>> Interview w/ Brendan Walter (Guitar) <<
It’s been a gradual change, but ‘Dancing With A Ghost’ has a noticeable maturity to it. Things aren’t as fast and punk/rock this time around. Was any of this intentional?
It was both intentional and not. At one point we just started writing and not thinking about it. We were writing without a specific direction, just what felt good and what made us happy. Not to say that our older stuff wasn’t what we wanted to write or that it didn’t make us happy, but for different times in our lives different things tend to inspire us. The music on this record was chosen from about 75 songs that we wrote and I think it made for a better final product. The choosing process was the hardest part, some people liked some songs and others liked others, but in the end it sort of jumped out at us and started to make sense when we thought about the lyrical content and flow of the songs and just choosing the best songs possible.
What’s the story behind “Dancing With A Ghost”, and why was it chosen as the album title?
Dancing With A Ghost is a metaphor for fighting your past self. Dancing and fighting around who you were and becoming who you are and who you want to be. The record talks a lot about change and dealing with making yourself a better person. There are some pretty deep subjects on the record and some light hearted ones but that is how life is, you go through changes and phases and all of the stories make up who you are.
What has the band been up to since the ’08 release of ‘We All Need A Reason To Believe’?
We’ve been insanely busy. We toured about 26 of the past 24 months and on the 8 months we had off it was straight to the studio to record and write. It’s a constant grind and a constant work flow with us, we can never be still. We’re like sharks, keep swimming even while we’re sleeping.
What kind of touring do you have planned currently?
We just finished up a headlining tour to support our album release and are currently on tour with Say Anything, Motion City Soundtrack and Saves The Day. This tour is absolutely insane and amazing and we are honored to be a part of it with some of our favorite bands. After this we head to Australia to do a 3 week tour and then right back home for another headlining run. Like I said, we like to keep as busy as possible! I’m sure it will be just as packed next year as well, just haven’t really been planned yet. We have to take things one step at a time.
How have fans responded to the new music so far? Which songs seem to be the favorite live?
We’ve had such positivity and excitement so far and it’s really encouraging to us! We have some of the greatest fans who definitely will tell us when they don’t like something and are really honest but this record seems to be getting an across the board reaction that people understand what we did and are happy to be a part of it with us.
Live we’ve been playing “Spinning Out” and getting a really good vibe. “Dancing With A Ghost” also has been really getting people moving and we’re really having fun playing that one and seeing a really cool reaction.
What musical influences did you have when writing this album?
This album’s influences really varied, just like anytime we write. We had some Jimmy Eat World and other pop punk-type inspirations but also the classics like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and all that Americana stuff that we grew up on. There’s a different influence on every song and I think that’s what makes it all so exciting.
Do you guys like Matchbook Romance? “Consider Me Dead” has a cool MR vibe to it.
I always enjoyed them when I heard them, but never really owned an album or took much time to dive into them. Our drummer actually wrote the song and he has never heard that band before haha. Very interesting you should bring that up though, I’ll have to pick up some albums and see what you’re referring to.
The first half of this album is more constructed and sweet sounding, while the second half is composed of the more fun, laid back songs like “Friday Night”. Was this done purposefully?
Well, one of our favorite parts of the process is doing the sequencing. It’s really fun to just experiment and throw songs in weird orders and make play lists, sit back and listen to what we’ve done and just see what works best. So, we definitely thought a lot about the other and went back and forth and struggled with it until we felt it was right (we even did a different track listing in Japan, because we liked it just as much). We wanted to give the listener a sort of roller coaster ride during the album and go through the changes that we went through, the ups and downs of changing and “Dancing With A Ghost”.
Which songs are your favorite and why?
My definite favorite is “Still Need You Around (Lost Without You)”. It really is kind of a proud song for us. It’s so different and interesting and made us stubble and strive to be better musicians and dig deeper into lyrical content. The song is inspired by old school r&b music but then brings in sort of a Coldplay big rocking ending that gives me chills overtime I hear it. The lyrics are talking about the fear that someday our parents and grandparents won’t be around and trying to come to terms with the fact that life is futile, but still goes on after all of the trials and tribulations you have to go through.
Some of my other favorites are “Dancing With A Ghost”, “Spinning Out” and “Consider Me Dead” …but really it’s hard to choose, because we already chose these 10 out of the 75 we wrote so there’s nothing in any of these songs that I don’t love and am not proud of.
What makes this album special specifically for the Valencia series?
This album really is special for us because it’s just our collective hearts and souls poured into 10 songs that we believe really strongly in. There’s nothing in our lives that we put more hard work into and are more passionate about than our music and this is no exception. This record IS Valencia, for now. There’s no other record we could make right now and we are so proud of what we’ve done. It’s catchy and fun and exciting but at the same time it’s very heartfelt and melancholy. There’s something for everyone and it’s really across the board for us but it’s a year and a half of our lives that are documented and out there for everyone in the world to hear and see.