Many know David Shaw as the front man for local rock band The Revivalists. For over a decade, Shaw and the band have been a staple at festivals and concerts around the country, but like many who have tried something new during the pandemic, this front man is turning solo artist for the first time. Dual solo singles, “Promised Land” and “Shaken,” have been released, with a studio album next year. Shaw shares with us his journey to becoming a solo artist and what the future holds for him.
Q: Why branch out now and who are you as a solo artist? Honestly, I got to say that this project was all about relationships. So, I think I’m just still kind of learning who I am and learning how to be me. It takes a long time to figure out who we are as people, as musicians. I’m just kind of setting my compass for the person I want to be and the musician I want to be. I’m just trying to own that. With the band, I’ve got a lot of people I can kind of lean on, and there’s just a lot of firepower there. With this project, it was just like, well, “What do you want to do? How do you want to do this?” It was very much a growing process for me, and I think I’ll be able to take all the things that I’ve learned through producing this record in the studio. I feel like I’m going to come out of this process a better human and a better musician, better songwriter.
Q: How has your work with the band influenced you as a solo artist? Honestly, I’m influenced by everything, every day. I’m just an open person and that’s what I really try to be like at the end of the day. I take a little bit from that, a little bit from there, a little bit from here, and I lift it up into my own little group.
Q: What is special to you about these two singles? I just want to preface it by saying, I believe that songs can take on a completely different life and a completely different meaning than even what the writer intended, and I think that’s one of the truly beautiful things about songwriting and music. It’s how, when you look at a painting, the artist is asking you, “What do you feel?”
I had many different feelings when writing the song “Shaken” – a lot of stuff coming up from my past and a lot to do with the present. The music video, without telling too much, it’s basically about certain things that happen to you when you’re young. Maybe you were bullied. Maybe this happened, or maybe that happened. These things are the things that can stick with you and the things that make you different when you’re growing up. What you might have gotten teased for, can be your strength when you’re older. Oftentimes, that is how the story goes. Kids and everybody, people my age, parents, whoever, should just kind of rally around that feeling. Yeah, this happened and that happened. There are still these self-defeating thoughts that follow me around, even to this day. Some of these cut when you’re younger, it cuts deep. They don’t go away.
Q: What is the message behind the second single, “Promised Land?” The song was written before this revolution. I guess I’m always writing from the place of an underdog. Again, a song can take on many different forms. There’s a lot of things going on in this country that I think we really need to address. I think that this song can shed a light on that and hopefully bring about some change and bring about some thoughts. I’m just trying to do my best to do my part as a privileged white man to help push the needle for change and change in the right direction. The people that have the power to do this, make the change, we must do it.
Q: You’ve been in New Orleans for over a decade now, and especially moving to the city after Hurricane Katrine, does New Orleans and the city and the culture influence your music, both in the band and as a solo artist? It comes out in various ways. Living here and breathing this air and being immersed in it, you can’t not fit in there. We’re kind of like the future of the music scene and the culture, and we’re just trying to move it forward in a way that is true to ourselves, true to the art, true to the culture, true to New Orleans. Preserving and protecting the culture, but also pushing the envelope of creativity and art.
Q: With philanthropy being a big deal for you and for the band with The Revivalists and Rev Causes, why is that important to you, and what do y’all hope to accomplish with [Rev Causes]? [Philanthropy] is extremely important to me for so many reasons, but we really just hope to be a funnel. These people, these organizations, they’re doing the immense amount of this for people around the world, and we just want to be a conduit for that. We are in a position now where we can. I think it’s of the utmost importance for people in opposition to use that platform for good, for philanthropic efforts. That’s how this shit works. We got to do it.
Q: Beyond your new singles and the eventual album, what does the future hold for David Shaw as a solo artist, and what’s next for The Revivalists? I’ve got to say, at this point, I don’t know what the future holds for any of us. I think that I’m going to continue to grow my artistry and take this time out for myself and with the band. That’s something I truly cherish and love, and they’re going to be very different, too. Our band is going to start working on new material. I’m just going to take this time to explore and see what happens.
T R U E C O N F E S S I O N
When I was six-years old, I tried out for the Mickey Mouse Club. Needless to say, I did not make the cut. Phew.
SHAKEN MUSIC VIDEO