By Brian Tucker
Valient Thorr hasn’t played Warped Tour since 2006 but they’re no stranger to Wilmington, having played many explosive shows in this town. They recorded Old Salt, their most recent album, here with Ian Millard at Palm Reader Studio. The band will be one of many performing at Warped Tour 2017 this 4th of July.
(Warped Tour was cancelled but the band played a show at Reggie’s along with Sonic Boom Six).
This is a band I first caught at Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern back in 2005 touring behind Total Universe Man, an album that has aged well and continues to pack a massive punch – blazing hard rock and metal that moves with boogie-woogie energy and Detroit soaked grooves, all led by sharp vocalist that’s a bombastic mix of street reverend, James Brown, and manic front man.
That 2005 show was highly memorable, seeing singer Valient Himself draw people into a huddle on the floor like some mystic to share his gospel. The band played with an incredible power and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that since. Maybe it was because it was in a small club, maybe not, a Soapbox shows years later comes close . But a friend who was there described it as like a bomb going off. I think that description still holds true.
“I like that, a musical bomb going off,” singer Valient Himself said as the band was just finishing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “That’s pretty cool, with sweat as the shrapnel.”
How’s it going, is your energy is up with the tour?
Valient Himself: The energy is good. We had two cool shows in Seattle and Portland, but once we got over the mountains into the desert it was night-and-day different. It was chilly in the Pacific Northwest and now it’s so hot. You drink a lot of water basically, and if you feel bad, smoke weed and forget about it.
I’m always taken aback at the energy of your live shows.
(For Warped) you just got to get out there and hopefully you’re not playing too early or too late, hopefully the sun is not on you. We played early today. We also got good sleep last night so we were ready. It’s all according to when you play, which is different everyday. We came off breakfast and it was sweltering.
The band has experience with heat. I saw Bennie fall off the stage at a Soapbox show where the temperature reached 115 degrees.
(laughs) He’s fallen off more than one stage before. It was so hot because the AC was off. He passed out in my arms doing a solo, literally for a few seconds. He knocked out, woke up, and finished the solo. That’s no bullshit. You’re a witness to reality, a lot of people hear this stuff as legend, but you saw it in real life. It’s so nuts, as you get older, you go, I want to rock so hard every single time, but sometimes it’s just about where you are, when its happening and where its going. You just got to catch it when you can.
If they could, who would Valient Thorr write music for a movie about the wrestling world?
Oh wow, that’s a cool question, give me one minute to think of that. This makes sense because it’s the first (match) I ever saw. There’s two I saw with my dad when I was little. They’re what turned me on to rock and roll. I would say “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, because obviously Valiant is in his name and he’s the first wrestler I ever saw.
He came (onstage) with Manhattan Transfer’s “Boy from New York City” playing. Then “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin came out to “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top and I fell in love with rock and roll and wrestling at that moment. If that was a question, off the top of my head, if we wrote a whole album about any wrestler, Boogie Woogie Jimmy Valiant
The band added new members. Is it the same band but with a different energy?
No, hell no. Not a dip in energy at all. Maybe even a jump in playing, everyone in the band is like a pro except for me. I’m not a real singer but everybody else in the band is the best in the position that has ever been in that position.
Are you covering the catalog or focusing on Old Salt?
We’re playing from the whole catalog, a lot from Old Salt. We have a lot of different songs we’re trying to play. We put together a super energetic set today that was slamming everybody over the head. I think it came off good. It’s a non-stop set, you’re worn out after you play.