Revel In Romance, comprised of siblings Saxony Raine (vocals), Parker Rehklau (vocals/guitar) and Remington Rehklau (bass), along with Devin Maier (guitar/vocals) and Mark Robinson (drums), are an alternative pop rock band based in Atlanta, GA who have steadily been making a name for themselves in the industry since forming in 2014. Saxony, Parker and Devin started the band as an acoustic trio. Although they achieved great success, opening for bands such as The Band Perry, they ultimately realized their vision to reach beyond their acoustic sound. Shortly after the release of their EP Stripped, they added their drummer Mark, who had previously played drums for acts such as The Jonas Brothers, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, and bassist Remington. Having caught the ear of producer/vocal coach “Mama” Jan Smith (owner of Homegirl Entertainment) early on, she took the band under her wing and has has helped to guide and mentor them to where they are today. The band has toured heavily over the past several years, perfecting their sound through performances at several prominent festivals and conferences across the country including Warped Tour, SXSW, Summerfest and Sweetwater 420. Saxony was named Best Female Rock Vocalist at the 2016 GA Music Awards and the band has won a Balcony TV Global People’s Choice Award. With themes of passion, love, pain and sex running through their songs, they released their debut EP “Right and Wrong” in July of 2016 that saw 2 songs reach number one on radio stations in the US and England. Their most recently released sophomore album Smoke and Mirrors sees the band taking themselves to the next level. “Right and Wrongwas just an introduction of who we are. Smoke and Mirrorsis deeper than that… It’s why we’re here. This EP takes what we loved about the last one, and uses that as a foundation for our music moving forward. There is no ‘weak’ song on S&M, no filler space. Even the intro “L O V E” has a very subtle importance. Every song is as strong as the last, whether that’s inenergy, passion, lyricism, or meaning. I believe that any listener could find one song on this EP that speaks to them. We love our wall-of-sound, we love our raw energy, and we love the fact that at the heart of it all this rock and noise, it’s still pop music”, says the band. The band recently released their latest video for “Youth”, which you can watch below. With plans for more shows, more videos and more touring, the band is ready for their next phase! Staff writer Emily Mayrecently spoke via email with Parker, Saxony and Mark about their new EP, favorite fan gifts and what’s next. You can follow Revel In Romance and stay up-to-date on all upcoming band music, news and tour dates, as well as stream and purchase their music, via the following links.
The band started out as an acoustic trio until you realized that the sounds you wanted to produce required additional members. What can you tell me about those early days of the band and your decision to be acoustic?
Parker– Being acoustic wasn’t really a decision. It was the outcome of our previous band breaking up and us pushing forward with what we had. We went from a big 7-piece band, and when that ended, Sax, Devin and I had each other and our instruments, so we just kept going!
What led to the change in direction of your sound and addition of members?
Parker– We needed it. We were hungry for it. Sonically, we missed it. So we brought on a bunch of different friends to come in and play with us – David Mulazzi (from ATL local group “The Carolyn”), Trent Bilodeau (from ATL local group “Mansell”) Cory Fica (Austin, TX band “Mostly Dead”) and a whole slew of other ATL staple musicians have substituted for us. The big turning point was when we played with a full orchestra and chorus behind us, and 3 of our closest friends provided the back band. At that point, we were like “we gotta go bigger.” A few months later, we settled into our current lineup, officially bringing on Remington and Mark.
Do you feel like your process of writing songs changed as your sound evolved?
Parker– Absolutely. that’s part of growing up and growing as an artist. You write in the language you speak, from experiences you have. Our first song’s subjects (like high school relationships) seem so trivial in comparison to the things we write now (like divorce). But at its core, it almost always starts with a jam and that flows to a melody, which is written in tandem with the lyrics. We chew on it for a while, tweak it every time we play it until we settle into a routine. A couple months later, we realize we’ve been playing this song for a while now and we should probably debut it. Every song is a little different. Like, I don’t remember writing “Young”. I remember trying to find the words and then the song just… existed.
I read that you threw out most of the songs from your first year as a band because they didn’t sound like you and that by your second year you knew who you were as a band. What has your journey been like in discovering your sound?
Parker– It’s grown up. A lot of our first year stuff was semi-americana, like singer/songwriter-y, and while thats good and all, that didn’t energize us as artists. We wanted to jump and punch things, dance and scream. We wanted hooks that made you want to punch the sky – you cant get that on an acoustic guitar in a coffeeshop.
Were there any songs from your first year as a band that you held onto and were able to re-work to fit your sound?
Parker– Not yet, I don’t think. However, I come across “Back To You” (the final track on our unreleased acoustic EP “Stripped” 2014) every now and then and it still moves me. That song is due for a re-release. And we have a really old song that I absolutely adore that no one ever wants to play with me called “Hello October” and I feel like could be a anthemic banger. But as of right now, nah. We enjoy writing new material rather than reworking old.
Having such individually diverse tastes in music and influences, how have you gone about blending those into your own unique sound?
Parker– A lot of yelling. I’m joking. But we have to de-funk-ify Remi every once in a while. He’s a great bassist and he cut his teeth on jam bands, so he’ll pull that out when we write and fall into the pocket as we tweak. I think between Devin, Saxony, and myself, we’ve been writing together for so long that we all inherently know what direction we’re writing towards. Everything has kind of fallen into place.
You’ve said that your debut EP ‘Right and Wrong’ was just an introduction of who you are and that your new EP ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is deeper than that. It’s why you’re here. What can you tell me about the process of making the new EP and what it says about you as a band? What kinds of goals do you have going forward in continuing to grow your sound?
Parker– This EP has been a long time coming, so the process has been very meticulous. Every note has been painstakingly criticized, so that we put our absolute best foot forward. “Right and Wrong” granted us the ability to show that we’re serious, we’re making music, this is our music. But “Smoke and Mirrors” is more in-your-face. It’s unavoidable- we’re really musicians and these are our favorites and you need to hear it. Our goals moving forward after “Smoke and Mirrors” is to get a little more experimental. We’re already playing with bigger synths and drum pads and incorporating a little more pop into our alternative roots.
Saxony- You were 16 and in high school when the band formed. You’ve mentioned having bonfires with your friends during the winter and touring during the summer. What was that like for you, being in a touring band in high school?
Juggling school, music and extracurricular’s was stressful, but I think it ultimately made me better at multitasking and even though sometimes I had to be traveling during summers while my friends were at the pool – I, fortunately had the luxury of traveling with some of my best friends in the world. My friends were super supportive, too.
You have mentioned that you all contribute to the songwriting process? Do you each have different styles? Is it a pretty smooth process with everyone involved?
Parker– I’d argue that it’s smoother with everyone involved than if we were writing alone. Because when it’s just me writing, it sounds like a Parker song; when Sax writes, it sounds like a Sax song; when Devin writes, it sounds like a Devin song; but when the 5 of us all write together, it sounds like a Revel song.
For your first full-length album, you decided to work with vocal coach/producer Jan Smith. What prompted that decision? How did you meet and come and come to work her and what has the experience been like? What did you learn from the process that you’ve been able to apply to your vocals going forward?
Parker– Jan is the best thing to happen to Revel in Romance. Her guidance as a vocal coach is unmistakable, but her capacity as a producer is truly underrated. She has an incredible ear and can pick out the littlest things that impact the song in a massive way. She’s appreciated by many in the industry as a vocal producer, but she really is a powerhouse full-on producer in her own right. I’ve known Jan since I was 15, and started taking lessons from her. She has become more than a vocal coach, she’s a mentor, a business adviser, a killer producer, a connector, a therapist, and a friend (I have a really cute picture from my wedding of Jan pelting me in the face with flower pedals as my wife and I were ceremoniously walking down the aisle). I can’t imagine NOT working with Jan.
What has been the best advice you’ve received as a band?
Parker– I think everyone might have a different answer. Personally, I think it might be advice from within ourselves. Something along the lines of “Don’t Quit. Quitting is how you lose.” This shit is hard. It’s tiring. It’s trying on our families and friendships. But it’s our heart and our happiness, and none of us can do this without each other, so with some blind sense of faith, determination and loyalty we push ourselves and each other everyday to be successful. We see bands everyday say things like “(Band Name) is no more, we’re grateful for our friends and fans along the way…” and we look at each other and say “Quitters.”
Mark- You have played drums for acts such as Keith Urban and The Jonas Brothers. How did you come to join Revel In Romance?
Surprisingly, the group found me on Craigslist of all places. I had recently moved to Atlanta and was itching to play live again. So I made a short post seeking out musicians to jam with and possibly play live. Within a couple of days they responded proposing a simple jam session to show me their music, writing process, etc. The rest was history. Five years later, we’re like family!
What can you tell me about the company you run in Atlanta, Storyboard LLC?
Mark– As for Storyboard Studios (Storyboard, LLC), it’s a music school and recording studio just south of the city. I started it in 2013 as a three part endeavor; to give music lessons, record local groups and manage and help guide musicians that don’t know much about the industry. It’s been a blast having a hand (even if just a sliver) in molding people into the musicians they’d like to become.
In 2017, the band performed at the second installment of the WomenInRock Showcase at The Bowery Electric In NYC to celebrate women in music and female-led indie bands. What was it like being a part of that showcase?
Parker– We love NYC and we love the Bowery Electric. That particular show was arranged for us by the incredible gentlemen at The Fox and King, Inc. They promote independent artist in an around New York. Fernando, the Founder and owner of The Fox and King, even came to the Bowery and film the whole show. We were blown away by their level of support.
Saxony- Have you faced any specific challenges as a woman in the industry?
I have never been treated any differently for being a woman in the music industry – I don’t really think about being a woman or a man having any sort of superiority over the other. I feel like equality comes in a mindset. You create your own destiny. So far, that mindset has given me wings. It’s given me the confidence to be anything I want to be, woman or not.
Saxony- What can you tell me about your desire to write a book about every song you’ve written and have the song name be the chapter titles?
I’ve always been passionate about writing. I’ve always said; “if I wasn’t a musician, I’d be a writer”. So, I think that being able to, and having the resources to, mix both of my passions into one has majorly inspired me to be excited about the idea.
What sparked that idea?
Saxony– Revel in Romance songs kind of take a path and a journey that I am all too familiar with, so I want to share the story.
You’ve received a lot of fan art from your fans. Have you received other memorable gifts? It sounds like you have a special connection with your fans!
Parker– This one goes out to Robert in Atlanta- who has shown up at shows with handmade sculptures of our logo to give to us. When we were first starting out, he gave us a big check – entirely unprompted, out of the blue – just because he wanted to support us and he was such a fan. I could still cry about it today, because he didn’t have to do that, and that funded the first business steps the band made.
Tracy in the UK has supported us since before we were Revel. I’d fly over the pond just to have lunch with her if I could.
Johanna is a model who travels between London, Paris, and NYC like every other week and we’ve watched her grow into a superstar, she’s been so supportive since our instagram was in its infancy.
Rachel in Chicago gives us air under our wings every day, she did some fan artwork on her instagram and that was the first time I realized we were making connections to people purely online.
Rochelle in Australia sent Saxony buttons because Sax had posted about making a sweatshirt covered in buttons. They send letters back and fourth across the world, now. Saxony got tears in her eyes from Rochelle’s kindness when the buttons and that first letter came.
James in Birmingham has driven across state lines over a dozen times to see us and support us through some big moments in the band’s career. If I could bring him everywhere, I would.
Jackson – the best hypeman in the universe.
Alexandria in Atlanta, who’s a young growing artist and musician did another drawing that we want signed and hung in our studio.
Will, an EDM DJ in Peachtree City, who started as a fan and now has production credits on one of our upcoming songs. He’s helped us find our sound over the last few years and has changed the way we approach songwriting. He’s actually playing the Imagine Music Fest this year under his DJ name – Dromer.
That sweet fan in Milwaukee who pushed her way to the front of the stage and reached across the barrier wall to give Saxony a black rose. Saxony still has it. She, and we, treasure and keep everything anyone has ever given us. We are sentimental like that.
Colin in Fort Lauderdale, Maja in Atlanta, Kleigh in Athens, Chris and Jenna in Dawsonville, Nick in Greenville, Dave in NYC, Jesse and Rachel in Milwaukee/Orlando, Aaron in Birmingham, Kai in Jacksonville, Ari and Adam in Miami, Alexander and James in Chicago, Jasmine, Joey, and Lauren in Miami, Greg in Nashville, Joya, Shelby, Bailey, Simone, Arteen, Callie, Karl, Amber, Avery, and Keanu in Atlanta, and there’s at least about 1,000 others who deserve to know – you all give us breath and a purpose. Every success we have is because of and for you and we absolutely adore you.
You’ve also begun a new level of fan interaction on your social media to let them to know you see them and are with them. What can you tell me about your #FanFriday on Instagram? How has the response been?
Parker– We’ve dabled in this, but I really want to do more with it because our fans are amazing. What we used to do was #fanfriday with our fans wearing revel logo merch, but that became very narcissistic and very advertisement-y very quickly. And that’s not its purpose, we want to show our love to them; They all say the sweetest things and believe in us, we want to give it back to them somehow. So we’re revamping #fanfriday because they deserve it.
You have a lot of new things coming up- music, merch, videos and tour! What’s next for you? What are your goals for the band going forward?
Parker– We have more music in our catalogue, all in prepro. We have 2 videos all in prepro. We have some lofty goals, but we’re gonna do it this year! All in all, Play more shows. See more cities. Meet more people. Write more songs. (Booking agents, where you at?)