Justin Broadbent

On Friday (July 21), Wild Rivers, the trio made up of Devan Glover, Khalid Yassein and Andrew Oliver, will be hitting the road joining The Chicks on the first date of their North American tour in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

For The Chicks, it's their first major run of live dates in years, following last year's festival appearances at such events as Austin City Limits, but for Canadian trio Wild Rivers, an ongoing Variance favorite, it's their first time ever being a part of such a large-scale trek. And the excitement in palpable.

Speaking with Variance just ahead of the show at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Glover, Yassein and Oliver mentioned they have been holed up in the studio for the past few weeks, frantically working on new music which they are eager to share. Earlier this month, they also played their own first show in eight months, which is in addition to the dates with The Chicks as well as a U.K. and European tour later this summer.

"This has been our busy season," says Yassein. "We've been working on new music for a while and we've been very much in that headspace. So we got to a pretty good place with that and now we're shifting our mindset. We've got lots of shows this summer and it's about figuring out how to play our songs live again and that whole side of it."

While the band describes their 2022 album Sidelines as their "Covid baby" and "very much a labor of love," as Yassein explains, they've taken a different approach with this upcoming record, which they teased earlier this year with their incredible single "Don't," an instant favorite.

"I think we kind of wanted to do the exact opposite of the process from the last album," says Oliver, explaining: "The last album we ended up having to do kind of remotely and all over the place and it was just a really drawn-out process. So the game plan for this one was to just get together for some time somewhere and try and do it all in one stretch and we pretty much got to do that. We went to Joshua Tree and rented a big barn for a few weeks and just got in there and made as much stuff as we could."

After a lengthy run on the road last year following their previous album, Wild Rivers took time off to enjoy real life and spend more time with family and loved ones. But they're quick to point out how excited they are to be back on tour again.

"At the very end of the last year, we were definitely tired, but now we're chomping at the bit," says Yassein. "It's been too long. I think that the live stuff—we really became a great live band last year, after just playing so many shows. So a bunch of the new music is a lot more fun; it's fun to play together in a room. And that's kind of where we're at musically right now. We're just wanting to put on a really fun, engaging show and not have to make people cry the entire time. We still have our 'cry moments,' but we pick and choose them," he says in jest. 

Adds Glover: "This is gonna be our first big opening tour. So we've never played rooms this big. And we're just trying to figure out how to cut down our set. You know, it's a 40-minute set. So it kind of gives us license to just play the fun ones and cater to a bigger room and cater to the fans of The Chicks, and what we think they would like, but also just have fun with it. The flow of the set will totally change."

The singer continues: "We're doing like an 85-minute set for our headlining tour and it's different when people come to see you, like the delivery of the show. So our goal for this is to just have a lot of fun, play the upbeat songs and just learn as much as you can from the pros, because we actually saw them last summer and they put on such an incredible show. So we're just there to admire. I'm very excited!"

Glover also says the great thing about being a supporting act is there is slightly less pressure. Or at least that's one way they're choosing to see it.

"The amazing thing about an opening tour is, if we suck, people probably just won't remember us," says Glover with a laugh. "But hopefully it's an opportunity to share music with some new fans. And if not, yeah, the goal for us is just to create a really positive energy on stage and have fun with it and not to put too much pressure on it because it's gonna be a big learning experience for us and I think we're all kind of shocked that it's a reality and so we're just trying to enjoy every minute."

As the band continues to grow, including a Juno nomination earlier this year and now the tour with The Chicks, Yassein says while it's full of anxiousness, it's also a boost to their confidence in the best way.

"It's amazing to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of our heroes and meeting all these people," says Yassein. "It feels like in the last two years, we kind of turned the page of being like the scrappy baby band that we felt like we were and now we actually know what we're about. It's just a nice validation that we don't have to try to be anything other than what we are."■