Valencia: Home Is Where The Music Plays.
Text by Kandace Kohr. Image by G.W. Miller III.Philadelphia-based rockers Valencia have played gigs around the world, including stops in Japan and Australia. They’ve played the Warped Tour, opened for Blink 182 and dropped three albums, the most recent – Dancing With a Ghost – hitting the street last December.
Our Kandace Kohr spoke to singer Shane Henderson, guitarist JD Perry, bass player George Ciukurescu, guitarist Brendan Walter and drummer Daniel Pawlovich before the band took off for their 32-city spring tour that has them circumnavigating the country.
Kandace: What do you like about Philly? What do you like to do, where are your favorite places to go?
George: My personal favorite place in this entire city is the interchange between the Broad Street and the Market Street Line on the subway. It ties the whole city together, literally.
Dan: One of the first spots that comes to mind is the top of the Art Museum steps because it’s from the Rocky movies. It gives you a full visual of what the city and the surrounding area looks like.
George: As long as we’re talking about views of the city, we used to practice at 27th and South streets. Walking across the South Street Bridge, it’s just an awesome view of the city. It’s a cool place to walk to West Philly. I’ve always liked that spot. I also like to take people to all the standard tourist spots.
JD: I really like Philadelphia so much. It’s a very inspiring city because it has so much history and at the same time, it’s really youthful and thriving. You can take any culture, any background, any generation and put them in Philadelphia and they’ll find something they enjoy.
Kandace: What keeps you guys performing here?
George: The fans. It’s my favorite place to play. We will never stop playing here as long as we’re a band because the best shows we ever do are at home, here in Philadelphia.
Kandace: What does home mean to you?
Dan: Being home means a chance to take the weight of touring, or whatever it may be, off our shoulders. It also takes a lot of other weight off our shoulders. It makes you feel like you’re on solid ground sometimes, which is pretty cool.
JD: Home makes me feel grounded. It’s my source of everything that’s familiar and good and right, to feel righteous in our own little world. So, it’s nice to leave home and come back with perspective, and appreciate it that much more when we’re here.
Brendan: I can agree with everything they’ve both said but also, for me, it doesn’t have to be Philadelphia. It doesn’t have to be anywhere. Home ends up being wherever my friends and family are.
George: I agree with everything everybody is saying but I also get this feeling that I’m at home when I’m traveling with the band. I feel most comfortable when I’m able to see a new thing every day. It’s always been my feeling toward that kind of stuff. I think about where I call my home. That, to me, is somewhere that I get to experience something interesting, and I feel that that happens wherever my travels lead me.
Kandace: What serves as your inspiration to make music? To stay in the business? To be a group?
Dan: I really love doing this, just playing music. There’s so much to learn in anything that you choose to pursue in your life, regardless of what that is, but for me, this is my thing. Playing music, playing in front of people and trying to make one entity out of five guys. And writing music together. It definitely was a challenge but all the support from family and friends keeps me going. Just seeing how proud they are of me really helps keep me going. Sometimes I doubt myself, where I’m at or the music, but that feeling of support always brings me back into it.
Brendan: Constantly listening to music and constantly watching movies about music. Always immersing myself in any kind of art really inspires me to create from there. Whenever I’m creating, either for a song or for a live show, I’m just inspired by previous artists. Simply consuming art keeps me inspired. I’m just constantly listening to music.
Kandace: Do you draw inspiration from a specific group?
Brendan: No. Here’s what I’m saying – I’m just constantly listening to music. Having music and art surrounding you, having it in the back of your mind in your subconscious, it eventually leaks through to the things you create.
Shane: A lot of true life events have inspired the music.
Kandace: I want to hear the funny stories or the craziest moments you guys have experienced.
Dan: I’ve only been in the band for a year and few months. I haven’t seen too much off the wall. I think we were working too hard for anything extra crazy to happen.
JD: This one time, we popped a bunch of tires and got stranded in California because the van decided not to work anymore. Touring in October, within the first week, the part in the van that was necessary for the transmission to meet the engine completely crapped out on us. Four of us, including our merch guy, had to stay behind in some shanty town in California while Shane and Brendan rode with some fans and played the next couple of shows.
George: In all honesty, I don’t think I could even begin to do that question any kind of justice because of how long we’ve at this. After six or seven years of being together as a band, a lot of things have happened. Even if I did explain something that was significant or whatever, I could think of something else that would top that. So I don’t know.
Shane: It’s like a big family.
Dan: We just got an e-mail from Nick from A Rocket to the Moon about making the tour a huge family thing. He was open to anything that might make the tour better, that might bring the musicians closer together. I just thought it was pretty cool to get an e-mail about an upcoming tour from someone in one of the bands, saying right from the start that they want this to be a real family type tour. Normally, it takes about a week and a half to get to know everyone on the tour.
George: The coolest thing for me is getting the chance to get to play with a lot of bands that I grew up idolizing. To go from freaking out at 15-years-old, buying records and hearing these bands for the first time, to getting the group on tour like the one we just did with Motion City Soundtrack is surreal. They’ve inspired us from the get-go. Being able to say that we’ve done something like that is pretty awesome.