Legendary rockers Black Sabbath kicked off their final tour earlier this month. And the band that was handpicked by Ozzy to join Sabbath on the road for this momentous trek? Long Beach, California, rockers Rival Sons.
Rival Sons–Jay Buchanan (vocals), Scott Holiday (guitar), Michael Miley (drums) and Dave Beste (bass)—are part of Sabbath's North American, Australian and European dates; they're also headlining a few shows of their own along the way.
The band is still riding high on its latest release, Great Western Valkyrie: Tour Edition, which includes an extra disc of bonus tracks and rarities. Rival Sons also plan to release a new album later this spring.
I recently spoke with guitarist Scott Holiday about Rival Sons’ upcoming tour with Sabbath and more.
GUITAR WORLD: What goes through your mind when you think about opening for Black Sabbath on their last-ever tour?
We’ve been touring for years now and have had a chance to tour with many of our heroes and other great acts, and it’s been an honor. But a tour like this is something you really hope comes around if you’re a band. ANY band. It’s surreal. And the way we got it was probably the best thing.
How did it all come about?
Usually, tours like this happen in the back office between agents and managers. But Ozzy, Sharon [Osbourne] and the Sabbath establishment didn’t do it that way. We had been nominated for Album of the Year by Classic Rock magazine and were asked if we’d like to perform at the awards show. We’ve done it a few times before and it’s such a great gig. The room is filled with your heroes and fans, and we jumped at the opportunity. So we played a few songs and had a really great response. Then as we were leaving the stage, I could hear Sammy Hagar, who was hosting and is a good friend of the band, say, “I hope Sharon and Ozzy saw that!”
Turns out, they did see it. They had been in the front row and ended up coming back and meeting us a little bit later. It was an amazing feeling. They gave us huge accolades and were very excitingly telling us how much they had enjoyed the show and pretty much proposed the tour to us on the spot. Our manager was there and people began talking immediately. That’s really how it happened.
How much of an influence did Black Sabbath have on you as a guitarist?
If you’re any kind of young hard rock and roll guitar player, it’s unavoidable. Especially when you’re young. “Iron Man” is one of the first songs you have to learn. I started getting into fuzz and distortion when I was 12, and those early Sabbath albums were the ones I was indoctrinated to and were tattooed into my brain.
What can you tell me about the upcoming tour?
It's about 100 dates or so and is going to start in the U.S. and go through North America. Then we’ll come home for a bit and go back out and hit Australia and New Zealand and then come home for a second and then back out for a European run. I gave you three legs but it goes on from there. We’ll also be doing a ton of full dates on our own in between.
Do Rival Sons have plans to release any new music?
The new record is complete. We went in right before our last tour and knocked it out. We had lots of ideas and energy. It’s something new and we always try to turn a few new corners, as every band should. I’m really proud of the record and think everyone is going to love it. We’re looking at a late spring release.
What’s your writing process like for the band?
Usually, I’ll sit and work out different unplugged or acoustic ideas and will work them with my note memory. I don’t do editing or anything like that. It’s just something to remind me of the idea. Then I’ll take it all into the studio. But it doesn’t really matter what direction you think the song or album is going to take. Once you get in there with a producer it takes on its on life.
What excites you the most about the tour with Black Sabbath?
It’s hard to say it’s just one thing but we’re pleased to be able to play to such big audiences every night. The Sabbath audience will be such a good match for us. A lot of people might not come to a show like this to see the opening act, but we’re going to make sure we smack them down with good rock and roll. I’m really looking forward to playing for those fans and winning them over.
For more about Rival Sons, visit rivalsons.com.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.