Let's start the interview by stating your name and what you play in Valencia?
George: My name's George and I play bass.
How did signing with Columbia come about? George: Well, we were actually recording demo's for our album that we were preparing to release with I Surrender, and while we were in the studio, Rob Hitt had been showing a couple of the completed songs to a friend of his who was actually working as A&R at Columbia. He called us up and we talked about what kind of visions we had for our band and how we'd like our story to play out and everything just sort of clicked.
What difference do you think switching to a major label has had on the development of this album?
George: It opened a lot of doors for us in terms of what we could do with the actual recording of the album, because before this, our resources had been slightly limited. With a new label behind us, we were actually able to relocate to the west coast for a couple of months and focus solely on the album without any distractions. We also had access to some incredible studios and people to help work on the album, things like that. These things only recently became accessible to us, and it absolutely helped shape the album to be the best it could be.
How did the writing process for your new album differ from your debut?
George: The biggest difference this time around was that at this point, the band and the songs were the only things we had to focus on. We wrote and recorded our first album while we were still in school, and it was difficult juggling class, work, and band practice all at once. I remember specifically one day taking a final in a class, and then rushing to the train station to get to the studio to track bass parts. This time around, we would get to our practice space, and just get to hang out all day and write songs.
You've been working on this album for two years...how many songs were created within that time period that didn't make the album, and should we expect bonus tracks in the future?
George: There are 11 songs on the record, so that would leave probably 20 or so that were scrapped. I think for the most part, that was just because they were ideas that weren't ready, especially when we saw stronger material in the songs that made the album. There are a few b-sides, one will get an exclusive release in the near future, but I wouldn't be surprised if we revisited some of these ideas while we're writing in the future.
What do you hope your listeners take away from the record?
George: I think the most important thing to take away from this album is that through any situation you're forced to go through, good or bad, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to figure out what you have to do to reach that point. It was important to show that music can help you through anything, and we wanted to leave our fans with a sense of optimism after hearing this record.
Any special guests on the album? George: Rachel Minton from Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer and Ken Vasoli from Person L/The Starting Line both sing on separate tracks. Trevor Leonard from Procession Came Opposite did some guest vocals on a B-side as well.
How do you feel about all the positive reviews so far about the album?
George: It's a really rewarding feeling to see that people are so excited about the record. I try not to read too far into what reviews say about our songs because it's just someone's opinion, but you can't help but feel good about what you're doing when you hear that others enjoy the music you put out.
Is the holiday release that came out earlier going to be your lead single off of the record and if so, whose idea was that?
George: It's not going to be a single. We posted it this spring as a way to finish bridging our records together because we felt it picked up where the "I Can't See Myself" demo left off in terms of where we were in our songwriting process. We wanted to show everyone the gradual and natural progression we've taken when it came to writing our songs.
What kind of video would you like to see with it? George: We actually made a video while we were on Warped Tour with a concept that Brendan and our friend Alex Burkat came up with. I'm not going to ruin it for you guys, but we're going to be posting it online sometime towards the end of the summer. I really think it's great, I can't wait for everyone to see it. When it was finished, I couldn't stop watching it because I was so psyched about it.
Does Max still do all of your merch? George: Max is still in charge of picking out designs and figuring out what color shirts and hoods we get, and so on. As far as actually creating the designs goes, we've branched out to see what other artists could offer, though once in a while a design by someone in the band will make it into the mix.
What made you decided to rerecord "I Can't See Myself" and put it on the album when it was originally for Punk The Clock?
George: We recorded that song for Punk the Clock because we had just finished writing it and were offered some time in the studio to track it for the comp. We finished it, it was released on Punk the Clock, and we put it online to show everyone what we've been up to since our first album came out. When we got home from tour that fall, we went back and listened to the song, and felt like we could still do more with it. We worked out some more ideas with it and felt like it had come far enough and it finally fit perfectly with the rest of the songs on the album.
What's one of the most memorable shows that you've performed? And one of the most memorable that you've been to and watched?
George: Our set at Bamboozle in New Jersey was probably one of the, if not the most, memorable show we've done. I always think about that as the culmination of the entire year for us. It's been this sort of roller coaster ride for us; ups, downs, good times, bad times. Ending one of the last tours before the new album comes out so close to our home town in front of so many people and familiar faces was one of the best moments I can remember. As far as a show I've seen, it's also one we played, but we were given a chance to play a show with Saves the Day this spring as well, and they played an hour and a half long set of all requests. For some people, it might not be that big of a deal, but that band is one that really influenced us, so getting to see them play a show like that and even take our requests was a pretty big deal for us.
If you have one, is there a particular city you like to play in? Any favorite venues that you like?
George: I don't know that I have a favorite city to specifically play in, but it's always great to be in Chicago and Seattle. My favorite venue, however, is the Rave in Milwaukee. It's this old, old building that used to be an athletic club before it was reworked into a venue. There are probably 6 different stages in there, and it's really cool to explore. Rumor has it that the basement is haunted too because someone drowned in the pool before it became a venue. I'm obsessed with that place, every time we play there I'm all over the place taking pictures. I've never actually seen the pool though, it's always locked every time we're there. It's always really cold down there though, even in the middle of the summer, which is pretty eery if you ask me.
What was going through Brendan's mind when he found he was being sued by the RIAA? And what happened to that case? What was he downloading?
George: I remember when he got that email. It was like 4 am on a Friday night and we were all hanging out at JD's old apartment. Brendan was checking his email and I walked in and he told me the RIAA was suing him for downloading music. I can imagine that was pretty stressful for him. He kept getting letters saying he could go to court, probably lose, and owe them a lot of money, or settle out of court and owe them slightly less (but still a lot of) money. He wound up settling out of court to avoid it getting too complicated. I don't know that they ever cited anything specific, but just listed a bunch of instances where they tracked him doing it. The bummer about that whole situation was that he never actually stopped buying music, but he got into some trouble because he was using it as a way to sample new artists, which I don't really think is all that wrong.
Any chance of you guys ever-reworking 'How Fast' from When The Flowers Bloom into a Valencia song?
George: We had actually played it a few times when we were out in Los Angeles and about to enter the studio, but we needed to finish out a couple of other ideas before we could focus all of our attention on that song and it never really came to fruition. We were all really excited in the direction it was taking but we wanted to make sure that if we did that song, we did it justice because of its meaning and importance. Who knows what will happen in the future, really?
Anything else you want to say to the readers of AbsolutePunk?
George: Thanks to all of you for sticking with us through the thick and the thin. We can't wait for you to hear our new album, it's our biggest accomplishment to date and we hope it means as much to you as it does to us. See you all on the road.
You can look at Valencia's AbsolutePunk profile here and myspace here.