I learned many things I never knew about while researching Val Emmich for this interview and I tip my hat with respect to a guy who has weathered some tumultuous storms and managed to right himself with his belief in his music. I discovered an artist who displays a strong self-faith, right down to the very act of walking away from a major label that wouldn’t share his vision.
Sunlight Searchparty takes an honest look at some of life’s most intimate experiences, dealing with life and all the emotions that accompany us. Spanning topics as varied as rebirth, vengeance, honor and infidelity, Emmich‘s interrelated presentation is a breath of fresh air and should be an inspiration to anyone who’s stood up in the face of adversity and triumphed. And believe me, this is about triumph.
Utilizing several special guests and featuring a DVD of the making of the album titled It’s Only Your Life, Emmich approaches the CD with an unconventional and vintage style.
It feels as if your re-emergence has been marked with a fresh and simple approach. Your writing has never been stronger. What has been responsible for this newfound success?
I guess the words that sum it up are confidence and experience. I don’t know, there was something about meeting these people and you think that they know the way to do things and it took them doing it the wrong way to know I always knew the right way for me, you know? For some reason you put trust into these people and well…
They screw you.
(laughs) Well it might work for them but it doesn’t mean it works for you. It was a hard thing to realize that. but once I knew. doing it my way felt so damn good that it was just like a complete release and I guess this record shows that.
The content of Sunlight Searchparty, with its uncluttered simplicity is great. I’m a huge fan of playing together live when it can be done. Was this part of the original plan or did it just happen?
When do you have the most fun playing music? For me it’s when you’re with all your buddies and you’re all in a rehearsal room or studio and banging around ideas and looking at each other and like, feeling the energy, so why do people go into a studio after that, isolate themselves and lose all that energy and the camaraderie and spontaneity, you know? I wanted to do this thing live to keep those feelings in place.
It sounds like you guys are having a blast avoiding the rules. Like using the old man reciting dialogue on the beginning of ‘If They Come Again.’ Who is that guy?
Actually that was my grandfather who passed away about 10 years ago, but I found this tape of him. I heard about it through my family that he was telling a story on this cassette and I never heard it so I hunted it down, and I put it on the record and it was so haunting. I also have him before the last song on the record playing piano. I never got to appreciate that when he was alive so this was kind of my way of paying homage to him.
Tell me about the producer for this project?
Well Jason was actually involved on Slow Down Kid. When Epic picked it up we went to L.A. to do some tracks with this producer and I met him out there and we hit it off immediately, and when I went into the Woodstock house I called him up in L.A. and said, “You want to come down and live with a bunch of smelly dudes and record some demos?’ And he came out and we eventually wound up doing the record together as well.