Valient Thorr frontman Valient Himself on politics, bad flicks, and Thorriors

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  • Bartosh Salmanski
The alien rockers from Venus (by way of Chapel Hill, North Carolina) Valient Thorr are notorious for their energetic live shows. Playing a blend of what used to be called "boogie metal" and good old-fashioned rock and roll, the band wields lyrics that blend the political and the popular. "Infinite Lives," from its 2008 album, Immortalizer, notably related the war in Iraq to playing first-person shooters. Valient Thorr also has its own rabid fanbase, known as Thorriors, who travel around the country, following the band like a cross between Deadheads and Turbojugend. The rock-and-roll might of Valient Thorr hits the stage at the Beaumont this Friday, March 9, as part of a package that also features Corrosion of Conformity and Torche. Expect to see quite a few folks with beards, denim vests, and a suspicious skunky odor about them. Frontman Valient Himself spoke with The Pitch recently via e-mail about the band and his fantastic blog and podcast.

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The Pitch: Are the Bad/Awesome Flixxx reviews and the Rocknowledgy podcast a way to keep yourself busy in between albums and touring? How did they both start?

Yeah, they started like that. Bad/Awesome Flixxx started out when I was watching bad movies ON tour. But it's easier to do them when you're off tour. It would be a lot faster if I just did the reviews and didn't worry about building these posts every time. See, my computer was stolen in Washington, D.C., after a show awhile back, and I was bummed. I didn't have this story I was writing backed up. After that, I was so bummed, I decided instead of working on fiction for a while, that I'd do a book of bad movie reviews. So that's what I'm working on there. Rocknowledgy is a radio show I had in Earth college all the way through grad school. So my podcast is an extension of that and a desire to turn people on to awesome music they probably have never heard before.

The way you go in-depth in discussing something like Street Trash falls in line with songs like "No Hold Barred," which is all about professional wrestling. The majority of your songs have a strong political bent, though. "Man Behind the Curtain," "Infinite Lives" and "Exit Strategy" get into the real nitty-gritty of how shit's fucked. How do you reconcile the two approaches?

Well, there is no rhyme or reason. I guess it's how I view how things work. Once, a man who was a lot smarter than me put it like this: The reason we do everything we do can be said to be for two specific reasons. There are those who think we do things based on some autonomous, universal or transcendent reason or beauty, and there are those who say we do things based on our habits, beliefs and desires. I believe the second way. It's all based on our history. My history, your history. What we've seen influences our actions, because what we've seen dictates where we find significance. So we do what we like to do. We are attracted to what we like. If we haven't experienced something, we might be afraid of it or its difference.

You can use any example in the known world. Sushi. I didn't like it until way after I decided to think about it. I even tried it and told myself I didn't like it. But it's only because I thought I didn't. I didn't really even let myself taste it. But, after a while, I decided to try it again. Now it's one of my favorites. Same with people, same with art, same with religion, same with good movies, bad movies, music, etc., etc. Shit is fucked, but I can't sit around and wallow in shit. That's not where I find significance.

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The up-front approach of Valient Thorr certainly hearkens back to bands like the MC5. Do the Thorriors represent your White Panther Party or just a pack of party animals?

We like partying and fucking in the streets for sure. We based our band on the MC5 when we started playing here on Earth. We were saddened to hear this week about the passing of Michael Davis. RIP.

Regarding the Thorriors, when did you first notice this pack of American-bred Turbojugend?

They began in the MySpace days. A Thorrior named Tim "the true believer" probably started one of the first chapters. Now they're all over the world. The bigger chapters that represent hail from Detroit and surrounding and Columbus, Ohio, and surrounding. There are others just as big or bigger, but those always rep their colors loud and proud.

Most of the shows I've seen you play range in size from parking lot to small club. Does anything change when you get in a bigger venue?

It's always better when it's bigger. As long as the crowd isn't too far away. I love being able to run full tilt from one side of the stage to the other! That's the shit you used to see on Iron Maiden vids and dream that you could do. And now we can!

I know you've got a split 7-inch with High on Fire coming soon, but what else lies ahead for Valient Thorr?

That's all we have on the plate coming out right now. We are just beginning the writing process for a new record. Tossing ideas and riffs back and forth. But we are excited about it. There are beautiful things coming alive right now. We'll see you soon! Alahoyus!

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