I first met Shiraz Dhume, founding member of the band River Gods, at a show he’d organized at Junior High, a DIY space in Los Angeles that focuses on amplifying marginalized voices in the arts. I remember the night very clearly because it was the first and last date I went on with a girl who got extremely too rosé drunk and yelled a LOT over the lovely main act about a sound bath meditation she was leading in the desert. It is a testament to Shiraz’s sweet spirit that he still wanted to be friends after that.
Today, we’re premiering River Gods’ brand new video for the single, “Absorb You / Absolve You” from the band’s forthcoming album, Moodboard (single art by Lordess Foudre). In honor of the occasion, I chatted with Shiraz about the importance of DIY and spaces that promote inclusivity, the concept behind the new video, and what’s next for the fledgling band.
You’ve said that River Gods is a band that champions the DIY spirit and that it’s important to you to collaborate with other bands and venues that promote inclusivity. Can you touch on why that’s so important to you as a band?
On a surface level, it’s just more fun to make music in a communal, grassroots way. Kids booking their own shows, running their own spaces, and recording their own music is, to me, a genuinely fun idea. But in a bigger way, punk music and DIY culture inherently promote the basic social values of working together and loving/accepting one another.
In that bigger sense, do you think there’s an important role for DIY artists / spaces / labels to play right now, in a political and social climate that has a lot of people feeling so alienated and alone?
I do think DIY culture tends to promote healthy social values like acceptance and inclusivity. I don’t think there is some sort of responsibility for artists to be political or create politically motivated art, but in the current political climate, seeking out people with these basic values is more important than ever.
Together, we can help people navigate difficult times in a way that’s more proactive than, say, sitting around reading about Trump on Twitter. I’ve never wanted to use my music as a political vehicle in any way, but just by participating in a close-knit, local scene and helping out minority-led or fledgling local bands, we participate in positive behaviors that will hopefully help us meet more fun and compassionate people.
Talk a bit about the inspiration behind the music video for Absorb You / Absolve You.
The Absorb You/Absolve You music video was originally conceived by my brilliant director Peter Ferris Rosati. I hope I can do him justice by summing it up – but it’s basically about being surrounded by all these mundane, albeit strangely beautiful objects and images, until you finally find the one thing that turns you on. An advertisement seemed to be the perfect way to convey these static, lifeless scenes – but when we break away from the ad, the video is given more life.
Can you share a little about the forthcoming album and the process of doing a DIY release?
Oddly enough, this album might be kind of a cautionary tale as far as DIY recording goes. We attempted twice to track this album on our own, both times failing miserably, until we finally tracked it fully in a studio. Joseph [River Gods guitarist] and I had some romantic ideas about setting up a home studio and recording everything on our own, but one-by-one, we kept hitting these massive roadblocks. Fortunately, we linked up with Seaward Studios, where we were able to fully track the album – and I’m much happier we ended up doing it that way. Gaining that studio knowledge under the guidance of engineer Alec Sherrie actually freed us up in many ways, and now we have the confidence and knowledge to record on our own.
What’s next for the band?
I have a bad habit of getting easily bored or frustrated with my music after a very short period of time. Even when writing, if I’m not excited with a demo within the first 5 or 10 minutes of making it, I scrap it. So after having sat on this album for so long, I’m so ready to continue writing and recording again. I’m so excited to share this effort with everyone, and we’ve had a great time assembling it to play live. We’ve recently added Cindy Sukrattanawong (from Littlest Sister & WASI) on bass which has added a whole new dynamic to our live set. But I’m definitely ready to start on the next record.
River Gods is singer/songwriter Shiraz Dhume, Joseph Freeman on guitar/vocals, Matt Kranis on drums, and Cindy Sukrattanawong on bass. Their debut album, Moodboard, is out this fall on Bed Weather Records. You can find them on Bandcamp here and Facebook here.