“You’ve got to roll with the punches,” says Valient Thorr, leader of the earth-bound garage punk band that bears his name. What else is one to do when your time/space travel vehicle breaks down? For the Venusian quintet (actually only four of the members are Venusians), the only answer was to rock the hell out, conjuring the primal vibrations of rock ‘n’ roll and expanding their collective “rocknowledgy.”
“Rocknowledgy is sweat, power and eye-opening energy,” explains Thorr. “There was always a lot of aggression in rock ‘n’ roll. But after a while it turned people off, because it had lost its soul. It’s not just about rock; you have to have the soul ‘n’ roll there too. That’s why there’s two Rs in Thorr–it’s for rock ‘n’ roll.”
They released their first disc, Stranded on Earth, in 2003, and have just finished recording the follow-up with John Plymale, who worked on their debut. The new album’s entitled Total Universe Man and will be coming out on Volcom Entertainment–who’ve regularly hosted a stage on the Warped Tour. Valient Thorr was invited to do a few dates by Volcom last year, which evolved into the current record deal. As a result, this year Valient Thorr will be spreading their rock-gospel on the whole Warped Tour.
“[The new album] is going to remind them of things they’ve known but have never come to life for them in this lifetime. It might even awaken things they don’t know about themselves. It’s aimed at the part of the brain that’s kind of a mystery,” says Thorr. “We don’t have 20 percent of the words we need to communicate the emotions we’re sent with. All we can do is back out and see that knot you’re inside of, then back out until you can see the whole thing. It’s ‘The Total Universe, Man.’”
“What we always say when a good thing goes down is ‘efforts realized.’ The fruits of all those efforts are about to bear. People are going to eat it up. And it’s going to taste a whole lot better than peaches,” Thorr avers.
Speaking of things we’d rather not think about–it might be a while before The Greatest Hits play again. Their bassist, Kerry Spring has decided to move to Chicago, prodded by a night of dirty fun. “We visiting some friends in Chicago and they were having a female mud-wrestling contest. Well, the referee didn’t show up, so they let Kerry referee. The best part is they made Kerry wear the girls’ uniform, this little black and white thing,” Lowe recalls. “We had so much fun, on the flight back he was like, ‘I’m moving up here.’”
Lowe toyed with the idea himself but felt there was too much holding him here–like his band, for instance. The group just finished their debut album. Though it’s not their first record.
“We made another with like 12 songs on it. It wasn’t bad, but we’ve changed out sound a little bit, and didn’t feel it represented us,” Lowe said.
So the album was shelved and a new eight-song album was begun with Kevin Davis in Trinity, N.C., in March. The album doesn’t have a title yet or a release date, but Lowe’s planning on sending it around to some friends and people he knows in hopes a label might be interested in paying for mastering.
“We basically shacked up there over the weekend. He has this big jet out back that’s totally a legit studio, but it doesn’t have a bathroom,” Lowe recalls. “He trumped even us on the relaxed party mode. Both nights he was passed out by about 1 a.m. Whereas we were just getting into the swing of things by then. That was a little weird.”
The Greatest Hits formed when Lowe was in a self-described “fog” brought on by a break-up and enhanced by the copious consumption of alcohol.
“I basically stayed drunk for a long time, and I stopped caring what the songs sounded like. I was going to play what I wanted, and people started taking to it more than they were the other stuff,” he says. “It’s ironic–as soon as I stopped giving a fuck, people were into it.”
The music reflects that with a jaunty rock guitar roar riding a slightly jagged rhythm over which Lowe unloads.
“Our songs on the surface don’t seem depressing, but the lyrics are really dark. I don’t really know anyone else singing really subversively depressing music over rock guitar,” Lowe says. “I have all kinds of roots in silly punk rock, but at the same time I’ve always been a big fan of Leonard Cohen-type stuff. My band doesn’t sort of facilitate that type of thing, so it kind of gets cross-faded in over the rock ‘n’ roll.”