We are delighted to share an interview we had with Val Astaire about the most recent album release, ‘Fever Dreams’. Brian Anthony Joyce was enjoyably open and unfiltered about his experience with his Val Astaire band mates, Chris Curran and Kyle Blamy; sharing about what the creative process has been for these musicians, how they’ve grown as artists and future aspirations.
How would you describe the theme of ‘Fever Dreams’ and why is this theme important to you?
Fever Dreams was based over the course of a two year period. It was this strange time in my life where I had just walked away from my previous band at probably the most lucrative and pivotal time in our career – I was on tour 10 months a year for nearly a decade and then suddenly it all stopped. I walked away from music and traveled by myself for a while to figure out what was next. When working on this album, a lot of the lyrical content was more or less a collection of poems and short stories I had written while traveling. ‘Undertow’, for example, was a poem I had written at 5am on a beach in Iceland in 2017. So come 2019, when finally in the studio and executing what would be my debut album, a big question was theme and direction and I think it only felt appropriate to really allow those thoughts and notions of who I was during that absentee period release. Those two years between ‘17/18 I always described as a fever dream, so it was only appropriate to title it as such.
The album has a very ‘80s sound to it. Were you at all influenced by Depeche Mode or Duran Duran? Or, who else were you listening to during the writing of this record that might have influenced you?
I love that! When I began this venture with Chris Curran we wanted The Cure/Tears for Fears/Eurythmics style sounds. We always loved the idea of indulging ourselves in that era as if we were cutting our teeth alongside those acts, and what would be OUR sound in that suit. Beyond that, David Bowie has always been a major influence as well as Fleetwood Mac, Prince and Marvin Gaye. So we’ve always played this dance of finding the right way to marry those sounds and ideas without losing too much of “us”.
During the creation of ‘Fever Dreams’, did you write and compose the entire album or were there other contributors?
Yeah so that’s what is so special about our process. The way our project works is heavy handed by Chris [Curran] and Kyle [Blamy] who are two of the most brilliant minds. A lot of the ideas instrumentally started with a late night in the studio drinking a lot of wine and around the 2am mark it starts to get really weird and interesting and usually someone’s standing on a couch or something and I’ll start spewing nonsense about a direction for a sound or song and for some reason Chris or Kyle or both are locked on the same wavelength and go “like this?” and before I know it we’re layering the hell out of ideas and who’s-doing-what and within the hour we’ve got a sloppy but solid idea on a song. Much of the record was composed this way and it’s chaotic and beautiful and I wouldn’t change a thing hahaha.
There are a couple of tracks that have a significantly different tone from the others, “Kiss” and “When the Lights Go Out”. Can you talk about the inspiration for these songs?
Yeah! So “Kiss” is for sure the song that’s just chillin ‘in left field with a hockey stick. That song was written in one of those moments mentioned above and actually started with me sitting on the board next to Chris, obnoxiously trying to get his attention going “check it out – think marilyn manson/NIN but like, Kanye empowering” and I started playing the initial beat on my legs and scatting lyrics to the melody. We were able to somehow create one of the coolest songs I’ve ever written.
WTLGO was actually Kyle’s doing instrumentally that sparked the whole movement in that one. I had mentioned I wanted a track with a pulse that just carried throughout the entire song. The intro needed to be long enough that it builds this anxiety around it that never really resolves, you just kind of bury it as you go. Kyle started laying down the sub bass effect and it was over. Lyrically the song is about the last decade of my life and appropriately closes the album because of that. It’s probably one of the most personal tracks for sure.
There’s such a catchiness and danciness to the single, “Sweet Medicine”, that is juxtaposed with lyrics that are quite somber and in some ways downright dark. Was this an intentional marriage or was it serendipitous?
This was definitely somewhat intentional. Everyone knows someone who has struggled with some sort of drug addiction. I had written the pre chorus “The way you make me feel is like if heaven were real…” etc originally as a poem. When it came to context for this song I think the natural move would’ve been to make it some sort of sexy love song. But that’s just not what this record is. And so framing this as so and then quickly switching the narrative by the time that pre chorus hits I think made way for what is personally my favorite lyrical content on the album. This is a call out to big pharma and governments that keep you sick for profit.
Major League was such an impactful part of your musical life; you went in a completely different direction with Val Astaire. Could you talk a little about that transition?
I think a lot of what had gone on during that two year grace period is what changed the direction of what I do. With ML I had this band that I started in high school from the back room of my mom’s house and had brought it around the world. And when the dust settled it felt like “wait, what just happened? Who am I?” and that really scared me. Because I had fallen into this snowball effect of monotony and repetition and iteration which lead to seclusion and anxiety and insecurities and I snapped. I no longer felt like that 10 year old kid whose whole world was daydreaming about exactly that. And I craved that ambition again. I needed to feel anything again for this and the only way to achieve that was leaving it.
What does Val Astaire have in the works for the rest of 2020?
ON TOUR TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW lol just kidding I wish. Unfortunately this pandemic has left a lot belly up for our camp. Festivals and tours have all been postponed or cancelled for the foreseeable future and so the rest of this year is going to be a lot of content creating. Music videos, new music, visual arts and maybe even a book. A lot of preparation for that moment where the floodgates are lifted and life can resume.