New column alert! New column alert!
Welcome to the Blerd13, our (new) little slice of Q & A heaven. For our grand gala premiere event we have Justin Warfield, frontman for She Wants Revenge who chats all things SWR, the possibilities of a My Field Trip To Planet 9 follow-up, and what’s taboo on Twitter.
1. Valleyheart feels like a John Hughes (In a good way, obviously) movie. What kind of mood were you trying to set?
Thanks, that’s amazing. We were just writing songs from an honest place and not trying to repeat ourselves. If we wrote something that felt triumphant, soaring and not necessarily dark we didn’t scrap it based on an idea about who we are, whether self-imposed or coming from the outside, and as a result I feel like we were able to create something three dimensional and evocative of the type of feelings you’re speaking about. So when you say John Hughes soundtrack, that’s the ultimate compliment to us.
2. How is Valleyheart a departure from SWR’s previous work?
Besides what I mentioned above, Thomas Froggatt our guitar player, and Scott Ellis our drummer who have been with us from the beginning play on the album. It definitely doesn’t sound like two guys with a few machines doing stripped down dark dance music, it’s a bit more rocking and more indicative of what we are as a live band. On a technical side, there was a coldness and dry, direct sound to first record, simple rhythms, almost Teutonic and krautrock-like, while on the second record we made the beats a bit bigger and more hip-hop, drawing on our musical roots and making things a bit more banging. On this record there is an air, an ambience, a lot more reverb and space, which to me creates a sense of time, place and emotion. Things are a bit more dreamy and smeary, then you add vocals that aren’t limited to deadpan rap-like delivery and it makes for a different listening experience.
3. Is the songwriting process more of a collaborative effort now that Thomas and Scott are in the band or is it still primarily yourself and Adam?
Thomas and Scott have always been in the band, only now they’re in photographs and playing on the whole records as opposed to on a song or two, however, when it comes to songwriting, it’s still just Adam and I, that’s the core of the band and that element won’t change. Scott and Thomas bring so much to the table, not just live, but as far as their personalities and vibe, but in the studio when it’s an acoustic guitar and a piano or bass and the songwriting begins, it’s still the two of us.
4. The videos for both “Must Be The One” and “Take The World” are visually stunning. What was the motivation for you and Adam to start directing SWR videos? Did you get tired of reading treatments to songs you’d written and just take the reins yourself?
Thank you. I’ve been directing my own videos since 1993, I did Written In Blood and True Romance, and I knew I’d be doing more on this record. This time however Adam wanted to do more than come up with concepts and ideas and wanted to step into directing himself. It wasn’t really a reach, as he’s been a pretty hardcore photographer for the last 4 years, so when the concept of Valleyheart was solidified, we discussed videos and direction, and Adam suggested splitting the songs down the middle so that he could express himself visually without having to compromise his vision with collaboration. It’s a great idea really, as it shows people the differences in our styles and approaches as artists, what that looks like visually, and how the coming together of those two makes for the music we create. So Take The World was his first video, and I think it was really incredible, let alone for a first time director.
5. It’s been four years since your last LP; was everything poured into the two EPs and VH, or do you have some B-sides that we’ll see?
There are some b-sides and treats.
6. That said, is there a plan for a follow-up sooner than the 4-year gap between This Is Forever and Valleyheart or does it work to put out a series of EP’s in the interim?
We definitely won’t wait very long before doing a follow up, I think that life more than anything took precedent before, and while doing those two ep’s was great (Save Your Soul and Up And Down), I think there’s something special about albums, and I don’t want the next one taking very long, I can see us making one quite quickly actually, when the touring dies down and things have run their course.
7. With Twitter and tumblr being very prominent and immediate these days, how has fan interaction changed over the years?
Ever since we started our myspace page back in the day, the interaction between fan and band has been a crucial part of our success. Our fans are absolutely incredible, and being able to speak to them on a daily basis and keep them engaged is a gift of our times. One could argue that this level of accessibility takes away from the mystique of a band, but to that I’d say that if you’re not engaging and you’re not releasing music then you’re basically not only not relevant, but totally invisible as well.
8. Speaking of tumblr, you guys obviously answer a great deal of the questions asked of you. Is there an upside/downside to this form of interaction with your fans? Do you get more fans coming up to you thinking they “know” you based on online interactions?
I love answering the questions on tumblr. I wish there were more. No downside, and people respect us and our boundaries. I think most everyone knows the difference between the internet and IRL, so to speak.
9. It seems that you’re pretty open to talking about anything online, is there anything that’s a taboo topic in the SWR world?
Not really, though I’d prefer to stay clear of scatology.
10. It’s been awhile since you’ve been on the road with not only a new album to support but also as a headliner. Do you prefer headlining to opening? Are you a fan of being on the road or do you prefer the studio?
I prefer headlining, as we get to build a night of music without time restrictions. Opening is good if you are trying to win over new people and exposure yourself to people who’ve never heard of you. As far as studio vs. the road, they are totally different creatures. I LOVE the studio, it’s my home, and I’m incredibly comfortable there. I also love the road and when I’ve not been out for a while I jones to get back, but too long on the road wears on you, and I’m not getting any younger….add to that a family back home, and two good long (and hugely successful) tours a year starts to seem appealing.
11. What would be your ideal She Wants Revenge (Or solo)show? Small club, arena, someone’s backyard…
Any and everything. We truly love playing them all, but that said, 10,000 seaters as a regular occurrence would be nice.
12. Have you ever performed “Killing Time” live? I’ve heard the intro during Adam’s solo on occasion but never the song in its’ entirety. Obviously, this is more of a request and not a question 🙂 *cough* Boston, May 31st show *cough*
I don’t think he’s ever hinted at it live, you may be imagining (wishful thinking) it. I’d LOVE to play it, it’s high on the list, although we’d have to learn it. I don’t think it will be ready for Boston, but who knows?
13. How did Justin Warfield, the rapper become Justin Warfield, frontman for dark-wave act She Wants Revenge. Was it a natural musical progression for you? (The hip-hop album is phenomenal, by the way)
Thank you. It was pretty natural, and I still consider myself a rapper, so maybe that makes it easy to see.
I released my solo hip-hop album in 1993, started my first rock band in 1995, and only rapped periodically since then, so the majority of my life has been spent playing in rock and roll bands, but rapping is something I’ll likely never give up. Though I stopped recording hip-hop it was because I wanted to grow as a musician and songwriter, but after having accomplished so much in SWR I feel the pull more than ever to make a hip-hop record, and I likely will in the next year or so.
By the way, thanks, glad you appreciate it.
A big thanks again to Justin Warfield. She Wants Revenge plays Brighton Music Hall on Tuesday, May 31st. Valleyheart is available now