Together, Matt Valentine and Erika Elder are MV & EE, a decidedly far-out Vermont-based duo that explores the outer reaches of Appalachian folk and American rock and roll with an Eastern-informed sense of composition. Space Homestead, the group's umpteenth LP released earlier this year on Woodsist, was one of its best yet, a swirling set of tunes that called to mind Neil Young's early acoustic work while keeping one ear firmly in the stratosphere. The band plays Farm 255 tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 26. We caught up Valentine via email to chat about his group's influence and the "reality trip" of making records.
Flagpole: Your sound is a distinct mix of spaced-out drone and rustic folk or psychedelia. Who are some of your main influences? Matt Valentine: It all gets in there: 13th Floor Elevators, Peter Green, prime Garcia/Dead and Crazy Horse bootlegs… Clouds of "dub" and lee perry up alongside the wizards from Kansas. That kinda sound/rural concrete. FP: You've released albums on some of the most revered labels in the esoteric scene, from Three Lobed and Ecstatic Peace! to Blackest Rainbow. Does the material dictate the label or vice versa? MV: Yeah, in some ways, but only in an economic/ergonomic sense. We're very fortunate we are able to work with such great and likeminded heads. There is so much in the vaults being cracked—gonna be a groovy harvest in '13. FP: The sonic qualities of your latest LP, Space Homestead, definitely reveal your influence on younger bands today, especially with bands like Woods, their own label Woodsist and even their daughter label Hello Sunshine. How did you become involved with Woodsist? MV: It's cool hearing the sounds get back into the environments. Sonic compost is future wave. Space Homestead is the 4th release we've done with the label—[Jeremy Earl] released an experimental raga tape of ours some time ago on his Fuck it Tapes imprint, and we did a live MV & EE side called "Home Comfort"… He also released my solo LP What I Became. We just sorta found each other on the corner. FP: How did the massive 12-cassette boxed set for Blackest Rainbow come together? MV: I LOVE Blackest Rainbow, he's a true believer in the music, a lotta genre pride. We've done three big tape boxes together now, the most recent being Godchaux Free Brattleboro. I dig oxide. The 12-cassette Road Trips set was meant to be an overview of the contours of non-tangential corners concerning our trails. FP: Depending on your current lineup or state of mind, your name varies subtly. Do these names have a defined start or end? MV: I reckon the "end" is the Golden Road, but it's often crackin' us up, with the subdivisions within the wings. The name that has all names. I like the Toast'd Clam—that's Rongoose and John Moloney—also the Canada Goose. One of our most stable and current units is The Golden Smokehound. Then there's the Wolfpack, [and] our fantasy of the Santa Monica Flyers. Heh heh. FP: You guys tend to average three to five albums a year. What does your writing and recording process look like? MV: It looks like a vast archipelago of fiery analog within love in field theory. FP: Some of your albums seem to be "higher profile" than others, not so sound inconsiderate or condescending! Is this a conscience thing? Do you feel the same way? MV: To me, every album is important, and has a lotta love dimensions applied therein. But it takes TIME to make records, and even more time to emotionally invest in listening to said sonics. It isn't condescending at all. It's a reality trip. Apply the same concepts to your own workday and think about how the metadata is assimilated. The same vision is applied to the record-making process. Sometimes there are Polaroids and sometimes there are Blake-ian engravings filtered thru the Kuchar brothers. FP: I saw you guys in 2006 and it was just Matt on guitar/vocals and Erika on lap steel/vocals. Is this what your normal live setup looks like? MV: At the core it is always a duo exchange. Expect that pod to have grown limbs, as well as fins, since that last encounter. the live setup "looks" like that but the sign is not always the signifier. FP: You've toured with some spectacular backing band members before. People like Samara Lubelski and Chris Corsano have lent their talents. What's the touring lineup this time around? What can your fans expect? MV: I really dig those two. We're grateful so many groovy players have contributed to the music. Must be somethin' in the riffs, who knows. Right now we have Rafi [Bookstaber] sitting in with us for a few shows. He's the Wolfpack… But yeah, on this tour we're rolling mainly as a duo. Doc Dunn will hopefully join us in Toronto. The original aim was Smokehound was gonna be with us on drums, but it just couldn't roll that way. Erika and I were just coming off a month-long tour overseas as a duo with our custom PA designed by this genius Tall James, who was running the legendary Ambush Cinema in the UK. We also had a lighting guru on board by the name Hogge who has deep roots in the Cube Cinema in Bristol. Anyway, we were sounding like [a] sweet LP being played on a great, tube driven hi-fi—and it looked like that, too. We got into it and are bringing the same vibe on this "Coast to Roast" tour. FP: What's next for MV & EE? MV: Working on wrapping up a new jammer for Three Lobed, which will come out in February. FP: Have you played Athens before? Need any restaurant or sightseeing recommendations? MV: [We] played at the Secret Squirrel some moons back. We ate at Stipe's place.