Hardworking Chicago quartet Victorian Halls have playing the Chicago scene for years building a underground following and perfecting their craft. Well on Aug 16th all that hard work will pay off with the release of their debut album titled “Charlaton” on Victory Records. We decided to sit down with VH to see how life has changed since being signed, how the recording process was and the joys of sleeping in a roach infested hotel room.
Let’s start off with you telling us a little about yourselves
Sean: Sean and Carlos and we play noisy indie music in Victorian Halls.
So many bands talk about how hard it was to get signed to a label, How did Victorian Halls get signed?
Sean: I think the common misconception to getting signed is that a label is not going to come around and fix something. We tried early on in the band and we weren’t ready for it. After ups and downs, members in and out, developing the sound I have always heard- or wanted to hear- into our sound, took time. With the perils of the music industry, it all comes down to timing. The response was always overwhelmingly positive- and that’s how we new the timing was right.
What was it like recording your debut album Charlatan?
Sean: Harder, and more work than I had anticipated. We recorded with Cameron Webb. He kept asking the question, “Could this song be better?” So, how do you answer that? Anything can always be better. Troubling yourself with that in the studio can be staggering, and definitely indicative of perfectionism issues with yourself. Each day was about 17 hours.
What was the easiest/hardest part of recording the album?
Carlos: In retrospect, the easiest part was the 36 hour drive to LA and the roach-infested hotel room we stayed in. The hardest was the grueling 17-hour days of re-writing, re-recording, and reinventing our songs.
Is the songwriting split evenly between the band members? How is a song written?
Sean: Usually, but now it always is. I’ll start the idea musically, and then we’ll work to make it coherent and to diffuse the compositional A.D.D.
Favorite piece of gear live/recording?
Sean: My favorite piece is a Nord Lead 2x that I’m using primarily for recording. Soft synths are sterile, and there is something so organic about it.
What song is the most fun to play live?
Sean: “Sugar and Champagne.” It was written be played live and out of key.
What’s the hardest part of being an original band?
Carlos: It’s easy to be a lazy band and let yourself slide on certain things, or to “just get it done” for the sake of getting something done. We’re constantly trying to top ourselves, both musically and visually, and that competition fuels originality. However, that relentless push can really take a toll on a person.
What is your favorite down time activity when on tour?
Sean: Primarily reading. I’ve just finished Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, which I loved. I don’t know why it took me so long to get to it, when I was obsessive over American Psycho.
What MUST you have with you when on tour?
Sean: My iPod, so I can pretend I’m not surrounded by the same bodies 23 hours of the day.
What has been the most embarrassing moment for you during a show?
Carlos: We were playing a crazy house show, wall-to-wall with people going crazy. At one point, I swung my hand back and it hit the corner of my amp and when my hand came back down on my piano it was covered in blood and I couldn’t make my fingers work … my hand looked like a wet fish out of water… just flopping around on the keys for the rest of the show.
What song out there do you wish you could call your own?
Carlos: I try not to covet others ‘work. Those songs are worth a lot more to me when I think about the artist and what they’ve gone through and whatnot. Stealing that would probably just cheapen the song, and make me feel petty.
If you could be in any band, past or present, what would it be?
Sean: Death From Above-, which was past, and is now present. Let me know if they’ll have me.
What band do you hope/wish to share a stage with?
Sean: This list can go on and on, but, we’ve played with Foxy Shazam and I’d like to tour with them – I think that could be a lot of fun. I’d also be interested in how we do with a band like Crystal Castles or The Kills.
What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Carlos: The Get Up Kids at Metro in Chicago. I was pretty young at the time and it was one of the first shows I had ever been to. When I think about it, I feel as though I’ve never been able to recreate that show experience since.
What artist do you consider your guilty pleasure?
Sean: As I’ve been starting to produce music, I’ve found myself listening to records solely based off of the production. Occasionally I find myself liking them, as of recent, that’s how these things have started. I recently got the Skrillex record, – dub step’s guilty enough for me.