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The Howlin’ Souls take their retro Rock ‘n’ Roll to the next level with a new power anthem “Viva La Revolucion (again),” their new song that lays it on the line. Taking a page from classic political songwriting, The Howlin Souls draw a parallel between the strife-torn 1960s to today but spin it forward with high-energy and driving delivery.
The Howlin’ Souls’ dynamic, fuzz and wailing wah-wah infused Rock ‘n’ Roll is catchy, and so are the words to “Viva La Revolucion (again).” The New York City-based band led by Pete Smith are determined to take it to the next level with scratchy riffs and catchy hooks. We caught up with Smith and asked him the important questions.
Tell us about “Viva La Revolucion (again)” and how you came to write this
It’s a rock ‘n’ roll riff song, I wrote it at the time the Egyptian revolution was going on. There were lots of protests and revolutions going on in different places. It was the first time these events were being live streamed as well. I saw it all from a different perspective. I wanted to condense a few ideas I had about it which pertain to all or most revolutions, oppression and resistance. Class warfare. Why is it continually happening? Is it human nature? We’re seeing this starting to unfold in America today. We see protests, marches and strong dissatisfaction with our leaders.
On “Viva La Revolucion (again)” where in your opinion is the revolution
Revolutions are always happening, politically and socially. Now you have Venezuela, Spain, Egypt, and Ukraine. It’s not rare they’re fairly frequent. In America right now, I think there is a general dissatisfaction with government from all sides. People are becoming more socially and politically aware of the country they live it. There are peaceful ways to protest and effect change, so I hope this can be done.
Why did you decide to put the title in Spanish?
The title came from my trip to Cuba. I saw writing on a wall that said “VIVA LA REVOLUCION.”
What is the secret to a good collaboration?
I guess the secret would be to find the right people. That’s the tough part! After
that, everything seems to click pretty easily.
How did you all meet?
We all met in NYC. I was playing in a band with Nate. And after that band broke up, we decided to carry on to look for a bass player and lead guitarist. We found Rob pretty quickly, within a few months. Then the band went through a few different incarnations. And finally, we fell upon Scott and it seemed to work nicely.
What’s the New York City music scene like today?
I don’t get to see that many new bands, because I’m usually playing. There are a lot of bands, but not any real cohesive scene. Everyone is just trying to get their own unique sound, and the sounds are all over the place. Right now, it’s an amalgamation of influences from the last 100 years of recorded music. I’ve seen everything from 40’s inspired jump blues to Andrew Sisters type bands to Country-meets- Radiohead style bands to two person EDM groups. Every genre has something going on, but its all a micro-culture.
And a lot of times, a club will have 5 bands play in one night that are all completely different styles.
From the sounds of your work, you’re a big fan of the 1970s-style rock.
What is so attractive about the sound of that era?
I like music from every era, but I think the ’70s were the peak of guitar rock. There were a lot of great players from that time: Richie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Mick Taylor, David Gilmore, Johnny Winters, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 3 guitar players, Brian May, Erik Cartwright from Foghat… too many to list. Plus a lot of the old blues players were still playing, and there was punk, proto-punk, and funk. It was before the synth sound really took off in the ’80s. So for a guitar player, it’s a gold mine of great guitar riffs and solos.
Who are the musicians you most admire and why?
John Lennon and Keith Richards. I like their song writing and their sound the most. One of my favorite guitarists is Albert Lee. He’s an English country rock guitarist who played with Hot Band and lots of other people. He plays really quick and mixes scales. I like his style of playing.
What advice would you give young artists today?
Make the music you want to make, and don’t worry too much about it. Try to write a song or make the music that you would like to hear yourself. If you like it, hopefully someone else is bound to.