Valencia has been consistently making fantastic music. Whether it is the masterpiece We All Need A Reason To Believe or its impressive follow-up Dancing With A Ghost, Valencia have proven themselves as one of the best bands currently making music. During their stint on the Motion City Soundtrack/Say Anything tour, we spoke to three-fifths of the quintet about Dancing With A Ghost and some of the messages behind the lyrics as well as a few other goodies.



[email protected]: So how are you guys feeling today?

Brendan Walter: Pretty good. [We] started tour a couple days ago and it’s pretty awesome.

George Ciukurescu: Today specifically, I’m feeling pretty good though. Just okay. I woke up a little too early.

[email protected]: How early?

George Ciukurescu: 8 AM. It’s terrifying. [I] can’t deal with it. And Shane’s good too.

Shane Henderson: I’m great.

[email protected]: So yesterday you began your tour with Motion City Soundtrack, Say Anything and Saves The Day. How’s it been so far?

Brendan Walter: Amazing. It’s been pretty awesome. It’s the third day but we already can tell it’s going to be the best tour we’ve ever been on.

George Ciukurescu: Yeah man. We’re really big fans on all the bands we’re on tour with. So, it’s kind of a dream come true to be able to play these shows.

[email protected]: What are you looking forward to most about this tour?

Shane Henderson: Probably playing amazing venues and being with these bands every day.

Brendan Walter: I’m looking forward to watching Saves The Day the most. They’re one of my favorite and it’s been pretty amazing.

[email protected]: This past Tuesday, you released your third full-length album Dancing With A Ghost. What are your thoughts as the album is starting to make its way around?

George Ciukurescu: As far as response goes or…?

[email protected]: Everything.

George Ciukurescu: I’m actually really, really excited about how everything’s going, especially the last week. It seems like a lot more people have heard our band actually which is really a great thing to hear when you put a record out.

[email protected]: This time around Mark Trombino was in the producer’s chair. What was it like working with him?

Brendan Walter: It was great. Awesome guy, very cool. He definitely had some cool input. He’s very quiet and reserved but when he had something to say it was always really important, really interesting and cool.

Shane Henderson: We also learned a lot throughout the entire process. He was always willing to share with us his thoughts and his theories in terms of production and the way songs should move, which was cool.

[email protected]: What was the recording process like?

George Ciukurescu: Pretty crazy. [Laughs]

Shane Henderson: It was tough. It was a lot hours, a lot of hard work but it makes it all worth it when you get the finished product in your hand.

Brendan Walter: It was pretty grueling. Twelve songs in one month was pretty insane.

George Ciukurescu: Yeah. I think we had one day off in the entire month and it was basically getting in the studio 10 in the morning every day and most nights not even leave until three or four in the morning. [We would] not really sleep a lot [and] spend all day in these rooms just working on these songs but it was worth it in the end.

[email protected]: How did the opportunity to work with [Mark Trombino] come about?

Brendan Walter: Our label owner is Rob Hitt and he was in band called Midtown. In the early 2000s, they were a band on Drive Thru Records and their first two records were produced by Mark and they were really good friends. [Rob] showed him our band and Mark really liked our music and was stoked to work with us, and vice versa. So, that’s how it came about.

[email protected]: You guys have stated that Jimmy Eat World was one of your influences. Did Mark’s work with Jimmy Eat World play a factor in your decision to choose him as the producer ?

Shane Henderson: I don’t think so. I think it was just in terms of all the records Mark has done, even Drive Like Jehu which he played drums in, played a large role. We just looked at it in terms of he’s a great producer, the work he has already done is stellar and just picturing ourselves with that kind of recording quality and that kind of production kind of drove home the decision.

Brendan Walter: We would even bring up Jimmy Eat World stuff and he just wasn’t interested. He likes to do something new every time. He doesn’t want to redo the old record. He didn’t want to say, “Jimmy Eat World did this. Let’s do it.” He was like, “Let’s do something new and interesting and keep pushing the envelope.” Definitely, we love his records with Jimmy Eat World but it wasn’t like, “Let’s write a Jimmy Eat World album and record it with him and make it sound like that.”

George Ciukurescu: That was one thing that was really cool about Mark. When we would ask about what he was really into listening to at the time, he would always be like, “Just what I’m working on. That’s pretty much all I focus on. I don’t worry about the past and what could be coming out later just the now, which was great for us. 

[email protected]: Many of the songs on Dancing With A Ghost are stylistically different than any of your previous works. How did this progression come about?

Shane Henderson: See, a lot of people say that but I don’t think our new record is different than our old record. Well, it’s definitely different than our first record, but I think in terms of our sound it’s more mature. We really took the time to pay attention to all the necessities when it comes to writing a song and making sure that we’re all happy with our music. It was definitely a five man job. We all put equal amounts of work and thought into it. It’s just the importance of making sure that it’s a personal thing, which always changes because as you grow older, your experiences differ and you go through different things. Dancing With A Ghost is basically a metaphor for fighting yourself on changing, changing for the better, fighting your old tendencies. We kind of took it in that vein where it’s like, “Let’s just write songs and make ourselves happy with these songs.”

George Ciukurescu: I think people talking about a drastic change in styles of music is…I really feel like they are mistaking something like that for natural growth. We wouldn’t put anything out that is the same thing twice. Otherwise, there wouldn’t really be a point in being a band because that’s the whole point of being creative. Continue progressing in your art. It’s boring otherwise.

Shane Henderson: I think also a lot of people confuse the fact that our last record was a little of rough in terms of we wanted that rough rock sound and this record is a more polished when it comes to the production side of things, so people have kind of mistaken that for changing our sound but it’s just more along the lines of sounding better.

[email protected]: In a video leading up to the release of the new album, Shane Henderson stated in a teaser video for Alternative Press that the theme for the record would be change. Why did you choose this as your theme?

Shane Henderson: I don’t think we necessarily chose a theme and started writing around it. It’s just like we wrote seventy-five songs and as we whittled it down to the twelve that we recorded in kind of ended up centralizing around that. As we cut the list down, we started noticing the theme.  That’s kind of how it goes. You’ll notice that you’re leaning towards one thing more than the other. Change, I feel we’re all getting older. We’re all twenty-five, twenty-six years old. It’s just life in general, just going through that process.

Brendan Walter: Yeah. I mean as cheesy as it is to say, we didn’t really choose it. It kind of chose us. As we were picking the songs, that was just what was coming out. I guess we didn’t really realize that is what we were writing about all along, just something that sort of came about.

Shane Henderson: It’s kind of a strange process because it’s like when you get the full product done and you’re listening to the mixes back, you start realizing what the songs mean to you and you start focusing on the theme and the message behind them and then you start developing everything as you go.

[email protected]: For the last album, there were certain events that inspired a lot the lyrics. This time around were there any particular events or experiences that inspired the lyrical side of the record?

Shane Henderson: Yeah. I mean I think it’s just everyday life. Basically, going through the hard times you do. When you’re in a band like ours and you’re working your ass off, sometimes you might not get the notoriety that you would want. I think a lot of it has to do with just living my life and living our lives and realizing death is out there and the fear of losing people and losing loved ones and the fear of losing yourself in the process even I think that had a lot to do with it. [From] the transition from the last record which was pretty obvious to this record, it’s like you see where we were then and you see where we are now. It’s kind of looking at both and seeing the process that it took to get there.

Brendan Walter: We were talking about it earlier. I was talking about it with a friend that when you see younger bands you want to tell them all the things they should know that we’ve experienced, but you can’t tell anybody that. You have to experience it for yourself in order to get where you are. So it’s like all the collective experience that makes you who you are and where you have come from. I kind of think that’s what this record is about.

[email protected]: Do you think there any songs in particular that you think best exemplifies this theme?

Shane Henderson: I think “Dancing With A Ghost” is a good one. It’s more of the broad message. Lyrically speaking, it’s a pretty broad thing. It’s talking about change.

Brendan Walter: I feel like that song kind of encapsulates the entire experience of the record. The title is Dancing With A Ghost and that’s what really sums it up the most.

George Ciukurescu: Actually thinking through all the songs as you asked that, to pinpoint something about that in each song there’s always something about the story that happens throughout the song that you can say, “Well, the events being described kind of lead to something where we are resolving to change ourselves for the better.” I think that was kind of what we were dealing with and going through when we were writing the songs.

Shane Henderson: I think also “Losing Sleep” is a good example of changing. It’s kind of about the every day struggle.

[email protected]: If you could have audiences taking one thing away from the record, especially the lyrically side of it, what would it be?

Brendan Walter: I don’t think that there’s a lesson really. It’s just kind of just talking about life, how it works and how we go through it, how we’ve gone through it and I guess just taking things step by step and not wanting to skip any steps. You can’t really you know.

Shane Henderson: I think for me, I just want kids to take away that they’re eventually going to go through the same things, whether it be a different story for them or a different type of thing. But, it’s definitely something to look at and to understand that you’re going to go through this process no matter what and there’s nothing to hold back but you just kind of have to live your life and be happy with who you are and where you’re going.

George Ciukurescu: Yeah, that’s pretty much what I was thinking. These things that we write about are things that everybody will experience and will be forced to go through this change. It’s up to you to take that and make it be for the better for the rest of your life.

[email protected]: A lot of people relate to your music. With Dancing With A Ghost, this seems like something that won’t change anytime soon. What is it like when people come up to and tell you how much your music has meant to them?

Shane Henderson: To be honest, it still to this day blows me mind. We All Need A Reason To Believe has been out since [2008]—so two and a half years now—we have kids who come up to us and show us tattoos of our words tattooed on their bodies for life and it’s just a blessing. It’s really unbelievable to have people relate to you. It shows you how big the world is and but also how small it is. They are going through the same you are and just like I did or we did when we were going through the times, I found something to relate to and something to get me through those times and the fact that our band is that for some other people is just so humbling and blows my mind and I appreciate it more than anything.

[email protected]: What inspires your optimism? How do you keep the positive vibes going especially during hard times?

Shane Henderson: I think it has to a lot to do with being happy, just understanding that you can’t just live negatively.

Brendan Walter: Yeah. I mean like we were saying, everyone is going to go through those times. You’re not alone in this world on those things. You have to keep positive and have to keeping going somehow. Why make it miserable? Why make it sad and boring? You’ve got to get through it somehow. Actually, going back to the last question, it’s just cool. It’s almost a family of sorts. Everybody is going through this and everyone is feeling the same things. This is the way we get through it: music and positivity.

George Ciukurescu: I think the way the people have received our music is a great way to maintain positivity. I think without maintaining positivity and optimism, you’re not going to lead the life that you should. You’ve got to stay positive. Otherwise, you are just going to go down the tubes.

[email protected]: The new record features Dan [Pawlovich] behind the kit. Prior to this record, Max [Soria] played drums for Valencia. What was his reason for leaving the band?

Brendan Walter: He just didn’t like being away from home. He’s kind of like a homebody kind of guy. He loved playing drums. He loved playing music and we’re all still great friends, but I think he couldn’t handle being away from his friends and family and stuff like that. It’s a hard thing to do. We all go through that. He just took it a little bit harder than everybody else.

[email protected]: You recently filmed a video for the album’s title track. From the looks of pictures, it looks to be a lot of fun.

Brendan Walter: Yeah, it was awesome.

George Ciukurescu: Yeah, it was a blast!

[email protected]: Can you perhaps give us a teaser of what’s to expect?

Shane Henderson: Dancers, suits, sweat and lights.

George Ciukurescu: And mean breakdancing! [All laugh]

[email protected]: Do you have a tentative release date for the video?

Shane Henderson: We actually got the final version of it yesterday so in a few weeks. Pretty soon.

George Ciukurescu: And it looks awesome!

Brendan Walter: Yeah, we’re excited.

[email protected]: In a recent interview, you stated that there are a lot of b-sides to the record. Do think it would be possible to see an album full of b-sides similar to the EP that came out after We All Need A Reason To Believe?

Shane Henderson: It’s definitely a possibility.

George Ciukurescu: We’ve got so many of them.

Shane Henderson: We’re all really stoked on the b-sides too. The last b-sides were cool, but I don’t think anybody was as stoked as we are on these new ones.

Brendan Walter: Yeah, there’s some songs that almost made the record but they just didn’t fit lyrically and stylistically but they are still some of our favorite songs we’ve ever written. Definitely a possibility.

[email protected]: How would you say these b-sides are different than the ones on the record?

Shane Henderson: Some of them are more towards the last record. Some of them are completely styles in general.

George Ciukurescu: Some of them are really off the wall. [Laughs] That’s probably why they didn’t make it.

Brendan Walter: We just had fun writing these songs. Whether it fit or not, that’s what we were writing and the b-sides are b-sides for a reason but they are still great songs we think.

[email protected]: While it is technically too soon to think about new material, is there any side of Valencia that you would like to pursue more in the future?

George Ciukurescu: I don’t know.

Shane Henderson: I would always love to do a country record.

Brendan Walter: And a Broadway musical!

Shane Henderson: I’m just kidding.

George Ciukurescu: We’ve talked about doing some kind of rap metal thing. [All laugh] We’ve always felt a bit a pressure from JD [Perry (the other guitarist who was not present at the time)] because he hates that kind of music so much. He wouldn’t let it happen.

Brendan Walter: Like Limp Bizkit.

George Ciukurescu: I was just saying the other day, when we used to go to buy records at stores for like twenty bucks, I paid twenty bucks for Three Dollar Bill Yall$, so I hope one day we can write a record as good as that.

Shane Henderson: I think we’d be a good boy band with dancing, harmonies and gay suits.

George Ciukurescu: We have very handsome guys.

Brendan Walter: I don’t know. We kind of write whatever we feel and whatever is coming at us. We don’t really think about the grand scheme of things like we need to write a song that has screaming or we need to song that has a weird piano part. That’s what happens and it flows. I know there’s going to be new things on the next record that we’ve never done before and you’ve never heard from us before but we haven’t thought about that yet. It’ll just come.

Shane Henderson: It’s a natural process.

[email protected]: Do you have any influences that people wouldn’t expect? Like bands, etc?

Brendan Walter: I think we’ve always told people that we listen to everything. There are crazy influences, from classic rock to weird indie bands to all of our favorite pop-punk bands. It’s all across the board. Probably anything that we were last listening to would surprise anybody.

Shane Henderson: I’m a sucker for a good melody. If anything has a good melody, I can kind of allow it to go through my head process.

Brendan Walter: I listen to Alicia Keys sometimes.

George Ciukurescu: I was gonna say…

Shane Henderson: Vanessa Carlton.

George Ciukurescu: I think everybody would be shocked how many time we’ve listened to the song “Bleeding Heart” by Leona Lewis, but it’s actually really awesome. It’s funny how you find inspiration in stuff that a lot of people wouldn’t think is there. It’s pretty crazy. They’re great songs.

Shane Henderson: It’s weird though because it’s called “Bleeding Love”…

George Ciukurescu: “Bleeding Love”?

Shane Henderson: Shows how many times you’ve listened to it.

George Ciukurescu: Listen, I’m not a song title guy.

Shane Henderson: I’m just kidding. (All laugh)

[email protected]: What can we expect from Valencia in 2010?

Shane Henderson: Touring, touring, touring, more touring, possibly other things. (All laugh)

George Ciukurescu: World domination. Perhaps an underground trip to Mars. We’ll see.

Brendan Walter: We’ve got this tour with Say Anything and Motion City [Soundtrack], then we’re going to Australia, then we’re going on a headlining run. We’re releasing the video, maybe another video soon and just working.

Shane Henderson: Concerts on the moon.

George Ciukurescu: Hopefully, figuring out the secret to reaching light speed because Dan has been pretty into that actually.

[email protected]: Do you guys have imminent plans for a nationwide headlining tour?

Brendan Walter: I think for right now we’re going to try and support and get our music to people who haven’t heard our music before and then as soon as we can handle that, we’re going to do that.

George Ciukurescu: We’re happy to use this opportunity to have a new record and be able to play for people who may have never heard about us before. It’s a great way to grow as a band and to grow as a group of people that collectively like music.  

[email protected]: Well, that’s all I have for you guys. Thanks so much for doing this interview! Any final thoughts?

Shane Henderson: Dancing With A Ghost, go pick it up.

Brendan Walter: In stores now, check it out. Come see us at a show.

George Ciukurescu: Do it. (All laugh)

Dancing With A Ghost is now in stores! You can purchase the album here. If you need convincing, read our interview for the album here.

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Batman says... "Taking Back Sunday composes their music first, then the lyrics."

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