In this interview we meet Westview.
If they sound a little familiar, then you might just remember them under the name Stellar Revival who played a blinder of a set on the main stage at Download Festival eight years ago.
Now back with an all new project with an added “Nashville twist” and some catchy as hell tunes, this may just be your new favourite band. Just check out Old Fashioned Love and What It Ain’t if you don’t believe us.
Hot off the heels of their new single releases, we caught up with bassist Mike Lowther and drummer Andrew Koussevitzky, to get the lowdown on all things Westview and the bands exciting plans for the year ahead.
Can you introduce Westview to our readers who may not have heard of you (yet!)?
Andrew: We’re formerly known as Stellar Revival, but now a brand-new country act called Westview based out of Miami, Florida and Los Angeles, California.
And we have to ask, what was the inspiration behind the name Westview?
Mike: We all grew up in the same town, around Coral Springs, Florida. In fact, there was a local show in the mid-2000s where all of us played the same stage – just in completely different bands. We spent a lot of time driving up and down Westview Boulevard, so we felt that was a road that helped get us here today. Westview was also the name of one of Andrew’s bands in high school, so we thought it’d be fun to be earth-friendly and recycle the name.
Some UK fans may remember the band under the guise of Stellar Revival on mainstage at Download 2012 on the same day that Black Sabbath played. You also opened for Bon Jovi not so long ago in LA. What is the status of Stellar Revival? Will the project be reignited or will Westview now take priority?
Andrew: Stellar Revival certainly had a great run over the last few years, and we’re very proud of the music we made and the shows we’ve played. Right now, Westview is 100% our focus, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. But Stellar Revival isn’t done, and I could absolutely see that project resurrecting at some point in the future.
Where Stellar Revival had a more straight up rock and roll sound, Westview has taken a slightly different direction opting for more of a country influenced style. What inspired you to go down this route?
Andrew: To be honest, while we were touring as Stellar Revival the majority of what we listened to as a band was country music. We spent the majority of our time traveling through the South and Mid-West of America. I think being in that environment had an influence on us as a band, and ultimately led us to heading in this new direction.
You’ve released two songs so far which seem to have been really well received with ‘What It Ain’t’ surpassing 100,000 streams on Spotify since its release and ‘Old-Fashioned Love’ doing equally as well. How does it feel to know that just two songs in that so many people are already playing your music?
Andrew: It feels amazing. When we released music as Stellar Revival, we had one of the biggest record labels in the world behind us. Up until now, we’ve been doing the entire Westview project independently, so to receive such a positive reaction right out of the gate is extremely fulfilling. It sort of validates the direction we’re heading in, and makes us want to press on the gas that much harder.
Can you share with us the stories behind both tracks? The ‘Old-Fashioned Love’ lyric video featuring the band members other halves was such a great concept and nice touch.
Andrew: What it Ain’t came to be because we wanted to see whether our band could cut it in Nashville. We flew out to Tennessee last year to work with producer Phil Barnes, and upon arrival he connected us with Will Hoge, Emily Shackelton, and Ben West. They co-wrote and it was really the first “country” song we cut. We did about another 10 tracks, but What it Ain’t felt like to proper introduction to Westview.
As for Old Fashioned Love, that song came about how many of our best songs (both in Westview and Stellar Revival) came to be. Our guitarist Ryan Spears brought a great riff to the studio, and a few hours later the song was born. Not to simplify things, but that’s just how it works for us. Sprinkle on top of that the genius of our producer Zakk Cervini, and that’s how Old Fashioned Love came to be.
The video for that one is definitely special to us because of how personal it is. There are pictures of band members with their significant others, our friends with their significant others, and our family members with their significant others. Our guitarist Steve Morgan helmed the production of it, and I think he absolutely crushed it.
You plan to release a further single later this year with more of a rocky edge not dissimilar to songs from ‘Love, Lust & Bad Company’. Can you tell us more about what fans can expect with this track?
Andrew: Not to beat around the bush, our next single is a song off of “Love, Lust, and Bad Company” called Cross Your Heart. We re-recorded it in Good Charlotte’s studio in North Hollywood, California last year with Zakk Cervini, and it’s one of my favourite recordings we have to date. When our singer Rino Cerbone wrote that song with producer Brian Howes many moons ago, we set big plans for it as a single. Unfortunately, the song was never given a proper release, and so we intend to fix that in March of 2020.
Mike: Yeah, it was really magical reviving a song we truly love and putting it in a new light. We sort of went through a few songs on that record and were like, “these would sound great in this new direction.” When Cross Your Heart started coming together, we all sort of looked at each other and had these big, silly grins on our faces. It was a really exciting feeling in that moment.
You’ve had the opportunity to work with producer Zakk Cervini (Blink 182, Poppy, Architects, Good Charlotte, Beartooth) and also Phil Barnes (Smallpools, Julia Sheer, Kris Allen, Liz Longley, Jake Etheridge) on some of Westview’s tracks. Can you tell us how these opportunities came about and what it was like to work with both Zakk and Phil?
Andrew: Just how all great relationships form in the 21st century, Zakk and I met via social media. After a few weeks, we reached out to Zakk with a few song ideas, and he graciously brought us into his studio. Working with Zakk was like working with the kindest, most brilliant mad-scientist you’ve ever seen. The dude grinds, and is probably the most creative, efficient, and badass human being on earth.
As for Phil, we all knew Phil from back in South Florida. When we transitioned to a more country sound, we knew that we wanted to get in with Phil. His pulse on the Nashville scene is incredible, and I feel that rubbed off on us. We’re already in talks with Phil to cut a few more tracks this year.
This leads nicely to our next question. What is the typical song-writing process involved when you come together to create your releases? Is it challenging with different band members living in different states? Does this mean that a lot of the ground work for writing music is done digitally or do you get the chance to block out time to jam together?
Mike: It was definitely a bit of a challenge trying to get everyone’s busy schedules in line, especially considering our singer Rino just opened a restaurant this month. But oddly, the extra time yielded amazing results. Old Fashioned Love was actually recorded in February 2018, and mastered in October last year.
Essentially, we block out some pods of 2-3 weeks and spend every day writing and recording in those periods. This worked out in our favour because we used the additional time digesting the songs and sprinkling changes and new additions before sending to the legendary Tom Lord-Alge for mix.
Rino and Ryan generally lay the foundation and build the bricks. In between our full studio sessions, Andrew was recording drums at a separate studio while I was sending bass stems to Nashville from Los Angeles. And Rino was recording harmonies at Steve’s studio in Miami. It’s been a wild ride, but we couldn’t have done it without technology.
Today, the sound of country music seems to be branching out into various styles. You’ve got young artists trying to push the boundaries which some of the old-school purist country fans and artists aren’t so fond of. What’s your take on it all and how do you think Westview will look to push the boundaries of the genre?
Andrew: I think country has become a lot more inclusive, and that affords a rock ‘n’ roll band to throw their name in the hat. Aside from production, the music in Westview isn’t very different from what we were doing in Stellar Revival, and so I hope that our history as a band and as friends is what helps us bring something fresh to the table.
Mike: I feel our roots are really in rock, but more importantly, those roots really sprout from our energy when we’re together – no matter what we’re playing. I feel we’ve made something incredibly special here and I honestly couldn’t be more excited to share the stuff to come this year. There’s really something for everybody.
It seems like cross-over country artists such as Cory Marks are bringing the genre to broader audiences with collabs with the likes of Mick Mars (Motley Crue) and Ivan Moody (Five Finger Death Punch). Are there any bands or artists you’d like to collaborate with?
Andrew: Hundreds if not thousands, but I think a few artists on the top of our list would be Aerosmith, John Mayer, Kendrick Lamar, and Incubus. Our bassist Mike Lowther would probably say Sevendust.
Mike: Ha! You know, there really isn’t much dissimilarity between these artists. They all make amazing music and it’d be a dream to collaborate with literally any of those guys. I directed the video for Sevendust’s Not Today a while back, perhaps I’ll give Clint a call…
The music industry has changed so much over the last decade with the rise of streaming and various new channels cropping up all of the time on social media. How do you find this impacts on the band? Do you think it’s more difficult in this day and age compared to when you first started in bands way back in the Myspace days?
Andrew: We try to keep up to date with industry trends, but at the end of the day we just try to write and perform the best music we possibly we can. The same way we did in our bands during the Myspace era. Whether it’s being released via streaming, CD, cassette, or some other weird device we haven’t considered yet, it all comes down to the song, and having our focus on that has worked out well thus far.
What else can we expect from Westview in coming in 2020 and where do you hope the band will be 12 months from now?
Andrew: 2020 is all about new music for us. We’ll be releasing a string of singles leading up to an album this year. As for where I see the band in 12 months from now is hard to say, but I we think it will include hitting the road and bringing on a label partner in order to get the music out to more listeners.
In closing do you have any final comments for our readers out there?
Andrew: Thanks for sticking with us through the years and name changes. We have lots of new music to come! Follow us on IG @thisiswestview to keep up to date with our upcoming releases.
Westview is Rino Cerbone (Vocals), Ryan Spears (Guitar), Steve Morgan (Guitar), Mike Lowther (Bass) and Andrew Koussevitzky (Drums).
The band’s latest singles Old Fashioned Love and What It Ain’t are now available at the usual digital retailers – click through to the links to grab a copy or give them a spin on Spotify below. You can also pre-save the bands upcoming release Cross Your Heart coming in March 2020 on Spotify and Apple Music here.