The Values understand there is a singular magic about the combination of synthesizers and the human voice. That mix of cutting edge technology and deep vulnerability, of digital sounds and flesh and blood, of sleek and portable, portable yet opulent. It’s a city sound, sexy and rich and forward moving. There’s nothing like it -- Suicide knew it in the grimy 70s. Yaz and Erasure knew it in the glossy 80s. LCD Soundsystem knows it in the 21st century.
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to The Values? How long has the band been around?
Mason: Well when I first met Evan he was already working on what became The Values. I had been writing songs alone in my bedroom for years and was in one band in high school, but The Values has really been the first project that has felt like mine.
Evan: I was in a band in high school too! We were called Sk8 Bomb. We played ska punk songs, mostly covers and we were not good. Before Mason and I started working together I had been making music with a few other people, but I really feel that Mason is the perfect musical partner for me.
What’s the origin of that name and have you changed the band’s name before?
Evan: I had the name "The Values" for a while before Mason joined the band. We just thought it was a solid name that sounded good and would be easy to remember. If you get a few beers in me I might say that it has something to do with "the ethos of the band," but really we just think it sounds cool.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
Mason: Because I do the majority of the vocals I write the majority of the lyrics, but I'm always bouncing stuff off Evan. I think my most successful lyrics come from a place of specificity, so a lot of our songs are about some aspect of womanhood, sexuality and anxiety or come from a specific memory or experience. Since I'm a lyricist that draws a lot on my own life, I definitely expect our interests to change as we grow as people and musicians.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
Mason: I feel like I always have a weird variety of influences at any given time. I've been listening a lot to Noname recently since Room 25 came out, and am on the edge of my seat waiting for the new Robyn record! I often turn to her music for inspiration.
Evan: I would say Jungle is a huge inspiration for us. They blend electronic elements with a funk feel so effortlessly. Also, we try to emulate they way they layer different instruments and melodies. Sylvan Esso's last album was amazing, I loved how powerful and sincere her vocals felt over the electronic production. We've also been listing to a lot of Hall & Oats, they're pretty great songwriters! Of course, we take LCD Soundsystem as gospel, but that goes without saying.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
Mason: It wasn't just one musical experience that made me want to make music so much as how I realized live music made me feel. I've been performing in various capacities my whole life, so growing up I would go see a show - any show - and always feel something palpable drawing me to the stage. I just wanted to feel what they were feeling up there.
Evan: I great up in Shanghai, China, for the first 18 years of my life and I always fantasized about starting a band, but it wasn't until I went to see Brain Failure, the Chinese Rancid, when I was 14 that I believed I could do it. There was something so charming and amateurish about 4 guys who loved Rancid, so they dressed like Rancid, played the same guitars as Rancid, played songs that sounded like Rancid, and even did their hair like Rancid. If they could do it, I probably could too.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, ect …
Evan: I always wished we had a cool preshow ritual, like in Almost Famous! I thought it was so cool when they did that chant before going on stage. I get changed before a show from my street clothes into this skin tight leotard thing. I usually do some high kicks and some arm windmills to get me in the mood to wow the audience.
Mason: I warm up vocally, but beyond that and putting on my costume and makeup I don't have any particular traditions. Everything before and after a set is work, so it's not really some mysterious ritual - we soundcheck if we get a chance to, and while the other bands play I'm scoping out the stage for where the outlets are, how I'm going to use the space effectively in my performance, how the sound and equipment is. I like to feel as mentally prepared as possible.
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
Evan: The other day my dad actually texted me saying that he was listening to our music with my mom and some of their friends and I got choked up hearing that. For a long time I don't think they approved of my decision to pursue music full time so getting their approval was huge to me, also our last show at The Knitting Factory had almost 300 people so that was pretty awesome.
Mason: We were also pretty excited for our new single "Imposter" to be featured in the Deli Magazine recently since we've been following them for what feels like so long!
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Evan: I think we would do so great if we opened for Jungle. They make funky electo pop, we make funky elctro pop. They have an amazing light show, we have an amazing light show. They seem like cool people who could be my best friends. I've been trying to remix John Carpenter (director of The Thing, Escape From New York, etc) score for a few months now so I'd love to open up for him if he ever decided to go on tour. I'd love to open up Holy Ghost too, they kick butt.
Mason: In my wildest dreams, Michael Jackson or Prince. Being able to watch their live shows from offstage would be the highlight of my life.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We're working on a music video and another EP so keep an ear out for that! Also go vote November 6th!