Interview by Shibalika
Valhalla lights are a Heavy Rock unit from Byron Bay consisting Ange Saul (the Black Lullaby), George Christie, Brent Crysell and Deon Driver. Based on the far north coast of N.S.W Australia, VL are a blend of heavy riffs and soaring vocals from the powerful melodies of Ange.
Welcome to Metalheads Forever Magazine, how have you been? We have been great thank you pretty excited to be chatting we you guys.
Just to break the ice, define “Heavy Rock”.
Heavy rock is big volume, big production that is so large it can only be adequately delivered through large stages and large pa’s. Our version of heavy rock has a lot of groove to it. We try to make people’s bodies move without them having to move a muscle. We are all about quality vintage instruments played at high volume through tube driven amps. We are fans of big riffs to create a wall of sound, and then Ange cuts through with her vocals to take the edge off.
Tell us about Krypton and Phoebe Black. It feels great to see you guys still holding onto her, what do you think is her part in shaping the band to what it is today.
Phoebe Black is to Valhalla Lights what Bon Scott is to AC/DC. She was our founding vocalist and the events surrounding her death are brutal. She joined the band, wrote a bunch of songs with cryptic lyrics, and then went and killed herself. We should have seen the hidden messages about what she was singing, but we didn’t. We had no idea.
In the first song on the Krypton album, “Travesty”, we think she was targeting an ex-boyfriend of hers that we don’t want to name, but his name is within that song’s title. The Lyrics are:
“You take and take with no restraint”
“I’ve never met someone like you”
“A crown of thorns I give to you”
“I know you’ll wear it, it suits you”
“Take me down to the river” [Phoebe jumped off a 300ft cliff into a rocky river bed]
“Where you will see your reflection” [by her doing what she did, he will see who he is]
“Make it last forever” [what is more forever than dead?]
“There will be no deflection”
“You made me like I made you”
Other songs on the album are “Deliver her into paradise”, “Waiting for the world to start again”, “I won’t be your slave anymore” and “The Aftervow”. The song titles say it all.
She used us as a way to send her last message to the world before leaving it. She totally used us, and it is unbelievable that we did not see it. She obviously planned doing it because the lyrics were created over a period of months. We should have seen it, but we didn’t, and that is something that we have to live with. The lyrics were so cryptic beforehand, but so obvious after. She totally blindsided us. We were numb when we realized. It was so F%$#’ing heavy.
We took her vocals and created the first Valhalla Lights album called “Krypton” which is available only on our website. We have decided that we do not want Krypton on iTunes, Spotify or anywhere else because we want people to know the story before they hear it.
RIP Phoebe Black.
P.S. Suicide is never the answer. If you have pain, reach out and ask for help. USA 1-800-273-8255 / AUS 13 11 14
Tell us about your musical upbringing. How did the band start? What bands were the influence factor?
Deon, George and Brent have been playing together for 15+ years, and were the backbone of the Australian band Fort. In Fort we were lucky enough to do national tours with Clutch (2x tours), Kyuss Lives (now Vista Chino), Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork, and we did shows with Monster Magnet, and Helmet to name a few. All of those bands are our main influences and it has been a privilege playing with them.
Ange grew up surrounded by a musical family and her mother had always been in bands even when pregnant. Ange’s mother said that she was on stage singing and Ange would be would kick like crazy. She was definitely trying to get out to get her hands on that mic!
We are what you would call “lifers”. Playing music is what we do. Just like the band that went down on the Titanic playing even when the water was up to their neck, we will keep on playing until the end. Even in nursing homes if we have to!
Looks like you have a thing for creating film clips.
Yeah. We have created clips for almost all of the songs on the “My Gracious Highway” album. Art for us is both an audio and visual experience. It has been a mission, but what else are we going to do with our time? Lol.
So what do you do outside of the band?
George’s greek heritage has led him to owning an organic fruit and vegetable health food shop.
Deon is a fitness guru and a personal trainer.
Brent is Founder and CEO of a multinational software company.
Ange makes people’s lives better in the health care world.
Somehow our day jobs all annoy us enough to push us to needing an outlet. For us that outlet is rocking out on stage as hard as we can.
Tell us about “Shades of Black – the Valhalla Lights Story”, and the documented process of “reverse engineering”
With Phoebe doing what she did, and the messages that she left in her lyrics, we felt that we just had to tell the story properly. The Krypton album was created in a totally unique way because Phoebe only left us with a jam room vocal recording. We had to take those vocals into a proper studio to record the music in time to the vocals in order to create the album. We have never heard of an album being recorded after a singer’s death. We think it is a world first.
We felt that the process of reverse engineering, and depth and the meaning of the lyrics would have been lost for all eternity if we had just put the music out and not laid out the background story, so for us the documentary was a ”must do”.
The documentary also tells how we met Ange and started working on the current album “My Gracious Highway” and the commitment that we have to the future of this band.
Importantly, the documentary also gives the message that suicide is never the answer. What Phoebe did was wrong. We wanted to send a message that Phoebe made a bad choice, and that she should have asked for help because there is help out there. She has friends and family that would do anything to get her back.
The reaction that we have had to the documentary has been amazing. It was a finalist in the Salt Lake International Film Festival and we are constantly getting fans come up to us after shows saying that the Valhalla Lights story has had a powerful effect on them. People appreciate the mammoth effort we put into creating the Krypton album and the documentary, and they respect the fact that we have found a new kindred spirit in Ange Saul, and carried on as a band. The support we have had from the Phoebe Black era has passed on to become massive love and support for Ange and the new era of Valhalla Lights. We think that the Valhalla Lights fans are f#$%ing cool for it!
You released My Gracious Highway as a slow release album with one track being digitally released per month on the first day of every month for all of 2016, whose idea was it and why?
We felt that we wanted to give each song on My Gracious Highway the opportunity to shine, so we released the songs over the period of a year, one on the first day of the year, then one per month, and a final song on the last day of the year create a 13 song album. Each has its own meaning and message. Each has its own art that combines in a mosaic to create the full album cover art. We are proud of every song on My Gracious Highway and we felt that a month promoting each song was the best way to make sure that the full album was heard properly. We call it “milking it”.
What are the plans for whatever’s coming next?
We are currently working on lining up some shows in the USA in June. We also have a bunch of new songs in the works and they will no doubt make an appearance on a new album one day in the future.
Thanks alot for talking to us. Leave a message for your fans!
We are super proud of My Gracious Highway we hope it takes people on a journey as it has for us. For us, that journey is about always taking the high road to remain true to yourself. It is about always making the best decisions possible, and doing the hard work to get the best out of ourselves. We put everything into the music that we create, and we push each other to be the best we can be. My Gracious Highway is us in an album. When you listen to it, if you like it, send us a message. If you come to a show make sure that you come up and say hello. We love hearing from and meeting fans at shows!