[q&a] Justin Vallesteros of Craft Spells on Katy Perry, Emily Reo, DC traffic, and his love for Uncle Jesse

The wispy charm and charcoal-pop sounds of Seattle’s CRAFT SPELLS has been so embedded within our collective headspace, we here on Brookline Avenue decided to throw the "Boston Phoenix presents" tag on their Sunday night gig at Great Scott in Allston. Be sure to check out this week's feature on the 'Spells, and for added promotion treats, we reached out to Justin Vallesteros as he and tourmates GARDENS & VILLA -- also on Sunday's bill, alongside local pop distortionists DIRTY DISHES -- found themselves stuck in traffic en route to a D.C. gig at the Black Cat. Vallesteros was in a jovial mood despite being slightly immobile, and he enjoyed telling me about what was going on outside the car as we asked him a couple of serious and a couple of silly questions.

How’s the tour been so far?
The tour has been really great. Gardens & Villa are really cool dudes. People have been really pumped to see us. It’s been really relaxing, too. It’s cool to play some new venues on this tour. We’re also really excited for the Pains [of Being Pure at Heart] part of the tour.

What’s your favorite thing to do while on the road?
We’ve been listening to Katy Perry a lot. My favorite part of tour is getting to try food from all different states. And listening to Katy Perry.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Boston?
We haven’t gotten to explore Boston that much, but the people are really great. They’re super fucking nice and smart. When we played at Tufts, the kids offered us places to stay and everything. And there was a really great response when we played at Great Scott last time.

There was a recent survey that said that Boston was the meanest city in the country.
Yeah I heard that, too. You hear a lot about the Boston straightedge crowd, and I was pretty scared for a while, but everyone’s been really nice to us.

How did you end up doing a track with Emily Reo?
The song was done, and I really thought a different tone of voice would really represent the song, and I thought a female voice would be perfect -- (laughing) sorry, there’s a couple of dudes dancing outside their car.

Are they ghost riding the whip?
(Laughs) No, I think they’re bro-stepping. I wish they were ghost riding the whip. I miss the Bay Area because of that.

But anyway, I hit up Emily; she’s been a friend, and I was a fan of her Youtube videos with her friend where they did those Beach House covers. She was on tour when I sent it to her and she was like “I want to make this really good,” so it took her about two months to get it back to us, and when she did, she sent me the vocals alone and I mixed it, and it came out perfect. I don’t think anyone else could have done it like her.

What’s your favorite thing to eat or drink to get you in the mood for playing a show?
I try not to eat much heavy food before a show because when I play I feel like I’m in a fucking coma and I’m about to fall asleep, but vodka and soda is really light and good and makes me not burp on stage. But definitely Red Bull, man. Red Bull’s the shit. Red Bull right before the stage though is a bad idea because you get the jitters and your hands are shaking.

How do you think your sound has changed since your last album?
Oh man, that’s funny you brought that up. We pretty much just decided that we want a synth player today. We want one to play for our next tour.

[At this point in the interview, Justin informed me that they just passed by a bunch of people on Segways.]

Right now we’re comfortable with the guitar and bass rock band feel to our set, but now we can explore possibilities to get a fuller, more energetic live sound for our next tours.

What was it like transitioning from a one-man project to a full band?
It was tough at first because I moved from California to Seattle on a whim. So it took a while for all the band members to get into one room and learn the songs. And once we did, there was a magic to it; it was so natural. It was only tough at first because one of our members lived in Pullman, but when we did get together we really hit it off. We’re really practicing on dialing in right now, and then with the synth player we have the potential to just get better.

What can people expect on Sunday?
They should cover their faces at the end of the set because I might just jump off the stage. I might also break a guitar that’s been pissing me off all tour.

If you had a green room at Great Scott that had anything you wanted in it, what would it be?
Dude, fucking fish and chips on the table, and I would have Katy Perry performing her new single for the band right on the spot in the green room. That would satisfy every need I have.

How are you reconciling with the fact that you aren’t going to get those things?
Um, I can settle for just buying fish and chips myself, and listening to Katy Perry with headphones, depressed, while I slowly eat my food.

(BONUS QUESTION: who’s your favorite character on Full House?)
Oh man, fucking Uncle Jesse. First of all, his hair is fucking beautiful; two, he has a hot wife and awesome twins; and lastly, he plays in a cool fucking band. Jesse and the Rippers is the best fucking band name. Yeah I mean Uncle Joey’s funny, yeah, whatever, but… Uncle Jesse is way better than Joey.

THE BOSTON PHOENIX & GHOUSE PRESENT CRAFT SPELLS + GARDENS & VILLA + DIRTY DISHES | Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, Allston | July 31 @ 9pm | 18+ | $8 adv., $10 doors | 617.566.9014



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