Riviera Kid talk Jesus Christ, Stripe & Snappy Dressing 💅

💖 What’s Riviera Kid about?/ Where did the name come from/How did you set up?

Johnny – I’ve always written more songs than any band I’ve played in was happy to work on so I started doing a solo acoustic thing in late 2017. 

Me & Dan were playing in another band together when I floated the idea of making Riviera Kid a proper band & he quickly jumped on board with this to my great joy. 

We had a bass player for the first 18 months we were together & he’s on the first EP, but he left last December on good terms to do other things. Lockdown hit before we’d really considered if we ever wanted another member.

Zinesters & internet radio DJs started referring to us as a two piece band, so I guess we’re going with that for the near future. 

The name comes from an episode in season 6 of Red Dwarf called “Gunmen of the Apocalypse.”  Our old band had a conversation once about which character we’d each be from that episode & I unsurprisingly got Cat’s character, the Riviera Kid.  Cat’s an unapologetically obnoxious extravert & snappy dresser so it just kind of stuck after that. 

Not John

Dan – John & I were playing in another band when I randomly noticed a Facebook post from John advertising that he was potentially starting a new band.

I knew any project John was working on was going to be weird in a really fun way so I immediately sent him a message asking if he needed a drummer.

Fortunately, I was the first person to ask & we already had the experience of playing together for a while so it all came together pretty quick.

John already had the name Riviera Kid in mind which was great as I love Red Dwarf & hate that weird period when starting a new band where everyone tries to come up with a name, it can take months!

It was a real blow when we lost our bassist & I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to continue as a two piece while looking for a replacement – a few practices & one nervous gig later & we were set on our path.

Makes touring out of one tiny car real easy too 😂


💖 What inspires you to play music?

Johnny – Music’s always been my catharsis. 

I started begging my mum for a guitar when I was six years old & she responded first with a casio keyboard then a clarinet. 

For my thirteenth birthday I got one of those shitty fake Fenders with a built-in speaker that I ended up blowing out in about two weeks. 

I grew up in a Roman Catholic ghetto that was mostly working class Italian & Polish immigrants in Pittsburgh – & back then learning to play was the best way to get all of the crap that was going on around me out of my head. 

So much more liberating than skateboarding or quad skating . . . which were really the other best options in 1994.  That’s still basically what music is about for me now . . . getting all the crap out of my head.

Dan – I’ve just always loved performing.

I was given my first guitar at about six or seven, took up bass at 12 & finally started my career as a drummer at 15. I even took performing arts at A level & majored in street dance (I haven’t danced in well over ten years now so don’t expect a demonstration!). (KNM edit: zoom demonstration or this interview gets pulled)

I am incredibly introverted. I don’t really talk to people unless they talk to me first & you’ll probably catch me hanging out in the corner at gigs.

Getting on the stage, playing some heavy tunes & screaming my heart out is just incredibly liberating.

Getting on the stage, playing some heavy tunes & screaming my heart out is just incredibly liberating.

💖 What’s your writing process?

Johnny – Almost every song we write is put together in the practice space by both of us. 

Sometimes I’ll send Dan riffs when I’ve written something that’s pretty weird but a lot of it comes out of jamming together on parts we like playing. 

Then pretty quickly on from that something that really irritates me will be going on in society & boom! We have lyrics.  😂

Then we work out who’s going to sing which lines & which parts we’ll both sing since it’s a 50/50 partnership. 

Dan – John will usually write & send me riffs. We’ll then go to practice & try & expand.

I really like weird time signatures & will try & incorporate those into songs when I can.

This can be a bit of a balancing act as our vocals are pretty much 50/50 nowadays. I have to ensure that the drums are simple enough to be able to sing/scream & the bits in between are my opportunity to go all out if I choose.

💖 Who are your main influences in music/life?

Johnny – Music-wise it’s no secret that I try to write guitar stuff like you’d hear on a Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, or Fugazi record from the 90’s & that’s probably why we got a lot of comparisons to Mudhoney & Fugazi particularly in our first eighteen months of touring & with our first EP. 

Music-wise I listen to a lot of riot grrrl & queer punk bands, the classic grunge & post-punk stuff, & a tonne of Fela Kuti

I absolutely love Afrobeat & I’m a sucker for saxophones + political activism.  So our new stuff is taking a weird & wonderful direction as a result. 

Life-wise, I’m a non-binary Anglican vicar & liberal Roman Catholic but I’m also an anarchist vegan who has too many labels & prefers just identifying as a gremlin over all the descriptors I just gave you. 

Jesus Christ & Stripe are probably my two biggest life influences.  

Dan – I grew up listening to mostly prog-metal.

Nowadays my favourite bands are Pup & Dance Gavin Dance & they heavily influence my drumming style.

I have on occasion straight up taken particular fills & beats directly from my favourite songs. Life-wise I’m a massive geek who loves anime, video games & memes.

Jesus Christ & Stripe are probably my two biggest life influences. 

💖 Tell us about your aesthetic.

Johnny – The band’s aesthetic tends to be yellow, shouty, & angry in that really polite way. 

My aesthetic is gender queer 30-something.  I’m cultivating my own style I call “Gremlin” because let’s be honest, the Gremlins were non-binary & cool about it 30 years before the rest of the world caught on. 

Band-wise we seem to end up with a lot of comparisons to 90’s Seattle grunge bands, so I’ll just keep letting people pump my ego with that kind of malarkey! 

Dan – In the band I don’t think we really go for a specific aesthetic but John’s answer pretty much sums it up.

I’m more than happy to be compared to Nirvana, which happens more than I thought it would.

My thing generally is wearing all black with a geeky video game snapback. John is pretty quick to make a comment if I add a bit of colour at times!

Johnny – I love when Dan adds colour to his ensemble.  It’s like the rare occasions that you’ll see me in all black.

💖 When you’re not doing band stuff what do you get up to?

Johnny – I help run Hell Hath No Fury Records with a team of amazing womxn.  My work tends to be the grafty shit most people don’t like but I love that! 

I do lots of cooking, reading about awesome women from throughout history, studying up on wiccans & other faith groups I want to understand better, protesting, community outreach, & hanging around the church in robes on a Sunday morning. 

There’s an occasional Netflix binge in there somewhere too I guess. 

Dan – I’m nowhere near as productive as John.

When I’m not working as a software tester, I’m quite into health & fitness & will generally try to get at least one weightlifting & one cardio session in a day.

Any free time after that is pretty much filled in by long video game sessions & Youtube.

When the mood takes me I’m also pretty into cooking Japanese-style dishes. 💅

💖 What 1 thing could everyone be doing to make the scene a better place?

Johnny – Respect each other plain & simple.  It’s all about spreading love instead of grief.   

Dan – For the music scene, I think just turning up at the beginning of a gig would be a great start.

John & I love watching every single band on the bill when possible & there’s nothing sadder than seeing bands play to two people, then there’s a packed room for the headliner.

I get that the headliners are the draw but how does a new band become a headliner if no one is willing to give them a chance?

You never know when you’ll find your new favourite band.

It’s all about spreading love instead of grief.   

💖 So, you kind of accidentally released an anthem to go alongside the BLM movement in ‘Casual Racism’.

What’s the song about & how have you seen some of these core issues unfold in the past few weeks & months?

Johnny – It was kind of an unfortunate anthem to need to be released, but we’d just recorded it weeks before lockdown. & we felt like we had to put it out there in the wake of what happened in Minnesota. 

Our song came out of my own dealings with the racism I’ve regularly encountered for being an immigrant on the south coast for the last  nine years . . . the lyrics are about the root causes of tragedies like the murder of George Floyd. 

Casual racism is still racism & the tabloids printing 4x as many articles about minority ethnic groups doing serious crimes than they print about white people doing the same exact things doesn’t help the overtly xenophobic culture in some pockets of British society. 

Thankfully there’s been a lot of activists doing a lot more than what we’ve done – & hopefully the movement as a whole will affect change.

Dan – John wrote the lyrics for Casual Racism, with his own experiences that influenced the song, but to me it’s an important message that the UK & the US have been labouring under an illusion that racism is in check & not a problem in this day & age. But so much of our society is saturated with imbedded institutional racism & it’s not OK to ignore it & leave it unchallenged.

One thing that has been pissing me off in recent days is corporations & individuals using the BLM for their own gains – this is a really important situation & at this moment in history we have an opportunity to make some real head-way & address injustices that have been ignored.

Anyone using the message of BLM to benefit themselves is perpetuating the exploitation & persecution that we should be challenging.

To me it’s an important message that the UK & the US have been labouring under an illusion that racism is in check & not a problem in this day & age ( . . . ) Anyone using the message of BLM to benefit themselves is perpetuating the exploitation & persecution that we should be challenging.

💖 To what extent do you feel that it’s the mantle of the punk scene to be calling out inequality & making the world a better place?

Johnny – If we’re going with the age-old idea that the UK punk scene was built on the shoulders of The Sex Pistols & The Clash, it is 100% obliged to be doing both of those things. 

People forget the often incendiary nature of The Sex Pistols’ lyrical content & The Clash were, well . . . The Clash. 

Thankfully we’ve moved on from bands that are 100% straight white dudes being the voice of the people, but that doesn’t mean the obligation has shifted.

Dan – Having played in bands of various genres, I can honestly say that the punk scene feels the most diverse & inclusive.

It’s a scene that’s not content to keep things as they are, when we have the means to make change for the better. If the expectation is to be calling out inequality wherever it may be, who am I to ignore that.

Thankfully we’ve moved on from bands that are 100% straight white dudes being the voice of the people, but that doesn’t mean the obligation has shifted.

💖 I know you are some of the punk scenes much loved NB musicians.

As a group seemingly on the more male presenting side of things how does it feel to try to navigate gender stereotypes & norms in the industry? / what can we all be doing more to bust them open?

Johnny – In all honesty, it took a pretty long time for us to be taken seriously as a non-binary band & that’s really only started to be widely accepted since Holly took a chance on releasing our first EP on Hell Hath No Fury in early 2019. 

Being taken seriously as non-binary is a struggle in every facet of life because a lot of people still really don’t understand how a person can be gender queer but not trans. 

My grandparents were Mediterranean so I have a beard again five minutes after shaving, but I love nail polish & makeup so I mostly just seem to confuse people – but that’s OK in my opinion since it’s making them think about their perceptions of gender. 

As a subculture, we’re getting better at celebrating diversity & there’s a lot of bands pushing the LGBTQ+ agenda to big audiences now. So I think we just need to let Dream Nails lead thew way for all of us & keep at it.

Being taken seriously as non-binary is a struggle in every facet of life because a lot of people still really don’t understand how a person can be gender queer but not trans. 

💖 @ John – Aesthetically & on the internet you are known as ‘the punk rock vicar’ – something I thought was more of a costume / stage show than a commitment to religion.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out the opposite!! How do you see religious values & punk rock essentially being 2 sides of the same coin?

Johnny – I’m glad you were pleasantly surprised because I am not much of a fan of gimmicks unless we’re talking about princess films or hair metal.  (KNM Edit: We are a big fan of both)

If you distil Christianity down to its purest form & go back pre-establishment & pre-other people using faith to support their own abusive agendas, Jesus was a great example of an anarchist in the original Greek understanding of the word. 

He opposed the structures of society & of organised religion (you can thank Emperor Constantine for messing that up!) as well as believing that human authority was a purely human construct & that following rules for the sake of following rules was pointless. 

Jesus hung out with the type of people old Greeks called “sinners” who are what we’d call weirdo lefty nonconformists in the LGBTQ+ punk subculture. 

All of that gets distorted so badly by so many institutions that love to pull one verse of scripture out of context to say something awful & condemning about various groups. 

Every faith group was started to better the world it existed in & it’s only over time that the bad examples have crowded out the rest of us & marginalised all of the positive changes we stand for. 

For anyone who’s still a bit lost – think of how you feel about the dodgy older skinheads who threw stuff at The Menstrual Cramps during their set at Rebellion last year, or the eight foot tall punks with the big mohawks who are always super drunk & get shirtless to start a mosh pit during a Petrol Girls set & see if you get me. 

We’re not all like that!

💖 Your IG bio says you are ‘a heavy trip down 1990s Lane. Angry. Political. Non-binary. You like it loud, fast & heavy’

What aspects of the 90s do you try to bring into your music & if Riviera Kid was quiet, slow & light AF what band would you be?

Johnny – Like I said earlier, there are some bands I love to the point of emulating their guitar styles & all of them came out of my teenage years in the 90s. 

When I’m writing lyrics I also often reflect on “what do I think Donita Sparks or Kathleen Hanna want to say about this?”  So there’s a tinge of that original wave of riot grrrl in there as well. 

If we were quiet & slow I think we’d probably just be Billie Eilish’s “Wish You Were Gay” over & over & over. 

Dan – I was brought up listening to the likes of Limp Bizkit, Incubus, Nirvana, Offspring etc. so my default style is usually heavy, fast & a bit weird.

When I think about slow & light versions of us I can only picture Boyce Avenue doing a warbly acoustic version of our songs.

💖 Tell us about your latest release. What’s the feeling to it/what’s it about?

JohnnyStay Positive is our new 5 song EP on Back From The Dead Records & the songs are really all about, well, staying positive. 

We’re an angry band but we want to maintain a positive outlook on doing something & making the changes we’re each capable of making. 

Casual Racism is the wildcard song that’s written from kind of an adversarial point of view, but that’s partly because we finished off the lyrics & musical parts in the studio while we were recording it. 

Dan – Exactly as the title suggests, it’s about staying positive.

Each song tackles a different subject – drug abuse, the homeless, mental health etc. & the EP is basically a call to arms to do something.

No matter how big or small the contribution we can tackle these things together.

💖 What’s next for Riviera Kid?

Johnny – We’re hoping we can get back to doing what we love soon. & what we love seems to be hanging out in my old beat up Hyundai for hours on end listening to CDs & eating junk food between towns. 

It’d be nice to have a tonne of gigs to play to give us a reason to do that again. 

We’re also hoping to release a full length in the next year or so depending what happens with venues & music as a whole & I’m about to get back to working with Hell Hath No Fury on releases of stuff by us & other feminist/gender queer bands we love now that I’m part of the collective. 

Dan – we’ve just started practicing again now that practice rooms have started opening up.

Just a matter of building up the stamina, building up the scream (turns out you really lose it after three months of no use) & get some new songs written so we can hit the ground running once gigs are a thing again.

Both – You can listen to us at rivierakid.bandcamp.com, on Spotify, on the Hell Hath No Fury Records & Back From The Dead pages, & probably other places I’m unaware of. 

You can watch our videos by typing “Riviera Kid Official” into the YouTube search bar. 

💖 Dates for any upcoming shows/livestreams/releases etc?

Johnny – Our newest release came out in May, & if you don’t own it & you’ve read this far, you’ll probably like it so go get it! 

We’re also going to be on this year’s Rebellion Festival compilation (even though the festival got cancelled) & Solidarity Not Silence vol.2 on Hell Hath No Fury, which I’ve had the pleasure of helping put together. 

There’s also a Rebellion Festival Live Stream Event happening on the 6th-9th of August & we’ve got a 15 minute special airing as part of that, but our day & time isn’t confirmed yet for that, so why not go like our Facebook page & find out at the same time we do?  <3


💖 Links to any social media

Facebook.com/rivierakidmusic

@rivierakidmusic on Instagram

Riviera Kid Official on YouTube

Lori on Riviera Kid: If you like the charge of a Household Name band but with content that’s deeper than reminiscing over ‘who fucked Jeff Acrees truck up’ & a hevvvvyyyyyyyyyy musical presence unhindered by a desire to have to ‘prove something’ – then Riviera Kid is for you.

Whether it be racism, mental health, religion or gender rights this band is sure to raise the important questions & they are doing it with pink sunglasses, celebrity dogs & anthem upon anthem of a power release.

‘Stay Positive’ embodies the aggressive disposition required for meaningful social change whilst at the same time enforcing a positivity so often ignored by (but none the less fundamental to) many activist movements.

Forget weak AF fist pumping – you’ll be launching your whole damn positively fuelled body to Riviera Kid & leaving those poser punks behind.

Listen to this loud. With the windows down. Preferably in a Hyundi whilst eating junk food.

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