The Revelries’ Beau Bailey on The Nuances Of “Nicotine” and The Thrill of Live Shows (INTERVIEW)

Photo credit: Diana King

The Revelries started in a college dorm room at Louisiana State University 2016 but almost immediately became a local performance band. A few years into their development, with some singles out, and having recorded their first EP, they became part of a program with EDGEOUT Records, a division of UMG, that intentionally develops Rock artists by supporting their process as they write and record an album. So far, The Revelries have released several singles and videos that have hailed from that partnership, including “Little Things”, “So High”, and “Cliché Love”. Their latest, “Nicotine”, shows a wider swath of sound influences, building British Rock and Pop elements into the band’s Southern Rock roots. The song also suggests a little more nuance in its lyrics, admitting human weaknesses and the allure of the things that might not be good for you. 

I spoke with Beau Bailey about the band’s love for British bands, an abiding love for live shows and festivals that extends from being a fan to being a performer, and the development of sounds and ideas behind these singles so far. We also dug into The Revelries’ experiences as part of the development program at EDGEOUT and how that impacted their songwriting. 

Hannah Means-Shannon: Did you get to experience any of California while you were out there recording your album with EDGEOUT? 

Beau Bailey: One of the best experiences on that trip happened about a week before going into the studio. Our drummer, John, is the biggest U2 fan in the world, knows every state. We’ve watched all the live shows, have all the DVDs, everything. We had our driver drive us through the Joshua Tree National Park and listened to Joshua Tree. We just sat there and took it in. It was one of the most heavenly experiences we’ve had on Earth yet. I will never forget it. 

HMS: That is so great! I drove through there on a trip and it was magical. My brothers and I grew up with U2 and some of the first music videos I ever saw were from that album. It’s such an iconic place. 

BB: There’s no other place like it. We took some videos out there and we did a mini photo-shoot. We got to document it. It was special.

HMS: “Nicotine” is your most recent single, but you’ve been steadily releasing singles. Are they all part of what will be the new collection?

BB: Yes. We’ve had “Cliché Love”, “So High”, “Little Things” and “Nicotine”. Speaking for all of us, this is the one we’ve been really waiting for, though. This song has a special place in our hearts since it’s been through a lot of shapes, dynamic structuring, lyric changes, and melodic changes to get to the point where it is. This one is, in my opinion, the most like The Revelries’ sound, among those singles. The others give you a sneak peek, but this one is the big one, the festival song. We want to play it at the 6 o’clock slot with the sun going down at Hangout Fest on the beach. It starts with these huge guitar riffs. It’s just fun and good vibes. 

I wanted to write a song about the stuff that’s technically bad for you, but you just can’t stop. It’s not necessarily about the actual substance nicotine, but it can be about the relationships you’re in. Whatever applies to you. It’s that thing where you can’t get enough and you think you’ll be able to stop. It’s like saying, “No, I won’t call her back at 1AM on a Friday night again, mo. Just one more time. Then it’s done.” It embraces that we’re all human and not everyone is perfect. It’s about checking yourself. 

HMS: I’m really interested by the sound aspects and also by the ideas you’re talking about. It seems like it’s about those things that pull us in and we’re self-aware about it and allow it, going a little further, and a little further. 

BB: You just hit the nail on the head with that one. One of my favorite lyrics from this one that I want to put on t-shirts and hoodies is “Let’s make a toast to ignorance!” That ties into everything we’re talking about. That sums it up. I think the music adds to the ideas of the lyrics. It starts off with that guitar riff from Logan, and you’ll see on “Cliché Love” and “So High” that they’ve been guitar-riff heavy, but this one is the first glimpse of Logan’s super-melodic guitar Riff writing. When that riff turned up when we were working on songs down in Baton Rouge, I put the song we were working on aside and said, “Let’s do that one.” We had a full structured demo of the song in a few days. 

HMS: So the sound or the mood of those riffs suggested the situation behind the lyrics to you?

BB: Yes. It’s very euphoric and pretty. This is one of our songs where all the way through it from vocals, to guitars, to effects and delays, it’s pretty. And the lyrics are about learning something the hard way, and maybe something good will come from it. 

HMS: I feel like this song is a little more complex in terms of the lyrics, and also in terms of the music, not that the other singles aren’t substantial. I know you all have some Southern Rock influences, but I’ve also heard how much you like Brit Pop, and I can hear the Brit Pop in “Nicotine”.

BB: For sure. I’m with you on that one. We love the music festival circuit and this song is like Reading, Leeds, and Glastonbury-type music. The Brit Rock scene has played a huge role for us and even our favorite American bands are even bigger in the UK, like Kings of Leon and Foo Fighters. We love Catfish and the Bottlemen. I think I’ve seen them seven times. 

HMS: As fans of festivals, do you write your songs towards the performance as much as the studio? 

BB: I love the school of thought that you write a song, and you actually play it live before you go into the studio, just to get that energy. You have songs where you can dress them up in the studio, with a super-modern dynamic, but in the Rock genre, you just can’t beat the songs that are the no-doubters when you play them live. On this record, and especially with “Nicotine”, we wanted to make sure that we stuck to the Rock roots but also added some Pop production dynamics. 

There are some atmospheric sounds in “Nicotine” but it’s still structurally four dudes and a guitar. They can sound great on the record, but we want to be one of those bands where, when people come see us live, they think we sounded even better than we did on the record. That’s the beauty of live music. I think there’s a filter that’s taken away by being there live. I love watching online concerts, but there’s nothing like seeing your favorite singer front-row. 

For me, too. There’s nothing better than getting on stage and playing a 75-minute set of our stuff. I’m a pretty low-key dude, and I think I’m pretty chill, but I think I have a tiny bit of dramatic exaggeration in me that I keep pent up until I can get on stage. Then my dramatic side and exaggerated side can come out. I’m three songs in and I’m sweating and yelling. It’s the best feeling in the world.

HMS: Are you inspired by how U2 has evolved the live concert experience over the years, trying out new stage configurations and things like that? 

BB: For sure, and whenever all of us are at the house, one that we always watch is U2 Live at Slane Castle. We get some popcorn, pour some wine. We’re all on the same page about that, “It’s Slane Castle Night.” 

HMS: Can you tell us more about joining the program with EDGEOUT Records and where you are in the program right now?

BB: We had put out a song that had done very well, and EDGEOUT Records was interested in signing us, so they had us fly out to LA to do a showcase at the Viper Room. We actually did a couple of showcases there and in Nashville. Later, we signed at the UMG building, which put us in the development phase. That’s a six-month process of writing songs and sending them to the label. We went out to LA and did a couple of “school of rock” type days. They came out to Baton Rouge where we played our live show for them, and they said, “Yeah, that was sick!” Then they told us what they would do and we added some stuff in. 

HMS: That must have been nice to hear! 

BB: That’s one thing we’re very confident about. Going into showcases, if we’re playing a live show, we know that works. They gave us their two cents on stage performance. Then there was a lot of writing songs and kicking them back and forth. We had six months to get the record done, and we already had some songs going in. Songwriting-wise, we learned about the structure of Rock songs that have been huge hits. As a band, we want to know about Radio hits too. We want all of it. We wrote some songs with radio in mind, more pop-structured songs. We went out and cut the record in LA with Matt Wallace, who is the best human ever.

HMS: Did he give you advice on the songwriting all alone, or just when you went out?

BB: We had some Zooms with him before that. He heard “Cliché Love” and loved it. It was cool hearing that from that guy, who’s worked with 3 Doors Down and The Replacements. We worked on structure changes for some of the songs, if they needed them. “So High” was a song that got a full makeover. Matt worked his magic on it, because going in, it was much more Pop, and very experimental.

HMS: I think that song is still pretty experimental-sounding. It has that vocal line that drops down to almost nothing, then comes back up.

BB: That was a Matt Wallace thing. We were in the studio and Matt said, “Beau, why don’t you whisper that?” I didn’t know about that, but I trusted him, since he’s reasonable to trust. It sounded awful the first time, but then I got it, and I understood why Matt is a legend. He knows how to find these little magic moments. I’ve never heard anybody do that in a song. The dynamics of that song, at the bridge, are at the highest points of my singing voice, but at the end of the bridge are my lowest points, so it covers a whole audio landscape. All the notes that I can hit were hit in that song.

HMS: Was recording with Matt at all impacted by the pandemic?

BB: It got pushed back a few months. Then we finally got the green light to go and we were out there for six weeks. We wore masks every day in the studio, and we were vaccinated and tested, going in. We couldn’t really go out on the town, but that was the best working experience, from 9 o’clock to 9 o’clock every day and the most fun you could imagine. EDGEOUT gave us that chance and opportunity. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I’m really proud of the songs we’ve come out with, especially “Nicotine”. 

HMS: I noticed that “Cliché Love” has that darker bassline and is a little edgy. It’s confessional, like “Nicotine”, saying things that people don’t always say out loud.

BB: I love the idea of finding that cliché love. The song’s opening, waking up alone, is something I think people will get.

HMS: I was wondering if, especially as a guy, it was challenging to say those things out loud and say that you want all these romantic things in a relationship. 

BB: I’m super proud of being honest about it. But I still hear it, and I’m aware that I’m putting that out there, and there’s no taking it back. The goal was, “How can we relate to so many people and say things that are honest, for good or for bad?” That’s definitely one of those lyrics, and there’s more to come where I’m brutally honest. It’s putting a part of myself out there that I wouldn’t normally tell people, but it comes out. There it is. I’m glad you brought that up because it is a little hard saying things like that in songs, but the whole goal is to be honest, and people aren’t going to relate to it if you don’t mean it. 

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