Man, if you thought it was hard for bands from other countries to break through in America, imagine how difficult it must be coming from Venus. But for heavy garage rockers Valient Thorr, crossing over in the States is hardly the largest hurdle they’ve had to leap in their career. After getting stranded here on earth, having their time machine stolen by Walt Disney and enduring persistent rumors that they’re actually from North Carolina, the group of wooly intergalactic headbangers is finally starting to make some moves on this planet, thanks to gigs opening for the reconstituted MC5 and a high-profile slot on the 2005 Warped Tour.
Mastermind Valient Himself communicated with The VC Reporter via a vocal earth transmitter — a.k.a., “cell phone” — about escaping his hometown, trying to save humans from themselves and, strangely, the financial benefits of being a werewolf.
Ventura County Reporter: How did the band wind up here on earth?
Valient: It’s just like every story with every kid who wants to get the hell out of where they grew up. The thing with Venus, it’s a dying planet. It’s in the last stages, sort of like Krypton with Superman before they shot his ass out to Kansas. We ended up coming to earth in this time stream a few different times, then we crashed and we couldn’t get away. After a while, we decided it wasn’t such a bad place at all to be in. When we say Venus is a dead planet, earth is still a baby infant planet. The mountains here are just tiny little anthills compared to what they’re about to be. And the trees, if they’d ever let them grow, can be these giant, ridiculous formations. Humans could thrive here and be great, great minds throughout the galaxy, or they could just end up killing themselves.
VCR: So is your main goal to enlighten humans to their potential?
V: Absolutely. People at first thought we were just another tongue-in-cheek rock ’n’ roll band. You can think it’s a comedic act, you can think it’s a true rock ’n’ roll experience, but in the end it doesn’t matter what planet we’re from. What matters is where we’re going. We all wake up on the same planet now.
VCR: What’s the rock scene like on Venus?
V: They don’t make music in the same way. They don’t have hands and mouths, No. 1. They don’t necessarily have ears. It’s similar, but it’s hard to understand unless you know the chemical makeup of the creatures that reside there. But when you want something to happen … from the earliest earth caveman, when he wanted something to happen, when he wanted a certain reaction, he’d do a certain thing to get that reaction. If he wanted to eat, he had to go out and fight and kill or grow something to eat. So if you want something to happen, you got to set it up so it will happen. Wait, what was the question?
VCR: Let’s just move on. How was your experience on the Warped Tour?
V: It was absolutely amazing. We made a lot of earth friends because of that. It wasn’t really a make-it-or-break-it situation, but it definitely made people take notice to what we were doing. It was like a Bill-and-Ted moment, like, “This is the future of rock ’n’ roll, you guys aren’t going to let it die.” That makes us feel amazing about the decision we made to do this. We had other earth jobs, but we gave it all up. For a while, I was a professor at a college. [Bassist] Dr. Strangees was a professor, now he’s — I don’t know if I should say this, but he’s sort of a werewolf.
VCR: That’s not really a job, though, is it?
V: You can get paid to be a werewolf. It’s definitely a job if you know the right people who have the right money.
VCR: Are you worried people will focus too much on the fact that you guys are aliens and ignore the music?
It’s a thing that comes up a lot, but I’m not at all worried about it now. There’s a lot of bands out now that do a sort of retro rock ’n’ roll thing, but what we’re doing is what comes out of all of us. It’s our experiences collected together and put forth the way we know how to do it. It’s not just some horseshit, throwback, let’s-make-some-money-off-rock ’n’ roll type shit. It’s dudes sonically communicating emotions that can’t be expressed through the English language. It comes out of their fingers, it comes out of their mouths, it comes out of their physical transformation of wind and sweat into energy. It’s potential becoming kinetic.