Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The Valentine Killers - 10 Things Interview from 1999
The following interview was published in my final issue of 10 Things, which came out in 1999. I'm leaving it in the version that ran in print with no editing of the introduction for nostalgia's sake. Enjoy.
The Valentine Killers are one of Seattle’s best bands right now, many people are talking about them like they are the next big thing. They mix rock’s roots, 70’s punk, and garage rock energy into a fast, but smooth, blend of punk rock’n’roll. I’ve been going to their live shows from the very beginning, and it’s been great to see them grow and improve as they march on in their mission to bring back the rock and roll. Recently I finally sat down with the band over some beers to shoot the shit in an effort to see a little into the humor and attitude that makes this band so fun live. Interview and pictures by Dan Halligan
The Valentine Killers have been around for a while, but I don’t think too many people outside of Washington know your history, so can you give a little background on the band?
Coloff: You should say how you, Stu and Brian, who are pretty much the nucleus of the band, you should say how you guys met…
LaManna: We met at a record store in Olympia. In Olympia not all people dig real rock and roll, the thing is Stu had a Motards pin on his jacket, and Fumes and Loudmouths buttons, and I knew all those bands…
Stu: And he had a Rip-Offs shirt on!
LaManna: We started talking, and Stu thought I was a total record geek and didn’t really like it, but we ended up going to see the UK Subs and had a fucking great time.
Stu: John, the guy that worked at Golden Oldies, said we were going with this guy named Brian. He said to meet at Golden Oldies and we’d go to the show. So I got off work and got paid and I bought a 12 pack of Rainer Ice, what I always used to drink. So I called the guys and said come over here, I got a 12 pack of Rainer Ice! But by the time they got there it was gone. (Everyone laughs)
LaManna: No, me and John split the last one! (More laughter)
Stu: Yeah, so we went to the liquor store and got some mini-bottles and made all-ages drinks. All-ages drinks, kids, is when you get a Snapple and empty it out, then pour in two bottles of your favorite mini-bottles. Then it looks like a Snapple you’re drinking. Well we drank that and then went to this convenience store and got a 40 of Rainer Ale and I drank part of that and started throwing up everywhere. After that we finally went to the show.
LaManna: And we missed the Trots, I regret that…
Stu: I don’t know... but then we went to the show and some kid stage dove on me and knocked me out for a minute or so. (Everyone laughs) Then they scraped my body up and got me outside.
LaManna: Me and the bouncer from the Rockcandy got him outside.
Stu: Yeah, then I’m bleeding out of my mouth and had been knocked out, then we went to Burger King and on the way home we decided we ought to start a band. (Everyone laughs more) We did!
LaManna: Well see Stu and I had both been playing guitar, but I really wanted to sing and I think Stu really wanted to be the guitar player, so that was the basic idea. We conned John, the record store guy, into drumming for us. Then his friend Tim wanted in, so he tried out with us and we worked out really well. That was how the Notorious Brodies started, and we lived in Olympia and practiced in Tacoma. So Stu and I were in the Brodies and living in Olympia. Jill was living in Tacoma and she joined the Brodies just before we broke up, then we formed the Valentine Killers. Brian wasn’t in the earliest version and we had Tim, who was living in Tacoma, on bass. But we wanted another guitar player so Brian joined the band, thankfully. Then Tim left the band and we went with Meredith on bass for a bit. We went on the road with Zeke around the states, that was killer, and after we got back Meredith left the band and we got Jed playing bass, and that’s pretty much where we are at now. Oh, and right before we went on tour with Zeke, Stu and I moved up to Seattle.
But now you guys consider yourself a Seattle band?
LaManna: Yeah, we all live here…
Jill: Except for me!
LaManna: We have roots from Tacoma. The Sonics and the Wailers were from Tacoma…
So how did your tour down the West Coast go?
Stu: Fucking awesome, except for the van breaking down.
LaManna: We got to play with the Lazy Cowgirls, I’m still psyched about that. That and the Loudmouths.
Anything weird happen on tour?
Stu: We got drunk.
Jed: We drove by a Budwiser factory!
Stu: Oh, and the big fucking fire!
Jed: I was hanging out at 4 in the morning at Rosco’s Chicken by Hollywood and I saw a 3 car accident. And they all fucking took off! Man, L.A.’s fucked up.
LaManna: L.A. is fucked up.
Stu: On the way down, it was pitch black and we were just hauling ass in Northern California and there was this fire, it was huge!
Jill: It looked like a train wreck.
Stu: It was like the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
That was the coolest thing you’ve ever seen, that’s pretty pathetic! (Laughter)
Stu: Dan, this fire was fucking huge! It looked hell! Hell, California, population Satan.
Jill: That, and then the glowing red Budweiser sign. It was an epiphany.
Stu: It changed Jed’s life.
So did you tour the Bud plant?
Stu: No, we had to get to San Francisco. We had played Portland with the 5’s, 6’s, 7’s, and 8’s then were heading to San Francisco. The 5’s, 6’s, 7’s, and 8’s were cool, but they hated our gear.
LaManna: Yeah, they played on our gear. They are all retro and we had big American Marshalls.
Can they find ancient American gear in Japan?
Stu: Well, on their album cover they have some… you know, it’s just that when they come over here they can’t bring all their gear. But the Pills (who also played) were more 60’s garage rock and had killer shit for them to use.
So, when you are not playing in a band, what do you do for fun?
Jed: Fuck. I fuck girls.
Stu: Come on Jed, lie, make up something!
Jed: OK, I fuck boys. We work, we drink.
Coloff: We practice and plan our next tour.
So you are totally into the touring thing. A lot of bands say touring in America can be a big pain in the ass…
Jill: Well we haven’t gone to Europe yet.
Jed: America fucking rules. (The whole band starts fake chanting “USA, USA” and laughing.)
Do you want to go to Europe?
Stu: Yeah! I heard they have free alcohol, as much as you can drink for the bands.
Jed: America is the best country in the whole fucking world though.
Where’s your flight jacket with a flag on it? (Everyone laughs)
LaManna: For the record, Jed’s wearing a Crass shirt.
Stu: I love touring in America.
LaManna: We just need to push the cities closer together, that’s all it is. On the East Coast you drive four hours and you’re in another big city, over here it’s like seven or eight. I think I get it worse, I get cabin fever really easily, but other than that it’s not a fucking big deal.
Coloff: I think on our last tour it was basically the European style of touring. People fed us, let us stay at their houses, gave us booze, it was great!
Do you guys ever stay in motels?
Coloff: We stayed in one.
Stu: Yeah, one on the way back because we had to get home, that’s where we saw the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie!
Coloff: Yeah, that was the most party… party people video. (Really sarcastically, causing everyone to laugh)
Stu: They show the most fucked up stuff on MTV late at night.
Jed: Yeah, there was this guy running around in this big turd suit with diapers (laughs) and that was like the highlight of the stay in that motel.
So did you guys trash the room?
Jill: Oh yeaaah! (Laughs)
Jed: We are more about trashing bathrooms! (They all laugh)
Stu: Yeah, we all used the bathroom at Al’s Bar.
LaManna: Some of us used it and some of us destroyed it.
Jed: LaManna destroys bathrooms. Me and Stu, we are the foot troopers, we go in first and lay some damage down, and then he comes in and napalms them.
Jill: Recon! (Everyone laughs)
LaManna: They dig the trenches.
Jed: Then he comes in with the napalm and just destroys…
Stu: This is going to be the worst interview in 10 Things ever! (Everyone is totally laughing)
Jed: We got new nicknames on tour!
What are they?
Jill: Except for me!
Stu: You got the old nickname.
Jill: But I don’t like that one!
Stu: It’s “Cheeser” because Jill likes cheese.
LaManna: What? We can come up with something better than that!
LaManna: “Barely Legal!” (Everyone laughs cuz Jed is the youngin’ in the band)
Stu: LaManna’s is “The Italian Stallion”
LaManna: Fuck you!
Jill: Among other things, he has so many nicknames.
Stu: Coloff is “Smokescreen” (Laughter)
Jed: ‘Cuz he’s the hippie of the band.
LaManna: He likes to listen to later period Black Flag.
J: And Stu’s “Big and Tasty,” which is pretty self-explanatory.
Stu: They love me in San Francisco, they are tired of these skinny speed freak guys. They couldn’t get enough of me.
So, who scored the most on tour?
Jed: We didn’t really score at all on tour, ‘cuz Portland doesn’t really count as touring. I scored the night before we left and when we got back. We are not gonna talk about that stuff, no we didn’t score on tour.
LaManna: It’s a myth!
Jed: Next tour though… (Everyone laughs)
Stu: Well, (on tour) you’re all sweaty…
Jill: You haven’t showered in 4 days and you’ve slept in a van.
Jed: And you have a bunch of drunk assholes telling you how they wanna give you their business card and how you should come down and they give you their bullshit, you can’t talk to no pussy! (Everyone laughs half at Jed, half with him.)
LaManna: You’re on a roll there Jed.
Jed: Well fucking two bars I was talking to girls at and jerks accosted me…
LaManna: “Hey, you work for Sub Pop, don’t you?”
Jill: I think the whole ploy should be, since we all need showers, is we should hit on people and say “Oh man, do you have a shower?”
Stu: So in L.A. we had another fan of ours, that at first likes us, and then becomes belligerent and wants to attack us. We’ve had two of those now. He was like “You guys rock man, do you have any records?” I was like “Yeah, but we are loading up now…” We had merch set up earlier and all that shit, we were now loading up. We were exhausted, that day our van had broke down, it took forever to get it out of the shop, we had to walk a long fucking way, and then we were loading out when he asked about records. But I said “Yeah, do you have $3?” He said “Well, $3, $2, $1, whatever, you know, it’s the end of the night…” And I said “They are 3 bucks, do you got 3 bucks?” He said “Yeah, I’ve got 3 bucks, can I get a shirt with that?” I was like “No, you can get a record. We are losing money already, we would be losing more to give you a record and a shirt for $3.” He said “What about punk rock?” I was like “Fuck you and punk rock, for $3 you want all this shit?” What’s up with that... and here I’m like almost homeless. I’m like “Do you want the record?” And he says if he had the shirt he would wear it all the time and be our poster boy. I’m like “Sorry.” Then he says “Do you have any buttons?” So Jed says “I’ll give the jabroady a button” and takes off his button and he’s says “What did you call me?” I’m like “Dude, fuck you, just get out of here!” And he starts yelling at us down the street. (Laughs) The other one was in Missoula and was yelling shit when we were loading shit in our van, he was yelling about killing us while we were driving away.
LaManna: That’s because I pissed him off.
Stu: So we’ve had two people that loved us, but when they talked to us, they hate us.
So what’s that say about you?
Stu: It means they were assholes. I mean that guy wanted all that stuff…
Jed: We basically don’t take any shit.
Stu: Exactly, thank you Jed. It’s what I hate about people that go to shows and stuff. Sure, you give someone some money for a record and shirt or something and maybe you don’t quite have enough money…
But there’s a difference between what happened to you and knocking a dollar off.
Stu: Yeah, $10 worth of shit for $3 after our van had broken down and all. I just had enough money to cover rent when I got home and some asshole wanted all this shit for $3.
LaManna: Stu Miller on punk economics!
Stu: No, the thing should be is punk rock is about Burger King and the Ramones.
J: But with McDonald’s fries.
Jill: And no mayonaise!
You guys like McDonald’s fries? They’re terrible!
LaManna: Well see, I prefer the Burger King fries, they’re crunchier.
Dick’s has better fries.
LaManna: Dick’s has better fries, but their burgers suck! They have good fries and milkshakes though.
What do you think of the current scene in Seattle? The bands and venues?
Stu: Gibson’s rules!
LaManna: There needs to be more all-ages venues, I would like to play more all-ages shows. The Hi-Score is doing a great in the absence of the VE and Rkcndy.
Stu: And Fallout!
LaManna: And Fallout, Tim is doing a great job at picking up the slack too. But there needs to be more organized house shows and I think we could stand to have another Gibson’s type of place. Maybe the Monkey Pub will become the Gibson’s of the U-District. As far as bands, I always hope there are more bands doing what they want to do. There are some good bands right now… the Spits fucking rule, the Spits are probably the best punk band in Seattle. The Vaccines are good, the Briefs, the Cuckoos, the RC5, Hai Karate, there is a good punk and roll scene, I hope it keeps going that way. And there’s some good younger bands coming up… we heard the Backstabbers demo tape and it was pretty rocking. So hopefully there will be more bands coming up like that. That’s what I want to see, I want to see bands that are in the same general ballpark, but not all trying to be the Dead Boys and Stooges, it’s like fuck, get some originality man.
Do you think that’s only in Seattle?
LaManna: No, it’s everywhere. We’ve talked to a couple people about this and it’s going on everywhere, every city seems to have their 2 or 3 Dead Boys wannabe bands.
Any final quotes?
Jed: We just want to bring back rock and roll!
The Valentine Killers play live around the Northwest fairly often and love to tour, so go check them out live when they play your town. Their upcoming releases include: a full length LP on Yeah It’s Rock, a song on Dead Boys cover compilation, a song on the Fistfull of Rock’n’Roll Vol. 3 compilation, a split 7" on Empty with the Loudmouths, and probably a cut on the upcoming Junk Records compilation of Seattle bands. Their first single on Mortville is still available, but snap one up soon before it sells out.