American band The Rigs unveiled their new album “World on Fire” on November 17th.
Formed in 2004, Caitlin Parrott and TJ Stafford combined their talents to design their unique alternative rock sound. Influenced by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Black Keys, Led Zeppelin, the Los Angeles duo offers powerful and genuine records that already resonated with a large audience worldwide. The band got the opportunity to have some of their songs featured on major TV shows such as The Walking Dead, True Blood, Pretty Little Liars and more.
The alternative rock band revealed their new single “When We Were Young” on December 16th. Produced by Michael “SMIDI” Smith (Coldplay, OneRepublic, Paramore), the new single reflects on the desire to love the way we do when we’re young.
You can now stream and download “When We Were Young” and their new album “World on Fire” on major streaming platforms.
cp: I’m Caitlin Parrott.
tj: I’m TJ.
When and how did you guys meet?
cp: TJ and I originally met back in 2004. We met through church.
tj: I was leading music at a church in LA that Cait had attended since she was a child. She auditioned to sing in the band, and, well, you’ve heard her voice.
When did you decide to work together?
cp: We actually technically “worked” together for years before we ever decided to write music together and form The Rigs. We were friends and played music together for various projects and supported each other’s solo careers for almost 10 years before we decided to write together. It was the result of some personal turmoil that needed to be hashed out and writing felt like a safe way to do that ;-)
Why did you pick The Rigs as your band’s name? When did you know it was the right name?
cp: TJ wanna take this one?
tj: Ha. I still don’t know if it’s the right name. Band names are so weird to come up with. Personally I find it tedious and awkward, so we were just looking for something that felt right and wasn’t already taken. After about 743 attempts, I was sitting with my dad and just asked him to start spitballing words associated with his days working in oil fields. He said "rigs” and I was like, that could work, plus I was exhausted, so we stuck with it. Still feels good, I think.
What was the first song you’ve ever recorded together? Which one was it? What was it about?
cp: Ever? That would be a song we tracked for a church related project back in 2007 maybe? But the first song that we ever wrote together that we recorded was “To Be Where You Are”. And it was about us, honestly. And a season in our relationship. It’s about that all consuming love that you feel for someone, sometimes against your better judgment. And the willingness to open yourself up to unimaginable pain just to be with that one person your heart can’t seem to let go of.
Tell us about your new album “World on Fire” and the artwork.
How would you describe this album? Why did you name your album “World on Fire”? What’s the message behind this album?
What makes it different from your past records?
tj: The artwork is from Rowan Daly, an amazing photographer friend of ours. We wanted to cover art to be a picture of us and to somehow represent the internal and external struggle of a chaotic world, yet be sexy at the same time.
Honestly, I’m really proud of this album. Sonically it’s a moment of growth for us, and thematically, it’s honestly about internal and external struggles we’ve faced as individuals and as a part of the human collective. It’s personal and specific and sweeping and broad all at the same time.
As far as the title “World on Fire,” it fit our experience in the world right now. It’s not at all just about the negative connotation of the phrase, either. We wrestle with the idea of cleansing trait of fire, also. Are we victims of someone else’s arson? Sometimes. But I also think sometimes we accidentally light the match, and sometimes we do it on purpose. Sometimes we should. Sometimes we need to destroy, sometimes we need cleanse and purify, and sometimes it’s all of the above. “The Brave” wrestles with the idea that the good don’t win because they’re cowards when it comes to action. “Fault Line” wrestles with the idea of standing in those gray areas and having to decide which side to fall on when the world forces you to make a decision. And the title track is all about actively and conscientiously lighting the blaze and not yet knowing whether you were right or wrong, just knowing that action needed to be taken.
This album was a new experience for us in that we let the songs dictate where the sound went without the limits of genre. It was very freeing. It may have lead to some schizophrenic moments, but every song feels how we believe it should feel. It ended up feeling a lot like life itself. I’ve often tried to be a certain type of person at all times because that’s how I felt I should be, or how I wanted people to perceive how it was. Truth is humans are much more complex than that, and sometimes “me” in one situation is not how “me” should be in another. Sometimes I need to be the peacemaker, sometimes I need to be the fighter.
You collaborated with Michael “SMIDI” Smith. How did you guys meet? How is it like to work with him?
tj: I met Smidi years ago through mutual music connections. Working with Smidi is and has always been one of my favorite things in life. He’s undoubtedly one of the most talented producers I know, but more importantly, he’s one of the best people I know. There’s not a bad bone in his body. He brings skills and an extreme peace to any situation, which is rare in this world.
“When We Were Young” is the second single off your new album. How did it come about? What made you want to release this record as a single?
tj: Cait and I talk about everything all the time, so one particular night I was relaying my current line of internal monologue which revolved around the idea that maybe it was emotionally and physically impossible for me to fall in love again. That lead to thinking about those childhood memories of deep, passionate, innocent love - whether for a person or event or toy or whatever. It felt good to sit in that innocence for a while so we decided to write a song that reflected that. We released it cause we needed it and thought maybe others may also, especially in today’s climate.
In your opinion, what makes a good song?
cp: A good hook will draw anyone in, but I’ve always been a sucker for great lyricism. And if you can combine the two, I’ll be a fan.
tj: I’m more on the side of melody. Does anyone actually know what they’re singing in Portugal the Man’s “Feel it Still”? No one. Not a single person. And if they say they do, they’re lying. But damn, that melody.
You’ve been in the industry for a while now. What lessons did you learn along the way?
cp: Expect nothing. Hope for everything. You are your best advocate. And always get a second opinion before signing anything ;-)
tj: You are owed exactly nothing. Never stop moving. Become great at your craft. Fuck inspiration.
Those are my daily mantras.
As artists, what is the biggest obstacle you’ve ever overcome?
cp: Deciding who I want to be. Sounds strange, but honestly, as an artist you can be ANYONE. And having TOO many options can actually be paralyzing. I have had many voices and personas (for lack of a better term) over the years, and finding my “true” voice has been quite an interesting process.
tj: Losing everything in pursuit of the dream and deciding to still pursue the dream.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
cp: Geez. Everyone. I’ve never had a real favorite, but at different times I’ve drawn from so many different artists. Starting with Nichole Nordeman when I first got into songwriting as a young teen, to Sara Bareilles in my piano driven singer/songwriter phase in my early twenties to Fleetwood Mac, The Civil Wars, The Black Keys, etc. in more recent years. Countless other artists from basically every genre imaginable have influenced me at different points in my musical journey.
tj: Zeppelin. It all boils down to Zeppelin. I think even the cheesiest love ballad I’ve ever written is somehow inspired by them.
You’re living in LA. What inspires you about the most about this city?
cp: The life! LA is so magically diverse. Both in geography and humanity. You’ve got the beach and the mountains and the city lights and the exorbitant wealth and the utter depravity. The juxtaposition of all those things is fodder for unlimited inspiration.
tj: I think LA is a paradox that somehow makes perfect sense. LA feels like a microcosm of the entire earth’s experience to me. It’s rich and poor, fake and real, contains every race on the planet, is an expansive city of steel and concrete that somehow still has a landscape of iconic beaches and snow capped mountains, is fast and frenetic while being chill and laid back, and will eat you alive while making your dreams come true. It’s a weird beautiful place that doesn’t fit into a category. That’s reflected in a lot of what we write and in how we sound.
As creative people, do you think LA is helping you build your artistry/musicality? In what way?
cp: Absolutely. Primarily for the reasons just mentioned. As well as the fact that being surrounded by so many other dreamers and creatives allows for so many opportunities to collaborate and expand your own creativity.
What are the key things an artist need to do to be noticed and heard?
cp: When you find out, let us know!
tj: Having an adorable kitten and posting a video of it on YouTube? A sex tape? Sign spinning at the corner of Lincoln & Pico? I have no idea.
I take that back. A great PR person. We have that. So yeah, scratch the sex tape thing.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received when you first created The Rigs?
tj: It was before we created it. It was from Russell Emanuel, the CEO of the company that reps our music for tv. We had written a couple songs for him with no intention of being anything official and he said, “You should be an actual band.” So we did.
Why do you make music?
cp: I don’t know how to NOT make music. It’s my therapy, my release, where I feel most like myself.
tj: It’s the only thing I know how to do. Seriously. I’m terrible at everything else.
What’s your ultimate goal?
cp: To make really good music that resonates with people all over the world…and that pays the bills.
tj: To make the music I want to make….and pay bills. ;-)
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