Grab a cup of tea and take some time out of your cold, January day to venture with me to Glasgow, Scotland, where brothers Craig and Christian McCabe, The River 68’s, call home. Their warm, blues-rock style will evoke memories of a sound not heard on the daily. Christian McCabe, who plays guitar and lends vocals, spared me some time in his already packed schedule to chat about touring, a new album and the proper way to drink wine.
Christian, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. I want to wish you a Happy New Year! I hope you had a fantastic holiday
A: Thank you! And to you as well. It was really relaxing after a mental month.
Q: So, The River 68’s just completed a 15 date UK tour opening for The Darkness! Tell me a little about the tour.
A: We’ve known the boys for a long time now so everyone’s just really good friends, which is always a bonus if you’re the opening act. The venues we played were ticks off of the life box, Nottingham Rock City and The Roundhouse in London being a couple. We’re really lucky actually.
Q: You played your hometown gig on December 5 in Glasgow? Were there a lot of familiar faces that came out to support you?
A: After enduring a long sabbatical through my brothers’ ill health last year, it was a great feeling to be playing in front of friends, family and fans again in Glasgow.
Q: What other touring have you done prior to these recent UK dates?
A: We’ve toured with the boys before, two years ago, and we also toured with a band called The Temperance Movement in the UK/EU (European Union). If you haven’t heard of them you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Q: Will you be joining The Darkness in Europe in a couple weeks?
A: We will indeed! We’re currently in London just now having dropped off all the equipment and we fly from here to Barcelona, Spain this Thursday. That’s the first date.
Q: Tell me about The 68’s current lineup.
A: The lineup has only been diluted to my brother and I just now. Because of the nature of the opening slot we were offered, it wasn’t viable logistically to have a full band unfortunately. We’re going to be back recording in March, blowing the dust off the electric guitars this time after the acoustic venture we’re doing, so expect a big sounding rock n soul record!
Q: When I first gave your EP a listen and saw the band photos, my initial reaction was “That looks like Jimmy Page but he’s singing The Black Crowes” – That’s a compliment by the way! Who has influenced your sound?
A: Of course Zeppelin and The Black Crowes are probably our two biggest influences. With us being brothers too we’re quite often drawn in comparison to the Crowes. We love Ryan Adams and Delaney & Bonnie too. I think that comes across in the more acoustic stuff we do.
Q: What is your songwriting approach, Christian? How do you and Craig tackle lyricism and musicality?
A: Usually just Craig being a stubborn bastard and me not having a say. He’s definitely the lyrics man and I’m more the musical side of it, although we lend a hand in different departments. It’s a healthy dynamic.
Q: After listening to your EP several more times, it occurred to me that, in my opinion, “Drops of Jupiter” by Train is absolutely begging to be caressed by the McCabe’s. I think you guys would do an outstanding cover of that song. With that being said, are there any songs you’ve covered that you particularly enjoy performing?
A: Haha, I don’t know about the Train thing. I can see where you’re coming from but it’s a bit bubblegum for us. We always like to cover “Poor Elijah” by Delaney, Bonnie and Clapton. We gave “Strangers” by The Kinks a bash on that acoustic EP we did. I thought the lyrics to that song are the best I’ve ever heard.
Q: You guys have done some recording at Rockfield Studios! There are definitely some unforgettable footprints left behind there! Tell me about your sessions.
A: We recorded a record there a few years back which never really saw the light of day for a few political reasons. We did get to record [on] Freddie Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” piano on a couple of songs which was bizarre. The place is just alive at all times with great vibes. It’s difficult to describe, but I’d love to return one day and do it again.
Q: Any chance of a full length album in 2016?
Q: On the same note, since you’ve been touring with The Darkness, how involved will Dan Hawkins be in the production of your upcoming projects?
A: We’re at the early stages just now, but we’re doing pre-production with Dan after this tour with the intention of him being the producer. Having worked with him in the past, he’s just an absolute genius at anything he turns his hand. I think we all feel some unfinished business after the record we did with him previously never really saw the light of day (through no fault of our own or his).
Q: Any chance you’ll swing by in the US sometime soon?
A: If it were as easy as swinging by we’d never be away! That’s the end goal really. That’s where we’ve wanted to be playing since we were kids.
Q: When you do make it to the US what drink do I need to have ready and waiting for you?
A: Red wine topped up with Coke for Craig (don’t ask). A pint of cold lager for moi!
Christian, thank you so much! I am greatly anticipating what The River 68’s have in store. I wish you the very best on your upcoming European tour. Cheers to you!
A: Thank you too!
The River 68’s will be opening for The Darkness on January, 14 to kick off the first show of the 17 date European Tour. Check out the video for “Move Up and Shine”. The River 68’s EP is available on iTunes.
Writer: Amanda Knight AmandaJill82
All Photos credited to Dave Kai Piper