Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, June 14, 2013

Interview with Valient Himself of Valient Thorr!

So today I had the huge honor of getting to interview Valient Himself of Valient Thorr, a true metal lord who is currently on tour in support of the bands new record Our Own Masters which will be released in a few days! (June 18th) In the interview we talk about the ideas behind the album, the bands top secret new video (we get some secrets!) and the groups future!
Be sure to find Valient Thorr on Facebook HERE!
Find Valient Himself TOO!

Our Own Masters comes out in less than a week! How are you feeling about the record?

I feel really good about it, I feel really excited about it! We worked so hard on it and it's all ready to go and everything. Yet there's more hurdles to jump through, trying to get the promotion and distribution done right. After you do all of your part, we could make the best record in the world, but if it's not out there for people to have it would be like it didn't exist. Story of a whole. That's what I'm frustrated about right now, we're having some issue with that. It's finished and ready to go but its like how many are pressed is it where it needs to be, is it ready to go? But we're fucking super psyched about it. We've been on tour the past two days and it was the first time we ever played the songs live. To reference the new record there's a lot of nervous energy going on. Its wild!

So the songs have gone down well live? How has the general buzz kind of been?

We've been playing it live and people have been excited. They sound different than they do in the studio and different than from the rehearsal space, we're still feeling them out. We did 8 the first night and 6 the next night and the reception so far has been good but we're only two shows in.

How do you feel the general buzz from the press has been?

There's been more buzz about this record than any other one we've had so far, maybe just because of the different teams we've had in Europe and in the US. I have no idea if its reaching more people or what. I don't even know how that stuff works. I've done like 4 times the interviews for this record than I normally do if that's any telltale sign.

What helps to make this record unique and different from the previous ones?

Well each part of this record was written by the band as a whole rather than a separate member writing a part and putting all of those parts together. I think we really considered each part of it. There were multiple parts written for each song riff wise, chorus wise and lyric wise. The arrangement too we really got into, we started that on the last record thinking about arrangement. This time we thought about the meanings of things. This time we really let everybody put a whole lot of input if this riff wasn't working we tried another, trying to find the best part. On the last record there were like 24 demos and on this record there were 85! And they were all completely different. We're talking about 15 songs and they're all completely different, each was done like 5-6 different ways.

So was it hard to determine what should become the final product? How did you pick and choose among the demos?

It was a combination of all the demos. It was tough, its harder to do it this way. You want your part in and other people want there part in and you really have to decide what the best part is. Eventually you start to go, “Maybe that part is best” in the beginning its frustrating but it gets easier as it goes along. In the end you have a much more cohesive record, its not just one guy standing up there playing the parts that he believes in, its the whole band behind something they all believe in.

So how did you come up with the lyrics for this album?

Well like I said, every person contributed. In the past I wrote maybe the first three records worth and took a couple of lines from the others on the fourth and fifth. But here there's a verse here a chorus there, everybody contributed and their stuff got in.

So you'd say that the greatest challenge on this record was making it all cohesive or was there another moment of great adversity?

That was probably it. Working out something we were all loving. We were all dealing with stuff we have never dealt with before. There's all sorts of stuff going on like births, deaths, marriages, family type shit. You have to take hold of it and do what you can. When life happens you have to make it congeal all together.

So did those life things impact the record?
They all impacted the record because we couldn't make them go away. I like to call them invisible obstacles because everybody's jumping these hurdles that you don't see. You don't know whats going on with every person. The way you treat people can help or hinder them in the stuff they're dealing with every day and so that's why I try to be positive otherwise I could make lives harder than they are. The longer life goes on and the more possibilities you have and the more things unravel and we've never dealt with some of these things so that's what a good portion of these songs are about.

Do you have a favorite song off this record?
I don't know. Usually when I have a favorite record from some other band I'll listen to the whole thing through and at some point or another almost every song on the record will be my favorite on the record. Take for example Frank Blacks Teenager of the Year, I think there's 21 songs on that record and at one point or another 15 or 16 of them have been my favorite on that record. I have no idea about my favorite song on this record though. I like the speed of Crowdpleaser but it's so hard to perform live, I like the feel of No Strings Attached its like nothing we've ever done before. I get chills when I'm listening to it in the car. We all live in different cities now so when I was driving to rehearse and I was like, this doesn't even sound like us, but we did it! At first I didn't like Torn Apart as much. It was supposed to start off as a kind of Animals type song and it eventually became what one of my buddies called a solo Ozzy type song and its become one of my favorite songs to play live right now because it sounds fully realized. All the parts are there and we're about to have a video come out for in about a week, I'm not exactly sure when. But that song is probably the most realized on the record.

So that video... Can you give us a hint as to what it will be about or is that top secret?
It's supposed to be top secret but its coming out in a week so I'll tell you. So It's like if you took Office Space and Apocalypse and put them together into the Wizard of Oz formula. It's pretty wild, you'll just have to watch the whole thing. That will make sense once you see the video.

Can you tell me what's going on in the cover art?
Like I said we had different things we had never dealt with before and Lucien the drummers father passed away last year and he was a big supporter of the band since the beginning and he painted that in 1975. And Lucien had it hanging in his living room while growing up. So one of his business partners down in Florida had it and we asked if we could use it and he was like 'Sure, ok!' We did it as a tribute to Lucien's father. It also had a lot of the themes we were writing about like going through hell and coming out the other side and using that as an analogy for the possibility of the end of the world and its 2013 and classical literature like Paradise Lost and Dantes Inferno shit like that. There was so much that united the whole record together like family and themes and inspiration and this painting was a big part of the record. And it looks like a record from 1975 because the art was done in 1975! It makes sense to us. Speaking personally a lot of my favorite stuff is from the 70s too so there's that.

In a couple places there were nods to older bands like The Who and Garage punk bands was that intentional?
I don't think any of that was completely intentional. We never go and say 'Oh lets make a song like Suicidal Tendencies' we don't do that. You can tell though when you're like oh that sounds like Black Flag! For me the song No Strings Attached doesn't sound like Thin Lizzy but it has that Thin Lizzy vibe for me. So those kind of things happen but they're definitely unintentional. But again I think we have such diverse influences, in the past you might have had two or three of those in one song. And on this record we tried to make the songs different. The record is more diverse than any of the other ones, the songs are diverse but we try to keep the parts to one song to keep it grounded in its space. Thats what we do with No Strings Attached and Crowdpleaser, one is like a Thin Lizzy type song and the other is like a fast Motorhead jam. We just start writing and that just comes out then after we look back and say, 'Oh that's were that probably came from'.

You've commented before that this is your most diverse record thus far, was that a goal going in or did that just happen?
It just happened. We just start writing. We probably tried to make it more cohesive than diverse. We all have such different influences that if we try to appease each other and make it the most cohesive record there's going to be a lot of different stuff in there because we all like to speak up.

So now I'm just wondering, how do you plan on developing Valient Thorr's sound in the future?
I have no idea! I know that we still have some ideas that we're working on for some new songs. Each time it gets to the point where it feels like its just has to get down it turns out different. It's all about where you are I don't know about were we'll be when we put it down in the future, that will factor into it.

So it's basically you're personal experiences that shape the music?
Exactly! We try to stay relevant and there's a lot of current events embedded in each action and a lot of it depends on where we're at. For example the two albums we recorded before this we did in Seattle and it's like a beautiful place and we have lots of friends so there's lots of distractions and I feel like that's tied into the albums. I feel like with this record we did in Athens Georgia and we didn't know anybody and I didn't have any money to have any fun so there weren't any distractions and we were really focused on the record the whole time. It wasn't like 'He's doing guitar so I can fuck off and watch movies all day' We were in their together the whole time critiquing and trying to figure out ways to make it the best it could be. That's a big part of it and if it goes forward that way it'll keep getting better and better.

What other exciting stuff do you have planned for this year?
We have the record coming out and tour in the US then three days later a tour in Europe then three weeks later a tour on the West Coast then another European tour after that. Then we want to go into territories we have never been in before like Russia, Mexico, South America, Japan... There's so many spots we haven't been too before. Once everything that needs taking care of is taken care of we're going to try to expand a little bit, go to new places and see if we can get influences from there.
So what do you love so much about music?
I don't think I can get around life without music. Every job I've ever had I've always been able to listen to music. Every time you're in a weird mood you can alter your mood by listening to music. You don't need drugs. I'm not advocating not to use drugs, I'm just saying for me personally if I'm down I use music. Maybe it's like women buying shoes or something like that but I'm always excited about discovering new music from different places and different times. I like the history of it too and connecting the dots with it. I nerd out about that like how other people nerd out about the Civil War.

Any last words of wisdom?

I don't know man, just don't piss into the wind!

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