It’s not every day that as a photojournalist and music fan in general, you get to interview a band that you’ve had the privilege of watching grow up, if you will. I was only introduced to these guys six months ago, when there were no record labels involved, there was hardly an album ready to record, and there was no guarantee about where the next show would be.
Six months later? Their full-length album is eagerly anticipated by fans and critics alike, a record label has scooped them out of obscurity, and there is no stopping Valencia. Without sounding trite or cliché, you should probably grab a copy of This Could Be A Possibility on October 25th, 2005 and catch Valencia every chance you get, because you’ll want to say you knew them when.
If you were a cereal box character, who would you be?
Henderson: Let’s see, I’d definitely be … oh man, that’s tough. I gotta think here … I think I’d be the Lucky Charms guy, because he spreads joy and cheer with rainbows. Who doesn’t like rainbows?
But isn’t that Santa Clause who spreads joy and cheer?
Henderson: Yeah, but the Lucky Charms guy does it with rainbows … and unicorns
Ciukurescu: [With no hesitation] Count Chocula.
Mind if I ask why?
Ciukurescu: Because vampires are sweet, and I’m really into chocolate.
In the VH1 movie about your band, who would play you guys?
Henderson: I would say that … I guess JD would be played by Brad Pitt. Or someone with muscles. I would be … the Sean Connery type of guy. Max; let’s see, who is a good Asian actor? Keanu Reeves would definite play Max, I can see it. Brendan; who is a heartthrob? Josh Hartnett, definitely.
Wow, you certainly know your heartthrobs to be pulling Josh Hartnett out like that – that was a little obscure, don’t you think?
Henderson: Well, I love the heartthrobs. George would be played by Carrot Top. Well you know, George is a little full of himself so I though I’d offer him a shot.
Ciukurescu: For me? Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson.
Really? Because you strike me as the Orlando Bloom type.
Ciukurescu: JD would probably be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Because he’s all about being in shape and Arnold is the muscle-man of the century. Brendan; I don’t know, oh man, I don’t know … Brendan and Shane are really hard … Max; Bruce lee, definitely.
Henderson: Anthony Michael Hall.
Anthony Michael Hall? Why’s that?
Ciukurescu: Because they’re both nerds! And [let’s] say Brendan can be Emilio Estevez. He’s really the Gordon Bombay of the band.
For you, why was it music?
Henderson: Well … music to me is like … it’s [always] there. It’s something I can fall back on when I have a really crappy day; it’s my release. I can have a shitty day, come back and play my guitar, and everything is perfect for me. It’s almost indescribable. I started out playing drums and I was horrible at it, and I saved up enough money to buy an electric guitar – this was when I was like 14, so I wasn’t working, I was just doing chores. I taught myself through the internet with tabs and listening to bands… but early on, my brothers sat me down and made me listen to good music – both of my brothers really instilled [in me] an appreciation for it.
Ciukurescu: Because it’s fun to do and it’s a good way to express yourself. And I’m not really good with that any other way … when we get together to write songs … it’s really cool. It’s something to feel good [about], and it makes other people feel good, so it makes me happy.
I know only from the Sacred Grounds scene that you have all been in a whole slew of different bands and lineups before Valencia was chosen … did you ever think that this would never happen?
Henderson: I always knew – I always surround myself with good musicians; I don’t waste my time … I’m not mean about it; but I’ve been really lucky. The bands I’ve been in have been really talented. I’ve always just been lucky enough to be in bands that have already had talent. When you’re in that kind of position, the caliber of songs that are going to come out is basically dependent on the amount of talent in the band.
Ciukurescu: I kind of feel like if we knew that we worked hard enough … we’re not really there yet, but we’re on our way. I always had this feeling that we work too hard to not get there. I’m really proud that Shane is in our band. When we got Max in our band, we already had a couple songs written and he ripped them about – he’s all about structure. And that’s when I realized that this was going to be really good and we were going to go somewhere.
The writing process, whether it’s collaborative or not, is still really personal, do you ever find it awkward to be sharing such intimate emotions with hundreds of strangers every night?
Henderson: Yeah, I do. Not gonna lie. But over time, I’ve just grown accustomed to it. The way it happens, I’ll write a song, and I just sing ‘em. And if [the guys] ask about it, I’ll tell them about it. I just throw it out there, and if they throw it back, you know… sometimes it’s weird, sometimes its not. I’m always passionate about whatever lyrics, though.
Ciukurescu: It’s not really that bad. For Shane, it’s probably really bad, because he writes all the lyrics.
What do you find to be the most frustrating part of being a successful band?
Henderson: You can’t please everybody. No matter what you do, you can’t please everybody; whether it is your family, friends, or your band in general. You always have to compromise to make it happen, and you do it if you love the people you’re with.
Ciukurescu: The most stressful thing is trying to have five people agree every time you try to do something. Even though we’re best friends, we still have different personalities and it’s tough to agree on everything. It’s always taken a lot of compromising and for some people it’s really hard to do. That’s probably the biggest issue with any band: making every person happy all the time.
Any regrets so far?
Henderson: Hell no – no regrets. No regrets at all. I don’t like to live with regrets.
Ciukurescu: Not yet. We’ll see in a couple years, how everything goes. Everything’s going really well right now, anything that could have gone wrong has been totally wiped out by all the good things that have happened, and it doesn’t even matter.
Forget 5 or 10 years from now, where can you see the band being in 6 to 9 months from now?
Henderson: Short term, I see us writing a new records. Hopefully [we’ll be] successful, and on tours where kids are coming out every night. 6-9 months is such a short time, but so long; it takes years to become what My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy has become – they’ve been playing since they were my age. I’m hoping that we’ll have an album that can jump start us. If not, oh well, at least we can say we tried.
Ciukurescu: Probably on tour; that’s pretty much what we’ll be doing. Hopefully we’ll be on big tours and playing for bigger crowds.
What do you absolutely love about all of this?
Henderson: Ha ha, that’s an easy question – I’m doing what I love. I’m getting to play music; that’s my childhood dream. That’s what’s incredible to me, is that I can do that.
Ciukurescu: I like playing shows, and have people watch me do stuff – it’s really cool that people want to talk to me for what were doing. And I feel like it’s brought me close to a lot of people because of what were doing. Not that I’m commanding respect, but I think it’s really cool that people listen to what we write and turn it into something of their own. Then they come to shows with that, and put that energy back in us, and all of that… seeing the energy at the shows and seeing people sing along; then you [know you] really reached somebody.
Henderson: I want to take it to the next level. I want to be in a successful band, I want to be in a position where music supports my life … I want to play guitar sing and record: all the things that make me happy.
Ciukurescu: I want to keep touring the country. I really want to go to California; I still have never been there. Hopefully, we can go somewhere like England … I want to keep getting as big as we can, and keep going places we never thought we could go. We went from not even having a trailer or van, and packing up three cars for a Friday night show … it keeps getting better; I want to go all over the world.
Photos by Allison Kennedy