact heavily influenced by traditional country as well as the modern fusion of Country, Pop and Rock that we have become known for.

Chantelle: I don’t think it is expected for us to release a cover, as we are so dedicated to our original material. Like Chris said, we toe-the-line of country, pop and rock and this cover playfully blends them all into one. Really showcasing our sound and fun personalities.

Can we expect all further releases this year to be cover versions or will there be original music too?
Chris: Yes, we are releasing only one cover this year. We have been working on a mountain of material since recording the Moving On Album. Not only do we still have some singles to release from do we still have some singles to release from that album we have a huge volume of brand new music. We actually have a weekly writing session where we aim to write a new song or finish an existing song every week. We also own our own recording studio so we actually write one a day then spend the rest of the week recording the song. So we have amassed quite a selection of material. This is due to fear as much as anything else. As we use the term “keep the tap dripping”. Basically, this means that we keep writing. We feel that if we stop it may lead to writers block. So we keep it ticking over.

Chantelle: The songwriting never stops at Rising HQ and we want to be known for our own songs and music. Of course, we don’t know what the year will hold as we can’t predict the future. But all I know is we have a bank full of songs waiting to break their way into your ears for you all to enjoy. 

The industry is of course changing every day, so how do you feel this new strategy will make you stand out from other acts on the scene? 

Chris: As artists it’s so easy to get caught up in the traditional model. Where you spend ages writing and recording, leading up to an album.  We have all been guilty of writing on our socials “Sorry for being quiet lately, we have been writing/recording”. You see it almost daily. But the industry has now changed to where you need to be creating constant content and you cant go radio silent at any point. So we believe by adopting this strategy we will help us stand out simply because there aren’t many other artists doing it. In fact many artists have been quite sceptical about it. We also believe that by keeping in constantly out there and busy we will be able to break through more boundaries.  

Chantelle: We have adapted new techniques and tried to immerse ourselves into the sides of the scene that are rarely explored when it comes to British Country Music. We have a brand new outlook, a new lineup and we are determined. One of the key things I was told by one of my teachers in High School long before he passed was “if you dream it, you can achieve it, work hard for it!”. We are working hard.

Along with the single releases you also plan to share several EPs, what can fans expect from those records? 

Chris: Yes. Firstly, we are re-recording our debut album “Coming Home”. This album was done with our previous singer and the vocals were never right and a lot of the songs never got a fair shot. So we want to right some of the wrongs from this album and do it the way it was always supposed to be. Apart from this we will also be releasing several EP’s and a new mini-album (9 tracks) strategy. Whereby we will release one album normally digitally and the other will only be available on limited edition vinyl with a download card. It will not be available on streaming services.  

Chantelle: You can expect to see a new side to both of us as we have overcame various challenges over the past couple of years. Some of the upcoming songs and lyrics express that. The re-recording of the “Coming Home” album will hopefully give me a chance to breathe new life into the songs. Some of which I felt were great songs, but the vocals were lacking something. So with the new vocals there’s a lot of pressure on me to ‘right the wrongs’ as Chris says, but also a chance for loyal fans who have followed the band since that album a chance to hear the songs fully realised. I want to give them back these songs with a new and better voice and maybe a new perspective.

Do you plan on touring this year with all this new music out in the world? 

Chris: Yes. We are currently working out plans for touring. The issue is that touring costs so much money and we lose so much money on tours. So we are trying to come up with a smarter way to do it. But we will of course be playing live as much as we can. 

Chantelle: Yeah, like Chris said, we are an independent band and we do everything ourselves with regards to touring. For example, the travelling, the expenses, booking venues, finding other acts, the driving etc and it can add up pretty quickly. But we do love when we go out there and do it! We want to perform and play as much as possible, wherever possible! It’s in the to do list.

What do you hope listeners take away from this campaign? 

Chris: We hope that listeners will be able to see how much we love music. Music of all genres. Lately we have been writing in a completely free format. We have taken away the boundaries of genre and trying to fit our music into a specific market. We are now writing for the love of writing, letting the song take us wherever it wants to go. So you might hear a real mix of genres and fusions of genres in upcoming releases. 

Chantelle: We love music. We love what we do and we are willing to take risks. Plus we aren’t afraid to show our fun side every now and then.

Going back to your first release this year ‘Love Machine’ what can fans expect from your version? 

Chris: We have shown our influence for more traditional forms of Country Music. We put instruments such as Banjo, Mandolin, Acoustic guitars right up to the front of the mix. We also experimented with other textures such as percussion and cowbells. Overall, we are showing a completely new side to us. 

Chantelle: Hehe… I think you can expect a good time! Something you can sing along to and dance to. Hopefully it gets stuck in their heads and who knows, maybe it will become their favourite version of the song and they listen to it over the original. Also, that we aren’t afraid to have a little fun with our music.

You can pre-save ‘Love Machine’ from The Rising right now ahead of its February 21st release.

Did you enjoy our interview with The Rising? Let us know your thoughts across social media!

Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces. Portfolio: Twitter: @cherylssoldier1 Instagram: @musicandtournews Email: [email protected]

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