The Red Hot Valentines Interview

1)    Can everyone give me their names, what instrument that they play, and your ages. There might be some individuals who don’t know about The Red Hot Valentines, and I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable with the band.
Jeff Johnson, Vocals and Guitar – 25
Tobin Kirk, Guitar and Vocals – 24
Eric Humbert, Drums – 23
David Gerkin esq., Bass and Vocals – 24
Tyson Markley, Synth – 26

2)How was the band formed? Were any of you in different bands before joining The Red Hot Valentines, and if so, were they of any note?

Toby and Jeff started the band up, using a guitar and an old casio keyboard. From their they drafted friends and former band mates David, Eric, and original keyboardist Jason Searby. The band basically formed at LCC, a small college in Lincoln Illinois. Tyson joined the band later after Jason quit. All of us were in bands prior to the Red Hot Valentines, including First Grade Crush, Hubcap Annie, The Amazing Killowatts, and the Boogie Machine to name a few.

3)How has your latest single, “Calling Off Today” been selling, both in the fertile fan area of Urbana-Champaign and on a more national stage? Has your recent alignment with Polyvinyl Records helped in the promotion of this single? Secondly, has there been any playing of your first video “Bring Back the Good Times” on local or even national video music services?

The “Calling Off Today” EP has been selling very well, especially in our home market, but we are most surprised at the attention we are getting from other parts of the country. Polyvinyl has really helped us go national and in a hurry. They are great people and a great label, and they have amazing Distro. I don’t think we could ask for anything better. The “Bring Back the Goodtimes” video is mainly for the fans. We haven’t sent it out to played on TV anywhere. We don’t think it’s quite MTV or MTV2 material.

4)Continuing with Polyvinyl, how did The Red Hot Valentines get affiliated with that label? Your new album, “Summer Fling” will be released in May on Polyvinyl (correct this if it is wrong), and I’m wondering : should your audience be on the alert for anything new or interesting with this sophomore release?

Polyvinyl is based in Champaign, and we were getting tons of attention locally, thanks in big way to 107.1FM “The Planet”. They had heard about us through the grapevine, and both of us being local to Champaign made it easy for us to meet up and discuss the band’s future. Actually we were shocked when we found out they were interested in us, and I think many fans of Polyvinyl were shocked when they signed us. It’s great when a label branches out to different types of music, and Polyvinyl always sort of been cutting edge in that aspect.
It’s sort of strange to think of “Summer Fling” as a sophomore release. Fans of our old stuff might be a bit surprised at the new record. These new songs have so much depth musically. Our last full length was sort of one sided and formulaic in some aspects. The songs were good and catchy, but now the songs are GREAT and catchy. There is so much to listen to on this record. Every time you listen you’ll hear something new.

5)Is the recent coverage that Alternative Press did on your band (for the Alternative Press 100 Bands You Should Know) the largest amount of press that you’ve received? All sorts of talk has been done with saying that : bigger is best, but what do you all think : would you rather have a lot of small press extolling your virtues or someone like KROQ or Muchmusic playing a track of yours?

The Alternative Press article was our biggest piece of press yet. We’ll take any press we can get, whether it’s RollingStone and MTV, or The Champaign Buzz and public access channel 22. If you try to be an indie elitist about these types of things you set yourself up for hypocrisy the day Spin magazine decides you’re the next IT band. We’d hope that anyone that wants to make a living being in a rock band would have enough common sense not to bite the hand that feeds them. We are all in this thing together.

6)This is sort of a two-part question, but what bands (either current or past) have influenced you the most, and what attributes did each of these bands possess to make you all consider them influential?

That’s a tough one for a band like this. All five of us have greatly different tastes and influences in music, and none of them really sound like us. I suppose that’s what gives us our own sound. We take bits from AC/DC, the Cars, Def Leppard, Devo, and Bob Dylan and with that we mold it into our sound. If anything, I guess you could say we most influenced by the poppy side of classic rock.

7)Give us a little idea of what you, as a band, felt SXSW to be? Was it an environment that was friendly to bands, or was their a rigid hierarchy of the acts there? How did it feel to meet Steve Zahn?

SXSW was a great time. There were parts of it that made it seem like a shmooze fest, but we steered clear of that as much as possible. Our showcase was incredible, we a great location, a great bill of bands, and a great staff running the whole thing. If there was a “rigid hierarchy” at SXSW we were oblivious to it. Meeting Steve Zahn was a highlight indeed. How often do you get to see a Willie Nelson concert in his home town, and then meet an awesome actor like Steve Zahn in the bathroom, all at the same show?

8)This is a truly trite question, but where do you see The Red Hot Valentines going in about 10 years? Would you move to a major label if given the chance, or stick to the underground? Is a move to a label like Deep Elm out of the question?

That’s the big question isn’t it. Well first off, 10 years from now we hope to still be rocking and rolling. Major labels, major labels, major labels. Let’s just say this, it’s going to be very tough for a major label to give us the kind of creative freedom, royalty rates, and friendship that Polyvinyl Records gives us. We aren’t going to just sign some stupid fucking contract with a Major just to say we did it. We’ve had some friends do that, and it’s ugly. We’ll stay where we are as long as it’s what’s best for us and best for the music.

9)How did Lady Meatplow (The RHV’s old van) finally end up dying, and have you came up with a name for your 1999 Ford Wagon? Are there any incredibly odd places where the band has been surprised to find fans? Is the band currently looking for venues to play for the tour supporting the album?

Lady Meatplow started to die on our previous trip through texas, but the real nail in the coffin was the CMJ trip. She used 28 quarts of oil to get us to NYC and back. We haven’t decided on a name for the new van yet, but it’ll come to us. Lady Meatplow received it’s name after hitting a deer…it was gross. It seems like we’ve been finding at least a couple of die hard fans in every city we play, and it’s always shocking to us. How do these people get our music??? Currently we are in the planning and booking stage of our Summer and Fall tour.

10)What was the impetus for including a synthesizer alongside the traditional instruments of indie and emo rock? Have you been surprised to notice some other acts stepping up and throwing in a synthesizer after the RHV did?

It just seemed like a fun sounding instrument, and one that really complimented the pop rock sound of heavy guitars. Not sure exactly what inspired it, but bands like the Cars and The Rentals and Elvis Costello probably helped inspire the love of the synth. Actually, have you ever noticed the Moog in some of the songs on Appetite for Destruction, or how almost every Bon Jovi song is nearly all synth? It’s everywhere dude, everywhere….

11) What was the last CD, LP, Cassette, or other recorded work of music each of you bought?

Toby just bought Cheap Trick’s “In Color”, Tyson picked up the re-release of T-Rex’s “Electric Warrior”, and Eric’s been pumping the crap out of Motley Crue’s “Greatest Hits”. Jeff and Dave sort of keep their music to themselves, but knowing Jeff he’s probably rocking the Def Leppard or Bob Dylan, and Dave probably has some Ricky Nelson going.

12)Finally, are there any final words that the band has for the loyal readership of http://www.neufutur.com and Interstitial? Any shameless plugs for you or any local acts that you want to put in?

Well, let’s see… Be sure to pick up our new record “Summer Fling”, if you get the chance check out Absinthe Blind, or Troubled Hubble, and most importantly, Don’t Stop Believin’.

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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