The Refrain Interview: Vallory Falls

Vallory Falls is an alternative rock outfit based out of Richmond, Vermont.  The band brings diverse backgrounds to the table: Danny, from Michigan, has been in everything from metal, Hardcore punk, and rock bands. Riley Burridge (they/them) calls Vermont home and has extremely diverse interests in music, ranging from Psychedelic to Ska to Folk.  Tristan Gilliss is a Massachusetts native whose musical interest is primarily in alternative, grunge, and pop punk.

We had the chance to ask Vallory Falls a couple questions, as part of The Refrain Interview Series. Check it out below.

Refrain Music Blog: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You have a new single out now. What’s it called?

VF: Happy to be here… and It’s called Rosie! 

RMB: What is the song about, in terms of lyrics? Any overarching messages or themes?

Tristan: Back in 2021, the song started as a really dark acoustic ballad about basically this character who didn’t know what He wanted, didn’t know how to take care of a family. It was super sad and stripped down and kind of a drag. I took the central theme to my band and decided to change a lot of the lyrics. I wanted to really drive home the emotion of like, a really conflicted individual who is trying His hardest to fit a square peg in a round hole. For some reason the 50’s and 60’s kind of stereotypical nuclear family kept popping into my head. I thought it was relatable because I think, even in the present, a lot of people feel this pressure to stay in a situation that isn’t good for both parties… and I wanted to elaborate on that. I thought about that when writing every part of the melody… 

RMB: Is this single part of an album?

Tristan: We’re planning a release, yeah. The algorithm Gods tell us trickle releases are the way to go, so we’re gonna hang on that for a few months, then take a few months off to record our first full length. We’re stoked on it, for sure. 

RMB: How does this single differ from your previous work?

Tristan: Stylistically, this song is a blues on steroids. It’s exactly what I pictured would drive home the themes I was trying to get across. You could say it’s pastiche, to some degree, but with many more influences for the heavier parts.

RMB: What’s the story on how it was recorded?

Tristan: The acoustic demo with the basic idea was recorded way back in 2021… I was super depressed from the pandemic and so a lot of that translated into the demo. When Vallory Falls’ brand new Vermont lineup started practicing in March of 2022, I rewrote a lot of the song… new key, chords, time signature, everything. But kept the central theme. We worked on it as a group for a long time, adding all of our own artistic elements. Danny with the rad doo-wop inspired bass line, Riley practicing these really intense dynamics on the drums to draw the listener in. We just wanted everything to be very hard hitting for the chorus and the outro. Eventually we recorded drums in my studio, Sky Audio, around the end of November 2022, followed by bass, guitars and finally vocals. Bass we recorded twice for the best tone possible, that was Danny’s idea… strings just sounded flat the first time using a mic setup, so he changed his strings and we came back to it with just a DI. Probably 3 different days went into tracking guitars alone. Parts of the instrumental for the bridge were recorded on a totally different day as well, to get all these various cool sounds; tambourine, shakers… and mallets, Riley’s idea. Just wanted everything to feel very in your face, but as laid back as possible for a punk song in the more intimate sections, like the verses and the middle-8. 

RMB: Tell us a little about the band. Who all is in it and how did you form? How long have you been together?

Tristan: Riley and I met first I think back in 2021 at an outdoor 5k music festival I think? Basically at the time Vallory Falls was based out of Massachusetts and with my partner living in Vermont I was really starting to think about gauging interest from musicians up North. Riley was super into it from the start, and I felt like our personalities just matched well. Riley actually started on bass and played their first show with VF in July of that year in Manchester, NH. After maybe a year, I had since moved up to VT and for the longest time Riley and I were looking for a drummer while we worked on a back catalog. The whole thing felt futile after a long time, countless tryouts that went nowhere and just a perceived lack of progress. It wasn’t until maybe early-mid 2022 I asked Riley if they would want to play drums for the band. I was nervous to ask because I knew they only had an electronic kit and obviously drums are the most expensive thing you would need to buy as a musician. But eventually you reach a point where you just say fuck it, I mean if you look hard enough someone, somewhere has got to be giving away a kit for basically nothing, right? Next thing you know, we’re on a road trip up near the Canada border picking up a kit from just that sort of dude who I guess had a bad back and couldn’t play anymore… and the rest of the band formed pretty quickly after that. Danny answered our craigslist ad in like, 1 hour. Our friend Julian was with us for a while, I met him at a Christmas party in St. Albans, VT. 

RMB: Who are some of your biggest musical influences? 

Tristan: Personally, I grew up on Blink-182 and Green Day. But when this project started I was listening to a lot of underground shit; Joyce Manor, especially. As well as Prince Daddy and the Hyena, The Wonder Years, Sorority Noise, Modern Baseball, Microwave. Really good, hooky, punk shit with insanely catchy lyrics. 

Danny: I’ve had a lot of influences from various genres over the years.  Started out with classic rock like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, CCR, and moved to Blink 182, Green Day, NewFoundGlory, which led me to my long hair, tube socks, and nail polish phase. Moved to alt/grunge like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and then added some hardcore punk like Leftover Crack/ Choking Victim. Also, had a Ska phase like Less than Jake, Mustard Plug, Koffin Kats.  The Killers and Muse and have a special place in my heart as well. Anything that makes me feel good and move around I’ll probably be into. Oh, and more bass the better!

RMB: What’s the one thing you are most proud of in your career so far?

Tristan: This new single for sure, it’s hard in words to express how stoked we are to have this out, to give people a taste of what we’ve been working on and what’s to come.

Danny: I’m grateful to have played in quite a few bands in my life that have all been quite different in musical style. I think I’ve taken bits and pieces from every band I’ve been with in terms of our writing process, and have tried to incorporate the various styles into something that I feel meshes well with Vallory Falls. It’s been awesome playing with Vallory, as everyone in the band is so talented and brings their own influences to the music.  I am so stoked about this new release! Can’t wait to get back in the studio and to record more for the EP. 

RMB: If you had to pitch your music to a potential fan in less than 10 seconds, what would you say?

Tristan: Bluesy New England sad pop punk that you enjoy with syrup on your waffles inside your Subaru hatchback in the parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts during a snowstorm. 

Danny: Can’t really beat that ^

RMB: What’s one piece of advice you’ve gotten that you think everyone needs to hear or that has meant the most to you?

Tristan: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Thanks, Dad. 

RMB: If you could go back in time, what’s a piece of advice you would give to a younger you?

Riley: College was a waste of time, just do music how you do it and don’t go through the classes and expenses. 

Danny: Just keep playing live music, the rest will sort itself out! 

RMB: What’s coming up next for your musical project?

Riley: Releasing two other singles and then our album right after that. We’re excited to show you more in the coming months!

Connect With Vallory Falls:       
Linktree / Spotify / Instagram


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