Getting To Know Our Local Bands: The North Valley
The North Valley consists of Spencer Sayer (drums), Kramer McCausland (keyboard), Dane Sandberg (base and vocals), Jon Butler (guitar), and Spenny Relyea (guitar and vocals).
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing these dudes for quite a few years now. I can still recall their very first show together as a band at Salt Lake City’s beloved Kilby Court. After falling in love with the scratchy, original version of their now remastered song, Drink Alone, I’ve been hooked ever since.
Whether you’re a fan of the music, you’re just in it for the greasy musicians, or if you’re at the show to have a couple beers, when The North Valley plays, you’re bound to have a pretty good time. Relyea’s folksy vocals melt your heart, while Sandberg’s harsher vocals break it and put it back together simultaneously. In-between harmonies and guitar solos, these boys are getting wild and making sure you’re doing nothing but the same. The North Valley is full of energy and talent. If you’re standing still by the end of their set, you’ve got a pretty big stick up somewhere it doesn’t belong.
After a year of hard work, they just released their first full-length album, Patterns in Retrospect back in January of this year. After listening to their small EP in my car for about a year, I was pretty excited to have some fresh, new songs to add to my daily routine. This album is straight up rock. It’s soulful, it’s heavy, and for some reason, I’ve never felt more at home. After a bad day, these boys could take any hate out of my soul and sew it into a pillow found on my grandmother’s couch.
I asked if I could sit down with them in their jam space and get a taste of where things happen. When I said that, Sayer just laughed. They’ve had to move twice this month and their new house is in shambles. He told me that if I really wanted to see where the magic happened, we might as well do the interview in their van. So here we are, standing on the street in front of the Shred Shed before their show, smoking cigarettes behind the van.
“So how did you guys meet and how did The North Valley come together as a band?”
SPENNY: “Most of us met about five years ago when mine and Kramer’s band, The Descriptive, played with The Spins, which Spencer and Dane were both in.”
DANE: “The Spins were playing shows with Jon’s old band, The Get Together’s.”
SPENNY: “When all of our other bands broke up, we realized that we wanted to keep playing music.”
DANE: “Spencer and I began hitting everyone up and we started to jam.”
SPENCER: “Yeah, Dane and I didn’t really know each other at the time, we had just met at a bowling alley a few days prior.”
DANE: “Meth deal. (laughing)”
SPENCER: “Nah, Dane and I have been making music together since we were kids.”
“You guys have been involved in some of the bigger local shows lately. What is your favorite venue to play at, and why?”
DANE: “Urban Lounge or Kilby Court.”
JON: “Lately, it’s definitely been Urban Lounge. They always have the best sound and the best crowds.”
SPENCER: “I love Kilby too though. I played my first show there when I was fifteen.”
DANE: “It’s really easy to get your friends to come out to those venues. Everyone loves them. Also, the sound guys are awesome at both of those places. We’ve played there so many times, they already know what we need on stage.”
“What’s your favorite song to play live and why?”
SPENNY: “Raining Blood (laughing)”
DANE: “I really like our new songs. I like “Hold Up,” but from the album, my favorite is definitely, "There’s Something About Murder.”
DANE: “Because it’s fucking heavy and people like it."
SPENNY: “I like playing “There’s Something About Murder” because I basically play a guitar solo throughout the whole song.”
SPENCER: “I think “Hands to the Sun” is my favorite.”
“Okay, you guys, now let’s talk about touring. There has got to be something that bugs you about being in a van with five other dudes.”
SPENNY: “The smell is the only thing. It can get pretty bad sometimes.”
“So far, what’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you guys while you were out on the open road?”
SPENNY: “So far, we’ve only been out touring in little stints, but the craziest thing that has happened was at a Taco Bell drive-through in Boise, Idaho. We went through the drive-through, and the guy asked us if we wanted to buy an eighth of marijuana off of him.
JON: “Just at the drive-through window.”
SPENNY: “We told him that we didn’t want it. The best part was that he then pulls out a can of chew and asks us if we wanted to ‘dip’ instead.”
SPENCER: “So we all had a fat dip at the Taco Bell drive-through window in Boise, Idaho. That guy gave me a free taco that night, but he also told me that I looked like shit. (laughing)”
“Okay, so in one of my personal favorite songs off of the album, “You Got That Straight Jake”, who is the “Rosy” character? Is she a real person?
DANE: “It’s an old woman, her name is Sharon.”
SPENCER: “She’s a total sweetheart.”
JON: “She was our neighbor at our old house. She’s an old woman around seventy years old with dementia.”
DANE: “She’s awesome. She would come over to our house and bring us Afghans and tell us all sorts of weird jokes.”
SPENNY: “She’d come over whenever we were smoking on the porch and drop these beautiful, perfect one-liners.”
“What was one of them?”
DANE: “You got that straight, Jake.”
SPENCER: “My favorite thing she said is what we have recorded at the beginning of the song; the message about how if you’re good to others, others will be good to you.”
“Alright, another question. What bands influence your writing style the most?”
DANE: “The band.”
SPENCER: “Katy Perry.”
SPENNY: “Katy Perry? (laughing) Well, yeah, sexually.”
SPENCER: “She’s the drive!”
KRAMER: “We are playing music to make Katy Perry want to have sex with us.”
DANE: “Black Sabbath, Delta Spirit, Dr. Dog, even Slayer, honestly.”
SPENNY: “Honestly, any good metal. Dane and I have always really loved that stuff.”
KRAMER: “Even new stuff, like Graveyard.”
DANE: “Also, bands like Desert Noises.”
“That was another thing I wanted to ask you guys about. Right now, who would you say your favorite local band is, and who is your favorite local band to play shows with?”
SPENNY: “My favorite local band to play with is Breakers. My favorite local band, musically, is Desert Noises.”
DANE: “I love them too. And I really love Holy Water Buffalo.”
SPENCER: “Breakers are my favorite band to play with, for sure.”
DANE: “Because Breakers are the only other band is Salt Lake right now who want to get as wild as we do while we are on stage. They bring the energy.”
SPENCER: “The main thing is that they get so wild, it makes us want to keep up with them. It turns into a really friendly competition. There’s a dynamic where we’re both really trying to push it.”
KRAMER: “Reminds me of the way Henry Rawlings used to interact with Iggy Pop. When they played together, he’d try to go way, way hard, and then Iggy would come out and be crazy as hell.”
“What is The North Valley’s plan for the future?”
DANE: “We are going to start recording again the second we get back from tour.”
“When is the tour? Where are you guys headed?”
DANE: “It’s a west coast tour at the end of July.”
SPENNY: “Boise, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and more.”
“From what I’ve heard at shows, the new songs are pretty great.”
KRAMER: “Everything you liked in the first album, you’re going to love in the second.”
DANE: “So stick around for that. We also just recorded a live take of “Hands to the Sun” that’s going to be released soon.”
"Ugly Magazine wants to know what a typical Friday night looks like for The North Valley?”
DANE: “Breakers shows and beer.”
SPENNY: “If we aren’t playing a show, we are going to go hit up another local show.”
SPENCER: “Odds are, on a Friday night, The North Valley or Breakers will have a show, and we are going to be there.”
DANE: “We have so many good local bands, you could go to a show any weekend and have a great time. On Fridays, we usually end up drinking beer with a bunch of dudes.”
KRAMER: “Girls don’t like us, we smell.”
SPENCER: “Jon is the ladies man, just look at that hair.”
This group of guys is friendly, hilarious and driven. If you haven’t checked out their music, it’s about time you give them a listen. Better yet, head over to one of their shows. I wish them the best of luck and I, personally, can’t wait to hear the second album.