After hearing the Virginia/ Wash., DC band Death Valley Rally’s debut ep, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHTER AFTER MIDNIGHT, I was curious and wanted to ask them a few questions (plus it’ s on the Planting Seeds Record label, one always known for quality). They were more than generous with their answers. And away we go…..
When did the band form? What brought you guys together?
RALPH BAUTISTA: We started playing together back in April 2010. A year prior to forming Death Valley Rally, Tiffany and I played in a local alt-country band. That’s how we both met. Thankfully for us, the guy who started the band (and who recruited the both of us to play in it) decided to go a different direction, which essentially left Tiffany and I to make a decision to either stop playing music (and go our separate ways) or start a new project and create the style of music that we both would really enjoy playing. We obviously chose the latter. Soon afterwards, Robin joined in on bass, and a year later, Josh came on board to play drums (after our original drummer left).
TIFFANY RILEY: Ralph and I really enjoyed playing together, so when our project ended, we decided to continue on. Robin and I had previously been in a band called No Flowers for Him, I already knew she would fit well with the direction Ralph and I were trying to take the band. Josh later joined the band after our original drummer left.
Was anyone in any other bands?
RB: I played in a band called Her Sparkle Dims. One of the band’s highlights was going into the recording studio with Archie Moore (he played in Velocity Girl/Black Tambourines/Heartworms). Unfortunately, the band broke up before we could formally release any of those songs. Tiffany and Robin played in a band called No Flowers For Him for almost three years. They self-released a four song EP before calling it quits. Both of our former bands still have MySpace pages. That tells you how long ago those two bands existed.
TR: As previously mentioned, Ralph and I had played on a friend’s Alt Country project. Ralph played guitar and sang back up, and I played bass. Robin and I were indeed in an all girl band called No Flowers for him. I played guitar and sang, while Robin handled the drums. Most people described our sound as “Sleater Kinneyish”.
Is there much of a scene in Virginia Beach?
TR: There is a scene in Virginia Beach, but definitely the heart of the music scene in Hampton Roads has to be the Ghent section of Norfolk. All the hot spots are within walking distance.
RB: I would have to say there is more of a scene in the neighboring city of Norfolk. I’ve always got a good vibe, whenever we play out there. And the people who go out to the shows in Norfolk are supportive of bands that play all the local venues. They are really receptive to checking out new bands that play.
Tell me about the recording process on THE STARS SHINE BRIGHTER AFTER MIDNIGHT?
RB: When we were finally ready to go into the studio to record our EP, Neil from Planting Seeds Records suggested engineer Chris Kendrick who runs Whiskey Bear Studios in Virginia Beach. Then Jon Chaikin of NonStop Sounds in San Francisco mastered our EP. He’s worked with bands, such as, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Black Tambourines, so we were pretty excited to work with him. Depending on everyone’s schedule, I would drive down from DC on the weekends. The whole recording process took about four months. We would definitely work with Chris and Jon again.
How did the release on Planting Seeds come about?
TR: Planting Seeds have provided support and encouragement since the No Flowers For Him days. When Death Valley Rally formed I would keep sending Neil some stuff we recorded to get some feedback. Luckily, he liked it.
RB: Tiffany and Neil were friends for years. She would send Neil some very rough recordings of our rehearsals. Luckily, for us, he liked what he heard! We’re so grateful for all his help.
On your site I see a lot of fx pedals? What pedals do you guys use?
RB: My favorite pedals are the Rat Distortion pedal and the Boss RV-3 Digital Delay/Reverb pedal. Tiffany uses a Dan Electro Echo pedal and
Fulltone GT-500 Distortion/Overdrive pedal. And Robin uses a Big Muff Distortion pedal with her bass. We are all about the fuzz and reverb!
What would be your 5-band dream bill?
RB: Ride, Swervedriver, The Wedding Present, The Cure, The Jesus And Mary Chain.
What’s next for the band? More recording? Touring?
TR: Definitely both… We are working on new material currently, along with January dates we are also planning to tour in March.
RB: We already have some shows lined up in early January. As far as recording, definitely sometime next year. Oh, and we are planning on shooting a video for our song “Farewell” sometime in November.
Tell me a band or two from Virginia Beach that I should know about?
RB: You should check out this band called Suburban Living. Their sound reminds me of a band that you would find on the label Captured Tracks (Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils, DIIV, etc.).
Final thoughts? Words of wisdom? ANYTHING YOU WANTED TO MENTION THAT I DIDN’T ASK?
RB: Thanks for showing interest in our band! That’s about it!
BONUS QUESTION: Who in the band surfs? I saw a tri-fin in one of the photos?
PS- Wes Laine….former 80’a pro surfer from VA Beach!
TR: Ha ha, those are my dad’s boards. I know Ralph surfed more when he was younger and mostly paddleboards now. I used to dabble in surfing when I was younger, but not so much anymore.
RB: Wow! Either you did your research to find the most obscure trivial fact about Virginia Beach or you’re an old school surfer!
I’ve been an avid surfer since I was a young “grom” growing up in Virginia Beach. Those surfboards actually belong to Tiffany and her father. We practice in her parent’s garage. Ever since I moved to DC years ago, I haven’t been able to surf as much as I used to (living more than three hours away from the beach). Whenever I’m in town for band practice, and the waves are halfway decent, I’ll take my longboard out.
Growing up, I would see Wes Laine out in the line up at several of our local surf spots. It was alway so surreal to see him in person out in the water, after just reading about him in some surfing magazine.