Is Rock dead? Some circles tend to think so. I, for one, believe that as long as there is passion, innovation, and real joy for playing a style of music, it will never go away. Valhalla Lights continues to prove these points home with the debut album, My Gracious Highway. A completely solid album from start to finish exploring all side of Heavy Rock And Roll while putting their own tinges to the music. I had the opportunity to ask the band some questions to promote the album...ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.
No worries! Thanks for taking the time to ask us some questions!
For those that may not be familiar, describe Valhalla Lights.
Pretty much we sound like a wall of sound with soaring rock chick vocals and melodies that slap you right where you want to be slapped. We come from Byron Bay, which is a small surfing community on the east coast of Australia and is the center of an extinct volcano and is an area that is known for its natural fresh air, stunning beaches, rich volcanic soil and dramatic landscape that has been gouged out by hot molten lava. Yes we get inspiration from our surroundings and we definitely play explosive, hard edged melodic rock, so Volcanic Rock seems to fit us pretty well.
Your debut album, My Gracious Highway, is available now. How does it feel to have this album out?
Feels great! It’s been a journey full with high and lows and curve balls, and now it’s time to take it where it needs to be..the US. A place that’s obviously a bigger market with a larger population than good 'ol Oz. This album is the album that we have always wanted to create. My Gracious Highway is exactly how we envisaged it and we are proud of it and we hope you love it!
How did the songwriting process begin for My Gracious Highway?
It began with a strange combination of sadness with the passing of our last singer, coupled with a new and supercharged excitement of moving into a new era with our new singer Ange! There was also a whole arsenal full of songs with each possessing that little something special for the record. We couldn’t wait to share that..All of us had never been so pumped, so excited and so ready to create and for us to move things to a new level. We went on a writing mission and the songwriting just flowed. There was so much pent up emotion and energy that everything just came out. We have had a very traumatic few years, and this album is like “yes…. we made it… we persevered as a band and pushed through all of the difficult times… and this is it!”. It has all of our energy, all our frustration, all of the things that we want to express. It is the complete sum of everything for us. We pooled all of our experiences and we in to the best studio we could find and smashed out the best fucking album we could.
How was the recording process? Was it smooth or was there any bumps along the way?
The recording process had its little challenges, the usual differences of opinion that summate to create an even stronger record, but overall it was pretty smooth, on time, on budget and seemed to flow. We worked with our good friend Anthony Lycenko as producer. We had worked with him on previous albums when Deon, George and Brent played in FORT together. Unfortunately it will be the last time that we work with Anthony as he took his own life a couple of months ago. This has given this album an even more special meaning to us, because without Anthony’s great engineering and little suggestions along the way it would not be the album that it is.
Through repeated listens of the album. I just hear so many great moments of Rock. Heavy, bluesy, melodic, catchy. Was this always the intention of the band or did this style come naturally?
There was never any intention to sound a certain way. The sounds you’re hearing are just 4 people wearing their heart on their sleeves and delivering it like their lives depended on it. We’ve all come from a background of solid, old school, tube driven, high quality gear. That’s why to this day I just cannot understand bands walking into a venue with next to nothing just expecting to play whatever gear is on offer and expecting to sounds good. Our gear is our sound, you cannot replicate that playing shitty gear or someone else's gear..you just can’t. It’s important to all of us that we retain that wall of sound for all to see, hear, smell, taste and feel. We just get together in room and play what we think sounds good. We are brutally honest with each other, and we push each other to thrash out the best music we can make.
What has been the response to the singles released so far?
Most people are blown away by the albums production, it’s songs and the fact that we’re from Byron Bay Australia and not from some major city like LA, London or New York. They are also spun out when we tell them we did a music video for almost every song on the record, and created cover art for each song that interlocks into a larger art for the full album cover kinda like a jigsaw puzzle. If you click around our website you will see a video explaining how that works. It has been really satisfying to be receiving airplay throughout Australia and also in the USA. The Valhalla Lights fans have been super supportive, our live show crowds have been growing and the feedback has been great.
What would you want people to take away from listening to My Gracious Highway?
We are super proud of My Gracious Highway we hope it takes people on a journey as it has for us. For us, that journey is about always taking the high road to remain true to yourself. It is about always making the best decisions possible, and doing the hard work to get the best out of ourselves. We put everything into the music that we create, and we push each other to be the best we can be. My Gracious Highway is us in an album. Each will take home something different and hopefully it will serve them in their life as a tool for happiness and provide a nice little moment of rock and roll bliss..
With all of the great touring opportunities you have had so far, how much do you feel the band has grown in a live setting?
Our live set is hitting a new benchmark each time.. Doing shows with Sebastian Bach from Skid Row, Gilby Clarke from Gun’s n Roses, Baby Animals and The Superjesus was a great way for exponential growth. The backbone of Valhalla Lights (George on Guitar, Brent on Bass and Deon on Drums) has been playing together for around 17 years. We were in “Fort” that did national Australian tours with Clutch (2x tours), Kyuss Lives (now Vista Chino), Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork (, Nebula and shows with Monster Magnet, Helmet, the Black Keys, so we have always been a rock solid live band. Ange grew up surrounded by a musical family and her mother had always been in bands even when pregnant. Ange’s mother said that she was on stage singing and Ange would be would kick like crazy. She was definitely trying to get out to get her hands on that mic! We live for playing live. That coupled with an obsession for bigger and better shows, always rises the bar as far as our live show is concerned.
Over the years, I have learned about so many great Australian bands of so many different styles, yourselves included. How do you feel about the Australian music scene as compared to other areas of the world?
Australia has a lot to offer, it’s beautiful cities, it’s beautiful beaches, it’s people and the many bands that have already put Australia on the map.It’s always delivering something to rival American and European markets and now it’s got us. The thing about Australia is that it is a long way between shows. The land mass is the same as the US, but the population is only 25 million. It is easy to overplay, so we focus on doing a run of shows up and down the east coast a couple of times a year. We think that the likes and dislikes of the people are the same, just everything is more spread out. We are looking forward to getting to the US to smash the stages there.
What is next for Valhalla Lights?
What’s next for Valhalla is continuing to push the envelope with touring, writing and getting it out there to as many people as possible. We are currently working on putting together a run of shows in the US. Watch this space! That dream resides inside for all of us. We all have the usual commitments as everybody else, the jobs, mortgages, families, relationships, but we all remain focused on delivering this album far and wide and to keep on keeping on.
With being a part of music for as long as you have, how do you currently feel about the state of Rock in 2018?
Marilyn Manson said that ‘Rock is deader than dead’. Gene Simmons says rock is dead. I say that it is alive and well! Rock is definitely going through a transition stage and is in a state of flux. The thing is that there is a massive amount of great bands, and with cheaper recording options there is plenty of rock music being made, but in the words of the great AC/DC … it is a long way to the top! It’s just a much harder musical climate and there’s just so much congestion..it’s a bit like going into the supermarket.
Valhalla Lights- My Gracious Highway is available NOW