You could say Death Valley Girls abstain from creating new musical tendencies on purpose— yet they still create the most mythical and least expected sound of any current band. Their third album Darkness Rains mingles between classic rock and roll tropes and introspective imagery of chorus laden dynamics and invigorating proto-punk build ups. The propulsive chants and menacing guitar riffs perpetuate sonics from early 70’s death-rock, ghoulish blues, punk rock, 80’s glam—creating an over-the-top magnificent cosmic movement.
Their hyper charged voices fringes respectably among audiences because they’re soldiered to manifest their love for rock and roll. The bands affinity and embrace to the obscure, as well, makes them unique among other current musicians. With ragers like “(One Less Thing) Before I Die,” “Disaster (Is What We’re After),” and hypnotic tracks like “Born Again and Again,” “TV in Jail on Mars,” and “Abre Camino,” Death Valley Girls are consistent and rowdy. Shit, even Iggy Pop is a fan! Enough to collaborate and be ‘el actor principal’ for the band’s “Disaster (Is What We’re After)” music video.
How important is it to develop imagery for the band through its videos? How does this interact with the band or album’s narrative?
Death Valley Girls: The imagery for the videos have been very important to us since our very first video for the song “Electric High” which we did ourselves and after that we started to collaborate with video and film directors Kansas Bowling and Dylan Mars Greenberg. The videos have all been inspired by influences both us and the directors have in common like low budget horror films, underground film, John Waters, Richard Kern etc., which also reflect our album and poster artwork.
Like the album, the videos seem like a continuous visual conversation. How this converge with the songs? How familiar was Kansas Bowling with the record before pitching ideas for videos and collaborating?
The videos have all been pretty loose interpretations of the songs themselves, but all have ideas and visuals in them that are inspired by the whole album and themes running through it. We had worked with Kansas on a video called “Disco” for the album Glow In The Dark so we already had a creative working relationship with her, so when we finished the Darkness Rains record we sent it to Kansas and we all decided that we should do a video for “Disaster”. Kansas has the concept for the video for “(One Less Thing) Before I Die” before hearing the song. We couldn’t believe how perfectly it fit!
Iggy Pop eating a burger a la Andy Warhol. That’s neat. The scene becomes surreal and unexpected with the final twist where he presents himself just as Warhol’s original short and explains the act. The undertones of the song and velocity juxtaposes with Iggy’s calm behavior. Considering that he is such a big icon of punk and rock and roll, how does this collaboration reflects on current underground music?
For us to have Iggy Pop in our video was beyond an honor. To be a rock n’ roll band today is either looked at as antiquated or nothing new, to us that’s not the point to do anything new! It’s to continue this tradition starting back in the 50’s of primitive, loud rock n’ roll, through Iggy & Stooges on to punk and beyond. Rock n’ roll is supposed to be exciting and fun and it will never not be new to kids just discovering it!
How important is to create music without meddling from labels? Do you think the idea of a band being able to create music uninhibited by labels is still an important part of credibility?
That hasn’t been a problem with us because we love our label and chose one that we want to make happy! But, yes, it’s still very important to let bands create music without label interference. It use to be more prevalent, but there seems to be more independent labels now who give artists more freedom. That gives the bands and labels more credibility and authenticity as opposed to some marketing ploy.
Darkness Rains seems like a very fitting name for Trump’s America. How do Death Valley Girls see themselves as an active rock and roll band in today’s political and social state?
Yes, although we weren’t setting out to make a political statement with this record, after all was said and done it turned out to have a lot of songs unconsciously inspired by the state of affairs in the US, but the songs tend to have more to do with personal politics.
I think a lot of people could say there’s a specific sound and energy from Death Valley Girls songs.
The song writing process usually starts with a vocal melody and a couple chords which we embellish on when we record. We like to have loose arrangements for some songs which lend themselves to more improvised sections for the live show! That makes it more fun for us and unpredictable for the audience!
Do you guys cover your computer’s camera? (I do it freaks me out.)
Yes! We are being monitored! We really shouldn’t even talk near our phones, but they are our phones! What exciting times!
The songs in Darkness Rains are percolated with restless chants and powerful and intense ritualistic rock. How does it feel to record after “Glow in the Dark”?
It was a slightly longer recording process this time around and we experimented more in the studio. Backing vocals are our favorite so we added lots more to create more ritualistic sounds! We also were able to add other instrumentation like sax and analog synth which are very hypnotic sounding!
How do rock and roll communities allow for a human to embrace and develop world views?
There are a lot of intelligent and charismatic people in rock n’ roll who are great teachers, have very interesting ideas and have had a positive impact on people, we think David Bowie (R.I.P.) has probably done more to bring people together and open people’s minds than any political leader we could think of.
A lot of communities and minorities face plenty of disadvantages today. Do you feel the urge to make the world more understanding and respectful? How does the political conversation transcend when you are a working musician?
We feel everyone should be free to be whoever they want to be without judgement. We have songs that have dealt with suicide, depression, mental illnesses and have talked to fans about their experiences with these subjects which are sadly very common things to deal with. We hope by having a dialogue about it we can help in a small way to direct people in the right direction to find help.
Does creating rock and roll reverberate as a rebellious act or an act of personal freedom?
We don’t really see it as a rebellious act, we see it as doing something we love for a living and something that makes people happy, there will always be a need for rock n’ roll and we can’t see ourselves doing anything else!