Written by Jeremy Copp
Crafting a good pop song is an art form. Making pop interesting is even more difficult. That’s why for every artist with longevity like Beyonce, there’s a thousand one-hit wonders like Carly Rae Jepsen. Good pop requires a fine balance of catchy melodies with intriguing chord progressions and rhythmic dynamics. The guys in A Violet Sun, a pop-alternative rock band from the Inland Empire in California, seem to have an innate understanding of this concept.
A Violet Sun is the brainchild of lead vocalist/guitarist Jay Valdez. Now 28, he has been working in bands since he was a teenager in the pop-punk band Recycled. In the early days of the band, Jay described his songwriting process as something akin to finding a good melody to go over a Beatles-like chord progression. But the band is so much more than that. The song “A Shape of Mind” has an undeniable hook, but the rhythmic structure is almost frenetic in pace, and the chord progression is reminiscent of a happier, breezier version of The Mars Volta. Jay is rather frank about the evolution of his songwriting, saying that it has improved by “playing with people who are better than me, and all of the musicians in A Violet Sun are better than me.” His brother, Matt Valdez (guitar/vocals), says that Jay will bring the basis of a song to the band, but he takes feedback from everyone. As such, Matt refers to Jay as the quality control of the group.
Rounded out by Robin Laliberte on bass and Sid Suarez on drums, the guys in A Violet Sun have rather disparate musical backgrounds. Robin was previously in a death metal band, and Sid was in an honest-to-goodness boy band. However, the guys have come together for more than just a love of the music they are creating. They all have a strong environmental conscience. A Violet Sun try to lead by example, using recycled materials in their CDs and merchandise, and they are currently converting their touring van into a bio-diesel vehicle. Jay claims, “We want to make a difference, even if it’s just us.” They don’t want to preach, but they definitely want to get the message out to their fans, and they tackle the subject of trying to keep our world clean in the song “Home.”
While the band has worked hard to create their own brand of pop rock, they are also proud of other aspects that they are known for, such as being a quality live act that delivers a reliably good performance and promotes their shows hard. Their reputation for professionalism has paid off by getting them the opening spots for such national touring acts as Korn and Story Of The Year. In fact, Sid’s first show with the band was in front of hundreds of people when they opened for Moving Units. He admits to being nervous at the time, but is excited by the band’s successes, exclaiming “I never thought I’d be in this position, but it’s awesome. You just never know until you get there.”
The guys in A Violet Sun admit that being creative in a pop song is difficult. But they seem to be mastering the craft. You can judge for yourself at Groove International’s Sunday Funday event at the House of Blues, Hollywood on August 10.