PHOTO BY JACK HARTIN

By Noe Gutierrez

Rival Alaska is an indie, pop and rock band based out of the Coachella Valley consisting of longtime music mates Max Powell on bass/background vocals, James Johnson on guitar/vocals and Hugo Chavez on drums. They’ve been performing together for about five years and have re-established themselves earlier this year. Rival Alaska will be performing this Saturday at 11 a.m. on the main stage at the 5th Annual Cathedral City Hot Air Balloon Festival & Food Truck Mash-up. Their performance will be at Cathedral City Town Center 68-700 Avenida Lalo Guerrero in Cathedral City, CA. The festival will incorporate numerous events throughout several valley locations from November 16-18, 2018. The events include balloon tether rides, night time balloon glow, romantic dinners, gourmet food, Kids’ Zone family-friendly activities, kite display, fireworks, ‘Now and Then Car Show’ and multiple musical performances. The festival has partnered with the City of Cathedral City, Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa and The Desert Sun to expand the 2018 festival offerings. The SEAthletes Foundation will receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Food Truck Mash Up, the celebrity golf tournament and brunch tickets. The donation will be used to benefit the valley’s youth and promote recreation at the Salton Sea. Find more information and purchase tickets at hotairballoonfest.com. Coachella Valley Weekly connected with Rival Alaska mastermind Johnson for an update on the band.

CVW: What’s the narrative behind the name “Rival Alaska“?

Johnson: “Rival Alaska is a play on words describing the desolate difference of the desert, compared to Alaska. The desert is the complete ‘Rival to Alaska’!”

CVW: I listened to your most recent releases, “Famous Talk” and “Tunnel Vision”. They are wonderful, up-tempo and seemingly biographical songs. How would you describe the Rival Alaska sound?

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Johnson: “The Rival Alaska sound is related to pop-rock, and has some funk driven into most of the structured songs.” 

CVW: You released the songs this year. How do you feel about those releases and what’s next for Rival Alaska?

Johnson: “Our first singles we released under this project had to have been one of the most exciting moments for us this year. We are more than proud of how far these tracks have taken us, and will continue to. We’re also developing a brand new EP, releasing a cover and advance soon!” 

CVW: What are your thoughts about the Cathedral City Hot Air Balloon Festival & Food Truck Mash-up and your participation?

Johnson: “We are more than excited for our show in Cathedral City. We played this festival a few years back, and we can’t wait to make a major return! Expect high energy, massive smiles, anthems of love, and genuine, youthful entertainment!”

CVW: You recently performed several shows in Arizona including the Mesa Music Festival. How did they pan out?

Johnson: “Exhausting! But absolute fun! We opened up for alt-rock group DREAMERS and the legendary Henry Rollins! We had three major performances scheduled within one day, over the course of a three-day festival! We rocked it, and can’t wait to be back next year!”

Rival Alaska have come a long way from their previous incarnations. Johnson and Co. are an idealistic trio of been-there-done-that musicians who have amplified their opportunities with their new vision. We look forward to hearing more from them and we recommend you not miss their live performance this Saturday on the festival lawn in downtown Cathedral City.

Find Rival Alaska music on iTunes and Spotify and follow them on all social media outlets!

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