Riding The Current of Brendan Rivera’s Ocean

In a scene where it is becoming immensely harder to distinguish one band from another, Brendan Rivera pitches a signature curve ball which defies all expectations of current alternative music.  Although reviewers describe Rivera in the neighborhood of Mumford & Sons, Good Old War and Jimmy Eat World, Rivera doesn’t quite conform to the typical mainstream acts who are rapidly gaining popularity.  Through the seven minute long track “No Ocean in Ireland,” titled after his latest release, Rivera ignores the fear of possibly overwhelming listeners.  Instead, he presents his audience with a shade of irony which immediately sets the tone of the entire album.

“It’s like a blatant lie that somebody can tell somebody,”commented Rivera about the album’s title.“That’s just kind of like the irony of somebody telling you something that is completely false.”

Throughout the song, Rivera reveals a story of two people who are in a relationship and separated by an ocean.  The story takes a step back through history as Rivera describes a timeperiod when there weren’t phones and a severe lack of communication.  As the opener comes to an end, Rivera stated how the story is, “This one guy’s journey to go across the ocean and meet up with this person and they are going to meet up in their dream home, their kingdom.”

By the album possessing a strong sing-a-long nature, No Ocean in Ireland delivers a more compact collection of songs composed by Rivera.  According to Rivera, the latest album offers “more of a distinct story line,”compared to his earlier work.  “The last album was like a mix tape and just put together,” continued Rivera.  “I wanted everything tied together a little more. I had more of a direction going into the writing process.”

Rivera gained popularity through his previous band Looking Glass Wars, a band whose material was actually his first solo album under a different name.  “With this album, I had a 12 string guitar and just wrote the entire thing just sitting in my living room or in my room. I like it better that way because I can sit there and think by myself.”

Compared to writing with the members of Looking Glass Wars, Rivera revealed his “stubborn” attitude towards writing music is associated with his own self-evaluation.“I have a specific style that I am going for, something in my head and if it doesn’t sound that way, I’m not very happy with it,” said Rivera.

The desire to express inner feelings is one of Rivera’s strongest motivations towards writing music.“Anger and frustration mostly comes with not being able to express yourself the way you want to,” said Rivera. “Just playing something, just doing something, and just letting it out. That always gets me to pick up a guitar and try to wail.”

Bearing resemblance to the darker tone of Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio and Anthony Raneri from Bayside, Rivera’s voice offers a melancholy character while still possessing a celebratory spirit. “I guess anything that kind of sounds a little sugarcoated, sarcastic and a little dark I think would have comparison to me, which I kind of like’ said Rivera. “I like things that sound kind of happy but meaningfully they are kind of dark and have that split feeling.”

Signed to Veggie Co. Records, Rivera described the label as a partnership and as a really good friendship. Unlike Rivera’s previous releases, the new album was instead produced by Greg Dunn of the band Moving Mountains.

“I was kind of going for more of a wall of sound, like a dreamy atmosphere which I felt like I could have gotten from Greg Dunn. I liked their sound and I felt like we could definitely use a little bit of his touch on the album.”

Inspired by the drumming of Scottish band We Were Promised Jet Packs, Rivera wanted something of equal relevance. “One thing I liked about them is there toms and bass drums were so loud and powerful,” said Rivera. “I said, ‘let’s get really powerful toms and really powerful bass drums, let’s get something we could feel.’”

When finding bands to share the stage with, the issue of similarity is something stored in Rivera’s mind.“You had Brand New and Taking Back Sunday who were coming up together.  Even if you want to get into pop punk or stuff like that you had The Movielife and Midtown or even Alkaline Trio, I’m sure they had somebody else like H20.  All these bands had their little scene.  That’s something that music needs.  It has at points, it has these bands that tour with each other all the time and they’re buddies. That’s how music should be. You should help each other out as you get bigger.”

In the essence of helping buddies out, the gang vocals at the end of “Sands of Ours” may be the most inspiring element of the album. “I felt like a lot of my friends, and with myself, we were going through a lot of the same things at the same time,” said Rivera.“I was trying to make something that we all kind of were going through and understood and we could sing it together.  That line is something that you could just scream at somebody…we all scream together.”

While not performing on stage, Rivera’s self-expression continues to linger through his role as a guitar instructor. “I used to not be able to play, I used to not be able to sing, I used to not be able to write the way I feel like I can express myself,” said Rivera in regards to what he tells his students.  “So now that I can do it, all I want to do is take advantage of it and get better at it and maybe one day be playing with people that I’ve looked up to all my life.”



By Nick DeLibero