Five years after its last album, the Lost Revival breathes new life

Sometime after putting the Lost Revival to bed in 2013, Kevin Collins tried to quit making music. It didn't take.

“Music has always been a compulsion. I can't not do it,” Collins said recently at the Merion Village home he shares with wife and bandmate Kelly Kefauver. “It's my way to contextualize everything.”

During an initial run, the Lost Revival released three albums and wowed Columbus crowds with its brand of brooding folk-rock built for arenas. The band even took Collins to the United Nations headquarters in New York City, where the Lost Revival performed in front of Nicolas Cage. “It was strange and surreal,” he said. “Nicolas Cage watched my band.”

But when Collins' longtime friend and Lost Revival founding member Dan Kirschenbaum moved away, the band went on hiatus. Collins kept busy co-fronting Queen tribute act Mr. Fahrenheit and the Loverboys, singing in the Beatles Marathon, forming an electro-pop act with Corey Fry of Sunrise Reset and releasing a solo acoustic album, Ohio Town.

Eventually, he decided to start a new band to play some of the songs from Ohio Town and others he'd been writing. Then Kirschenbaum moved back to town, and he agreed to work on the songs with Collins, who then recruited more people who had already played in the Lost Revival. “I thought, well, shit. I guess we're putting the band back together,” said Collins, a singer and multi-instrumentalist who's now joined by Kirschenbaum (guitar, keyboard), Kefauver (saxophone, percussion), Ben Ahlteen (cello, bass), Joe Dewitt (keys) and Max Slater (drums).

The Lost Revival played Independents' Day in 2016, and at Collins' home studio, the band began piecing together new album American Heir, which the Lost Revival will celebrate with a release show at Rumba Cafe on Friday, Dec. 8.

“The album has more of a positive feeling to it than some of the previous ones we've done. … The Queen band helped steer me to enjoying music that can sometimes be heavy but sometimes be really uplifting and positive and bouncy,” he said. “I wanted it to be a reset button.”

While leadoff track “Everything You Believe” warns against social media echo chambers (“Don't read everything you believe,” Collins intones in his emery-board rasp) and “History Books” rails against a stacked-deck society (“There is no greater racket than the American dream”), other tracks take a glass-half-full approach. “L.I.E.F.,” for instance, stands for Love Is Everything Forever.

“To write a love song and put it out there, to me, takes more balls than the stuff that I've done in the past,” he said. “There are several songs on the album that are way more straightforward and more heartfelt.”

Collins' love of the Beatles also shines through in ways that were sometimes buried in the Lost Revival's older, darker material. The band sounds like it has nothing to lose — like it's making exactly the type of music it wants to make.

“[American Heir] was kind of me not giving a shit. That's part of the thing I like about this album,” he said. “Before, we really wanted something to happen. Now, it's like, whatever, who cares. I like playing these songs, and I hope you guys like 'em, but I'm gonna do it no matter what.”