There is absolutely nothing wrong with Christian rock. The often misinterpreted genre can claim some of the biggest selling singles and hardest-hitting bands in rock and metal. But there is a big difference between a “Christian rock band” and a rock band with Christians in it. Like Love and Death.
Fronted by the now reinstated guitarist for Korn, Brian “Head” Welch, Love and Death surfaced on the Christian market without really adopting the “Christian rock” title. Now firmly making their mark in the non-denominational rock circuit, Love and Death has become one of the scene’s most buzz-worthy bands.
I spoke with Love and Death bassist Michael Valentine about his take on the whole Christian rock thing, why he can’t get In This Moment out of his head, and his thoughts on the upcoming tour with Korn and Asking Alexandria.
When you come to big festivals like Aftershock, is it kind of a big hang for all you guys? A little more fun than work?
Oh yeah. It’s like a family, running into everyone from P.O.D. to Megadeth — I mean, just everyone. When I got here, In This Moment did the “Confess” song right off the bat. We did a run with them not too long ago, and that song gets so stuck in my head. It’s been out of my head for five months, and today they played it first — I’m going to be on stage later saying that.
That has to be the ultimate compliment though, when another band has your song stuck in their head…
Oh, it’s so catchy! It just sticks in there and I’m like, ughh.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people walking around doing the same with your music.
Hopefully. I do my best to keep it out of my head.
Now I saw the video for “The Meltdown.” Walk me through it — do you guys, like, hate kids?
Nooooo. [LAUGHS] Not at all.
I’ve had every job in the book — I’ve been a waiter, I was a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner door-to-door salesman, alarm systems, telemarketing — so I’ve always wanted to do a video of the working environment, that kind of environment. I mean, that kind of stuff happens — that’s for real. The song is such a powerful song for a lot of people having a meltdown, but it doesn’t really touch on what causes “meltdowns.”
I think people’s jobs are what cause the most meltdowns, and it doesn’t have to be this high-paying corporate job. Like that job, working at a ShowBiz Pizza, or whatever — I think it’s Chuck E Cheese now, that’s how old I am. We were like, “Let’s just do a completely serious song with a completely jacked up and funny video.”
That’s funny. My nephew just had his birthday party at a place exactly like that, so I know what you’re talking about.
It’s chaos! I mean, it’s chaos.
How did the little kids react to you guys?
Great! They had fun. They got there at I think 4:00am. We started recording at midnight and went all the way through until noon. They were great. We were just playing with them, saying, “OK, in this scene, just throw stuff at us. Just make noise and go crazy.”
It fits really well. I swear, the more shows I go to, the more little kids I see just jamming out to rock music.
It’s the next generation. Something’s gotta keep it going.
I see that you guys are doing an extended release of the album. What are you adding on to it?
There’s gonna be, I think, three new mixes that are completely different remixes. There’s a new song on there. It’s just going to be bumped up. Our management said they wanted to re-do it. It was supposed to come out last year in November, and then the minute we pushed it back — after we sent it all out to radio — we pushed it back to January. Well, just out of coincidence, they day in November when it was supposed to be released, it was downloaded like 38,000 times. Clearly leaked.
It came out in January, and it did good, ya know. We were in a Christian market, which I never thought we should be in a Christian market. Not anything to do with religion, or whatever, but it’s like when you box yourself into that stuff, it’s a hard climb out.
So you guys don’t identify as a Christian band?
No. People say we’re a Christian band. We’re Christians in a band. It’s like when you go to a bank or a grocery store, you don’t walk in and say, “Is this a Christian grocery store?” It’s like, no. There’s Christians that work there, but it’s not like this is “Jesus’ Corner,” ya know? Like, “Come into our grocery store…”
You’re out on tour with Korn and Asking Alexandria. Do you ever worry, especially with Head fronting the band, about being constantly compared to Korn?
No. The guy’s a goofball. I mean, I love him, but he’s completely different in both bands. We went out for five weeks in Europe with Korn this summer, and me and John got really close. Head already said, when I first joined the band five years ago, that, “Dude, you and John are just going to hit if off. You guys have the exact same personality.” It was like five days into the tour, and I found myself on John’s bus. It was just me and him and his bodyguard sleeping on that bus the whole five weeks.
Our music is different. It’s got that Korn influence, of course, because Head’s in it. Their new album kicks sooooo much ass. I’ve heard some really good things about their single, “Never Never,” and I’ve heard some people say that, “No, that’s not good at all.” Dude…listen to the whole album. I like the song personally, but “Never Never” does not reflect that whole album.
Are you guys going to be doing any sharing of duties on this tour? Besides obviously Head, who’s in two of the bands.
There’s been talks. It almost happened in Europe, actually; I was going to fill in for Fieldy. This coming year if he doesn’t want to play a show or if he’s been out too long and doesn’t want to play a show, then I’ll sit in for him. It became this quick, grimy family that was just kinda thrown together. Completely dysfunctional. But it’s awesome.
What is your biggest guilty pleasure when you’re on the tour bus? Is it cheesy movies, TV shows…
If we’re actually on tour and on a bus, I’d say probably movies. I mean, I want to get into PlayStation — I love PlayStation — but the problem is trying to play it on a bus with everyone else. When I get into a game, I concentrate on the game, and I’m like, “Everyone shut up!”
Plus you’d probably be on the bus playing instead of out here working…
Oh yeah. The trick is to actually just disappear from the bus so nobody can find you. Then you don’t have to work.
Is there anyone you’re really dying to play with?
Iron Maiden. I mean, I’ve pretty much played with everybody. In the past five years I’ve played with all my childhood heroes. It almost happened. I mean, we missed them by days. It was like they’d play Friday, we’d play Saturday. They’d play Saturday, we’d play Friday. All summer long we followed behind them at every festival. I was always like, “Is today the day?” I got Slipknot; that was a big one. Metallica would be a good one. I met them when I was in high school, but that’s backstage past…
So you like more of the classic rock?
Oh yeah. I’m 35 years old. I’m up there. I mean, I like ’90s, don’t get me wrong. But ’80s is where my flavor is.
Is that where that “Whip It” cover came from?
That actually came from Head in the shower. He called Jason, and I think he texted me from the shower, like, “Dude, I think we’re gonna cover ‘Whip It’.” And right away I was like, “Hmmm. You can’t make this cool. It’s already cool. Don’t get me wrong. I love Devo. But you can’t make this song any cooler than it is, and we’re not cool enough to do it the way they do it.” And then he played the riff, and I was like, “Man, that might work.” And it worked.
Pick up your tickets to catch Love and Death with Korn and Asking Alexandria on October 10th at The Wiltern Theater.
Full tour dates and information on where to pick up Love and Death’s expanded debut album, Between Here & Lost, visit the band’s website.