Backstage at the Levitate Music and Arts Festival, 88.9’s Alex Waters sat down with Zack and David from the Revivalists and talked about the meaning behind their single “Wish I Knew You” and their favorite song to play on stage.
ALEX WATERS: How are you guys doing this fine afternoon?
ZACK FEINBERG: We’re doing great, man.
DAVID SHAW: Well, the sun is shining, got music in the air, can’t beat it.
ALEX: It’s a good day for a festival.
ZACK: A beautiful day, yeah.
ALEX: Absolutely. So you guys have been on tour for a little while now, playing some festivals, playing some shows, and I figured since we’re at an outdoor festival, I might start with your guys’ perspective on this sort of music scene. You guys enjoy playing festivals? How does this one stack up?
DAVID: You know, I was just telling Ed [Williams] earlier – he’s our pedal steel player – personally these kind of festivals are my favorite kind of festivals to play. It’s kind of that mid-size, not like some huge fest. Those are cool too but I kind of like a little bit more home-spun kind of thing.
ZACK: Family vibe, a little less commercialized.
DAVID: Yeah, a little less commercialized. So I really dig this vibe.
ZACK: We’re chilling in an old barn right now; that’s nice!
DAVID: Yeah, I mean, you can’t beat that.
ALEX: I figured we should talk a little bit about the music, since that’s kind of what it’s all about…
ALEX: We picked up your single “Wish I Knew You” a little while ago and played it quite a bit. Played the heck out of it!
DAVID: Great, thanks!
ALEX: We enjoy it quite a bit. I was very curious, every time I’m listening to it, what exactly it’s about? ‘Cause obviously it’s a little reminiscent but it’s just vague enough where I feel like maybe there’s another hidden layer of meaning in there? If you guys could maybe unpack that.
DAVID: Yes, I can! So, since the song has been released, we’ve gotten a lot of emails and messages about people saying, “Wow, this is what this song means to me. I never knew my mother, never knew my father, growing up, I had a relationship that really couldn’t happen at the time, you know?” So that’s really been interesting to kind of see other people’s take on it.
The original inspiration was, I was sitting on my girlfriend’s front porch, just kind of scatting lyrics, going through this whole thing.
ZACK: Jamming over the chords.
DAVID: Just jamming over the chords, exactly, and that hook came out: “I wish I knew you when I was young.” And so I was kind of thinking, “this is a feeling that I need to explore.” The inspiration was, I had been with my girlfriend for a little bit but I felt like, man, we could’ve had so much good times together, back in the day! I wish I knew you back then! You know? Not that I wasted time with other people but that was the original inspiration. Is that what you thought?
ALEX: That’s kind of what I picked up, yeah.
DAVID: What’s your thought?
ALEX: Me, personally, I always thought it was a relationship sort of thing. My interpretation was pretty close to yours. It’s the type of thing where you say, oh, it’s not like you didn’t enjoy seeing other people in the past. I kind of looked past that and said man, if only I had met this “you” character, if only I’d met you way earlier, just “could’ve got so high” [quoting the song].
ZACK AND DAVID: [Laughs]
ALEX: Sorry, quoting your own lyrics!
DAVID: No, it’s good, it’s good!
ALEX: So is that kind of what makes it all worth it to you guys, to be an artist, to be on tour, is to get those different interpretations of people saying, “Hey, this is what this song means to me.” Is that what makes it click?
DAVID: For me, yeah. Any time you can reach inside and touch someone somewhere else rather that just being, you know what I’m saying? More of a connection there.
ZACK: It’s good to be reminded of the actual impact of the music on people’s lives, ‘cause it is something that it’s possible to lose sight of in the daily rigmarole of touring life. You can kind of forget that you’re saying things and people are taking that to heart.
DAVID: [Points to camera] So thank you, guys, for telling us what you think about the music, we appreciate it all.
ZACK: [To David] Thanks for the positive spin on that. [Laughs]
ALEX: [To Zack] What, you had a different spin?
ZACK: No, no that is what I mean, absolutely.
ALEX: Got you. So that keeps it fun?
ALEX: So what would you say is your favorite song to play live, speaking of keeping it fun? What’s the song that, every time you get up on stage, you go “Oh boy, can’t wait ‘til we get to this one?”
DAVID: A lot of times, it’s the newer tunes, I’ll be honest, just because we haven’t played it a thousand times. So right now I’m really enjoying “You and I,” we got this new tune “Got Love” I love to play.
ZACK: Keeping it fresh.
DAVID: Yeah, keeping it fresh. Older tunes that I really dig like “Fade Away,” love that one, that one has a nice little jam at the end that always gets me going. “Bulletproof” maybe.
ALEX: So what’s next for you guys? You’re playing some festivals, still touring, are you guys going to write a new album in the near future or take some time?
ZACK: The writing process is well underway, we have a lot of material that’s incubating for that. The process we’re at in the next album now is assessing producers, aligning producers’ schedules with our own, and locking that down.
DAVID: Just getting in there and trying to have some fun with them.
ALEX: Building the dream team, huh? This record’s going to be bigger and better than ever, I’m sure.
ZACK: We hope! We’re going to make the best record we can and put our hearts into it and hopefully it does well.
DAVID: Received by the masses, yeah.
ALEX: Sounds good! Well I can’t wait to hear it.