Meet: The Yorkshire Nick Cave – Rivers Johansson

Jason Shipley

Rivers Johansson has been writing, recording and performing his unique brand of the darkest blues since 2014. Hailing from the small town of Beverley in East Yorkshire, he is a one-man band, a mix of dirty and hard hitting slide blues that thrusts along like a locomotive to the sound of his kick drum, creating a gnarly, raw blues-rock sound.

Give us a potted history of yourself

I am a musician from Beverley, East Yorkshire who cut my teeth in the Hull music scene. I’ve been on the go forever it seems but my first gig in Hull was at the legendary Sesh night on a Tuesday in August 2014. I have since played Humber Street Sesh, Beverley Blues Festival, Farmyard Party (a biker festival) amongst many other gigs and festivals over the years. 

I am currently about to launch the first single from my upcoming album Long Way Down (One Last Thing) and I am enjoying the circus that surrounds it. Never a dull day. I am also working on the next 3 EPs and re-recording, mixing and mastering my first album over again. 

Who inspired you to start making music

Everything I am I owe to Lincoln Durham, a Texas born Blues one man band, and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. 

And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically

Lincoln Durham’s Exodus of The Deemed Unrighteous. That record inspired me so much I named my band after it. 

If you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say

It’s been said that my sound is like, “if Nick Cave moved to New Orleans in the 1920s after a really bad break up and found Christ”. I think that’s pretty close to be fair.

Tell us about your new track

I am a man that has struggled with faith most of my life, and Devils Backbone is about the fall from grace. My desire for the divine vs my lower nature is the story behind most of my songs. I used my trusty Vox valve amp, my Gibson SG, Ozark resonator and many distortion pedals. The track was produced by Rob Burgess at Uber Studios Hull and was Mastered by Howie Weinberg in New York City. The song is being released on digital platforms by Man Demolish Records.

Where can we get hold of it

Devil’s Backbone will be available in all digital platforms. I hear that Spotify is popular with the kids these days.

Tell us how you write

Good lord, what a question. I’d love to say I have a method. It is all so very random at times, though. I find I often have periods where I am uber creative and on fire when it comes to writing; the words and riffs flow, it’s almost outside of myself and sometimes it dries up and that is terrifying.

Tell us about your live show and how much did you miss it recently

I love playing live. It’s really the main reason I do what I do. There’s nothing like it. I kept myself occupied through lockdown by recording demos for everything I had written up until that point. I gave myself no time to kiss playing live. I was lucky that way. My live shows consist of me adopting a preacher style character who spits old testament verses between songs, linking them together. I suppose I’m trying to tell stories at the end of the day.

What can we expect from you in the near future

I have the next two years planned as far as single and album releases go. Let’s see if the cosmos plays ball with me and it all goes swimmingly. Long Way Down (One Last Thing) will be released in March 2023 with singles from the next record dropping monthly thereafter. I’ll be a busy guy.

Tell us your favourite records apart from your own that’s rocking your headphones / tour bus / stereo

Long answer short: Everything by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. 

Find out more via Johansson’s Facebook

Check out some of Johansson’s music here

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