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Death Valley High Interview

Death Valley High

By:  Nina McCarthy, Senior Music Journalist, Boston Rock Radio



Frontman, Reyka Osburn, and guitarist, Daniel Ka$$hu, were kind enough to share some of their precious time with me while San Francisco based DVH was on tour with Orgy and Knee High Fox.  Hear what they have to say about their unique genre, their latest release, and the inspiration for their horror based themes.


Reyka -Fete Music Hall, Providence, RI  Feb 2017

“Crafting the perfect soundtrack to a romp in the dark, Northern California’s Death Valley High artfully merges traditional goth magic and modern alternative majesty, co-mingling cinematic rock, new wave, and dance music on their 2016 full-length CVLT [AS FVK] (minusHEAD Records).”--DVH Bio


BRR:  Tell me about your humble beginnings back in 2006.  I was going to say, tell me about your inception, but thought that could get me a crazy answer.


DVH:  (Reyka) Yeah, it started with me coming from a band called Tin Bed.  We kind of imploded and I grew out of the members of Tin Bed to start this new chapter.  I wanted to get rid of the name.  I ended up singing for another band called Ghost Ride for a little bit and ended up using a little bit of them in the first record.  Also, there was a band Will Haven, a hardcore band from Northern CA that toured with Deftones and Limp Biscuit, that I ended up playing bass with as well.  The first record is kind of an “all family project” done kind of under my supervision.  We kind of grew from there.  I wanted to do live shows and put a live band together in San Francisco and it grew from there.  I thought I was just going to make a record and be done with it but it ended up being something I really wanted to do, and here we are.


BRR:  For our readers who have never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them?


DVH:  DK:  Death disco.  We like to have disco balls.  

RO:  We are looking for people to have fun at our shows.  Being a dark band and wanting people to have fun, it's like a dichotomy.  The sound is dark but it's also very polished.  If you compared it to a color scheme, it would be glossy black, iridescent black.


BRR:  Perfect for Freakfest!  So, your most recent album has an interesting name, CVLT [AS  FVK] (pronounced Cult As Fuck.) Am I saying that right?


DVH:  If you want to censor it, it can be CVLT AF.


BRR:  We don't have to censor.


DVH:  Oh good.  That's another factor where we kind of have that duality with the band.  It stems from the twins that we always tend to use on our covers, where you have one more industrious type, very serious, and then you have the fun type.  We were being sarcastic that that kind of atmosphere in our band tends to rise up, so CVLT [AS FVK] was the perfect name for something we wanted to be very bold about.  We really just wanted to say what it is we really do, so being cult as fuck is pretty much it.  You can almost hear Kanye West say that, you know what I mean? (laughing)


BRR:  It's a great name!  You have a lot of horror themes in your music, so where do you draw your inspirations from, movies?


DVH:  Ya, it can be from the newspaper too and the internet is wide open with all kinds of weird things that happen on a daily basis.


BRR:  I was going to say the daily news is bad enough!


DVH:  Some of the themes actually do come from that.  “Ick Switch” is actually written about watching Netflix and getting scared, so maybe, “Netflix and kill.”  Honestly, every day could be a horror movie for anybody, just a bad luck day.


BRR:  I can't picture you guys being fans of Sweet Valley High, but where did your name come from?


DVH:  It actually came from that; the twins are very much so based on that.  I don't know if you've ever seen Tales From The Dark Side?  It's a TV show where it's just watching the dark side and there's people on the underside.  If it was perfect, it would be the underside of this high school that was the dark side, so Death Valley High was the perfect name.


BRR:  It's also a national park in California where it's the hottest spot because of the elevation.


DVH:  I've been by it and it was hot enough!


BRR:  How would you describe your live show?


DVH:   Energetic!  We're probably one of the more energetic dark bands out there.  We have a lot of fun the music so we want to make sure you have a lot of fun watching us play.  Expect us to jump around, throw our guitars, fall into stuff.  Expect us to do it all without missing a note!


BRR:  I can't wait to see it!  Now you've been touring brutally and you have an upcoming tour in Europe with Orgy…


DVH:  We just got back from a tour in Europe, had three weeks off and started this one and we'll be going back to Europe.


BRR:  How has the touring been? How has the response been?


DVH:  Great.  I definitely would say this is the best.  We definitely feel more traction this time.  We feel that these songs on the newest record are actually reaching a broader fanbase.  It's possible that we even lost a few of our original fans from the beginning.  We've dialed the noise down.  We had a little of stuff sequentially changing throughout the songs and only some people would know that. It's a little more cohesive in the mixture and as well as the song structure.  I do have friends that say the older I get, the heavier I seem to get.


BRR:  Speaking of your fans, do you have any crazy fan stories…..that you can tell?


DVH:  RO:  I definitely had one fan that showed up at the airport as we were leaving Europe.  I was basically boarding the plane.  I didn't know what they expected.  Should I just get off the plane and run? Like I'm going to get off the plane and go chill at their house for the week?  And it's not going to turn into a reenactment of Stephen King’s Misery?  So be very careful.


BRR:  Ahh,  Europe, how is the music scene different over there than here?


DVH:  Rock is still very much a bigger thing out there.  When you come to the States, what you classify rock music is really not rock music anymore.  Like 21 Pilots, 5 Seconds To Summer, I'm not trying to diss them or anything, but that's classified as rock music now.  Heavier things and stuff that actually does classify as rock music is still quite sought out over there.  It's more unique in a way.    It's not as verse chorusy as things out here.


BRR:  From what I understand, they support live shows more?


DVH:  RO:  Live shows are great.  You tend to see sold out shows a lot there.  But every city is different.  You can say Europe in general is kind of more rock oriented but you can have an off night even being in Europe somewhere if that particular city wasn't that hot on it.  It's the same thing in the States depending on the area, like if it's more metropolitan it may not go over as well as a beach town.


DK:  As Reyka said, when we played in Paris they didn't seem to be that enthusiastic, but that's the Parisian audience.  The fact that they didn't leave the room that we were playing was actually a huge compliment.  I'm guilty of the same thing when I'm going to shows at home in NYC.   Men have their arms crossed and just stand there.  That's a good response though, or else they'd be doing a shot, having a smoke, and not hanging out on the floor.


BRR:  I think that in this area, there aren't a lot of big shows, so everyone is supportive when there is one.   Our local Civic Center ( The Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI) rarely does concerts anymore. I just have one last question.  Do you have any advice for up and coming musicians that are trying to live the dream?


DVH:   Work hard and dial in your sound.  If you think you're working hard, work harder.  It's oversaturated and almost no chance to become rock stars these days.  It's hit or miss.  You could become a Youtube star before a rock ‘n roll star.  


BRR:  YouTube and then Ellen.


DVH:  Right.  If you're playing your heart out and  it's something that is amazing to watch, you're gonna make it.  You're gonna get somewhere because everyone can feel your energy and the time you devoted to it.  The trainer becomes the master.  And another important thing, as with anything else, with music, you can not allow yourself to be discouraged by criticism because you could be the best thing, but there are fifty people that could mop the floor with you.  But that does not mean you are allowed to give up.  You just have to do it and get better.  If  you think you are taking a day off, guess what?  There is no such thing as a day off.  When you are falling asleep, that could be the time you could be engaging with new potential listeners and friends on social media or networking with other bands.  If you have to go to the John and take a whizz, you can text back that booking agent while you're doing it.  Just don't drop your phone in the sink!


BRR:  I can relate to that even though I'm not in a band.  My phone goes off all hours of the night depending on what country people are in and everything.


DVH:  It's a business thing and you have to treat it like a business these days.  Like I said, you have the YouTube celebrities now that just happen to have that thing and they just never stop, even with the haters and comments.


BRR:  Haters are okay, it’s publicity.


DVH:  As long as you can keep the haters down to 10 percent, there you go.  That should give you enough energy to wake up the next day.  Actually if you are getting the reaction of haters, you are doing what you need to do, which is provoke an emotional response.  The worst response you can get is silence.  If someone tells you to go to hell, that's better than someone saying nothing.  That means you hit a nerve.  That means you're going to hit a good nerve with somebody else.  


BRR:  That's so true.  Well, that's all the questions I have. Do you have any additional comments or anything you want to say to your fans?


DVH:  Hello Boston! We'll see you soon!


♬--- 2017











A special thank you to Maria Ferrero at Adrenaline PR for making this interview possible.


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