Seattle’s Craft Spells kicked off their 2015 ‘Nausea’ North American tour with a start at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. The five-piece band played a blend of old and new tracks to a crowd of fans from all across the Bay Area and beyond. Justin Paul Vallesteros, the band’s front man, exchanged some post-show words with Ellenwood EP on Feb. 26 in a five minute interview about the project’s album art, upcoming Burgerama performance, and about coming full circle, back to the city that served as a big inspiration.
How’d you come up with the name Craft Spells for the project?
I made it up while I was playing this game called Dragon Quest 8. It’s a reference to that because you can craft spells.
Who would you credit as your biggest influences?
Biggest influences would be, as cliche as it is, my friends and family. And the atmosphere that I’m in, wherever I am.
You showed a lot of love for San Francisco tonight and it’s clear that this city means a lot to you. You mentioned that you saw a lot of bands here back in the day. Anyone stick out to you and how did that shape your career?
I saw Mount Eerie twice here. I’m a huge Phil Elverum fan. Knowing that I would be playing here is just insane. Coming to shows earlier, talking to people and bands back then — it’s crazy that I get to do it now, and to be on that stage is ridiculous. I came to the city a lot as a kid to watch shows. There was more than just the CD and the vinyl to me. There was always that time a band would come to San Francisco. You’d get so excited and pile in a car and go. You get so pumped and you want to go home and write something or jam, and make music with friends. It’s a shame that the DIY scene here is not that great, but I’m glad that this was all ages.
Yeah! And I feel like not only you have a lot of love for your fans but your fans have a lot of love for you.
Yeah, my family was here, my friends from back home. It’s overwhelming. Very emotional
Overall, how has touring been so far?
It’s been good. We just back from Europe two months and this is the first day of this ‘Nausea’ American tour. So far, it clearly felt really good. I’m glad to just to start the tour off like that. It could’ve been a bummer (laugh).
You have Burgerama next month – what’s up with that?
Weezer! Yeah that’s cool. Beach Fossils are going to be there and they’re like our closest friends playing. A lot of bands I want to catch, I can’t even recall them right now. I know I want to go see Weezer and I think Bone Thugs [n Harmony] is in the same day.
How do you develop the concept for your album art and get connected with those artists?
The way I usually work with writing songs or compiling is I start with an idea of the theme. I find photo references and sometimes I’ll have that album art set up months and months before I start cracking on the songs. But with Nausea I found the album art last minute, which was insane because the album art matched the album perfectly. The name ‘Nausea’ came because I was a big fan of the book Nausea by [Jean-Paul] Sartre. Other than that, I understood the modern version of it, how it deals with today. I wanted to touch base with that because I was going through that—living in this kind of city, you really feel a dense, emotional space. I live in Seattle and I usually go up there half of the year, either touring or working on stuff.
What’s next for 2015?
I’m writing—and it’s not going to take three years. It’ll be sooner than everyone thinks, which is cool.