For over a decade now, Casey Di lorio's musician colleagues have asked him for help making a record. Nowadays, it's the basket he puts all of his creative eggs into, at his own Valve Studios.
Di Iorio played in One Ton Records-signed rock outfit Valve back in the day, who had quite the fun run around the turn of the millennium. Now married, a new father, and owner of a recording studio named after his former band, he seems busier than he ever was as a young touring local music rockstar. He's been producing, engineering, and even playing a little here and there on new music from artists like Dylan Silvers' (DARYL, The Crash That Took Me) new project These Machines Are Winning, Polyphonic Spree and, going back further, tons of stuff by Here Holy Spain and Bowling For Soup.
Valve, the band, started in 1997. Correct? When did that band's window start to close?
Indeed. We were doing pretty well in college radio in 2001. And the girl that booked Nada Surf helped us set up our first tour up into the northeast, into New York and to play CMJ. Then, two days before leaving, 9-11 happened. Everything was canceled. That's probably around when we peaked....we kept playing for a little while into the next year...and we were looked at a few times during SXSW...but nothing panned out and we lost our momentum.
And did the idea to carry on the name, in the form of a studio, come right away?
Yeah, I was actually calling the studio Valve while we were playing....somewhat out of laziness for a name...and somewhat that it seemed to work. I actually never set out on paper to make a studio....me and my first drummer Lance moved into the space to live and rehearse while we were touring etc. I just started recording...buying gear...and kept getting asked to make records.
Late 90's was a fun time in Dallas music,yes? The One-Ton-fueled scene of rock bands, etc.
Definitely....it was a great time. Tony Edwards from One Ton was one of the biggest supporters of local music...his energy was contagious. At that time, I would just go to Deep Ellum and watch shows...I was lucky enough to get into most places so you could just go from from club to club and catch everyone's sets...you'd be at Tress then Orbit Room then Gypsy Tea Room or Dada all in one night. It was great.
Tony is still a whirlwind of support and enthusiasm! Do you have DFW favorites from back in the heyday?
There's many. But, from back in that time period, a couple things that are stuck in my brain are Funland...love that last record. Peter Schmidt I owe one to! While he was recording his solo record with Matt Pence at my practice space in Denton, he left some Guided by Voices discs. I had never heard 'em. 10 years later I had Doug Gillard from GBV here at the studio which was amazing. I have fond memories of the early Centro-matic shows up in Denton. "Fidgeting Wildly" off Redo the Stacks is still an amazing song. James Hall performing at the Dark Room in Dallas were special shows. His vocals and performance in that small of a venue was unbelievable. The Flaming Lips show at Trees with the hundreds of Xmas lights was one of my top 5 club shows...watched that one from the sound booth with James. Was packed. And Dylan Silvers' bands I've always been a fan of and lucky enough to produce some of the records... from Daryl to The Crash That Took Me and now These Machines are Winning. "Julianne" is a great song.
How did you end up immersed in all this locally? Where did the interest start?
Completely organic. I was up in Denton at UNT, and really was immersed in playing and going to shows...that's all I did I never owned a TV. Bands like Centro-Matic were starting out and that whole wave from up there...with Valve, we were playing a lot. That allowed us to meet a lot of different bands...when I moved to Dallas, I basically was in Deep Ellum anytime we weren't playing, rehearsing or recording.
And before that? Were you a music kid? Did you have a little record player of your own?
I had a Fisher Price turntable. I would "borrow" my Mom's records. My mom was an early and big influence. She had so many records...early Elton John, Beatles, Stones, Bowie, Beach Boys...just so many rock records. I just sat in our downstairs living room in front of the turntable listening to music for hours while checking out the album cover. I did piano competitions for a while when I was really young in Chicago. Then I dove full on into guitar. I'd basically come home from school and go straight to my room, close the door and play to records. I never did anything musical at school until UNT....I was super confused when I came to Texas and they offered "band"...and there was no guitar. I walked out with my mom.
So, you are a multi-instrumentalist. I had a feeling. Now that you mainly only play in the studio, have you become even more proficient at multiple instruments?
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I started on piano at age 5 or 6, and guitar at 10. I kinda lived and breathed those instruments in high school and in Denton. I ended up having to play bass on a few records later that producers whipped me into shape on. So for most rock records, I can sing or play things that are needed whether keys, guitars or bass.
Toughest local artist challenge to work with in the studio?
I would say last year's work on the new Polyphonic Spree record Yes, It's True was challenging...but also some of the most rewarding. There is so much instrumentation and parts that everything had to be in it's place and doing it's job. Basically orchestrating every song...every part. Tim is so super creative and always pushed for the song to sound inspiring at the end of the day on the studio monitors...no fixing it later ...which is a philosophy I've always been a big believer in. I always have felt like if there are not bumps in the road while you are recording, you aren't doing something right...or someone's lying....ha....when you have many very creative and passionate people in a room, they are not going to all be thinking the same thing all the time. But that friction is where something great comes out of. As long as it all turns out in the end (as in this case) , it's all worth it.