The Revivalists’ David Shaw on Inventive Integrity and Truthful Songwriting

56 Musicians Predict the 2021 NFL Season
56 Musicians Predict the 2021 NFL Season

David Shaw, frontman of the Revivalists, didn’t start his music career as a singer—instead, he was “always the second guitar player.” But Shaw eventually realized that he needed another form of expression.

Having grown up admiring the artistic integrity of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, Shaw manifested that inspiration when he co-founded the Revivalists in 2007. Speaking to SPIN seventeen years later at SXSW, Shaw says that singing became—and remains—the outlet he was seeking.

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“Things were happening inside me, some things on the home front, [and] I needed to talk about it. I needed to write about it,” Shaw says. “Apparently, I needed to sing about it, and it made me feel better. Then I realized that when you [release] those feelings that are just so deep in there, the thing that you don’t really wanna say, somebody in the audience is gonna go, ‘Hey, I heard you. I felt what you were saying there.’”

His latest solo single, the simple yet vivid “Alabama,” exemplifies Shaw’s creative process: putting an idea through his own filter and into song. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it: “I have to fight against my judgment brain,” he says. “It’s a constant battle of being an open book, of being out there, and being willing to bear it.”

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