Thorr of Babylon | Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Thorr of Babylon

Music: Gettin’ heavy with Venusian rockers Valient Thorr.


Venusian rockers Valient Thorr have landed their vintage Chevy van in Detroit to greet a welcoming committee of devotees called Thorriors. De facto leader, singer and sweat-swallower Valient Himself strolls through the gathering in a Vincent Vega haze, taking in the smells and other olfactory delights. “It’s awesome,” Valient Himself (who once answered to Herbie Abernathy) says through his red Viking beard between sips of homemade raspberry honey mead and sunflower ale. “Homemade bratwursts and kielbasa. And homebrew action. The Great Lakes chapter has done it up proper for us today.”

Valient Himself speaks with a bit of twang, which he picked up when the band crash-landed in North Carolina. Or Virginia. Depends on whom you ask. Important part is, as of March 16, 1957, they arrived—and, 50 years later, they’re resurrecting rock from yet another dirtnap with their trashy rock & roll.

However, unlike their ostensible theatrical rock brethren in GWAR and Lordi, Valient Thorr eschews costumes and does well to stick to their back story. “We’ve pretty much been living like Earthlings,” Himself drawls before adding, “It’s funny. Most people don’t even believe we’re from Venus.”

What he means is they pull off their American look and feel, welding the rock & soul sounds of the MC5 to the dirty denim sounds of AC/DC—and incorporating the former group’s righteous (earthly, U.S.-centric) political fervor. Not that they have to convince anyone. “Once they hang out with us for an hour or so,” Himself intones, “they know we’re not of this Earth.”

Chalk it up to Himself’s spaced-out look. City Weekly spent an hour with the guy in Austin at South By Southwest and learned from Ones Who’d Know that, since landing on Earth, Himself is a renaissance man, both an avid fan of ganja and more refined fare like the soft-boy musical stylings of singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock. And possibly a Mensa member.

“I get stoned for sure,” Himself says. “I’m not like a farmer or anything. I don’t even buy it. It just somehow ends up in my hand, and I hang out with it. As for the genius thing, that’s not for me to say. I like to think I look at things outside of the Earth perspective. Once you go to a certain place, and you disconnect from it, you have insights that they might not have thought of before.”

OK, Herbie—er, Valient. On 3, blow my mind: 1 … 2 … 3.

“[Laughs] I don’t know if it’s that simple. It gets heavy first. And you don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Then all of a sudden, you realize that it’s the truth.”

On Venus, are the same stigmas associated with male weeping as on Earth? “They don’t even have tear ducts on Venus,” he says. “And you don’t live on Venus, you live in Venus. We lived inside of the planet because the outside … was destroyed by wars and stuff. And that pretty much shaped our worldview here on Earth. We don’t believe that there’s any real reason for war.”

There is, you know, fighting the good fight. To Valient Thorr, that’s sticking up for rock & roll by playing it for real—fist-pumping anthems, guitar solos, jumping off huge Marshall stacks, imbibing one’s own sweat via wringing out one’s T-shirt. All that, and playing pranks on Volcom tourmates—and heathens in their own right, the Riverboat Gamblers. “We’ve been playing some tricks on each other,” Himself says. “We gave Pat from the Gamblers some cake earmuffs, and then they tarred and feathered me in North Carolina.”

With all that mess going on, is it tempting to go live within the Earth?

“The thing about the Earth is, say all this shit goes down. People try to move to the inside of the Earth, they can’t. It’s lava. Have you ever tried to eat hot pizza? It like burns the inside of your mouth? Think about that, all over your skin.”

VALIENT THORR @ Avalon Theater, 3605 S. State, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 7 p.m.