Despite the general consensus, the Lost Revival, the decade-old Columbus rock band led by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Collins, never broke up.
You couldn’t even really call it hibernation, as they are a collective of friends and musicians who refuse to stay sedentary. They have all been moonlighting in other bands, such as Domes, the Swarming Branch, and Paper Waves, to name just a few. And Collins is always busy, whether it’s an impromptu turn covering goofball tribute nights (2015’s Ed Kowalczyk at Treebar was a treat) or his consistent portrayal of of the Mercury men for Mr. Fahrenheit and the Loverboys. But of all of those projects, even Collins’ 2014 solo album, Ohio Town, made in the interim, nothing gets the same response that comes with a rollicking Lost Revival performance.
That’s why at a 2016 reunion of sorts at Independents’ Day, with an ever-growing catalog of songs Collins was itching to get on tape, he encouraged the band to get back in the studio. As Collins starting writing and arranging the songs for American Heir, the stars started to align and one-by-one, the members once-Lost were brought back to the fold.
The result is an record that includes not only Collins’ trademark melancholic ramblings, but a pure energy from the rest of the team that counters with bursts of revelatory atmosphere.
“When we started recording we were having fun doing things we haven’t done before, adding different elements and even a Beach Boys vibe to ‘The Band That Got Away,’” says Collins of the instant camaraderie. “I’m much more happy-go-lucky than I used to be. I don’t think I let that out enough in the past.”
One of their earliest accolades suggested the Lost Revival sound like The Band, acquiring a bunch of synthesizers, and throwing out the instructions. Giving that dynamic a nom de plume of “bastardized Americana,” Collins and the band—a cavalcade of talent including bassist Ben Ahlteen, guitarist Daniel Kirschenbaum, drummer Chris Cheeseman, keyboardist Joe DeWitt, saxophonist Kelly Kefauver, and new member, violinist Sam Kim—can travel around, hence the “revival,” into different paths of early rock and roll and folk, and all tents in between.
A consummate and professional kind of songwriter—a traditionalist, if you must—Collins is sometimes following melodies and chords over years at a time until they blossom into something he deems complete. But on songs like “Baby @ 15” and “2 Left Feet,” he and the band possess a playful confidence and lack of pretense that can sometimes bog down bands of their ilk. To put it bluntly, American Heir is anything but stuffy, nothing too serious, and all fun.
“’Hard On(es)’ is all about being domesticated and looking around on social media and seeing friends constantly touring,” says Collins. “You miss part of going on those little tours, but you also think about how it’s also comfortable now to not have to struggle like you used to all the time. This album’s about not giving a shit anymore. When I played sports I always did my best when I didn’t give a shit. I’m a very neurotic person, so anytime I can get out of my head, like I do when I’m playing; you’re going to get the most natural performance.”
With American Heir, Collins has crafted the best album of his career, so of course there are plans to bask in its glow for the immediate future. Tours may come, but that’s not the priority. Right now it’s just a matter of keeping the revival revved (a hard feat considering the number of players in the band), convincing those who may have it ignored it the first time around, and keeping the musical landscape of Columbus fertile with rock abandon for years to come.
The Lost Revival will release American Heir at Rumba Cafe (12.8). Visit lostrevival.com for music and more info.