Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
V: We hate trying to think of labels or genres but sometimes ‘prog-pop’ comes to mind. The aim is always to write a pop song with complex rhythms and conceptual lyrics, but that still has that vocal hook that sticks in your head.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
V: Nic and I (Alex) are brothers. We were in a band when we were teenagers and had an absolutely insane time doing the live circuit in Cambridge. When I moved to Manchester a few years ago we decided we had to ‘get the band back together’. We met Chris (bassist) and Oli (drummer) and got busy writing some new songs. After spending a few years developing our sound, improving as musicians and getting better at producing and mixing our own tracks, we released our debut single Irregular Low last year with an accompanying video. We released our follow up Dead To The World back in April and are now focused on recording as much new music as possible.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
V: As a kid it was all about Oasis, their melodies and choruses combined with their attitude and them just being fucking cool. Then Alex Turner and Arctic Monkeys got me more interested in songwriting. For a few years Valetta was massively inspired by Queens of the Stone Age and their strange scales and heavy riffs. Now we get a massive kick out of artists who have found a big audience playing left-field, sometimes psychedelic music, like Everything Everything, TV on the Radio, St Vincent and King Gizzard! God knows what the next thing will be.
Non-musically, we all love films, the weirder the better. Just recently discovered Charlie Kaufman. Also if you haven’t seen the film Coherence you’ve gotta check it out! When I’m in a reading phase I always come back to J.G. Ballard, his short stories are ingeniously original and always make me want to start writing.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
V: I mean, headline Glastonbury? But to be honest if I can make a living from my own music then I won’t complain. As a band we want to find an audience, large or small, where we could do something totally different every release and they’d stick with us.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
V: I (Alex) write the majority of our songs, although Nic has pitched in with a few. I always try to make each song be its own thematic island, its own episode or story. There’s a lot of surreal stuff in there, fictional government societies, purgatory where you’re forced to do karaoke for the rest of eternity, the usual. Relationships, sex, usually putting myself as the subject but recently trying to look outwards. Our new single Juggernauts is a good example, it’s about the media and struggling with information overload, and the powerlessness and apathy that is intentionally created when people are bombarded with news that they could never hope to have any control over.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
V: We love making music videos alongside everything we release! They add another dimension to the song but also help create a visual identity for the band. Whenever we find new fans online or at shows we like to keep in touch personally, inviting them to the next gig or telling them about our latest release. I think people appreciate you taking time to maintain a personal relationship to your fanbase.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
V: If it means being able to access more music, then great. If it means screwing artists out of their share of what they’ve created, then not great.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
V: Wolf Like Me by TV on the Radio, cos then we could play it at every show and it wouldn’t be weird. It’s so frenetic but always feels like it’s holding a little bit back, he’s absolutely spitting out these terrifying lyrics and the middle section is absolutely epic! The perfect closer.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
V: Adverts. Good for a channel 4 nostalgia compilation show, but still pure evil.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
V: Valetta had been playing together for a while before we finally released our first single last year. We spent a long time working on our sound and improving the songs and resisting the temptation to show everyone our works in progress. Finally seeing our debut single Irregular Low released with the artwork and music video and everything made it worth the wait.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
V: We’re working on another song called Barbarian which will be on our debut EP, hopefully that will be out before the end of the year! Got plenty of unfinished songs in the works for the EP after that, and we’re talking about releasing a live EP too. I’m also working on the sound design and soundtrack to a short film; it’s something I’ve never done before but I’m really excited to see how it turns out.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
V: Our first two singles, Irregular Low and Dead To The World, are on all streaming platforms! If you fancy donating to the Valetta cause, head over to our Bandcamp page (https://valettamusic.bandcamp.com/music) where you can pay what you like for our music. Also, check out the remix of Irregular Low by Sheffield ambient electronic duo Güsh. Keep an eye on our youtube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAoKhIZ9Ua5OAEj9FzwacxQ) because we’ve got a Juggernauts video in the works, and check out our other self-produced music videos while you’re there.