“Do you have earplugs? You’re going to want earplugs,” says Valley of the Sun guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier.
Most bands turn up the volume in their practice spaces. Competing against other acts in warehouses with nothing resembling insulation tends to make some dials crank up and make Ferrier’s advice extremely valuable.
But Valley of the Sun takes it to another level. In their psychedelic practice space, the local retro-Rock three-piece is busy writing its first full-length, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk. Rest assured, the new jams are just as heavy, groovy and infectious as the group’s previous material. But when Ferrier, bassist Ryan McAllister and drummer Aaron Boyer turn the amps up, it becomes apparent that they’re also really, really loud.
The trio is hard at work crafting music that sticks with the listener long after the buzzing in the ears wears off.
“We want to have some epic, opus type shit going on,” Ferrier says. “We’re probably going to continue to have at least a song at a time, where we’re fucking it every different way, trying to make it work, and then ending up with something awesome months down the road. But we’re also going to bang out rockers.”
Valley has been crafting dynamic Rock & Roll journeys since its first EP release in 2010, the aptly named twothousandten, but Electric Talons is the first time the band has been writing with its current lineup.
“When Ryan (McAllister) joined up, the primary goal was to get him ready for tour,” Ferrier explains. “Then we did that, we did the tour and I decided, ‘Well shit, let’s play some shows in town.’ There was this really dramatic introduction of a new member.”
It’s an addition that has made the songwriting process a bit trickier, but the end results are better for it.
“It took us a little while to figure out what the decision making process was going to be and I think that was the key,” McAllister says. “Now we know what we’re trying to do (and) share a similar vision. It’s come in line, what kind of songs we’re trying to make.”
Valley’s writing process often feels like a tennis match; McAllister and Ferrier lob thoughts back and forth across the practice space with Boyer sitting in between them, tossing in his own ideas to help tip the scales. The proceedings may sound antagonistic to an outsider, but if songs like “Nomad,” “Megapop,” and “Rubbers Are a Bummer” (not the final titles) are any indication, the banter is producing some great tunes. The songs have a distinct ebb and flow, with instrumentation sliding in and out of the mix. This provides a rich and complex final product that knocks the listener on his or her ass, but not before inciting fits of foot stomping, head banging and fist pumping.
The members are adamant about maintaining the feel of a trio in a recorded format where any number of ancillary additions are possible.
“We want it to sound like a three-piece band on the record; we don’t want it to be crazy layers. So I think that’s going to give us extra time to do a lot more experimenting with different sounds and different ideas,” Boyer says.
“I really like accentuating the fact that it’s a three-piece, but also making it massive,” Ferrier adds.
Valley will be recording their massive new record via an Indiegogo campaign that raised $5,600, more than three times the amount earned for the follow-up to the first EP, The Sayings of the Seers.
“Daily life makes it hard, bills you get — it makes it hard to throw a ton of extra money into recording and pressing a record. Crowd funding, in a way, seems like preordering a record, so it seems like a great idea. The people who want the music are directly funding the record. You’re selling to the core market,” Boyer says.
The boys will use the money to cover lodging, renting the studio and travel expenses, with only album pressing and Indiegogo rewards coming out of pocket.
While Valley still has time before they enter the studio (early September), the three members are focused on the finished product and what’s needed to reach it.
“My goal is to have no filler; I hate filler,” McAllister says.
Valley of the Sun is answering their fans’ call for a full-length record with some of its strongest material to date. Armed with the right funding, a newly bolstered lineup and some hellacious riffs, Valley of the Sun are setting their sights on crafting an album with sounds worthy of both a spin on the record table and a spin in the pit.
Just don’t forget your earplugs.