If one particular two-piece band in Sydney was ‘REGULATING’ right now, then that band would definitely be SPIRIT VALLEY. These guys have been playing around the traps over the last few years, but it seems like in the last 6 months they have really taken this town by the throat (Sydney at best can be a voiceless child standing there looking at the concrete without a voice) so that is saying alot!
Like all cats who like to be in the know we keep survey on what people are sayin on the streets and one question that comes up alot is “do you know Spirit Valley?” So if people are asking questions like this then one must get their investigating sunglasses on and go to the source and ask the questions… and that’s exactly what we did.
We met in the dark of night at a Petrol Station near Wollongong and so we proceeded to ask the boys a few questions. We kinda went deep, not too deep, but deep enough to get an insight into how Spirit Valley ticks.
SPIRIT VALLEY mean the business and it’s fuckin about time some serious Sydney rock n’ roll appeared on the horizon.
Here’s what they had to say…Enjoy!
Spirit Valley have been kicking around Sydney for some time now, can you give us a little bit of history for those who are new to your music?
Chris: Our mutual friend Chris Tompson introduced us at a dinner party, we bonded over Goin Out West by Tom Waits. The 2 of us were huddled around the stereo listening to it on repeat at the highest volume while the other guest were trying to enjoy their dessert.
Did you come from a musical family?
Dave: My mum and uncles all played piano and guitar and such, everyone had stand up pianos. They definitely all made playing music seem like a very normal thing to do.
What was your childhood like?
C: I was born in Sydney then moved to far north/inland NSW. Then to the coast, then back to the city where I picked up the drums at age 12. A lot of my time at home was spent entertaining my 2 older sisters through the art of pantomime. Otherwise I’d be out playing wheely-boards or drumming in my childhood band ‘Philistine’ whose main goal was taking our school choir songs and rewriting them into punk songs.
D: Awesome at the time, kinda weird looking back at it. My parents went travelling when i was 5 yrs old and then ran out of money in London so we ended up staying there for about 11 years. Growing up in a city as big as London is super fun.
Who did you look up to as a kid?
C: Billy Ray Cyrus, Axl Rose.
D: Michael Jackson, Jimmy Page.
Any cool music memories?
C: The flute solo in Wild Thing by the Troggs. My old man always had that tape in the car. It always spun me out, took me years to figure out it was a flute.
D: My dad taking me to see Led Zeppelin when i was 12 (No Bonham obviously, not that old) at Wembley Stadium cos mum was too pregnant to go. Danced on a seat for the whole show.
First Live gig you attended?
D: Same as above.
C: Battle of the Bands at Manly Youth Centre. Philistine played a set there (the first gig any of us had even been to), the older boys let us enter coz they must have thought it was hilarious seeing 13 year olds from the northern beaches trying to play punk music. Which it was.
The last gig you attended?
C: The Earls House Band at Earls Juke Joint.
D: Earls house band.
The two piece is a thing of beauty when done right, what is the key ingredient that separates you guys from the rest of the pack?
C: I don’t know what separates us from the rest of the pack. But I guess what makes us work is our organic writing process, letting a song take its own course rather than getting stuck on one idea. Keeps it sounding honest and candid. And setting up our instruments accordingly, how ever is going to sound best for the music, even if its outside our comfort zone.
D: No sleeves.
Who did you work with on your debut album GIVE TRANCE A CHANCE?
C: The album was recorded and mixed by Wade Keighran at Linear Studios.
D: Wade Keighran, Wade Keighran and Wade Keighran,
Can you give us a little story about what went into recording your debut record?
D: Sheeeeeeet so much… i remember Wade coming to a show once and then texting Stabs after saying ‘I hate your band, i will never record you as long as i live. which hopefully won’t be long’. Wade got worked so freakin hard on the mixing he got pneumonia. Didn’t even complain about it.
Any bizarre accidents that ended up on tape?
D: The interlude between the title track and Abyss i don’t even remember happening. Think i was just practicing and Wade accidentally had a room mic on.
Compared to past Spirit Valley recordings, what did you learn after recording this time around?
D: Damn so much, probably the biggest thing was how to actually use my gear properly hah!
What’s your plans for the rest 2015?
D: Moving to Amsterdam! Gonna try our hand at being a touring band in Europe.
Is there a Spirit Valley ethos?
D: No sleeves
What’s your take on the current state of the Sydney music community right now?
D: Heaps of really good bands, not enough places to play.
What’s the best thing about being an independent band?
D: I’ve only ever been in independent bands so i don’t know what the other side is like. I do like the sense of achievement that if anything good happens, you know you made it happen yourself.
The worst thing?
If there was something you could change about the Australian music industry for the better what would that be?
D: Abolish the Triple J top 100. Or just Triple J for that matter. Push local radio into the forefront of the industry, a monopoly of any kind is a bad thing.
What are you guys aspiring to as a creative unit?
D: Get Doomshine into the Olympics.
Is there are a band out there in the world that you think, hey these guys are doing it right…
Do you have any advice for bands starting out?
D: Like music. Follow the fun.
There is an endless discussion about how artists don’t seem to be making money anymore due to streaming sites and the like, what are your thoughts on things like Spotify and social media in general?
D: I guess if streaming sites are stopping you from making music you would probably fall more into the category of being a businessman/woman than being an artist. So go find a more lucrative business. Easy. Personally i love all the streaming/downloading/free music stuff, the more music out there the better i say. I love that i can find an Italian new-wave country western barbershop quartet on Bandcamp, message them about how much i love their neon boots, download their music for free and then buy a t-shirt. Glorious.
Give us a little story about your favourite track on the album…
D: Well the not secret at all ‘secret’ track after Forever was recorded on Stabs phone around a campfire in the woods just outside of Austin, TX. Its called Red River after one of the main streets in Austin, we spent about 2-3 months there a while back and it was a very formative time for us as a band. At the time of the recording we had just got to town and were sleeping in the van in bar parking lots, that sorta thing. Was a magically fun time and hearing the cars on the highway at the end of the track always takes me back.
D: Lighten up a little, that’s why.