Valient Thorr has been tearing up the music scene in the United States and Europe for two decades. During our time at Warped, several bands paid homage to the band in separate interviews. Since their arrival from the planet Venus, Valient Thorr has accomplished many feats, like touring with Motorhead and having their music featured on games like Need for Speed and Guitar Hero. Lead vocalist Valient Himself sat down with Madness to Creation after their performance at Warped Tour and discussed the band’s accomplishments, challenges and future.
M.T.C: So, is this Valient Thorr’s first Warped Tour in 11 years?
Himself: Yes. We did some snipe shows in 04’, then we did the whole Warped Tour in 05′ and 06′. Since then, we’ve been going to Europe every summer. This is our first summer back. I saw Kevin Lyman in an airport a few years back and he was like, “Man, in 2016 we gotta get you back for a 10 year anniversary thing.” Our album came out at the end of the summer last year, our new one. We already had a big tour planned. It just so happened that a bunch of our friends were on the tour as well this year, so it was like a perfect storm.
M.T.C: How’s the Warped Tour treating you all so far?
Himself: It’s been really good. It’s picked up the last couple of days. I don’t know if it’s that our message has gotten out there or that people are like “Who the f**k is this band we’ve never heard of?” The bands, the fans and the friends have let everyone know that we’re killin’ it. We rehearsed 26 songs for our set at Warped. We’re a bar band. We’re a show band. We come to put on a show. I’m trying to be real positive, but we’re on a label that doesn’t give a shit about us. They’re an operatic metal label based in Austria. They just don’t care. I’ve asked them for help. They haven’t given us help. We had a full sold out tour with Clutch in December all over Europe and they didn’t even help with that. I’m speaking about Napalm Records.
M.T.C: Valient Thorr has been at it for 20 years. Can you talk about the band’s journey up to this point?
Himself: I started this band while I was in undergrad at East Carolina University. Our guitar player came in right after I started it. He’s been with us since the first year. The band was started with me and our old bass player. We started touring alongside another band in 1997. Our guitar player played in a different band. When we finished our undergrad, we were all about to go to grad school, so some of the guys had to move away. The two bands became Valient Thorr in 2000. We had four of the same core members for 14 years. On the fifteenth year, two of our dads died, three had kids and two of those three got married, so it was like heavy life changing shit that happened. We brought in another guitar player,bass and drums, but that doesn’t mean that the other guys are out. Nobody got fired. Like when I’m in Texas, Nightwolf will come play with us again. We’re like a family. We take care of each other when people need it.
M.T.C: What was your bachelor’s in?
Himself: I have a bachelor’s in fine arts and a master’s in fine arts. A lot of us have a master’s degree. We started in this little small town where our college was. When I finished my master’s, we moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More bands came through there, we thought that Chapel Hill was the way out. We figured we’d latch on to some of them. Once our drummer finished his master’s at North Carolina State in Rowley, we got a record deal and we toured for the next 10 years.
M.T.C: You guys have literally toured everywhere. Where is your favorite stop?
Himself: The spots that stick out are the ones we’ve never played. We never played Iceland or Yellowstone ,but they’re my favorite places. We really want to go to Alaska. We would a lot like to play in Moscow.
M.T.C: You guys toured with Motorhead with 2007, what was that like?
Himself: We played at Warped in 06′, then Motorhead in 2007. In 07′, we did a four month tour with Fu Manchu in the beginning of the year for two months in the states and then eight weeks in Europe. We came back and took a little break, then we went back to Europe in November and did two and a half weeks in Germany with Motorhead. We came back and finished the tour in the states. It was all snow. Everyday was snow. We made a good relationship with Motorhead and ended up touring with them three more times.
M.T.C: Did the tour with Motorhead have an effect on all of your careers?
Himself: They already had an impact on our career as far as inspiration. Everyone said that we were a band that could play rock, metal or punk and could still be mixed in with every band. The only other band that could do that was Motorhead. They were the big crossover band, and we sort of fit that bill. When you look up above you the first time you’re in the room with Lemmy and he’s on a catwalk bobbing his head, you know you’re doing something right. He’s your hero and he becomes your friend very quickly. Same with all the guys. They were the coolest dudes. Mikkey Dee was the first to engage us like, “Come on in.” It was f**kin’ crazy. We would not have met them if we hadn’t went on tour with Joan Jett, and we wouldn’t have met Joan Jett if we didn’t go on Warped Tour in 06′. All these things came from being on Warped.
M.T.C: I asked that question because after that tour, your music began being featured in video games and other media.
Himself: That still had a lot to do with Warped Tour as well. When we were at Warped, we met the guy who invented Guitar Hero. We got drunk with him. We got stoned with him and he was like “We gotta’ get your songs on there.” He was collecting songs for it. Volcom, our label at the time, struck up a relationship with EA Games, so we were in some racing games, like Need for Speed. It was all because of being on Volcom.
M.T.C: You mentioned Valient Thorr’s ability to transcend different genres. How would you personally define the band’s genre?
Himself: Some band members joke and call it “space church.” I just say rock n’ roll. We play with pop bands, bluegrass bands, literally you name it. We’ve played with everything. Our music’s got everything. Its got soul. Our new record, Old Salt, that’s what we have. Its got more of that soul back into it. We didn’t want to lose that soul.
M.T.C: You’ve talked a lot about positivity before. You also gave a few positive messages during your perfromance. How important is positivity when you’re creating music?
Himself: That’s just our message. We started out as a real socio-politcal band. When you’re younger you want to name names. You want to say “F—k Geroge Bush” and all that stuff, you know? That’ll turn some people off. You look at the Jon Stewarts and Steven Colberts of today or your George Carlins of the past, they always talked about politics. They were the ones keeping it real all the time. You don’t want to hit someone in the head with how bad things are. The Trump administration and the one before the Obama administration were the kind of people that divided the people. If you think about your household on thanksgiving, wouldn’t you rather have everybody there just putting the bullshit aside and having a nice meal and hanging out and trying to accomplish one thing. I try to help the National Kidney Foundation. I gave my dad my kidney. I also saved up a shit load of money for the people at the the No DAPL movement in North Dakota. If you’re an empathic person, chances are you’re in an empathetic band that wants to help. That, to me, is a good thing.
M.T.C: Why the Title Boxing shoes?
Himself: Title boxing shoes are very inexpensive boots. I can get these for $54 bucks. I’ve been wearing them for a long time. They wont sponsor me, because they say they don’t do that. I’ve probably sold them thousands of pairs of boots. They stopped selling them for a minute, and we were like, “You can’t stop making these!” I’m gonna’ buy 30 pairs because I go threw them like crazy. If I beat these up, I can just order another pair quick style.
M.T.C: What’s next for Valient Thorr?
Himself: I don’t know. We’re gonna work on new music. We’ve got potential tours with CKY, Sick of It All and possibly Hatebreed and Anti Flag. I’m getting hitched at the end of September, so whatever I can work around that.
M.T.C: Anything you want to add?
Himself: All of our merchandise can be found at indiemerchstore.com!
Warped Tour Review
Valient Thorr was three songs into their 25 minute set when lead vocalist Valient Himself dropped to his knees in the center of the stage, ripped off his forest green button-down shirt and addressed the crowd.
“This one goes out to all of you,” Himself said as he raised the microphone to his amber colored beard. “It’s about looking in the mirror when you’re brushing your dirty old teeth and thinking ‘Man, I ain’t worth a s**t.’ Well that’s bulls**t, because you are worth a s**t.”
Valient Thorr’s performance at Warped was a story of audience interaction and positive energy. The band performed in front of a smaller crowd of fans, or “Thorriors,” as Valient called it, but their enthusiasm and otherworldly sound would have told you otherwise. The band played older singles, like “Double Crossed,” and a few singles off their latest studio album, Old Salt. Himself even jumped into the scores of audience members and had all them crouch down and make a rowing motion to the beat of their tracks. The southern band’s performance was definitely one of my favorites of all the acts in Shakopee.
Valient Thorr is still finishing up the Warped Tour, check out the remaining dates:
Friday, August 4th- Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California
Saturday, August 5th- Qualcomm Stadium at Jack Murphy Field in San Diego, California
Sunday, August 6th- Fairplex Park in Pomona, California
Find Valient Thorr at the following locations: