|ROCKWIRED INTERVIEWS ED VALLANCE
COMING TO AMERICAAmerica isn't the place to be right now. With our economy on the fritz, a presidential office up for grabs, and wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the land of the free is on dangerously shaky ground. Of course, none of this has swayed U.K. born singer-songwriter ED VALLANCE from crossing the great Atlantic and setting up shop in Southern California in pursuit of that often times elusive dream of pop significance. It's hard for me to imagine the dream eluding VALLANCE for too long. He is dropping his debut CD (an 8-song mini-album) THE MODERN LIFE (REBEL GROUP) on November 4, 2008 - Election Day. Filled with songs that speak to the chaotic times that we're living in, THE MODERN LIFE couldn't have been released at a better time; the end of the BUSH years and the beginning of an uncertain future. All politics aside, one should not overlook the fact that ED VALLANCE has honest and urgent album that is easy on the ears and heavy on the mind.
U.K. ARTIST ED VALLANCE TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT HIS DEBUT CD 'THE MODERN LIFE'
HIS LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE STATES
AND GROWING AS A SONGWRITER
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
Did I mention that he's cute too?
ROCKWIRED spoke with ED VALLANCE over the phone. Here is how it went.
THE MODERN LIFE is coming out next month. Excited?
Absolutely. I'm doing a lot of new recording as well. It's a great time for me because the record comes out on November 4, which is also the due date for my first child. It's also the election day so it's kind of a triple whammy. The prospect of having a CD in the stores is exciting.
How long have you lived in the States?
Are you here to stay?
Yeah. Certainly for a couple of years. I'm from London originally and I can't see myself rushing back there in the near future. I do love California and I'm happy to be here.
What drew you to the States? Especially now?
I've got a bit of a love affair going on with California and the music, starting with things like BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD and that whole late sixties thing. Practically speaking, I had a friend who had a manager out here who had heard my stuff , so I came out here and I played some shows and did some radio spots. The music seemed to go down well wherever I was playing.
It's kind of the reverse of what I read about CHRISSIE HYNDE and how she always wanted to live in England.
I see. I think that's it. I had a lot of American friends who I went to school with in England and I think if you're an English school boy, America seems very romantic and there are lots of things that you can get there that you can't get in England. I know that sounds pretty shallow but thats the case. I enjoy it here.
It sounds substantial. In listening to THE MODERN LIFE, I think I get a good sense of where you are coming from Musically. I mean you brought it up yourself with bands like BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD, which you had mentioned earlier, but what surprised me was the albums brevity. 8 songs. Is there a larger work on the way?
There is. For this release, we had decided on a mini-album. I think you can play with things now. I don't necessarily think that the twelve song format has to be adhered to every time, especially with the way things are going. I don't want to think that albums are going to be a thing of the past. I'm old fashioned in that sense. They were eight songs that I thought went together very well and that was how it was released.
Talk to me about music began for you.
I had a pretty square upbringing as far as music is concerned. My parents didn't like pop music and they still don't really. My dad played classical piano and I started playing when I was really little. I was six years old. I enjoyed playing piano and I also played the trumpet. I picked up the guitar when I was fifteen or sixteen and I sort of discovered music on my own. At this point in my life, I was discovering what I like to call 'Dad Rock'. They were old songs and that were knew to me, yet my dad didn't like them. It was a sort of discovery of something new for me. I was always jealous of people when I'd go to their houses and see that their dad's had these massive record collections with things by JIMI HENDRIX. My dad liked CHOPIN. I played music when I was very young but it wasn't the sort of music that I'm playing now. I'd like to think that some of the things that I first heard around the house were what introduced me to music. It had some bearing on what I'm doing now.
I love that term that you use 'Dad Rock'. I think I'm going to try using that more often. How did you come around to gravitating towards this older pop sound as opposed to what may have been popular when you were a kid?
I think that I was definitely into the bands that were into this older sound. I loved the LEMONHEADS, and PRIMAL SCREAM. These bands all sort of modeled themselves after THE BEATLES and THE STONES. I was really into the whole early nineties indie thing like MY BLOODY VALENTINE and all of that kind of shoegazer stuff. At that time, I was going out to raves and listening to all that that entails. I went BRISTOL UNIVERSITY to earn a Spanish Degree and I was there at the time of MASSIVE ATTACK and PORTISHEAD and bands of that ilk. I was getting stuck in a lot indie and dance music of that time.
So was I. I was really into THE SOUP DRAGONS and PRIMAL SCREAM's 'SCREAMADELICA'.
That was the album.
I definitely get were you're coming from.
I think that album was important because it was representative of that whole dance/rock crossover thing that they did so well. I'm not so sure that they did anything before or since that came anywhere close to that personally. I'd love to try to do that kind of music. I don't want to do that kind of acoustic singer songwriter kind of thing but listening to the album, you're probably thinking 'Oh really?'. I think the newer stuff that I'm working on is moving away from that sound. I want to take the acoustic thing and put some different sounds in there to push it a bit - lyrically and sonically.
After you've taken all of this music in, what compelled you to write music.
I don't really know. I know thats a crap answer.
A little bit.
I don't know what made me want to write. I just know that I did it. I just found myself on my own scribbling and I always have. I've always written lyrics - not poetry. I wouldn't want to say poetry because it's not. I think the guitar was what really got me into songwriting and thrashing out these horrible three chord things, which you do for years and years and years and then hopefully it progresses.
Explain the songwriting process for me. How does it happen for you?
It varies. Quite often I'll be in the shower and an entire lyric and melody will just come to me and then sometimes, you sit down with a guitar and you work out an entire chord progression and then the lyrics will come later. There isn't one pat answer to that question.
Off of THE MODERN LIFE, what tracks stand out for you and why?
Well, DEEP END was kind of minor hit in the U.K. We made a video for it and it got played on MTV2. It also got quite a bit of play on BBC Radio. I know thats not any kind of emotional reason why I'm connected to it but it's significant for that reason for me. It was written a few years ago just at the U.S. and the U.K. were going to war and we were marching against it. We thought that there is no way that they can ignore these billions of people on the street. There is no possible way. We are the majority. I realized that when I played the song here in the states, it struck a chord. no pun intended. As two countries, I think we went through very similar experiences. The song is all about people being disconnected and disenfranchised. I don't want to say that it's a protest song, but in a way it is. It can come across as preachy but I felt really strongly about it. I wrote it not really knowing what it meant but later on, I kind of realized what it meant. So 'DEEP END' is an important one. 'THE MODERN LIFE' is a political song in a sense with the idea being that the modern life is like a gameshow and how everything has been dumbed down. There is a certain jauntiness to that song that sort of reflects that idea. ECHO HILL is a song I wrote about L.A. It's a love/hate song. I don't want to say that I hate L.A., I love it, but I think there are the obvious contrasts in here. You have the beauty and the dirt if you will.
How about 'SPARK OF LIFE'?
I wrote that when my nephew was born. It was just one of those things where I had never really been in contact with babies before and I had noticed just how tough they are. You think that they're so delicate but they're just these little animals. My grand dad had died a few months beforehand and there is also this theme of hanging on at the end of life, in that song. It's kind of morbid in the context of my nephew but I think it's a very positive song. There is this thirst for life that is there all the way through. It's something that we have to remind ourselves of.
Who all worked with you in getting this CD produced?
I produced most of the tracks myself and a few of them with ANDREW WILLIAMS who produced THE OLD 97's, PETER CASE, and T-BONE BURNETT. He's a good friend. He was one of my first supporters when I came to L.A. I recorded three or four songs with him. The songs had been recorded over a few years and there were a lot of songs that didn't make it onto the album. I know you were saying that the album is brief but I just felt that those eight were the songs that sat together well. I wanted to put these songs out and move on.
You told me that your parents aren't too crazy about the pop world. What do they think about what you've done now?
They're very proud. I don't really have any relatives who ever did anything musical or artistic as a profession. My family is very conventional and I definitely had some problems to begin with. They didn't really understand what the hell I was trying to do but they got used to it. They're proud that I'm out here and that I'm releasing a record in the States.
What do you want a person to come away with after they've heard this CD?
With all thats going on in the world right now, hopefully they can come away thinking that we're all in this together.