To ‘Affinity’ and Beyond with Valeluna

valeluna-interview
Not too long ago Texas’ own Valeluna celebrated two years together, and about a month before that they dropped their new album Affinity. Now they’re working on their fall plans which you’ll soon find out are a plenty, but first the guys talk being a rock band in a country world, the new record and much more.

Kendra: Living in the land of country, did that ever put a cramp in your style when you were growing up and into harder rock bands?

Valeluna: Not at all. We all had dads that loved rock n roll, so a lot of our childhood was listening to the classics: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen. While we aren’t huge fans of country music, it didn’t affect our style when others around us would listen to it. In other words, we like to listen to and create the kind of music that we enjoy regardless of what’s going on around us.

Kendra: You just dropped your sophomore album, Affinity. What growth did you personally hear and are proud of on this album compared to the last?

Valeluna: First and foremost, Affinity definitely has a more mature sound. The album is a bit more dynamic than In Your Absence while at the same time displaying the same ambient quality that was so strong on the first record. For the most part, our first album had a melancholy feel to it, whereas Affinity takes you on a sort of rollercoaster ride through the highs and lows of each track. We also added a few new elements in the trumpet and synth to make the overall sound fuller, something that contributes to both the record and especially our live performances. Lyrically, musically, and thematically speaking, this album feels much more honest. In some ways, Affinity feels like the first album we’ve written as a band. Affinity is an album that we enjoy listening to, and we are very proud of that.

Kendra: When it dropped, you played the release show. How much practice goes into that show vs. any other one? I mean, this is possibly the first time you play some of the new tracks – you don’t want to mess ‘em up!

Valeluna: We actually played the album front to back at the release show, so over half of the show was our first time performing those songs live. In addition to that, we recruited Corey (Aaron’s brother) on bass with only a little over a month’s notice. In those 35 days, he sacrificed hours upon hours to learn thirteen of our songs. I can’t even begin to count the number of times we played through our set list. As you mentioned, we wanted to play everything as close to perfect as we could. And that attitude extends much further than just that performance as all of our members strive to perfect their instruments at every practice and show. Everybody on board gives it their all anytime the band is concerned. We are a band that practices religiously whether or not we have a big show coming up. It’s safe to say that we put a lot pressure on ourselves for shows like the release show. As a unit, we thrive under pressure and I think you can see that when we perform.

Kendra: What I did not expect from your band was a trumpet player. Was that something you wanted to initially incorporate or did you figure…Josh can play it, so why not?

Valeluna: A little of both. We started looking for a keyboardist a few months after In Your Absence was released. We all played a little keyboard on that record, and felt that it was an important part of our music was missing from the live performances. We had also been thought of introducing something like violin or a horn section to the band after recording cello in our song, “Whitewash”. There was some hesitation on bringing in another member, because at the time there was certain chemistry in the band that we wanted to protect. After numerous auditions, we had almost given up on our search before Josh moved back to Houston. Being Ty and Justin’s cousin, he practically had the job before he even practiced with the band. We knew his music taste and personality would fit well, and he had played trumpet in high school. The first time he played with us, it added that emotional element we had been looking for.

Kendra: I saw you had a show with Smile Empty Soul at the end of August. That was an insane throwback for me. Are there any bands from your teenage years that you’d love to share a stage with in the coming year?

Valeluna: Like most young musicians, we definitely had our dreams of playing with huge bands like Pink Floyd or Dream Theater. Of course we still do, but within the coming year we would really like to play with bands like Thrice or Circa Survive. We all listened to them in high school and still love them to this day.

Kendra: Do you guys have plans for a fall run of shows?

Valeluna: We have many things in the works at the moment. The next few months are going to be full of performances with local talent here in Houston. Quite a few music videos are coming, and we plan on unveiling an ambient reimagining of some of our older songs. We don’t have a tour lined up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we went on a small Texas tour by the end of the year.

Kendra: Right now it’s back to school time, which has made me sort of jealous and pissed as I’ve gotten older because school is way easier than working. Anyways, with that – if you had to make a mixtape for the perfect back to school mix, what five songs would have to be on it?

Valeluna:
The Radio Dept. – “You Stopped Making Sense
Hozier – “Arsonist’s Lullaby
Dream Theater – “The Count of Tuscany
The Contortionist – “Ebb and Flow
Valeluna – “Awake

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