We felt the need for a Christmas special, and the fact that one of our very favourite bands had just put out their Christmas single was a chance too good to miss. It is a double A-side Christmas single – “Christmas Is Here” b/w “It’s the Time of the Year,” two original songs they have written to celebrate Christmas. At the time of writing, they are making progress up the charts, and it caps a really wonderful year for the band.
July 2022 saw the release of “The Flying Free Tour Live” album, given a great review by Benny here for the magazine. There has also been a successful tour to the US and shows here, alongside plans to think about a new album. We were very happy to grab a bit of time with these much in demand people for a quick catch up on plans.
As far as the Christmas singles; both Aaron and Grace, the dynamic duo who make up When Rivers Meet, noted that they “loved Christmas” and the “time was right for the Christmas release as we had it largely in place last Christmas, but it got a bit late to release things, so this year was perfect.” The two tracks show off the diversity of the group’s songwriting, musicianship, and harmony styles. “It’s the Time of Year” is a dreamy and beautiful ballad, with sublime vocal harmony and is one of those perfect seasonal songs for the open fire and the snow piling up outside the old log cabin. “Christmas is Here” takes a traditional Slade style approach to the Christmas festivities, adding some solid fist pumping to this upbeat blues rock Christmas song. Aaron Bond’s gritty guitar riff and harmonising vocals are overlaid with Grace Bond’s distinct, powerful vocals and a raunchy mandolin solo.
Talking songwriting, both Aaron and Grace were in agreement with us that there is always a danger of overly cheesy lyrics on a Christmas number, it’s hard to avoid cheese when the lyrics include children, reindeer, stockings, snow, and Santa. Yet this release is not, in our view, cheesy! We asked the duo about their songwriting process.
Aaron- Usually, we have the exact same idea in mind for how we want a song to sound, but we both agree that if we don’t immediately love it, we throw it out. We typically write our own sections for songs independently. Grace works on the music, and I write the lyrics.
Grace- A song may begin with a lyric, a beat, or a riff, and we build around that. Once we have solid ideas, we collaborate to finish the song. We often write rapidly because Aaron is a creative lyricist and works very fast.
We did find it so interesting that Grace played a Mandolin. For us, the mandolin presents an image of the medieval troubadour travelling on the road, and the mandolin is a member of the lute family. We know Grace plays the violin, but we were curious about how the mandolin was used in the songwriting; it adds a unique flavour to the mix.
Grace- Well, my mandolin is not the medieval instrument you may think of! Originally, I played the flute and clarinet, but that aspect isn’t needed for us. The violin features in our sound, and the mandolin is key. I originally played unplugged mandolin, because, for a while, we were finding ourselves, unsure of who we really wanted to be musically. But now, it is not your old style lute at all, it’s plugged in. I have a few mandolins, one is a four string that I never really thought I’d want, but then I loved how the notes bend, and it has the capacity to play lead. So the mandolin is massive for the sound.
Also, we had to congratulate the band on receiving, in May 2021, four UK Blues Awards: Emerging Blues Artist of the Year; Blues Band of the Year; Blues Album of the Year; and Most Inspirational Online Performance of the Year. Pretty impressive! When we spoke to another favourite of ours, Emma Wilson, on winning the emerging artist award in 2022, she made us laugh by saying she had been emerging for fifteen years. When Rivers Meet appear to have only recently burst onto the scene to those of us who have been following the band’s rise, but they have been in the business for quite some time. We wondered if they felt that they had fully emerged yet.
Aaron- It took a long time to find who we were musically. You mention the blues awards, but Planet Rock has seen us with rock awards too, so we cross over the boundaries. Sometimes this may annoy the purists, but we adapt musically. And as to whether we have fully emerged, we are still developing.
Which brought us to the image side of the band. The first pictures of the two present almost a country look, then the hat appears for Aaron, Grace touches the Goth look on “Tomorrow” and now there is a leather look, is that developing look part of the overall picture?
Aaron- We weren’t really thinking of the image originally, but we increasingly do now, it is part of presenting yourself that comes with being in a band and how you want to be remembered. So, yes, now we are more image conscious.
And we had to mention those amazing live streams that these two did over lockdown. We imagined how devastating it must have been for them to be locked up as artists; they had a new album out and must have had plans; it must have felt like the world had come crashing down around them. Yet those live streams were such a lot of fun and introduced us to them during those locked up days, when we were busy planning on getting this magazine out there! They are also, we notice, saved for us on YouTube, and they are a whole lot of fun.
Aaron and Grace- Today, we still do the live streams because we love them. Then, initially, it was awful, We had a full tour lined up, everything there to promote, and suddenly nothing. We were seriously wondering whether we needed to get jobs. But we come off tour and think, what now? Let’s do a live stream, because they are special. But, originally we were so unsure, a live stream was never intended; but mums were saying that everyone else was doing them so…We were hesitant about it back when everyone hopped on and started live-streaming after all the gigs were cancelled. However, we decided to live stream a few weeks into the lockdown and have done so ever since. We adore it despite the fact that it’s totally different from performing for a live crowd. Our internet viewership has increased dramatically as a result; which is really astounding. I think originally it was scary because you wonder if you are playing to no-one at all, and then you see the comments and realise there are thousands out there watching and saying hello. So lockdown is over, but we love to come back and do them.
We met you this way, and a huge favorite track here is “Did I Break the Law” that we remember from those sessions. That and “Free Man” (with this wonderful ZZ Top Southern Style) were two tracks from that period that we rate as highly as anything out there. We wanted to mention that, and to ask if there was anything the band wanted to add, alongside the Happy Christmas message going out to all our readers.
Aaron- Thank you, “Did I Break the Law” is a mainstay song we keep coming back to. It opened the live set, and of course I’m a big fan of ZZ Top! But the big news alongside Christmas is the tour in 2023 and we really hope to see you all out there!
Rock the Joint Magazine will be there, the details are here in the article, and as the winter gets colder than ever, we suggest listening to more When Rivers Meet, or catching up with some of their live streams is an excellent way of warming up a cold night!
TICKETS ON GENERAL SALE FRIDAY DECEMBER 7, 2022
Happy Christmas to all our readers.
Benny (the Ball) Benson
Mark C. Chambers.
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