By Cristina Carrazza-- Regional Head, Midwest
After slipping of the radar, Valencia is back and better than ever. Following their highly praised album “We All Need a Reason to Believe,” the Philadelphia natives just released their third studio release “Dancing With A Ghost,” an outstanding album in its on right. Currently, the guys just wrapped up a tour with Say Anything, Motion City Soundtrack and Saves the Day. After their set at the Chicago stop of the tour, I got the chance to talk to George and Brendan. Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind their outstanding new album and why, in my opinion, Valencia remains one of the most inspirational and downright best bands in the punk-rock scene today.
CC: How would you describe Valencia?
Brendan: It’s very hard to describe it in just one paragraph. We’re a rock band that tries to convey a positive and uplifting message to our fans. But we still have fun with it. We teach our fans to live their life the way they want to live them.
George: I would say we are five guys united by the elements to combat pollution, global warming and the downfall of civilization. We’re focusing on the earth, fire, water wind part. But that’s our thing, saving the world. One song at a time.
CC: You guys recently released a follow up to your second album “We All Need a Reason To Believe.” It is a very emotionally charged and highly praised album. Not to mention you decided to go back to you original label for this release.
BW: Yeah. I think with this album we tried to forget what we did on that album and do something completely new. That album had such a heavy subject. That time in our lives was hard to get through so it was difficult to do something like that again. We definitely didn’t want to fake that feeling either. We did what we wanted to do and wrote songs about how we felt. I can understand people’s connection to the old record but this one is as powerful in a different way.
GC: We take our music pretty seriously. We always want to convey some sort of message and have people take something away from what we write. I’m really glad, honored and touched by what people took away from the last record. I hope people will see the positive message we’re trying to convey in this new record as well. We want them to take something good away from it.
CC: The record has been described as a having a theme of change… Considering what you both just mentioned about the message of the record, can you elaborate on that?
BW: Every song is a story. It’s about getting from A to B; from where you are to where you want to be. Or who you were to who you want to be. You can think about it as a process of us going from where we were at “We All Need A Reason to Believe,” which was a hard time in our lives, to becoming more enlightened. We’re different people and this is the change and what came out of that process.
GC: The change is something that was very relevant for us to touch on at this point in our lives. We’re getting to this point where change is a strong part in our life. We have to deal with things like family members getting sick and possibly passing away - things you don’t really think about before. Now you have to start to think how you would react to situations like that. For us, we are forced to go through this kind of change but we want to let people know to take the positive out of that. Even if you’re dealt the worst hand of cards, it’s up to you to make the best out of the change that comes out of it.
BW: Life is a collection of experiences. You get through those experiences through change. You can’t just sit on your couch and watch TV and see other people’s changes and expect to go through it. You have to go through it on your own.
GC: And that’s what we do. We tell stories. We experience these things and we want to tell people how we went through it and took the best from it.
CC: I feel like you all disappeared from the radar for a bit while writing this album…it seems you had a lot to say.
BW: Oh yeah. We were all just writing everyday, all day. We would get to JD’s place at 2 everyday and sometimes we wouldn’t leave until 5 in the morning. We were trying to write the best songs we could.
GC: Yeah we had a lot to say. Seventy five songs came out of that.
CC: you two have touched on this already but what do you want, or hope, people take away from your music? Especially from this new record.
BW: We want people to latch onto it as much as they did to our previous stuff. It’s definitely not as heavy; I think it might be easier to dive into. You see these different layers. I feel that on the surface the songs are there but there are all these different layers underneath, musically and lyrically. I want people to listen to it more than once. Some people might just pop it in and think “wow it sounds weird, it’s not like old Valencia.” But if you keep listening, there is something there for everybody at a different level.
GC: The one thing that has always been so remarkable for me is the way people react to our band. I always want people to find that positive reinforcement listening to our songs. That is something that has always been very special to me when I listen to music, finding something in it that helps me get through a hard time. There are so many bands out there that just dwell on the negative. We don’t want to deal with that. We just want people to be uplifted. I hope that people find that reaction in themselves when the listen to our songs.
CC: How has the reaction to “Dancing With A Ghost” been so far?
BW: It’s been pretty amazing. Even tonight, it was crazy. We start our set with “Spinning Out” which is the second song on the record. To see people who don’t even know who we are bobbing their heads and getting into it is amazing. We have people come up to us every night and say we really like that first or second to last song! People who haven’t heard of us before have really been reacting to those songs and it feels awesome.
GC: It’s been really crazy, especially in this tour because we are playing for so many new people every night. The positive reaction we are getting from people who have never heard of us before has been really awesome. I can think of some many things that have been blowing me away with the way people have been reacting to it so far. Even people who have been fans of us for a long time, they have been reacting in a way that shows they are willing to grow with us, music taste wise and what they want to get out of our music.
CC: This is a pretty amazing tour to promote the release of a new album…
GC: Oh yes
BW: The best tour. It’s amazing
GC: I wish it could go on forever. Saves the Day has been a band that we’ve all listened to. I actually read an interview you [Brendan] did five years ago where they asked you what our inspiration was and you said The Beatles and Saves the Day. Now we’re on tour with these guys and we’re becoming friends with them. It’s such a weird thing. But it’s been so fun. It’s so great to see bands you’ve been a fan of for so long actually be such down-to-earth, cool people.
BW: It’s crazy. We all like such different types of music but the thing that always bonded us is our love for pop-punk and bands like Saves the Day, Motion City Soundtrack and Say Anything. We all like bands along those lines but it’s so awesome to come together and play with those bands.
CC: Yeah you guys got really lucky to be on this tour, especially now that you just put a new record out and you’re playing to such big audiences.
GC: Oh yea. The amount of people is insane. We’ve done shows in some of these towns where it was just some local bands and some twenty people there. But now we get the chance to open for some of our idols and play for several thousand people every night. It’s been mind blowing.
CC: So what are your plans after this tour?
BW: We go straight to Australia in a couple of days. We do a couple of weeks and then we come back and do some headlining shows in America.
GC: We’re doing about a week of shows starting in December with Automatic Love Letter, Mercy Mercedes. It starts December 14th in Detroit and ends in New York . Once we get back on our feet we’ll figure out what will happen for the rest of 2011.
CC: Last generic question, where do you see Valencia in five years?
BW: The emperors of the universe.
GC: Hopefully, world recognized for battling global warming and inventing our own type of free energy.
BW: That’s right!
GC: That comes from our music playing from somewhere…
CC: Maybe you can take the energy from moshing and convert it into free energy.
GC: Perfect, let’s do it.