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Casey Grogan Valdaway - Interview
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Valdaway are a local band from the South West of Australia who started out a little over 10 years ago playing their brand of alternative rock around W.A. and eventually across the country. Their debut album "Boom Shake Heartbreak" was released in 2015 and are now about to launch their 3rd single "Allegiance" with a gig at the Amplifier Bar on Saturday. We caught up with guitarist Casey Grogan to discuss the album, the single launch and a little history of the band.



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Andrew: You have a few things going on, you had your debut album come out last year and you also have a launch show coming up at the Amplifier Bar on the 16th so a lot of things happening for you guys at the moment.

Casey: Yeah there's heaps, it's good. Keep us fairly busy.

Andrew: The show at the Amplifier Bar, is that the first show that you are doing around W.A.?

Casey: It is the first one, we did a heap of shows on the release of the album last year and this is the first one. Just a few legs that we're doing, Geraldton and Albany after the Amps show so should be good fun.

Andrew: OK so this first one is the single launch for the song "Allegiance", is this the second single or third single?

Casey: The third.

Andrew: OK so why this particular song? Because we had a preview album and it sounds fantastic but I was wondering why "Allegiance" out of all those other songs.

Casey: Yeah it was a very hard decision but it was kind of a good thing as well because we've got a few songs that we could sort of release. I suppose "Allegiance" is one of the better live songs that we've got response wise and we basically went to a heap of our critics, friends and some fans that come to our shows and we sent out a CD to each of them and got their response and "Allegiance" was by far one of the more popular songs but yeah, there could of been a few [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah it's a great song but there's a lot of great songs on there. I even like the first track "Beautiful View" which has a bit of a landscapey, psychedelic vibe to that song. Was that the sort of thing you were trying to go for on that song?

Casey: Yeah the little bit at the start which sort of sounds a little bit staticy is actually my partner walking along a beach in Albany where we sat down together with [my] brothers] when our Nan passed and we wrote a letter to her because we couldn't actually make it to her funeral because we had an east coast tour. So it's quite a significant song for us because when we went over east, that was the time that we dedicated to the passing of our Nan. So a lot of that is different sounds that we've got from beaches and working in the day park, it's a significant thing that we can do that sort of psychedelic kind of sound so we were definitely looking for that sort of sound for sure.

Andrew: So obviously the environment and all that kind of stuff plays a part in some of the inspirations for the songs?

Casey: Yeah definitely! Each song has a little meaning to it and when we sat down to decide which songs we were going to put on the album, they were the 9 that we decided from about 35 to 40 songs.

Andrew: Oh wow ok!

Casey: Big process to nut out exactly what we were looking for! But we're happy with it because they are all sort of alternative rock sound but they're all a little bit different in some regards.

Andrew: What about the other songs that didn't make it on the album, do you have any plans for those ones at all?

Casey: Yeah definitely, hopefully towards the end of the year or start of next year we're going to hopefully sit down and get the money together to maybe do another album or EP.

Andrew: OK cool. So where are you guys originally from? It says in your bio you are from the south west.

Casey: We are from Albany.

Andrew: The reason I ask is because there's a song called "Tiny Town" and was wondering if there was a particular town that it was referencing to.

Casey: My brother Kohen writes most of the lyrics, he came up with the lyrics for the song. My belief of it is because we are all young starting in Albany, there's bigger and brighter things out there and it's good for people to go out there and explore to find whatever is right for them. So that's my take on it but he might have something different but basically it's a small country town and moving up to the city.

Andrew: So how long have you guys been in Perth then, or do you still live in Albany?

Casey: No we've been in Perth for probably 7 years.

Andrew: How did the band start out? I know 3 of you guys are brothers from what I understand so what was the main inspiration for you guys to form a band together?

Casey: Myself and Kohen who is the singer, we were in band's previous and they sort of went different ways and we just decided to come up with our own band. So he and I started doing some acoustic stuff and for Rory (Keys) who's the drummer now, out of primary school, that's how young he was when we first got together! Playing drums and he was just unbelievable and we needed a bass player so I sat down and taught my brother (Dylan) the bass and then we started getting together a rep of songs. The first gig we ever did, Dylan and Rory who were the drummer and bass player were 13 and we played at a Bowls club in Mt. Barker and we only had a set of 20 songs but they wanted us to play for over 4 hours [laughs]. That was the first day that actually learned how to jam and make up stuff so it started from there over 10 years ago.

Andrew: You mentioned the jamming thing, so you do a lot of improv stuff then?

Casey: Yeah we do. We're always doing that and we'll do that in pretty much every jam and nearly come up with a song on every jam. We're always doing improv, so much fun doing that so we're pretty lucky in that regard.

Andrew: Yeah I love bands that create songs out of jamming and improv stuff. Even when you guys play a live show, is there any improv stuff going on in between the songs or during the songs?

Casey: Yeah absolutely. We do that and we've got samples and stuff now that we've had some other recordings and jams that we chuck in and make weird sounds and all sorts of stuff. We've had a long time to nut that stuff out being together for over 10 years!

Andrew: Absolutely, very cool! So you play the lead guitar right?

Casey: Yeah that's right.

Andrew: So who do you consider to be your main influences or biggest inspirations on the guitar?

Casey: On the guitar? I've never actually been asked that before, it's always the band as a whole. I suppose I grew up in my teenage years absolutely loving punk from Bad Religion and Pennywise and NOFX, Offspring, Blink 182, all that sort of stuff and I learned how to play the guitar from bands like that so I suppose that's my influence. That sort of punk era and now I'm totally into grunge and rock and whatever really, I don't really mind.

Andrew: So was there a particular guitar player that caught your interest or had sort of influenced your playing style or anything like that?

Casey: Na just generally a sound as a whole I suppose and not a specific guitarist. So not really, just generally bands.

Andrew: And about playing shows in W.A., I assume you've played at Amplifier Bar before right?

Casey: Yes that's correct.

Andrew: What do you think is the best venue to play at in W.A.?

Casey: Our two favorite venues in Perth would be Indie Bar and Amplifier Bar. Indie Bar is really cool because it's nice and small and a really good vibe there and Amplifier Bar has an awesome sound on stage and a good atmosphere. But we've done a few other shows at like Paddington Alehouse and the Rosemount but I would say the Whitestar in Albany being our hometown, every time we go down there it's just so much fun and being able to play to our old mates that we grew up with.

Andrew: Yeah I guess that makes it a bit more fun when you see all your friends in the crowd and giving you their support.

Casey: Yeah absolutely and we always see the same faces that have been coming to the shows, even when we did covers 10 years ago so it's pretty special.

Andrew: Do you still do cover songs at all?

Casey: No we don't. We chuck in odd bits and pieces of covers songs in other songs if that makes sense, like if we're doing a breakdown we might just chuck in a little bit of Led Zeppelin or something like that to mix it up a bit. We haven't done covers in a good 5 or 6 years now.

Andrew: What's your favorite song to play that's not you're own song?

Casey: A more heavier version of "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin.

Andrew: OK cool so you're a big Led Zeppelin fan by the sounds of it.

Casey: Yeah I'm sure you can't go wrong with that 70's rock.

Andrew: Well that leads me into my next question and it's a couple of questions that we try to ask everyone and we always get various and interesting answers. One of the questions is if you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album in history, what album would it be?

Casey: I would have to say the one The Crooked Vultures made with (Dave) Grohl, just to see all those amazing music talents getting together and coming up with that album which was just absolutely sick. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that to see those musicians headbutting together. I forgot the name of the album but it blows my mind that people can get together and write music that awesome.

Andrew: Absolutely, yeah. I'm just trying to think of the name of that album.

Casey: Yeah so am I, I'm just having a quick look on google [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah I know what you mean, that's a great album and it's the first time I've heard anyone mention Them Crooked Vultures. I think there's a guy from Led Zeppelin in that band?

Casey: Yep and there's the lead singer from Queens Of The Stone Age.

Andrew: Yeah that's right, Josh Homme.

Casey: Josh Homme, John Paul Jones. I think it's just called "Them Crooked Vultures.

Andrew: A self titled album, yeah that must of been it. It's a great album, I love that one. And final question for you, personally, what is the meaning of life?

Casey: The meaning of life would be to treat people the way you would want to be treated and look after everyone as a whole and don't get into the whole stereotype and just look after everyone as a person. I think that's probably the main thing and be happy and healthy with family and friends.

Andrew: Absolutely! Sounds fantastic and it's one that a lot of people commonly say as well, treat people how you like to be treated which is a perfect way to live your life I suppose.

Casey: Yeah absolutely.

Andrew: Well the album sounds fantastic, I love some of these songs on there and look forward to seeing the launch party at Amplifier Bar this Saturday. Thanks for your time today, it's been a pleasure!

Casey: Yeah absolutely and thank you so much for the support. Looking forward to the gig on the 16th and many more hopefully!

Catch Valdaway at Amplifier Bar in Perth this Saturday January 16th.
Event details can be found HERE.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on January 8th 2016