Rival State

By Will Brown

Rival State are set to hit the road next month, joining fellow NZ band Villainy on a nationwide tour.  

In 2012 Rival State released their long awaited debut album 'Apollo Me', which shot to number one on the NZ Album charts and included the singles 'Sleep Talker' & 'Four Leaf Clover'. 

We caught up with frontman Luke Van Hoof and found out some more about the band, their album and the upcoming tour.

So Rival State has been around for about 10 years now?

Yeah. I wasn't the original singer for Rival State, but the rest of the boys started it when they were about 13 years old. Nimal (Fernando) was the original singer and he's our guitarist now. It started as quite an immature punk band if you know what I mean? Not very grown up. I was a fan of their band for about two years and joined when I was about 16 years old. So we've been together for ages, as mates and as a band for about 10 years.

And you all went to school together?

It's kind of funny, because I went to the all boys' school and all the other guys went to the cool co-ed kinda baddass school. I was stuck in this fuckin' boys prison (laughs)... but it was all good I suppose.

Who were your early influences back in the day?

The first kind of music I got into were bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd because my Dad showed me what they were. The first bands that I figured out I liked by myself were punk bands like the early Offspring... not the lame shit they put out afterwards. Also Deftones and a couple of bands from that Nu-Metal era, but not a lot of them because there was a lot of shit. But all sorts of heavier music I suppose.

And you were part of Kids Of 88 for a while?

I still am actually, I've been a good friend with Sam (McCarthy) for a long time and we use to play in a band before Kids Of 88 sort of took off. But I still play guitar as like a session musician kind of thing and we're best buds. They prefer to take their mates on tour as their guitarist as opposed to some guy that's been hired just to play guitar. But it's interesting that I'm the singer for Rival State and the guitarist for a really hard out pop band.

Rival State released their debut album ‘Apollo Me' last year. Were they new songs or songs that had been around for a little while?

The guys got back from overseas and we wrote that album in about six months I think... wrote and recorded it. The album that we released kind of pays tribute to the 10 years prior to Rival State getting back together. If and when we make a new album it will probably sound a lot different, but we kinda felt like we never really recorded a proper album back before we split up. So we wanted to do something that was true to our old selves and also a step in a new direction because we'd all been doing all this different shit. So there are a few poppy hooks in there because Sam taught me how to write them, but it's not old material.

Where did you record it?

We did it in New Plymouth, in our own house. We had two rental properties that our guitarist's father owned. And they're two houses that are side by side, so what we did was set up a studio monitor in one and ran cables through the back yard into the other house where we could put all the instruments and stuff. We demoed and recorded it all ourselves and flew over this guy called Matt Hyde who is a really good producer that has worked with heaps of people like Slipknot, Gallows and even Robbie Williams of all people, which is pretty funny. But it was really good having him around because I've got a strong personality so it was someone to fight with and write some really good songs.


You're about to commence a pretty big tour with Villiany. You know those guys well?

I've known Dave their drummer for years and years. It's so funny because everyone seems to know each other from back in the day. Especially in the more rock, metal, punk sort of scenes... those kind of people seem to stick together. So I get on really well with them. I haven't known the other guys for long, but I've met them quite a few times and they're a fun bunch of guys. I'm looking forward to making them do a lot of tequila shots and see how they handle it.

That could get messy...

I hope so.

When does the tour start?

Is starts in March. We kick off the tour in Tauranga on March 14 at Brewers Bar. Then we're going to do New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Auckland and Wellington. So it's a pretty decent tour and hitting up all the main centres and I'm sure that both bands will deliver.  But really looking forward to getting out on the road and seeing our fellow Kiwis partying!

What's the plan for Rival State following the tour?

I'm not too sure. I've had my sights on checking out what's happening overseas for a while, I'd really like to start recording another album and have it out before of anyone really expects it to be. Bands these days tend to release an album and then sit on it for ages. I've got no lack of songs that I'd like to finish up on and put out there. I think it'll either be lots more shows and possibly going overseas or maybe recording a whole other album again and touring both of them. So who knows?

What are your thoughts on the current rock scene, both locally and internationally?

I will say that it can only go up... it can only get better. It's not necessarily that the music is not good enough, but there have been a few new genres of music that have taken over and become a fad. Like everything people eventually want something new and it would appear that electronic music and softer more indie music is popular right now. It's always the way of humans to look to something else. But time and time again rock music has come back in different forms and I think it's on the up and up.


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