Melbourne-based dirty rock/grunge/pseudo-pop band Valentiine are busy embarking on the standard indie slog – playing as much as possible around Melbourne and beyond, releasing singles as they are finished ahead of an album and jetting off to Europe for their first international tour in September that will be great for exposure and sure to send them broke. But who cares when you’re doing what you love and you’re pretty sure you’re damn good at it? With the European tour finalised, vocalist and guitarist Vanessa V. is getting ready for a few months of couch-surfing both before the band leave and for their time overseas.
“We’re so fucking pumped,” she says with a wave of earthiness, enthusiasm and grit. “We’ve wanted to do it for a few years and we all got jobs but each time it came around we hadn’t saved up enough money; same old shit. So last year we decided to save our asses off and thought we’d really take it seriously. At the exact time we were talking about it we got an email from a UK grunge/’90s rock band and they asked us if we were ever in the UK or Europe and wanted to tour they would love to play with us. So we just jumped on it. We’re lucky enough to be doing half the tour with these guys. And we took out loans so the saving totally didn’t work.”
Despite all of the notoriety, exposure and experience that a European and UK tour will bring, without a label or even distribution deal to support a band things are sure to be expensive. “We’ll be losing, well, god knows, in terms of money,” she laughs. “But the experience of playing in another country, to expose yourself to different audiences and bands, and just being able to see how it works over there is just amazing.”
Before the band departs our shores they’re releasing their latest single, Chucky, and hoping to leave Australia with a bit of Valentiine buzz to keep things going while they explore the northern hemisphere for two months. “We’re really excited about the song; it’s kind of dirty pop, I guess?,” she says. “It’s a nice way to wrap up here before the tour. For us releasing the single will just mean doing a launch, a lot of people haven’t heard the song yet, and we will also do a clip for it and get that onto the internet. We’re really hoping to push it as hard as we can and hopefully get some radio support. I guess it’s just a case of us doing as much as we can with what we’ve got and getting as much exposure for the song as we can and really trying to get the help from radio.”
Valentiine happen to be an entirely female lineup. That shouldn’t matter at all in this day and age. After all, surely the Riot Grrrl movement, among many other moments in music, changed audience perceptions about women and music? Apparently not. “This is the thing, I say this all of the time, we didn’t fucking plan on being an ‘all girl band’, you know?” she laughs. “We were mates and we all decided to have a jam and it worked. There’s no political statement, it was never a conscious decision, we fucking play, we’re fucking good and it’s got nothing to do with being all females. It’s bullshit but it’s somehow still the hot thing to focus on. We had no idea, you know? We just thought that if you’re in a band and you can play then that’s all that would matter but we got a real shock.”
The sexualisation of women in music seems to be unavoidable and the propagators of this image are both audience and, to a degree, some artists who lazily use it as a selling point. While Valentiine’s local audience focus on the music, venturing to smaller towns seems to provide the band with an old man contingency in the crowd. “I don’t know what the fuck it is but it’s 2012 and this shit should not be relevant,” she says. “In all honestly, I’m just gonna be honest, but fuck yeah, they are there in droves sometimes. We’ve been pretty lucky in Melbourne; it’s pretty good here. But in the smaller towns, oh god. You forget you’re an all-girl band and then there’s the sexual comments, fuck, but what can you do but laugh at it?”
The plan upon their return is clear – finish the album and get it out there as soon as possible and when asked whether Valentiine have any official distribution support Vanessa V. continues with her charmingly brutal honesty. “Not at this stage but fuck man, come along and fucking help motherfuckers!” That sums it all up, really.
BY KRISSI WEISS
Valentiine, with support from Iowa and All My Alien Sex Friends, will be launching their latest single, Chucky, at The Worker’s Club on Friday July 20.