Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: May 29th, 2006
Val, how’s everything going today?
Good, hanging in there.
When you first started in music what was your first garage band, and what kind of music did you play?
Believe or not Fashion Bomb is my first project. I have been in some musical endeavors before, but my background was mostly in opera and theater stuff. There wasn’t a call for the long haired, pierced, tattooed look I had. I realized I had to branch out. This is really the first project I put my heart and soul into because it embodies me.
You list one of your heroes as Luciano Pavarotti. What makes him your hero?
That is true. The reason why I list him is that he has a singular voice but he doesn’t read music. He is an abnormal opera figure. Pavarotti is a pure vocal instrument and he actually has a private voice coach that will teach him his pieces so he doesn’t have to sight read music, so that’s kind of cool.
What was the first album you bought and first concert you attended?
I bought two at once. One was Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses”; the other was The Scorpions’ “Love at First Sting”.
So which one did you like better?
The Scorpions, Billy Joel was great, a good vocalist. I kind of dug that. But I couldn’t get over the “Big City Nights”. I think The Scorpionsalbum got played into the ground.
I was a late starter with concerts: it was Nine Inch Nails with David Bowie and Prick opened up the show. That was great show, a good one to cut my teeth on.
Tell me what Val was like growing up?
I was kind of a bookish, nerdy type of guy. My parents weren’t into music, so I was exposed to public television, studying and branched off into theater later on. I was your typical brainiac kid. I was good in school- didn’t like it, but it was pretty easy for me so I guess that is why I didn’t. I was bored to tears. I tried my hand at sports but I just didn’t fit in. I was the outsider no matter where I went.
What are some of the jobs you had growing up?
I have had a job since I was fourteen. You do your typical restaurant jobs and things like that.
What is your take on religion?
This is a subject that I can answer in a long form. I think organized religion is a bunch of bunk. I am not a big fan. That doesn’t mean a person can’t take aspects of a certain religion or certain belief system and use it to their own advantage. I think I would be hypocritical if I said, “Well I don’t believe in religion and I expect you not to believe in religion too, look at my point of view.” I believe it’s my life and my freedom not to believe in religion and not to take any serious faith in it, no pun intended. That might not necessarily be that way for other people. I should be free not to believe, you should be free to believe. I might not understand it, I might not agree with it, but people should certainly have that freedom. Someone made a very interesting point in a test on thermodynamics I read. He answered a question tongue and cheek from his professor .The question was, was hell endothermic or exothermic. The answer was so good: he said that you have to assume every religion in the world believes that its belief system is the best, and that every belief system has some form of hell. He also says that they say if you don’t believe the way they believe, you will go to hell. It follows then that pretty much everyone will be going to hell if all religions had their own way. It also included a bunch of support for how the influx of souls will be ever growing, and how that would affect hell’s thermodynamics, but the point is valid (laughing.)
When did you start molding your image?
To be real honest, I did not have to do much molding. My image is me. You don’t see me walking around on the weekend with jeans and a t-shirt waiting for a package from a record company, and once it comes, you catch me throwing on eyeliner. The way you see me is pretty much the way you see me all the time. When DreG and I were looking for band members to fill the spot we wanted people to fit the image, but we wanted someone to believe in what they are on stage and not go home on the weekends being someone else. If you don’t believe, how is that going to translate in performance? We cross over into many genres and true fans of music are not dumb. Metal or goth fans get a bum rap for being Satan worshipers or having fucked up family lives, or whatever. That’s not the case; it’s just the type of music you like. The audience is smart enough to pick up on the posers.
What kind of music scene is there in Illinois?
We are based in Chicago. The music scene is fully alive here. It’s a little bit more jaded than other places because here in Chicago most everything is accessible; in L.A. you need a car and, a lot of venues you have to drive to. In New York it’s crowded; there are a lot of venues but I don’t think anywhere is like Chicago in it accessibility. We have the Metro, The Double Door, The Aragon Ballroom, we have the Riviera where we played with Marilyn Manson… we have world famous theaters and on any given week you can find whatever show you’re looking for. You have to work your butt off because people can go and see a huge name any day. When you get an audience to follow you in Chicago you’re doing well because they can go see a big name with millions of dollars backing them and they are choosing you over them. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
You were in a Tool Cover band called Aenima in Chicago?
Before Fashion Bomb started, my natural range is Maynard for sure. So I had a friend named Tom who runs a music venue here in Chicago. He had a Tool cover band and he asked me six or seven times to try out. I am glad I did and they are great musicians. It was something just to make a little cash and indulge in the love of one of my favorite bands, Tool. I haven’t been a part of that band for a few years now because Fashion Bomb takes up all of my time.
Have you ever dabbled in the occult?
I am interested in the occult for its history. I can’t accept the fact that there is another force controlling my destiny. I have a belief in self will and people look at me strange when I say, forget god, I’m my own god, I am my own divine being. People might think that is ego: NO, that is belief in oneself. Some people will call that Satanism: I don’t care. My name is not Satan. I guess it is Valism.
Who came up with the FB logo?
Well, our old logo had a skull with a radiation symbol behind it, but we evolved that into a new logo which I’m happier with. It was a joint effort.
Tell me your feeling toward each member of the band:
DreG – drums
If I’m the right hand of the band, DreG is the left. We work so well together through fights, trials and tribulations. I consider myself the law and order and he is the chaos. Basically I will come in with some idea, he might have something, or he will put his two cents into it… pretty much personality-wise we are opposites. We just have the mutual respect which makes it a perfect working relationship. Even though we piss each other off, when we find the middle ground it’s pretty successful. He is an amazing drummer and I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s great.
Acid – guitar
He is a fabulous technical guitar player. We were really lucky when we found him, he was actually a fan. We were looking for a second guitar player to thicken up our sound. So when we met we told him to give us some of his stuff. He came out to audition and blew us away and got the job. We fired our other guitar player. He joined the band only two weeks before we had the Marilyn Manson gig and he did great. So he is not only talented, he is a quick learner.
Mode – guitar and Bambi – bass
Mode and Bambi were in a band together before Fashion Bomb and that band broke up. So we immediately gave them a call. Bambi is our bass player and Mode plays our second guitar. They’re both real experienced and dedicated, and they brought solid additional writing and had great stage presence. If you see our stage show you will see what I mean. They brought good karma to the band.
Fashion Bomb opened for Manson. Did they have any comments on your stage show?
Tim Skold was hanging out for our entire sound check… he was a down to earth, great guy. All those guys were great and professional. I’ve enjoyed their music for a long time and to hang out with them was a real treat. They were great.
Tell me about your stage show?
Basically we have a philosophy that we want to put on a great visual show… many bands these days get lazy. You might go to Best Buy or Tower Records and purchase the CD with a cool image on the front. You might think this could be a band you can identify with and go see their show. You go to their show and they have their jeans and t-shirts, with skull caps on their heads. What happened to the image? It’s so disappointing. I hate to pick out any major band, but there are some out there where watching paint dry is better. We like the old days of the show and the visuals. These days I think the reason it’s not so prevalent is because it’s not cost effective… we really don’t care if it’s not cost effective, we are here to put on a show. We’re going to bring it back. One thing I will say about a Fashion Bomb show is you’re going to be entranced with what’s going on, on stage. We can all move and play our instruments and we all believe in our music. In addition it doesn’t hurt that we are pushing six foot six in our platforms. A little ode to Kiss but we don’t have little dragons on the front of our boots…. We walk in a room looking like a basketball team on crack. We try to change our stage show from time to time and not get stale. We don’t want to just have a banner behind us and say here’s our band. We want to give them a show.
What is the difference playing to an all age show compared to 21 and over?
It’s a little different with the twenty one and older, they seem more reserved. I feel that the twenty one and older the people get sucked into society beliefs that normal is to just stand there watch the music and appreciate it, don’t draw any attention to yourself. You can see it in their eyes and they want to rock out …some of them do. I’m happy with people that can find an escape at a concert. I can’t see why at a twenty one and older show people pay their money and just sit there; they can buy a CD and do that at home. The all ages show…they have not been jaded yet. They come and rock out and that’s being true to themselves. I just wish for people to be free and express themselves at shows.
So what does FB have on their rider?
Yes, when we play out of town we do. It’s a technical rider, we’re not prima donnas. Basically we want to make sure the club is up to par and knows what to expect from us and our live show. We want to make sure our sound is as true as possible so our fans can get the best show as possible.
Tell me about Superdead Records?
We had a development deal with Hollywood Records and they were great. They represent Hillary Duff and Breaking Benjamin. They were looking for more of a straight up rock n roll band. We were working with producer Tadpole, who worked with Disturbed, Earshot, and Drowning Pool… all sorts of great projects. He tried to produce a more rock n roll sound and we knew it wasn’t us. Hollywood loved it but had no one similar to us. It was a good experience and right now there really is not a label out there (in this musical climate) that will give us what we want so we started our own. That’s where Superdead came from… we started our own company. It really is cool because we have all the control.
Tell me a little bit about the new CD that is coming in late June “Devils to Some, Angels to Others”. What are you guys saying in the beginning of “God Drug”?
It’s basically Latin, our little play on the Exorcist. It was also the benediction of a priest, you know, “In the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit:” we kind of altered it with some evil programming. That was a fitting intro to the song, kind of illustrating in a not-so-subtle way that religion can be a kind of drug, being addictive and taking over your body and not too healthy for you. My favorite song is called “SS”. It’s a brand new one. It is going to absolutely rock your socks off. It’s going to be a killer song and I hope everyone likes it.
I like the song “Mold”. It’s like Tool and Disturbed.
“Mold” is a really interesting song. We are not a “screaming only” band; we like to mix it up. We wanted to show we are not only heavy but we are melodic and have some different aspects to our music. A lot of people have “Mold” as their song of choice on their MySpace profile.
What are your expectations once the CD is released?
Once we release the CD maybe we can get some sleep. I take that back: we’re probably not going to get any sleep because we’re going to have some shows and in August we have a date with Dope. All during that time we will be getting our distribution in order and basically getting ready for a tour. We want to hit everywhere and we love New York.
So what do you do in your spare time?
I really don’t have any spare time. It’s always music every waking moment.
Would you like to thank anyone in conclusion?
I thank you very much for making this interview really happen. It’s really cool that you can get the word out and what I have seen on the Rockeyez site is you have a really cool site that is interactive and I’m sure you get tons of people checking it out. So Fashion Bomb really appreciates your time!