Louder Than War Interview: The Valkarys
Louder Than War catch up with the lead singer / guitarist of Edinburgh’s finest pysch inspired indie group The Valkarys – one Scott William Dunlop.
The Valkarys delivered the brilliant ‘The Average Can Blind You To The Excellent’ album in 2010 and the E.P ‘Chloroform’ (which features standout track, the cool / dark swirling ‘Cant Win for Losing’) last year so, having just finished the production on album number two, we decided now would be a good time for a chat as the band look towards to the future.
Hi Scott, thanks for chatting to Louder Than War. First question, where and what are the group up to right now?
“Hi, its been strange recently cos we started to make the new record at the same time as we were putting a new line up together, so I’ve decided to get the line up sorted first, then go back to recording the record. We are just about ready now. We have a new bass player and drummer, and hopefully we’ll have a another guitarist soon too (i like to play with 3 guitars). I would also like to add some female vocals so I’m looking for that too. So we are busy in the studio just now getting up to date with songs and getting ready for shows we have booked in the summer. I would like to think we will have the new record ready for summertime. It’ll gonna be a 5 track E.P. with a full album to come later in the year.”
So its all change at the moment?
Yeah, it is, but our line up seems to change regularly so its nothing new really. I think that has probably hindered us in the past, we always seem to be going over the same songs in the studio but hopefully that’s all behind us and this line up is the one that people will get to hear about and be excited about. Last year was a really tough time for me personally and the band as a whole, so I am really looking forward to getting out there and playing our music again. I’m very motivated and I’m very excited about the new songs I have, and I think people will love our new record when its done.
What about the line up changes, has it made any effect on the sound / style of The Valkarys?
We are still in the early days of getting the songs together but there will be no changes in the sound. I know exactly what kind of music I want to make and we’re not gonna start going off in another direction anytime soon. Psychedelic music makes me feel good and it’s what I want to hear and play.
What would you say are the groups most popular tunes to date?
Well, it’s all about personal opinion I suppose. For me i love to play “How convenient for you” from the first record and “Grazi, net ir ryte” from the second record. “Candy girl” and “Can’t win for losing” seem to be crowd favourite’s as well. We have never played ” You cant keep me down” live. I would really like to start playing that song too.
What type of journey have the band been on since starting up in 2006, have the Valkarys changed over those years in sound or style much?
I suppose the music has changed. I think we were a bit more rock’n’roll orientated at the beginning. At the beginning i had been writing songs for a few years and decided one day to get a band together. Just friends who i knew could play, and things just graduated from there really. I never wanted to sing so we had a few different singers. I wanted to be the guy who wrote the songs. I’d done a bit backing vocals but i never wanted to be the one up front singing. Over time it became obvious that if i was writing the songs then no one else could really sing them the way i could, or express the feeling in the music and words the way I could so I became a reluctant singer. I’ve grown into it over the years. I can’t say how we have all changed over the years czs none of these guys are with me anymore. People move on when they realise its someones else’s vision that they are involved with. Most people have big ego’s but more so with musicians. Whatever it takes to make sure the music sounds the best it possibly can, i am prepared to do, and a lot of people cant take that, they want to be told that what they are doing is great, they don’t want to be told to play less notes in the solo or don’t play a drum fill there. It’s about what makes the song sound the best, not about anyone individual part. I release all our music online, the usual download sites and we make a very limited number of CD’s of every release that we sell at shows. I’m interested in making vinyl and T-shirts soon too. Ultimately I want to have all our records available for free to download, so that’s something I’m working on too.
You’re from the fine city of Edinburgh, what was it like growing up and learning to be in a band in Edinburgh? Was there a good scene in the city in terms of venues, music fans and were there plenty groups about?
I have a love hate relationship with Edinburgh. I love the city, I was born and raised here and its a beautiful place, but the music scene is virtually non existent to me. I like about a handful of bands from here. The venues are not the greatest in my opinion. The ‘Wee Red Bar‘ is a great place to play.
When I was younger and getting interested in music, The Jackals were the band that all my mates and i used to go and watch. They were like my close up musical education. By the time i had a band and was out and playing shows I’m pretty sure they were on a break, although i can remember playing a couple of shows with them. They are back together now and still sounding amazing.
We played with Frantic Chant a lot in Edinburgh before we moved to London, they’re a great band and lovely people too. We are playing with them in June so that’s gonna be a great night, and now we are based in Edinburgh, I’m sure we will be playing together a lot in the future.
Being a group exploring the psychedelic / Indie shoe gazer side of sound and spectacle does recreational use of tripping materiel come into play…or is that maybe a bit of an obvious assumption for a psych influenced group like your self’s?
When I was younger most definitely. These days I don’t touch drugs, I think its good to experiment when you’re younger but there has to come a time when you call it a day. I think drugs definitely shaped the sound of the band but you don’t have to be taking drugs to get off on our music or psychedelic music in general, or to create it. Its a state of mind.
Can you give me an idea where you’re coming from on the new album?
This new record is gonna be called “Psychodelica” which is obviously a play on words and a nod to the Mary Chain and Primal Scream. We have a song called “Gene Clark” that’s gonna be on it. It started off as a Byrd’s sounding tune when we created it in London last year hence the title, but its kinda morphed into something a bit more dreamy. We are gonna be playing that song at our shows coming up.
Song writing – how about Thatcher, the shitty economic climate and other current affairs issues going on…can a indie-psych group still sort of express those thoughts and reactions within the music?
I was happy Thatcher died. I was born in 1979, the year she gained power, so I was brought up under her rule. What really pisses me off is when people have a go at someone for being happy she died but being too young to remember her, as if we are not still living under the process she started. She planted the seeds and the trees have well and truly grown. The Tory’s and the middle class folk want people like me to not take an interest in politics, cos they can just keep doing whatever the fuck they want and get away with it. Society as a whole is pretty fucked up, it’s sickening but if working class people don’t fight back nothing will change. The SSP are doing some great things in Scotland, I would urge people to check them out.
Details on the new album…release date and title?
Well its gonna be a 5 track E.P. called “Psychodelica”, it will be available on all major download sites and a limited number of CD’s that we will sell at our shows. We are probably looking at it being available in June / July.
The shows you put on seem quite an event- so where can you catch The Valkarys this year?
We have a few shows booked, and we are in discussions about some more. We are hopefully playing a festival or two but waiting on confirmation before we can say anything really. We are also planning to do a mini European tour this year so keep a look out on our websites for details.
Shows confirmed so far;
WEE RED BAR, EDINBURGH JUNE 22ND
PAPER DRESS, LONDON JULY 4TH
BAR SOLO, LONDON JULY 5TH
THE ZETLAND,HUDDERSFIELD JULY 6TH