1. Okay, first off, how in the world do you manage to pull off keys and drums simultaneously? I’m barely capable of halfway yelling backup vocals while drumming much less what you’re able to achieve on your new record Valenti. Is it just a matter of practice, or, without giving away secrets of the trade, what techniques have you developed to make this possible?
V: I grew up playing drums first and then picked up the piano thanks to there being an upright piano at my grandmother’s house. When I play just they keys, I find myself playing all the bass notes/lines with my left hand and playing chords with my right hand. When I play them both simultaneously, I have the keyboard set up to my right and play chords and solos which leaves my left hand free for hi-hat and snare work. I enjoy doing them both at the same time, and it’s a neat party trick (lol). On my album, I tracked drums, keys and bass guitar (and some rhythm guitar on “More Light”) separately and save the simultaneous drumming and keyboard playing for live shows.
2. Do you play drums barefoot or with shoes on? If with shoes, what are your "go-to" drumming shoes brand-wise or genre-wise (skate shoes, combat boots, flip-flops, etc.)
V: That all depends on which band I have a show with. When I’m playing with The Effinays, I like to wear my Pumas (any one of my many pairs, they all feel like comfy ankle socks). When I’m jamming with Ronnie Heart, I’m usually suited up and wearing some nice, comfortable dress shoes.
3. Double kick pedal ever or nah?
V: I’m a fan of the single kick pedal. BUT, I do love seeing a drummer who is very skilled at the double kick/bass perform.
4. I’ve seen you do your thing as part of The Effinays, how long have you been doing that? I ask because I actually played on a bill with The Effinays back around ’09 in Denton when Bowling For Soup’s Chris Burney was hosting a fucked up version of American Idol. I can’t remember if you were part of the lineup at the time but y’all def. won that competition!
V: Ah neat! That may have been right before I came aboard. I joined the band roughly around 2010. I initially came on as a fill in drummer and that transitioned to a permanent role. I knew of The Effinays and had numerous conversations with the bass player, Pan Blanco (we use to chat about UFO’s and religion a lot…true story lol) before I joined the band. I was in a band called People’s Army during The Effinays early years and it seemed that we were always doing shows together.
5. Speaking of The Effinays, in the advance copy of Valenti we spotted Joe “Big Spook” Martinez in the album credits. How was that experience different for both of you in terms of the songwriting/recording process? What I mean to say is, was it different from producing Effinay songs given this is your personal project or was the process familiar given your strong rapport with Martinez?
V: Both songs featuring Big Spook (Joe Martinez) are definitely “Effinays material”. The process was pretty much the same. Big Spook usually writes the lyrics while the band comes up with the music portion of a song. I wrote the lyrics for “More Light”, while the “Party Fiesta” lyrics were written by him. Fun Fact: Joe came to the studio with his composition book ready to record the lyrics he had written for “Party Fiesta”. They were good lyrics, BUT not what I was looking for or what I was accustomed to coming from him. With that being said, I then asked him to freestyle the whole thing. And BOOM! There you have what you hear on “Party Fiesta”.