"The Champ is Here."
Legendary boxer Muhammed Ali made that phrase a giant thing. Wrestler-turned-actor John Cena stole it, and made it his own. And while that's a weird way to start out a story about a budding musician...here we are. M. Rivers' just dropped his song "Champion," and now it all makes sense. Sort of.
M. Rivers is more than just a catchphrase. His song has raw power, and the backstory of his tattoos are just as powerful. I caught up with the musician and discussed his song, his work, and his ink. Read on, peops.
Champion just dropped last fall. Talk to me about its infancy and its release.
The first song I wrote for the album was about my fathers passing. It inspired the birth of the entire project.It was an extremely hard time for all of us in the family and really changed my life forever.It made for a very special song in his honor but also for a listener to receive in their own way.I wanted to write an album filled with meaningful songs but also some that were simple and just make you want to dance.
Carving out the sound was an adventure and took the better part of a year, it was a transitional period for me as a musician.Spending time with music that inspired me, being in the studio with different amps and instruments, spending time with my producer discovering parts of my voice I had not otherwise worked on or utilized in the past.Building a new dynamic and a future album was exciting to me, so when it reached completion we immediately wanted to release it.I look at the industry today, and it’s a single-based economy that almost every artist is handcuffed by.Here I am, spending two years on an album and I’ll be damned if I only release one song.And for the first time in my fifteen year career I have ownership of the master, thanks to a great partnership with the new independent record label Parts + Labor.
So many people ask artists about their writing process. I won't, but is their any techniques that you do that are off the beaten path?
I’ll come into the studio some days and before I start writing or tracking, I’ll listen to music for any amount of time, and usually it’s old catalogue stuff: maybe soul music or late 60’s rock n roll as of late, and just allow myself to be inspired.Another I guess you could say habit or technique is to move around from instrument to instrument, and just focus on the moment and allow the ideas to flow.Writing songs on say just the guitar seems restrictive at this point.I guess the strangest song I ever wrote was when I was sleeping and I was able to record the idea on my phone as soon as I woke so I didn’t lose it.
Wow, I only dream about weird stuff and you're making music! Good stuff. Anyway, yYour first tattoo is a tribute to your grandfather. I love the backstory of it, but you'll tell it better. Shoot.
Thank you, yes, my grandfather was Captain of the 305th Polish Bomb Squadron in World War 2.He flew 44 missions in planes like the Avro Lancaster bomber and the De Havilland Mosquito, and I’m extremely proud of my heritage.The tattoo is a bomb with wings, the bomb has nose art in the form a shark, roses and a cross.It was done by Justin Gagnon from Hamilton, ON.
How do you decide which tattoos to get and where to get them? Do you always go to the same artist?
I’m inspired by some of my favorite artists mostly, so I’m on Instagram a lot these days looking at their daily tats.At this point, I’m looking at having a few portraits done because I don’t have any, so I feel like finishing a suit with pieces that balance out my collection seems appropriate.Having said that, I still have so much room that I’m down for getting a killer piece whenever the situation comes up, so it could be say a traditional piece or a black and grey depending on the artist and the placement.
Do you favor a typical style of tat?
I love many styles of tattooing but I’d say I’m a huge fan of traditional tattoos.Solid outlines and lots of black.You can see what they are a mile away, and years down the road they still look great.
You just appeared at the Natural History Museum's Tattoo Exhibit. Talk to me about your involvement there.
Yes, it’s a huge honor to be involved there.Surrounded by some of the industries biggest legends,I just wanted to endorse the exhibit as a fellow artist from another medium.I was asked as a musician and a huge fan of the tattoo culture to share some of stories about my tattoos, life on the road and how music and tattoos are connected to one another.
Getting back to your music, what do the next few months look like?
The next few months are looking great.I’ll be releasing my second single from the album, “Something To Die For”, as well as shooting a video for that.I’ll be playing a bunch of shows on the west coast.I’ll be in Austin for SXSW, and booking a summer tour!