Vallies are an alternative rock band from Gold Coast.
They may be a relative newcomer, but Gold Coast alternative rockers Vallies have crafted a sound that's uniquely theirs, turning heads (both punters and music industry) in the process.
Comprised of Tim Kasjan (drums, vocals), Jay Hankey (bass), Zian Papp (guitar), and Barty Charles (vocals), the band evoke the sounds of '90s alternative rock (think everything from Jeff Buckley and Incubus to the Chili Peppers and Faith No More).
Ahead of a run of live shows in Brisbane (scroll down for specific venues and dates), Bart and Jay share their thoughts about the band's birth, development so far and what the future holds.
Those fresh to the sounds of Vallies, what's a quick snapshot of the band style, genre-wise? Bart: This is a question we are asked quite a lot, yet we never seem to have a simple answer. I try to ask as many people as possible what their opinion of our sound is, and each person seems to give a different answer which is awesome.
Incubus, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Birds Of Tokyo seem to be constants; however, we have heard a massive range of other bands we apparently sound like including Jeff Buckley, Pearl Jam, Faith No More, Dead Letter Circus, Kisschasy, Don Broco, Calling All Cars.
The list is a pretty long one. While I'm a little unsure of some of the comparisons we hear, it's pretty cool to know our music can be so subjective.
Jay: Each member draws from their own influences. We love rocking it out, but always change it up with funk-style grooves, vocal harmonies and alternative song structures. Our songs are generally mashed with different dynamics giving each member moments to shine through, which draws on a broad range of genres we don't specifically align our sound with.
The history of Vallies; what's the story so far? Bart: Jay, Tim and Zian (Z) previously played together in a Gold Coast band called MNVR. For whatever reason they had an opening for a vocalist, and I received a random message from Z on an online message board asking me to get in touch with him and not to ignore the message as he'd paid $20 to send it!
I gave him a call, he sent me a few demos and I went along to a jam. In the 18 or so months since then a few songs (and a film clip) have been released, we have played some awesome live shows, three babies have been born, one more is on the way and we are all just loving creating and performing music together.
Jay: Z has been like an Oracle getting the current members together; it could all too easily have not happened, but when we start playing, we all know why it has. We are passionate about the creative process, but like many bands, time and money are our biggest challenge.
The last year or so for the band; how has it begun to come together for the group? Bart: What began as a small creative outlet has honestly transformed into something better than we thought it would ever be, and I think this is purely due to the passion that each of us bring.
I think at the start we were just happy writing and creating together, however the feedback and support we have been getting from venues and some people in the industry has really started to push us to try and achieve more.
Our aim last year was to play as many new venues as possible, and so far this year we have been invited back to play at almost all of them. We are only just getting warmed up so hopefully we can continue to build on the momentum we have already achieved.
Jay: As mentioned above, time and money are our biggest challenge, so getting songs mixed, mastered and released, not to mention a music video were some of our biggest hurdles. Somehow we have managed to still do it all through COVID restrictions.
Since the clubs have opened up we have had no shortage of gigs, but we have done a lot of groundwork and are looking forward to releasing more material in the coming months.
The Vallies' sound – you have a bedrock of alt-rock underlying everything, but each song has its own vibe; is it important to pursue songs that do branch out across a range of sub-genres? Bart: While there is definitely always going to be a bit of rock in each of our songs, we have always made a point to not pigeonhole ourselves into any one, particular sound or genre.
The entire band's open-mindedness when writing songs means they can take any direction and leaves us with a wide-ranging repertoire.
We have recently been catering our live set to start off slow and slowly build up pace and impact as it progresses which seems to have been working really well. It will be interesting in the coming months to see which songs we opt to continue playing live and how our set evolves.
Jay: I guess Vallies sound is the sum of all our influences, we start with a core groove, tempo and basic song structure which evolves through each band member's input and is quite a diplomatic process. We tend to channel energetic and positive vibes and are open to exploring any genre if it feels right, invariably doing this when we explore each other's ideas, surprising ourselves along the way.
The group dynamic re: writing new songs; how does the creative juices flow within the band? Bart: Before I joined the other guys had 8-10 songs already written with Tim and I sharing duties writing new melodies and lyrics for them. Over the past six to eight months though as we have begun creating new songs from scratch, each of us has brought different ideas and influences into the mix which has led to a varied mix of final products.
Songs which were written 12 months ago are starting to sound quite different to some of our more recent ones, and while we are a little more settled in what 'our sound' is, I think it will continue to evolve the more we write together.
Jay: There is no set writing process currently; sometimes a song is written by Tim in its entirety, Bart with a vocal melody, or riffs played at rehearsal that plant a seed, but every idea is filtered through the band, which means song structures, riffs, grooves evolve throughout the process.
This process, while it can be time consuming, is exciting and gives us all a sense of ownership. We definitely have our moments agreeing on aspects of the songs, but we always try to do what is best for the song even if it hurts the ego a bit.
Lyrically, do you focus on particular themes, subject matter with your songs? Bart: When I was younger with much more time on my hands, I had books and books of lyrics and song ideas. Sadly, now with the many different commitments that adult life brings I no longer have the free time to sit and write like I used to.
These days my lyrics are a combination of relevant events or occurrences in my life, and hypothetical situations or stories that I may have dreamed up, whichever really suits the tone and direction the music is heading in.
A good example is our first release, 'Anchor'. I had just joined the band and had started to plot out internally how I was going to propose to my partner. When the guys showed me the music for that song, I knew lyrically it had to be upbeat and happy, and for me this theme was really fitting.
In terms of an album or an EP release, what's on the horizon that you can share with us? Bart: Being the 'old men' that we are, sometimes getting things finished can take longer than we would like. We actually have most parts recorded for roughly six to eight songs which have been waiting to hit post-production for quite some time now.
At this stage the plan is to continue to do singular releases for the foreseeable future, however the discussion around releasing an EP at some stage keeps coming up. I definitely think it's more a question of 'when' rather than 'if'.
Jay: We are definitely carving out a distinctive sound with our last six songs, I think once they are recorded an EP will be on the cards.
The band has a run of live shows across the next couple of months; what can punters expect from Vallies when the band is onstage? Bart: All we want to do is play well and have fun no matter which stage we play on.
So far, the reception we've received each time we've played has been extremely positive and that's all we can really hope for. If we can gain a few extra fans at each show who want to come and see us play live again, that is the ultimate icing on the cake.
Jay: We have some new songs we are bringing to our next few gigs; we can't wait to share them.
The support you've received from local companies; how critical has that been to get the band to its current point? Bart: It's always nice to have someone come up to you and sing you praises after they've heard you play, but to have someone invest their personal time and effort into helping you achieve and succeed is extremely humbling.
To have people like Troy (Sunnyside Sound) and Doc (Motet Creative Studios) invest so much of their own time into helping us means the world to us. These guys believe in us almost more than we do ourselves, and without their input and support we would definitely be a few steps behind where we are at the moment.
A big shout out as well to some of our favourite venues and promoters who keep asking us back too. Kat at Ric's, Michael at Burleigh Bazaar, Karen at MMK and Grant at GT Music Promotions, we love you.
Jay: Stewy Fairhurst (94.1FM) and Zak Fahey (Blank GC) have also been kind enough to help spread our music without asking anything in return, it really gives us more incentive to keep going when there is support like this for local groups.
The Gold Coast music scene... it hasn't always been known as a hotbed of talent, but how fertile has the local area become in recent times? Bart: There is some serious talent in the GC music scene, and the standard of professionalism among local bands is extremely high.
The content that bands are putting out is top-notch and it really puts some pressure on you to make sure you are keeping to this standard. I think the Gold Coast has huge potential if we continue to support the amazing venues and bands that call it home.
Jay: Gold Coast was once a very transient city without much investment in local musical venues or talent, but it is changing for the better and in early days of the transition. There are some great artists around, with the right support and guidance the whole community will benefit from the emergence of world class talent.
The band's promo images; looks like you all know how to have a bit of fun and laugh at yourselves; is it a point of emphasis to keep things loose when you're away from the stage? Bart: From day one we decided having a kick-ass time would always be the main priority.
I had previously done a band photoshoot with local Evan's Head legend Ricky Forsyth of Rickyluv Photography and in doing so got some incredible shots, so I showed the guys and we decided to try something similar.
After a few false starts we were able to team up with Ricky again and as you can see the final results were pretty unique. We had a blast during that shoot and were stoked with the results. If we can have fun while portraying that in our work, it's a win-win.
Jay: It's possible we had too much fun for the 'It's All Sunshine' video, but as long as you don't have too many beers it's all good time and no regrets!
Fun questions: Best local takeaway joint for a 2am feed that will leave you with a food coma? Bart: Sala Thai in Tugun is probably the most delicious thing I've ever put in my mouth. I highly doubt they would be open at 2am though, so any kind of giant mixed kebab or halal snack pack is what I'd be searching for at that time of the morning, and what I would be regretting the next day. Jay: Nothing's open here at that time, but my partner Kath will whip up a risotto with whatever is in the pantry, mmmm! Tim: Kebab for sure, any time really. Zian: I'm in Surfers Paradise, so the usually trustful and traditional (pizza slices, kebabs, McDonalds).
What's the one chore you dislike the most? Bart: Painting or anything that requires finesse. I have no issue doing hard, physical jobs or even jobs that others might find gross, but if something is repetitive and requires pin-point accuracy I'm definitely going to suck at it. Jay: Cleaning dishwasher scum. Tim: Cleaning the oven. Zian: Cleaning my apartment after being hungover.
Last show you binge-watched (and what kept you glued to the screen)? Bart: I don't think I've binged a show since the steaming pile of sh.t that was 'Game Of Thrones' final season – cut me too deep to invest in anything like that again. 'Community' is hands down the best show ever produced though. Jay: 'Who Is America' Sacha Baron Cohan (specifically the criminal artist wannabe!!?!? WTF!). Tim: 'Brooklyn 99'. Zian: The whole series so far of 'Ozark'.
When it comes to pets are you a lover or hater of our furry friends? Bart: I have two kelpie-crosses which are my fur babies. It will be interesting to see the shift in dynamic once the real baby comes into the picture. Jay: Animals are cool, but the exception is a Maltese Terrier named Cookie I lived with for a bit. I'm pretty sure it was the spawn of Satan, so can't trust them all. Tim: I want a pet cow. Zian: Lover of all animals.
Vallies 2021 Tour Dates
Sun 28 Mar - Woolly Mammoth (Brisbane) Thu 15 Apr - O'Skulligans (Brisbane) Fri 23 Apr - Ric's Backyard (Brisbane) Sat 22 May - Ric's Backyard Sun 20 Jun - Woolly Mammoth (Brisbane)