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RPM Discoveries: Uncovering Dallas indie rock band, Valise

RPM Discoveries, New MusicKaity GalanosComment

Sometimes the music finds you. As is the case with the newest sound RPM Discoveries has uncovered. Dallas’  indie rock band, Valise, gave me a follow on Twitter and I’ve been hooked on their fresh, colorful sound ever since. I gave a listen to the band’s debut full-length album, Young Bloomer, and was hit with a wave of nostalgia. I heard the inspiration from the sounds that have been a staple in my music collection for so long- Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stevens and Postal Service, and had to know more about these Texas gents. As a lover of music and all things a little different, I just had to chat with Valise’s frontman, Vince Penick, about how this young band is on its way to blooming into the most beautiful indie rock flower. Ever.

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Valise is comprised of four childhood friends, Vince Penick (vocals & guitar), Jared Travis (guitar & keys), Casey Newton (bass) and Ricky Johnson (drums), believing in their talent and taking the chance to pursue it. The foursome went to the same high school playing in different musical acts, but parted ways when the time came for college. “We went off to college separately and kind of gave up a little bit on that whole pursuit. There was this one Christmas break that we all got together and started writing music to have fun, just you know, for the hell of it. We ended up writing some stuff that we thought we should definitely record and then some of those songs ended up being on Young Bloomer. And we’ve kind of just been playing ever since. We’ve all dropped out of school and are doing everything to our fullest abilities. It’s been a lot of fun,” shared Penick.

The decision to drop out of college was not an easy one for Penick to make. “I was the first in my family to go to college and so I was like, ‘Woah, they’re not going to be stoked about this.’ But really my whole life I’ve been all about music. Both my parents are deaf so with them being deaf I feel like I just inherited this extra passion for music. It was the way for me to express the traditional feelings that you have when you’re young and stuff,” said Penick.

 Valise is an indie rock band from Dallas, TX. Their colorful sound draws from influences like Death Cab for Cutie, Phoenix, The National, and Local Natives.

Valise is an indie rock band from Dallas, TX. Their colorful sound draws from influences like Death Cab for Cutie, Phoenix, The National, and Local Natives.

Once the band started to receive encouragement and praise from people other than their parents, Penick began to realize that he had to take a chance and follow his passion. “Even my college academic advisor was like, ‘Yeah, you should definitely drop out, you guys have something going,’" said Penick.

That little nudge was all that was needed for the band to get serious about their music aspirations and begin writing and recording their debut album, Young Bloomer.  The band was inspired by Phoenix, Local Natives, The National and Washed Out and wanted to bring in those sounds on the record. “We made a list of all these things, sounds or bands that we respected. Essentially went song by song saying, ‘let’s nail what they did in that song in this song and just find our own way to do what they did.’ We collected all these songs with totally different inspirations, sometimes overlapping, and you have something that sounds like Young Bloomer,” said Penick.

The album took two years to write and record, which the band admits is an obscene amount of time for anyone to spend in the studio. However, the recording process for Young Bloomer was unique and remained focused. From the beginning, the band knew that they had to be as good as the people they looked up to.  “We definitely took it song by song. We recorded a song until the very end and were like, ‘This has to be good.’ We didn’t want to come back to it. We wanted to say, ‘This is what we did here and this next song we’ll start from the beginning and make it perfect.’ I feel like a lot of bands right now, not everyone obviously, but you’ll see more of a collective sound in the entire record. I feel like for us there were times when it felt like the title, Young Bloomer, was the only thing holding these songs together because we were totally exploring different universes in each one,” described Penick.

Helping guide the band as it discovered its sound was producer Matt Wilbur. Wilbur, along with his recording studio, The Vanguard Room, was the perfect pairing for the band. “His expectations of us have always been our expectations for ourselves, but vocalized. Because he knew what we were trying to get, he never let us take any shortcuts, especially vocally for me. And that’s why he manages us, he’s always keeping us in check,” said Penick.   

In its 11 tracks, Young Bloomer offers you a refreshing pool of new songs to wade in. There’s a certain tone Valise uses that is a colorful approach. While listening you can kind of envision different colors and textures moving and giving shape to the sound. Tying together these different colors and layers is the album cover itself. The artwork was made by the band’s good friend and artist, Kelsey Bassin. “We wanted something way more artful. Something you can look at and see something else,” added Penick.

Valise’s innate artistry can be seen throughout all their work. The band has released two music videos for their singles “Charlie Gray” and “Don’t Forget Me.” The band created the concepts on their own and invited their friends to be in the videos. It is important to the band members that they have complete control over their content and not do the bare minimum. Doing so, their video for “Charlie Gray” received recognition from MTV when it was featured on their sister network, mtvU’s, The Freshmen. Spotify also included “Dialogue” and “Don’t You Forget Me” in its New Music Tuesday playlist. This recognition helped Valise connect with their fans and added some legitimacy to what they were doing. “Obviously anyone writing music that’s what keeps you going is feeling like what you’re doing is important and meaningful to anyone,” shared Penick.

For Valise, this year has already been HUGE. They dropped their debut album, Young Bloomer, in February and will be celebrating with friends, family and fans at their album release party at the end of March in Dallas, TX. Looking forward, the band wants to tour as much as possible with respected bands that will be fun to play with. Valise’s summer plans involve releasing a remix EP. They’ve invited some of their music friends to be on the EP after remixes were shared since the release of Young Bloomer. “Listening to the remixes is so much fun because I love hearing our stuff ripped to shreds and turned into something totally different. I’ve sat in the studio and heard “Charlie Gray” probably a billion times so hearing it in a totally different context is amazing,” shared Penick.

Whether you’re listening to a Valise original or a remix, you are sure to enjoy the layered adventure the track will take you on. To maximize your listening experience I suggest starting your day off with some Valise jamz & toast!

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