The Rock City archives: 2014

Rival State, Rock City Basement (As part of Stick Tight)

  • Thursday 23rd October 2014

Stick Tight at Rock City is going to be even more sensational than usual on the 23rd October!

Rival State returns with a new sound and a new aesthetic, but with the same passion that was there when the band name was first brain stormed in a 3rd form English book way back in 2002. Like all stubborn teenagers first out of home the band ended up parting ways in 2007 to experience music from a different perspective. Somehow long grueling van tours across North America and Europe and living on the bones of their arses, led to the guys crossing paths.




Luke Van Hoof – vocals

Jo Einarsson– guitar

Stefan Einarsson – bass

Nimal Fernando – guitar

Valdi Einarsson – drums


New Zealand alt-rock quintet Rival State will release their second single Sleep Talker and EP Youth Tax on October 27 through their label, Four Leaf Records.


It’s been a long journey for the band. Quite literally – their hometown of New Plymouth is over 11,000 miles away from their current base in London. But let’s not get bogged down in geography. Formed at school, the band’s studies quickly dropped down on their list of priorities as they made the top six at the nationally-televised Rock Quest competition, an annual battle of the bands open to high schools across New Zealand. Exams? Get lost. They had tours to book.


“School became less of a priority,” says guitarist Jo Einarsson. “By the time we were 16, we’d convince high schools around Taranaki to let us play at lunchtime. We met a lot of bands through Rock Quest and would play in each other’s towns. It created an all-ages buzz and started to get support slots with international bands like Rise Against.”


Then, during the dying moments of their appearance at Killer Fest 2007 – headlined by Australia’s Parkway Drive – frontman Luke took it upon himself to announce the band were splitting up. Wait, what?


“I said, ‘Thanks. We are Rival state and this was our last f**king show’,” remembers Luke. “I was suffering from a bad relationship with old habits and an old girlfriend. I split home to clean up my act and after a year, I ended up playing guitar for a friend’s band, touring around the world whilst the others travelled Canada and the UK, playing under a different name.”


Who? Look, that’s not important. It was after a four-year break that the band decided to reform over a moderate Skype connection.


“We had so much history, so it seemed like a fun and exciting time to get back together and write and album and just see what came out,” says Luke.


With their debut album Apollo Me reaching Number One in New Zealand, and achieving three top five singles in the radio charts, this gave the five the confidence to make that 11,000-mile flight to the UK and attempt to conquer another island. Here’s where we find the five in shared house in South West London, complete with a custom-built drum room. That’s coming out of their deposit, then.


“As amazing and supportive as the New Zealand music industry is, we got to a point

where we needed to explore outside of the country and start again from scratch,” says Jo of their decision to decamp to the UK. “That was a steep learning curve, but England feels like home and London isn’t shy of having 20,000 Kiwis at any one time.”


That is true. Next month, the quintet gearing up to release their new EP, Youth Tax, and the single Sleep Talker and there are already plans for a second EP next year, with their second album shortly after.


“We recorded the tracks in our home town with Matt Hyde, who’s a producer from London,” explains Luke. “Ironically enough, we now live around the corner from him. The tracks are raunchy and a little bit askew, which is kind of always how we’ve written songs. We’ve been working on lots of ideas for our next release and are very excited to get back into studio town. I know that what comes out of those sessions will be a surprise, even to us. But for now, we’re looking ahead to our October tour. I can’t wait to see people’s reaction to how we roll.”