Philadelphia pop-rockers Valencia are on the verge of releasing their third album in five years. They've toured around the country and globe countless times and they've captivated thousands with We All Need A Reason to Believe, their second full length record. The band played a headlining set on Thursday night at 1982 Bar, just a few days before their third full length, Dancing With A Ghost, is set to hit stores via I Surrender Records. We caught up with the guys from Valencia before the show.
After talking about Roy Halladay's no-hitter and how nice the weather has been in Gainesville, we got around to discussing the band's latest album, world domination, leaving a major record label, the direction of their sound, and their future plans.
It's important to note that Valencia seems to be big fans of Florida Gator football, as the group fondly remembered playing a show in Gainesville on a Saturday night in 2006 and running into some exuberant fans wearing orange and blue face paint.
This is Thomas Nassiff and I'm here with AbsolutePunk and INsite Magazine, standing with Valencia outside the 1982 Bar before their set. Can you guys say your names and what you do in the band?
You guys have Dancing With A Ghost coming out on October 12, just a few days from now. How excited are you guys and what are you anticipating with this release?
Brendan: We're really excited, and we're basically anticipating world domination. Shane: [laughs] It's essentially an entire year and a half in the making, so we're itching to get it out. George: Well yeah, but mainly world domination. It's basically already out though. Shane: Yeah, we've been selling it at the shows. We knew it was going to leak anyway, so we figured why not just sell it at the shows even if they put it online? We still believe, though, that there are actually some people who wait and go buy it at the stores the day it comes out.
Yeah, I've talked to people before who still do that. Kind of rare nowadays I guess. But it didn't really leak per se...you guys made it available when the tour started and it was literally online later that night. Is that what you guys wanted?
Shane: Yeah, I mean I think it's better that we took the leak into our own hands. George: If it's going to happen anyway, we might as well put ourselves in control of it the best we can. It's really our first step toward world domination.
You guys are releasing the new record on I Surrender Records. Your previous album, We All Need A Reason To Believe, was put out on Columbia Records, a major label, but before that you guys were on I Surrender. Why did you feel like going back to I Surrender was the right move?
JD: Well, first of all, we wanted to. Shane: Basically it was a two-year deal with an option for Columbia. At the end, we both decided that it wasn't working out. They had other bands that they were taking care of before us. With Rob [Hitt, owner of I Surrender Records], it was always a family thing. He paved the way for Valencia in the beginning and we trust him with our future and our new record. Dan: And it's already working. We're kicking ass. JD: And also taking names. George: World domination! Shane: Rob cares. We wanted a label that really cared. George: We'll spend hours on the phone with the people at I Surrender. With Columbia, it was a once-in-a-while email chain. It was mainly our A&R guy who was trying to round up the troops to get things done. But at I Surrender, everyone there is stoked on the record.
You guys produced We All Need A Reason to Believe with Ariel Rechtshaid. But you didn't go back into the studio with him on this record, what's the story behind that?
Shane: We wanted to work with him George: He's actually our neighbor! Shane: Yes, he's our neighbor. We borrowed his van once. But when we found out we had the chance to work with Mark Trombino [blink-182, The Starting Line, and Jimmy Eat World], we jumped on it. Brendan: Ariel has a great regard for Mark, too, which helped us choose him. He said that we could wait and do it with him but Mark is amazing, so we went and recorded with him.
I think there's a definite difference between We All Need A Reason to Believe and Dancing With A Ghost. Can you guys tell us about any difference in writing styles, if there was one, or a different mindset that you guys had for this new album?
Shane: The writing process was a lot more free. With the last record, we had the whole Columbia thing weighing on us. We still didn't think about the process much then, but this time around we knew we had total freedom to do what we wanted. We just got in a room and banged out songs. We actually wrote 75 songs over the year or so for this record. George: We were probably writing for more than a year...we're just always writing. But I guess what you see is what you get.
Well, are we going to get some b-sides from those? Those extra 65 or so songs?
[all laugh] Shane: We actually really loved some of the b-sides, but they just didn't fit in the record. Brendan: They'll be floating around...a couple going to an Australia version of the album, a couple to Japan, a couple to iTunes, there'll be some online. They'll be around. Shane: I think there will definitely be some kids out there who like the b-sides even more than the record.
I mean, the record is definitely different from your past work, but I feel like you guys are settling into your own sound. Is that how you guys feel about it? Is this the direction where Valencia is going?
Shane: I mean, I don't think we ever stay in the same place with our sound. It's always an experimental process and we like to grow with our sound. Five years ago we had This Could Be A Possibility, which was very much pop punk. Now we all have different tastes in what we listen to and that plays a big role in how we write. We're all completely separate people with different music that we listen to. George: Over five years, I would never expect a band to put out the same kind of record again and again. It just gets boring. Dan: Especially these days, the kids all have such short attention spans.
Definitely. I mean we already have kids asking about b-sides and the album hasn't even come out yet!
[all laugh] George: But yeah, if we were going to be that band that makes the same record over and over, I wouldn't even want to do it. Shane: It's funny though, because I think kids want that, or they think they want that. I mean, why would you want us to make the same record over and over? JD: They're gonna complain either way!
[all laugh] Dan: Totally, it's always, "This is too different!" or "This is too much of the same!" Shut up already, what do you want us to do?! Brendan: So we're just gonna stay and do what we want to do and grow however we grow. Shane: I have faith in our true fans, the ones who love Valencia. They'll grow with us. If they liked us from the start, and they liked our second record, then why not like our third record? We're not changing a lot, just growing. And I think we're getting better. JD: Well yeah, that's obvious. We're awesome!
The artwork is something that a lot of people were curious about. How did you guys choose that?
Brendan: Well it has to do with what we wanted to put out. Dancing With A Ghost...you can't put a ghost on there, that's retarded. George: Way too obvious! Shane: We just needed something that sums up what dancing with a ghost means to us. So I think we got the perfect thing. Like, as a little kid, you're dreaming of something scary. Dancing with a ghost, it sort of is a metaphor for fighting with your former self. The imagery is something very powerful. Dan: I think someone told me that lions signify something like that, like the troubles from your everyday life. Shane: The lion really takes on a double meaning I think. It's the force that's pushing you to persevere and it's also the demons that are holding you in.
After these headlining dates, you guys are going out on tour with Saves the Day, Say Anything, and Motion City Soundtrack. Those are some big names, how excited are you guys to get to tour with those bands?
Brendan: It's just insane, man. Shane: I mean, it's Saves the Day! We grew up listening to Saves the Day, we have so much respect for them. The fact that I'm going to be able to say, "Saves the Day is up next"...I never thought I'd be able to say that when I was listening to Through Being Cool on the school bus. George: Say Anything and Motion City are great too. Dan: I feel like those guys are recent influences of mine which is cool. Shane: It's a bunch of guys who are veterans, who have done this for a long time and succeeded and never given in to any standard.
Speaking of influences, who would you guys cite? I know I've seen a couple of Bruce Springsteen covers, which is awesome because Springsteen is my favorite of all time. But for the band as a whole?
Shane: That's awesome. For me, definitely Springsteen is a huge influence. But for the whole band, definitely the Jimmy Eat Worlds, the Green Days and the Saves the Days. George: Even older stuff like Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. Brendan: I think on our second record you definitely feel that Americana kind of feel, the Springsteen and the Dylan. But we obviously have more modern influences that we bring in as well.
I think a lot of people would say that you can hear a good amount of Jimmy Eat World on the new record.
Shane: Yeah, we've always been huge fans of all their work. JD: I'd like to say that Dan is a huge influence to us. Dan: Thank you, JD.
[To Dan] Some people were wondering if you did anything of the vocals on this record.
Dan: We have a really good system. Sometimes Shane might be singing in the studio for nine or more hours a day, so he'll say that this song has a high part, why don't you take it. Some days my voice won't be doing good so he'll take that high part.
[To Shane] Well, speaking of the Springsteen influence, before I forget, I think that his influence on you is way more evident on the Promise of Redemption songs [Shane's side project]. Is there any chance of any more Promise
of Redemption stuff in the future?
Shane: I mean, I'm always writing. Valencia takes priority. I like to write that kind of stuff when I have time. I already have some stuff written but this is taking priority right now.
Okay. So besides the Motion City tour, what else do you guys have planned for the future?
Brendan: We're going to Australia in November, and in December we're going to do a short headlining tour, just some Christmas shows. Then just see what happens in spring. Dan: We've always been a band who never wants to stop. Keep things going. Brendan: Also our new music video. George: Yeah, we've got a video coming out for "Dancing With A Ghost" and that will be out soon. Shane: It's the first video that we've made that I can really say that I'm stoked on and 100 percent positive about. George: It's our best one. I breakdance in it. Brendan: And I'm just going to throw this in, here. The "Where Did You Go" video is not done with a green screen. Please put that everywhere on the Internet. Shane: Yeah, people always think that's a green screen. We filmed that, it was like a 14 hour day, and it was hard. Use that as your pull quote, as your headline.
I think that's about it. Is there anything else that you guys would like to add?
Shane: Please pick up a copy of our record if you like it. And come out to a show and hang out. Dan: Yes, definitely come see a live show.