The Valery Trails – The Sky Is Blue (Q&A)

‘Atmospheric guitar-based indie rock’ is how The Valery Trails describes their own sound. The Sky Is Blue is the new record, and Andrew Bower explains to Sweet Sweet Music how the record came to be, and that story is strikingly different from how most bands have recorded in recent years.

The Valery Trails makes nicely thought out Jangle Dream Indie Shoegaze Power Pop.

How did this record come together?

This one started like our previous albums, with demos I recorded in my home studio in Houston, Texas, where I was living at the time. The plan was then to send them to the other band members in Brisbane to add bass and drums, then for me to add vocals and overdubs back in Houston. However, we didn’t manage to get through this process before I set off for a round-the-world trip with my family in June 2019, so everything went on hold.

In March 2020, our travels were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We were in Uzbekistan as borders around the world started to close, but we managed to make it to Brisbane before all air travel ground to a total halt. After a few months of waiting things out in Brisbane, we decided to stay in Australia instead of returning to Houston.

As lockdowns and restrictions eased, we took the opportunity to pick up work again on the songs that became the album. Ironically, while other bands were making records via online collaboration in separate locations the way we made our earlier albums, the pandemic brought me to the same city as the other band members, so we made this album in a more traditional way – spending time together in the studio.

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

The way my songwriting process tends to work is that a few lines, or a verse will pop into my mind, just enough to know that they could be the basis for a song. I’m then compelled to do the work to finish them (which is sometimes hard work) to “clear the decks” for the next new song idea.

I’m not the kind of songwriter who will sit down every day and try to write something, but as long as the song fragments and ideas keep coming to me, I’ll keep writing to turn them into finished songs to record and play live.

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

With band members previously living in separate countries, live shows have been a rare occurrence. We’ve played a handful of shows in Brisbane and in Texas, but now that we are all living in the same country, we are looking forward to playing live more often, starting with a tour of the east coast of Australia in September.

After carefully constructing songs in the studio, putting it all together live and the joy of playing together has a whole different level of energy, and when an audience responds to that, it’s great fun.

Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why?

From the new album, Zancudo, See Me Fall and Make No Mistake would give you an idea of our stylistic range. However, we tend to explore quite a few different genres and influences, so hopefully, new listeners will dig a bit deeper and want to hear more than three songs to really get what we’re about.

What compliment you once received will you never forget?

A random anonymous internet commentator once described a song of ours as sounding like “Social Distortion fronted by Morrissey”. I’m not sure if that was a compliment, but I’ll never forget it.

Those magical moments when you’re working in the studio. Which moment was the most magical?

The best moments in the studio are when you have the basic tracks down and they are working well so you can have fun with some overdubs. Finding a little guitar part that just works, or a great harmony that lifts a chorus to the next level are the magical moments where you really feel you’re bringing something cool into existence.

What place do you occupy in the music industry?

I’d say we dabble in the industry to the extent we need to in order to make records, play shows and get them out into the world so people can hear them. Hopefully we are creating music that resonates with people, not just creating content to feed into the big music industry machine.

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