Musicscan: You guys have been around for some time now. What is behind bands longevity? What fuels the fire and keeps you guys interested in the music you create?
Valient Thorr: We are dedicated to our messages… whatever they may be at the time. Mostly we try to stay relevant by keeping ourselves informed. “Staying current”. Being up to date on shit that’s happening in the world, and trying to stay positive while expressing our feelings about those current events.
Musicscan: For some time now, the harder music scene seems to go even more extreme than ever before. Bands are pushing the boundaries as far as complexity, technical approach and extreme arrangements are concerned. What are your thoughts on this and where do you see Valient Thorr in the grand scheme? In a way you did the opposite…
Valient Thorr: yeah, we don’t really care what other people are doing. We don’t care if they care what we are doing either. It’s a way to stay totally unperturbed in your artistic process. We are doing exactly what we HAVE to do because what comes out- our end result is our 5 experiences (our habits, beliefs, and desires) and our responses to those and that’s where we find significance. I also think that’s why its hard to define what kind of music we make. Its not really one genre, but a reflection of everything we like melted together into something sweaty and rocking.
Musicscan: What sort of evolution has the band gone through into Stranger? For some parts I would say it is an unexpected record. What I feel about the new album is a more coherent and in "one-style" sounding…
Valient Thorr: well, see I think the whole thing sounds different. Each song to me sounds a lot different than the next. But that’s probably because we made them. I think they all came from different places. That’s sort of the “adjective” part of the title… It is “stranger” to me than our other albums. We did try things we’ve never done before, like choruses and harmonies. That’s because all of us are singing now.
Musicscan: Every band has a vision of how their songs should sound like after the recording: Listening to Stranger right now: Would you say that this was a successful mission or would you even say that you have been able to surprise yourself? If this is the case – in how far?
Valient Thorr: the album is wild. I think we are very lucky to have kept creating something better each time we create an album. Sometimes people feel like they dig one a lot, and then they may have a stinker, and then maybe another good one comes later. We however get better each time I think. We wanted this album to be more personal, so the stories on this one are a lot more personal in nature than previous albums. I think we surprised ourselves in that we made a few songs that sounded nothing like we’ve done before, and we were okay with going in a different weirder direction.
Musicscan: Do you still remember when you wrote your first song for/with Valient Thorr and what it felt like and how it feels like now when you finish a song? How has your relationship to the music and the band changed?
Valient Thorr: haha, yeah we’ve all become better song writers. I think we are still learning. That’s key, never think you’ve got it mastered and you’ll always keep learning and keep getting better. I look forward to learning something every single day.
Musicscan: Is there something like a main idea that runs through all of your music, something that perhaps connects the individual songs you‘ve created over time?
Valient Thorr: A few things probably. Peace, and a desire to help others, and to get people to want to help others as well. We want to make music and art that will outlast our bodies, and somehow remain relevant to a world that will still thrive long after we are gone.
Musicscan: What are you looking for in a song in general? Do you think there are still genuinely new sounds to be discovered or can modern music basically be said to be a recombination of already existing forms and elements?
Valient Thorr: I don’t know. I think there are many combinations of sounds that have never been made. I think there are many pieces of language that haven’t even been made up to express emotions that we all have. Like I said, I think we all have lots to learn. I also think that everything that has been done has the potential to be done better. And I’m not saying I’m that person, I’m just saying that we can always look to go bigger. Set goals! You know what I’m saying?
Musicscan: Do you sometimes feel the urge to write a gentle pop song but then dismiss this idea again, because you think it does not fit the Valient Thorr aesthetic?
Valient Thorr: sure. All the time. But who knows, maybe we don’t do it here and now, but maybe we will in some form some other time.
Musicscan: Musically and lyrically Valient Thorr seems like a band fueled by raw emotion which is at the same time tempered by a “reflected” vibe. What are the motives behind writing in this style, what reactions are you seeking to evoke in your audience?
Valient Thorr: hahaha. An array of emotions. Most of them are to provoke thought or perhaps act as a catalyst to generate a dialogue of some sort to maybe solve problems in a positive manner… This is sort of an ideal for me.
Musicscan: How important is the improvisation factor to the music of Valient Thorr, and do you prefer to play at home, in the studio or on stage?
Valient Thorr: it used to be a bigger part. In the old days, I would just ramble, make up lyrics on the spot. Now things are more planned out. And not in a bad way. More thought out I should say. That way I’ve had time to think before I speak. This is one of those lessons that have to be learned. I am not always right. Haha. I prefer to play on giant stages in front of as many people as possible running from one side of the stage to the other.
Musicscan: Where do you guys see the line drawn between progressing on what you do well, and completely offering a new direction or sound? Especially in the context of your band of course…
Valient Thorr: well, no one wants to hear the same album twice in a row, I mean, we don’t want to make that anyway. Why keep making the same sounds. You get sick of it, so we try to go in different directions. Listen to different types of music for inspiration.
Musicscan: Have you been surprised by the fact, that listeners from different musical tastes are getting Valient Thorr? And is this something that matters to you?
Valient Thorr: well its something that has been happening from the beginning. I think its awesome that we can play with death metal bands, and bluegrass bands, and whatever and its always still a fun show. I think its because we just claim to play rocknroll. That’s the essence anyway. There’s a little bit of everything in there, but it still has that rocknroll beat that you can bob your head to, and shake your butt to. And that’s important to everyone.
Musicscan: What makes the band special to you? How would you describe the essence of Valient Thorr?
Valient Thorr: I don’t know. The best thing is when you accomplish something you set out to do, and you worked really hard on, and you are looking at the whole thing going down, and you are like… wow, we worked super long and hard, but check it out! We call that feeling “efforts realized”. By now, we’ve given ourselves over to this. Its not a job, we don’t really make any money, but there is nothing else in the world that I could do besides make art for the rest of my life, whether like this or visual art, I don’t think there is anything to bring us back from this edge. We are here for good.