In February, things were looking up for Raleigh progressive metal band Valleys. The band’s debut album, Experiment One: Asylum was set to be released on February 12th, but just a week before, tragedy struck when the band’s co-vocalist, Michael Clement, was killed in a car accident. The band decided to move on without him, and filmed a video of one of the album’s most popular songs, “Desperate Me,” which incorporates not only live performance footage from a recent show, but also home video of Clement. It’s a touching tribute to the singer, and the band weighed in on the video itself and how they’re moving forward in the wake of his passing.
What are your thoughts about the “Desperate Me” video?
Guitarist R.J. Riggle: I remember when we were getting ready to get the album back and Mikey told me he didn’t want to hear it until it was completely finished and that “desperate me” was the one he wanted to hear first. It was his favorite song as far as I knew. If you listen to the lyrics, the song honestly speaks for itself, and since he’s been gone hearing it now it’s almost scary how accurate it portrays everyone’s life now. The whole album kind of seems that way. Having his mother in the video was a great thing and I personally wasn’t expecting it. Jaiden had a lot of gems up his sleeve. A lot of footage I thought was lost made him seem alive again for me. It’s definitely a tearjerker.
Drummer Robert Miekle: Capturing a memory from a picture or video can sometimes be overwhelming. You would never once think that a being so fragile could be taken away so easily. People don’t realize how short life can be until you lose someone close. Mikey knew quite some people and they saw him as a very joyous and outgoing guy. Mikey loved to be goofy and laugh, especially when the camera was out. I think this video captures a lot of times where he was at his happiest. We all had some good laughs and have plenty to remember him by.
Vocalist Jayson Mitchell: The video for me is a testimony to Mikey’s life, his passion, it’s us recognizing that this isn’t easy and facing our pain head on. I personally am glad that we can immortalize him like this. Some people may say “eh you guys are dragging this on,” but it’s quite the opposite. He was our friend and our brother, and as sharers of this passion for music, music that we all worked so long on, he lives on through every note of every song that hasn’t been written, every vocal melody that I haven’t sang, every video we haven’t filmed. We will always have him with us.
How has the band been moving forward in the wake of Mikey’s death?
RJR: After his funeral I thought to myself, I knew it wasn’t going to be impossible for us to move on because of how strong his family is and how much love we have for each other as best friends and bandmates. Granted there are days where we just want to be done with it and get to the next and almost every time something happens where were reminded of him and his jolly ass. Our most recent tour, and our first tour without him and his brother, was very different for me, not having them there. But the remainder of us grew stronger together’s, so many laughs were exchanged, it was all around a fun time for me. I kept it in my head that he was there with us the entire time. He wouldn’t have wanted us to stop and by no means will we be doing that. I want to reach all of the dreams he wanted to reach, for him.
RM: As we toss and turn trying to figure out what direction to go, we can only turn to one another for the guidance we need. Mikey would have wanted us to work together and make it out on top As a band we want to stay focused and just make him proud. That we didn’t sink and we’re here to shine through him. To have shared music so deply together is something very special and it will remain some of the best times of my life. Mikey has a big place in my heart and I know he will be here to help push us along the way.
JM: As for life outside of the band, it sucks. You try to go about your business but it’s always there in the back of your mind. Things change, people change, but we are a family and we won’t separate because we plan to keep this legacy alive. In the band I think everything that’s happened has brought us closer together for sure, we have each other’s backs ya know, we thank all the friends and family and fans that have helped us stay strong, you’re all champs. Now, back to writing these new songs.
Experiment One: Asylum is available now.