Scott Holiday

Reflection and Escapism in Rival Sons
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Scott Holiday
Scott Holiday: Pamela Littky.

On the new album by Rival Sons, guitarist Scott Holiday brings a power punch to the band’s most-potent album to date. Darkfighter contains songs that rock with imagination, smothered in Holiday’s super-cool sounds as he takes listeners on a foot-stomping musical journey, complete with sentiment.

What were your thoughts going into the making of Darkfighter?
We were looking at what was going on in the world, politically, socially, and racially. In every way, it was strange and divisive. I think of music as a juxtaposition where on one hand, it’s a healthy form of escapism. You want to put on a record and disappear into an adventure for 50 minutes, and forget about everything that’s driving you crazy. I’m a huge fan of music and art. Art should be a mirror to the people, and what’s happening. That’s the beautiful thing about art historically. You can feel the times in a painting, a story, a sculpture, or music. I hope our music is a healthy dose of both.

There’s also a healthy amount of reflection. How could you be living in this world, creating art, and not be some form of a conduit? How genuine is your art if you can’t reflect the world from inside of you and put it on paper? Where’s the weight in what you’re doing? It’s a dance between escapism and reflection, and my favorite artists have done it well. I want this band to be a healthy balance. It’s in the title of the record. We need to fight the darkness.

You write killer tunes, and you have awesome toys.
I’ve done a lot of excavating and flipping rocks over to find sounds that feel new, fresh, and familiar, but crystalized and special. I think the record has a rainbow of good tones.

You always go the extra mile. There are no run-of-the-mill guitar tones on Darkfighter.
I appreciate that… Yes, because why not? When I go in to make a record, that’s an integral part of it. First off, it’s second nature. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a bunch of boxes, goodies, tones, and knowledgeable ways to record at my fingertips for a lot of years now. It’s like having a room full of awesome samurai swords to take into battle. I’m not going to pick up some dingy butter knife when it’s time to throw down.

I have all this stuff lying in wait. I usually think, “I want to give this track a little extra texture and color.” I’ve thought about every section of the song. It’s not that hard. It’s just how I hear music. I’m certainly not the first person to do it (laughs); the people we all grew up listening to, like Page, Gilmour, and Zappa, created such an exciting color palette from section to section. That’s the lineage I want to follow.

What are you using on “Guillotine?”
That was an early riff that I expanded. I connected with Peter Kossek, at Kossek FX, in Denmark, and he sent an eight-knob octave fuzz box that I really liked. He explained how the up and down worked, and how it blends. I love it. I told him, “We should put this in an octagon-shaped box. I want to call it The Kraken (laughs).” It’s funky, chunky, weird, and glitchy, and has a completely different sound if I dig in too hard. I was happy to find something that nobody else had.

Which guitars are going on the road with you?
I’m taking out my blue Gibson Custom Historic Firebird, a Doug Kauer Excalibur, and a Kauer Organa Major Banshee Baritone, which is a single-pickup guitar tuned to C. I have a bunch of other things, too, like my Banker Custom Korina Flying V and a beautiful doubleneck that Matt Banker built for me. There are Gretsch guitars out with me that are really wonderful, and a custom Yamaha – a one-of-a-kind hollowbody Revstar.

You already have the next album in the can.
Yes, a follow-up to Darkfighter, called Lightbringer. We’ve never done a companion record, and I’m proud of what my guys did on it. The release date isn’t hard-set yet, but I think everyone is going to like it. It’s something different and special. We’ll tour Europe supporting both albums until the end of the year.


This article originally appeared in VG’s October 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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