interview by Guitar Doug
photos by RJB PHOTO
"People tend to judge us because we are girls. The way we think of it, it's just human nature. Dudes like girls and vice verse. We just happen to rock, which is our main defense" - Stevie from The Valkyries
The Valkyries is an all girl Seattle band that is quite popular in the Seattle rock clubs and is becoming more popular all the time. They have just completed a full length CD that will be released at the beginning of 2009. This band has no problem being labeled good-time party-rock, which is exactly what they are. Their songs are straight ahead rock & roll, somewhat on the heavy side, with catchy hooks and lyrics about living the rock & roll lifestyle. They live a lifestyle outside of the band as well, which is something I learned doing this story - these girls love to party.
Like a few other bands in Seattle, some Valkyries shows seem more like a keg party than a club gig. They like it that way, because if they were to take a show too seriously, it would probably ruin the magic and spontaneity for the band and the audience. They go over well at most rock clubs, which is why they are booked all over town. The appeal of this band is in the fact that its audience crosses many demographics. You will never see a show where their audience members seem to be all from one particular rock sub-genre or scene. Pretty much, everyone who catches The Valkyries, seems to like The Valkyries. It's really not any more complicated than that.
When people think of an all girl band, many instantly picture a gimmicky band. In some cases they would be right, and in a small way, I had a feeling this would be the case with The Valkyries. It's funny that they are the featured artist in this month's Sinner, because I actually did not want to even see them initially. The very first time I saw The Valkyries was a few months back when I was writing the Neon Nights feature story for The Seattle Sinner. I was invited to a show they were playing at El Corazon, which was an early all ages show.
El Corazon is very cool at night, but a late afternoon, all ages show, with an all girl band really did not seem like my scene. When one of the guys in Neon Nights mentioned an all girl band would be opening for them, and that it would be an all ages show, I thought, "Oh great... I am going to be trapped at a rock music version of a Sweet Sixteen party at Chucky Cheese with a bunch of kids". However, since I was going to see Neon Nights, I figured I may as well see the opening band while I was there.
I already knew an all girl band would go over well with the teenagers in the audience. It's just something that teenagers have always liked and always will. The most surprising thing I noticed at the show was that not only were the kids into the set, but the hardened older rockers were totally into the band as well. Even the bikers in the crowd were digging the Valkyries. A short time into the set, I realized this band was cool. Lots of the audience members were older rockers I knew from other bands or around the rock clubs, and they too liked the group.
With all the bands out there, the reality is that a band of this type could possibly go somewhere in the music business. The songs they play are hard rock enough for any of the hard-core rock guys in the audience, and the band members are all pretty without trying to be cheesy about the whole thing. They also give off a sort off bad girl attitude that appeals to everyone from teenage girls to bikers.
The fact that they are still young is a major plus for them, because more and more record companies have no interest in even talking to a band with members over thirty. Most record buyers are teens to early twenties, and kids that age could care less about a bunch of thirty-year-old guys playing rock music. Kids buy records of bands their own age, which is just the reality of the music business. You can't market older bands and you can't put them on MTV. So, most older bands just end up being sent to the "Glue Factory" where a bunch of them belong, but no one has the heart to tell them. There is always a killer new band on the horizon for every band put out to pasture.
The Valkyries have never been interviewed by the print media but have been mentioned in the press many times, like recently when they were named by The Seattle Weekly as band of the week. They have also been interviewed on the air by Jolene at KISW radio, which is pretty impressive for a band that has never even recorded an album until now. The other thing that is impressive about this band is that they are constantly playing a variety of rock clubs, and are put on the bill with some of Seattle's most popular and current rock bands.
All this has been going on as the band has been going through personnel changes, booking more shows, and writing and recording an album. They are constantly playing shows in the Seattle area clubs, but with this all girl line-up, the cool image, and catchy songs who knows how far a young band like this could go nationally. They intend to try their luck nationally with a tour that will commence after the release of their album.
A while back we were scheduled to feature The Valkyries as the main music story in The Sinner. Unfortunately that story fell apart at the last moment, because the guitarist was leaving the band. This actually works much better now since The Valkyries just finished their debut album, and we can now get a behind the scenes look at the album too. So let's get right into the interview with Stevie, lead singer of The Valkyries.
Tell me about this new Valkyries album.
The new album is awesome. I know every band says that and no band is going to say "Aw man, our record sounds like crap." But, I'm genuinely excited about this album. We put so much time into writing the new songs and trying to push our selves musically. When you listen to the tracks, you can hear the emotion we put into making it. We practiced like fucking crazy, but we also had a ton of fun.
What was it like being in a recording studio for the first time?
Being in a studio is awesome! It just makes you feel like you're in Guns & Roses or something. Our friend Johnny Vinyl recorded it at this cool little studio in the U-district called Vagrant Studios. Johnny is such a cool guy and was really calm and helpful about the whole thing. He was also in a band with Duff McKagan of Guns & Roses which made his cool points go through the roof for me.
Was there anything you were looking for in the studio, that is different than what we hear live?
We added a bunch of different elements to the album like lots of layers and other things you really have to listen closely to hear. I wanted it to be one of those albums, where someone would put on a set of headphones, lay on the floor stoned, listen to it over and over, and hear something new every time.
When does it come out?
We will probably have it pressed and out by early next year. Sometime in early 2009 is the plan.
Last time we spoke, you mentioned that all girl bands tend to get pigeonholed. What did you mean?
People tend to judge us because we are girls. The way we think of it, it's just human nature. Dudes like girls and vice versa. We just happen to rock, which is our main defense. We might be girls, but as long as people are listening to our music and coming out to our shows it doesn't really matter. We give 100% all of the time when it comes to our music and I think it shows. The Valkyries play music for people to have fun listening to while drinking and forgetting about things like politics for a Goddamned minute.
What is the ultimate goal of The Valkyries?
The ultimate goal of the Valkyries is to rock our socks off! Your socks, his socks off, her socks off, its socks off and anything else that wears socks! The Valkyries middle name is Freedom...
Freedom from what?
Freedom from the man! From the daily bullshit. Party, have fun, and rock out!
You have a new guitarist named Casey Chaos. How did that come about?
Casey or "King Casey" as I like to call her, came to the very last show we played with our old guitarist Alison. We were playing at the Comet Tavern and Casey came up afterward and pretty much said "Um, I'm your new guitar player. Why? Because I said so..." At least through my beer goggles that is how I remember it. (laughs) I just remember being really stoked, because she was right up-front screaming and dancing throughout the whole set, and even helped me up when I tripped over a monitor.
Is she the only guitarist on the album?
She is the only electric guitarist on our album, but I played acoustic guitar on one track. Lou from Neon Nights also sings back-up vocals with me on one track, and that shit will make you cry because it sounds so awesome.
I know you share a home with Neon Nights. What influence has that band had on The Valkyries?
"The Grotto" is what we call our home, and it's a little slice of white-trash heaven. It's equipped with a mini dirt bike track, an outdoor bar with random things hanging all over it, a broken hot tub full of rotten apples and a pretty little pit bull named Annie.
Ginnie and I live there with Jeff who plays drums for Neon Nights and Lou who plays guitar and sings. Their main influence on us is in staying up all night, blasting either Lou's guitar, or playing CDs by Shooter Jennings, Skid Row, Michael Jackson, or Neon Nights. They love listing to themselves! Ginnie says that on more than one occasion, she has come home to find Lou dancing and jumping around with a Budweiser in his hand, screaming along to a Neon Nights CD. I love it! It's a rock and roll household!
They have also helped the band get a foothold in the Seattle rock music scene, right?
Neon Nights has definitely helped us become who we are as a band. They have shown us the ropes of rock and roll and helped with things like letting us use the van for shows, loaning us amps and cymbals, the list goes on and on. They are by far the most talented, soulful, and hard working band out there. We owe them a ton. (We Love You Guys! "Me and my crew, Bitch!")
What are the goals of this band over the next six months?
Well, it's kind of lame to have set goals. I'm more of a fly by seat of my pants kinda gal. As for the band, our main objective is to get this stinking album we have been working on pressed, and out for the masses. Then, I would say we will tour, tour, and tour some more.