This week, Nexus is putting the spotlight on a hidden gem from across the ditch. Riverwood, masterminded by former admin of the shitposting martyr Wats Up Cucké, blends folk with a melancholic, driving rock sound that transports you to a whole new vibe every time. With new music on the way, I’ve reached out to the man behind it all to try and give Nexus readers a chance to branch out and listen to something new.
Nexus: So, introduce yourself and tell us the backstory of Riverwood.
I am Jordan Slattery, I play guitar and vocals and am the lead songwriter of the band Riverwood. We are, I guess we’re a rock band? From Adelaide South Australia.
Nexus: Where does the name come from?
So, Riverwood started as a solo project; I was a big fan of City in Colour, and I found it cool how his name Dallas Green was Dallas, a city, and Green a colour, was where he got his name from. So I was like, what’s the closest I can get to that? So I was like, Jordan, the river, and Slattery, I got called “slats” a lot, so I was like “slats of wood”, and I got Riverwood. And I was like, hey! That’s a place in Skyrim, and I thought y’know, maybe it was meant to be, because I like Skyrim. It kinda worked, and it sounded pretty “folky”. It wasn’t my favourite name. I was still trying to come up with a better name, but the guys I ended up getting when it turned into a band all seemed pretty set on it, so it stuck.
Nexus: The aesthetic of your last record Soaked to the Bone (available on Spotify and Apple Music) could easily be described by its own album artwork; a beautiful menagerie of slow, thick music with an atmosphere that makes you want to just sit in it and listen for a while. What are the biggest inspirations for the sound and aesthetic?
I’m glad you worded that question like that, just something thick and slow, something you can just sort of sit in. I always liked ambient music. I listened to a lot of Tool, City in Colour, Van Howard, Daughter around that time and they influenced me quite a lot, especially with Soaked to the Bone and The Grey really setting the atmosphere. It was all really folk rock, except for those atmospheric songs which I think are the strongest tracks for setting the theme for the album.
So, yeah I think that’s a very good way of putting it, I really like that. I feel like a couple of the songs sort of sound like the album artwork, particularly the title track. When I’d seen one of my friends, he posted that he’d been mucking around for a project in school with the effects of paint in water, and he had a couple of images, and one of them is the front cover of the album. When I saw them I was like, “wow, I need that”. I’d been thinking about artwork for a while and I thought, “oop, yep, that’s it”. I mean cause I liked it and also because I thought that you know, the bone colour in the dark water sort of suited “Soaked to
Nexus: And how would you describe it to someone who has never heard it before?
Generally, we were tending to not play acoustic at all. So some of the other songs sounded a bit more “post-rock” style, so I would usually tell people we were a post-rock band with some folky acoustic music too.
Nexus: How have you, and your music, grown since the last record? What will your upcoming new album do to demonstrate this change?
There’s been a huge change since Soaked to the Bone released, I have a member of the band that has stayed since around then, so we’ve got a new guitarist and bass player; we’re maybe a quarter to a third of the way to making the new album. We’re gonna change the name, we’re gonna be called “Only Ghost”. Basically, Riverwood is the eventuation of me playing solo for about 3 years, and that became the band. That’s why I was in the role of writing everything. I’d been in other bands where I wasn’t the one in control, where things were a bit heavier, so this was essentially a contrast to that. Now that I’m not working with others, I’m trying to funnel everything from my singer-songwriter stuff to my band performance stuff into this one project.
Nexus: As a smaller act, you perform to people who might not know who you are. So how do you tackle stage fright and performance anxiety? Any advice for those starting out in a band looking for some inspiration on overcoming the barrier between where they are now and becoming performers?
I don’t really get stage fright or anxiety when it comes to playing. The only times I get a bit worried is when there’s a good reason, like I get on stage and I wonder if I’ve actually practiced enough as I should. My advice is to practice until what you’re playing is second-nature. I like to be at the point where we’re comfortable with it, like I might play something a little different but we’re still comfortable enough with it that doesn’t freak any of us out.
Nexus: Give me a song of your own that encompasses your sound and purpose.
On the new album, the first track “Black Lotus” seems to be the centrepiece of the band, that’s the first song we learnt and really captures the sound of the band we’re trying to be. It’s quite heavy, and it does incorporate some of the softer elements I really like. It’s really quite upbeat and energetic that makes it fun to play compared to a lot of our other songs, which can be a big effort to play; they’re slower, they’re longer, so something more high energy and fun to smash out still captures a lot of the other elements we have.