Interviews

Chris Taylor of Kickin Valentina


Described by many as raunchy sleaze rock with tons of pile-driving attitude, Kickin Valentina is making their way to to the top of the rock n’ roll scene. The band consists of lead singer Joe Edwards, guitarist Heber Pampillon, bass player Chris Taylor and drummer Jimmy Berdine. They have recently performed with various artists such as Buckcherry, Queensryche, Faster Pussycat, Fozzy, Eve to Adam, and Nonpoint.

Chris, what got you hooked on music and who has inspired you the most?

I got hooked on music when I was around 5 or 6. Glen Campbell and Shawn Cassidy were my 1st favorite artists. Back then there was nothing cooler than Rhinestone Cowboy and Do Run Run. HA When I was 12, I discovered Motley Crue and thought they were the coolest band ever….and still do. I saw them at the Day on the Green Fest in Oakland, CA (with Poison, Whitesnake and Jetboy) when I was 14 and decided that day I wanted to be a musician.

How did Kickin Valentina come about?

The idea of KV started in 2012 when Jimmy and Heber decided they wanted to form a band together. They met Joe through an ad on Craigslist in early 2013 and Jimmy and I have kinda known each other for a few years. We’d always bump into each other at shows and stuff. Once they met Joe, he called and asked if I’d be interested in playing bass. I started playing with them in May and we did our 1st show in July.

Kickin Valentina’s self-titled EP is currently available for purchase on iTunes. What can fans expect from this EP and what lies in the road ahead for Kickin Valentina?

Fans can expect a straight up Rock n Roll CD. We are just 4 guys that enjoy playing together and love the style of music we play. We aren’t trying to be something we’re not….we aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel or be trendy and sound like what’s “popular”. Too many bands do that and that is the root of what’s wrong in RnR now. If people like it, then cool, if not, that’s cool too.

Right now, we have a bunch of shows coming up through the summer and fall. We are probably gonna write some new songs in between that and go back into the studio at the end of the year.

What was it like working with Jantz Banks on Kickin Valentina’s music video, Get Ready, that recently debuted?

JB is a cool guy. We found out about him through the Art Institute here in Atl. He’s mainly done Hip Hop and we’re the 1st Rock band he’s worked with. When we decided to do a video we just wanted something simple to show the band performing, but didn’t really want a live “performance” video. We went with the white room idea and I think it turned out really cool.

Tell me about the most memorable show you have played with Kickin Valentina so far.

We’ve done some cool shows so far, but my favorite was probably when we opened for Buckcherry at Wild Bills here in Atlanta. We are all fans of that band and I’ve always wanted to open for them.

Kickin Valentina recently won the 2014 Georgia Music Award for the Rock Band category and performed at the ceremony in Atlanta. What was that experience like?

Honestly,it was very surprising. When we saw they were getting people to nominate bands, for the hell of it, we literally put it on our Facebook page once and it took off and next thing we knew we were nominated. We didn’t think there was a chance in Hell that a band like us would actually win, but a couple of days before the Awards show, they e-mailed and asked if we’d be interested in performing. We “assumed” we won, but they never said anything until they actually called our name. We’re just 4 guys doing our thing and having fun, and it’s cool to be recognized for that.

Do you feel like rock is finally making a comeback in areas that were once plagued by emo and indie music?

HAHA I’ve been saying that since 1995 and the answer is no. There are some great underground bands out there and most of them are coming from Europe right now…mainly Scandinavia. In some ways RnR is in a great place and in other ways it sucks. With the internet, bands have the ability to be DIY and just do what they want with out the influence of a label watering them down to mass market it. There is a new crop of bands doing this in Europe and there’s actually a scene, in America not so much. There are a few American bands that get it, but for the most part it’s bland, boring and nothing exciting going on.

What is the song writing process like for Kickin Valentina?

There’s no real set process. Someone will bring in a riff idea or melody and we’ll work on it as a band. Everyone has the abilty to put in their influence.

Later this year, “Get Ready” and “Alone” will be featured in the horror movie Altered, directed by Kely McClung. What do you anticipate for Kickin Valentina when this debuts?

With stuff like this you never know. It really depends on how much exposure the movie gets. Kely is a great guy and we’re happy he asked us to use our music.

Kickin Valentina is scheduled to play a few festivals in late 2014. Are there any festivals you are excited about in particular and why?

We’re excited about all of the shows really. There are some great bands on them and we are looking forward to the opportunity of playing with them and getting to play in front of their fans.

Unrelated to music, but what was it like working on The Vampire Diaries spin-off series, The Originals and what led you to your interest in the film industry?

That was a lot of fun. I was a recurring background Vampire on it. They killed us all off at the end of the 1st season so I can’t do that show again. ha I’ve been doing background work for a few years now. Some low budget indie stuff, TV shows to major movies. A friend of mine was on the Walking Dead and told me about it and it seemed like something fun to do.

Do you feel like social media has helped or harmed the music industry?

I think social media has helped it. It gives new bands a way to promote and build their fan base and interact with the fans like never before. The internet as a whole ruined an entire industry with people downloading music for free.

When can fans anticipate a full-length album from Kickin Valentina?

We plan on going back into the studio at the end of the year and as of right now it will be another EP. Things may change, but right now it’s just gonna be 5-6 songs and we just started playing Burning Love by Elvis so that may be on there.

About Highway 9 Records

Highway 9 Records is an independent record label based in Alpharetta, GA that focuses on producing debut or early phase professional recordings for emerging and developmental artists, as well as helping those artists establish and build core audiences. Learn more about the label at hwy9records.com.

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Photo by: Rockhouse Photo

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