"We Are Terrible"- A Conversation With Val Glenn

I thought I met Val Glenn (also known as Time and Temperature) at the infamous Skylab show space in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio but gnarly have the times of yore been on thee ol' mynde and I stand corrected. I met Val when my old band Warmer Milks and (recently mentionedCadaver In Drag played a show with T+T and Jason Zeh in Bowling Green (get in the wayback time machine to year 200?).  I can tell the readers for a fact that we've kept in touch all this time and I believe Val to be 100% salt of the earth, a total talent and fuckin' hilarious. Most importantly, she is a fervent fan of "Dirt". Thanks to Val for the interview. Download here for the track "Eye Drops" from her upcoming split 7" with NYC pal Gloucester Pegasus Melody on Temple Glance Recordings as Val Glenn.  

Mikey- Can you tell me a bit about your childhood? Where were you born and raised? 

Val- I was born in Columbus, OH in 1983. My parents split up when I was 3 so I don’t remember them together. I grew up in a neighborhood on the north side that was all old people, young lawyers/doctors etc. and the surrounding areas were pretty rough so I had to outsource all my friends. There weren’t many kids who were into what I was into. My brother was into good music and skateboarding though, so I bonded with him a lot growing up. 

Mikey- Your brother plays music, right?

Val- Yeah, he started playing guitar when he was maybe 16 or 17. I used to sneak into his room when he was out partying and try to play it. After a couple years of that I eventually asked for my own. He played in hardcore bands when I was growing up. 

Mikey- How old were you when you started playing his guitar?

Val- I was playing his guitar around 8 or 9 but I got my first guitar when I was 11. 

Mikey- Wow. What kind of stuff were you playing by that age?

Val- Oh man, I mean…I listened to tons of pop when I was a kid but I was always super excited by guitar solos so occasionally I would branch out into hair metal. But when I was 9 I bought Alice In Chains “Dirt” and that was a huge pivot. So I took lessons for the first year and I totally wanted the “metal” guitar teacher who was into riffs and scales and sweeps and all that….but my dad hooked me up with the folk guy. 

Mikey- My first guitar teacher was a folk guy. That lasted all of one lesson. Then I got the metal guy. But eventually I was bringing in Lemonheads songs to learn and he would make fun of me. 

Val- Haha. Right, yeah. I stuck with him for a year. I would bring in tapes of Sonic Youth songs and be like “This is what I want to learn” and he would be like I don’t know what the hell is happening. 

Mikey- Right. 

Val- Which in hindsight, yeah, why would he. 

Mikey- Once I learned enough to write my own songs, I gave up lessons. 

Val- Exactly, same. I only did one year then I quit. Do you ever wish you would have learned a little bit more?

Mikey- No. Definitely not. I’m very comfortable with my knowledge (or lack thereof) on the guitar. I wish I would have taken drum machine/sampler/electronics lessons. Haha. 

Val- Oh wow. I feel totally different. I’m glad I don’t know anything about electronics because I feel more free to do whatever, but I wish I had learned more technique on guitar. Just a little bit, because I definitely can have some blind spots when it comes to writing my own music. 

Mikey- I haven’t written a song on the guitar in awhile. I bored myself to tears. 

Val- Guitar is so fucking boring. 

Mikey- Tell me about it. 

Val- I narrowed it down to being completely sick to death of my setup. I am so over my “tone”, it sucks. 

Mikey- That’s a good scapegoat. 

Val- I mean it's pretty fucking true. The sounds that are coming out of my guitar and amp are like…triggering kind of. Like they carry kind of bad memories in a way, doesn’t that make sense? It feels icky. 

Mikey- It completely makes sense. I find guitars very triggering. I’m currently learning how to make music with software. I have no idea what I’m doing but I currently feel as if I’m in a “safe place” with it. 

Val- Guitar carries a lot of grief for me and I feel like you can probably relate. But I don’t want to abandon it completely. When I listen to my old songs I actually get wistful about how I loved that instrument and how it really did show. And part of me isn’t ready to completely abandon that “relationship”. I just don’t want to be limited to it or care about it or talk about it or…you know.

Mikey- Exactly. Guitar culture is the worst. 

Val- You know how it is. People take their instruments way too fucking seriously and its actually like, dude…relax. 

Mikey- Most music instrument culture is the worst. 

Val- Yeah, it's super questionable. I kinda understand it because you do have to be sort of cunning to get a good thing going. Good stuff isn’t cheap and that’s kind of a point of pride for people regardless of whether they grew up rich or poor. Like everyone is proud of their acquisitions. But it's also annoying. Just play. 

Mikey- I don’t have the money to flesh out a massive set up. Nor do I want to. I just want to express myself with a few tools. Let the magic flow. 

Val- Yeah I've always appreciated limitations. In hindsight, I do wish I’d prioritized a little better, personally. Like I still have a fucking horrible recording setup. It’s the most slapdash bullshit ever. I kinda wish I’d put some money into that. 

Mikey- I see what you mean. I wish I would have put more energy into my creative pursuits in my 20’s/30’s as opposed to whatever else I was wasting my time on whether that was partying, relationships or higher education. A lot of those efforts have since gone to the wayside whereas I’m still creating today. 

Val- Life is so distracting. One hundred percent. Same. But, I don’t know, it’s harder to compartmentalize those things when you’re young. It all feels like it's supposed to be like an ecosystem; you’re in a cool band, people like you, you party, you meet someone you want to date, you don’t disappoint your family or your crew…I didn’t realize until I got older that some of those things are infinitely more important to me. “Having it all” is not actually the goal. Having what you want is. 

Mikey- Yes. I appreciate a good balance these days. Sometimes things still get away from me at times but I get better at it with age (hopefully). 

Val- I don’t think I really have a balance right now. 

Mikey- Oh yeah? 

Val- It has been good to restructure my priorities and pay more attention to my family and tending to my real friendships and taking better care of myself, but I thought it would translate into having a better foundation for creativity. But I’ve sort of developed a phobia about going back into that world because I never had balance. It was my entire life. And I never want that again. I feel like I don’t have enough to show for it. 

Mikey- You mean for an audience, for yourself or both? 

Val- Totally for myself. I never got to fall in love, I didn’t spend time with my dad, I moved like 30 times in the last 15 years, I was too wasted. I spent too much time around people who…not only do I actually have very little in common with but I never even fucking liked their music. I just spun my wheels until they were bald. But also I think doing that meant that I didn’t ever really find a value in connecting with an “audience”. I wanted to play generator shows in burnt out school buses forever. I had no end game plan really. I definitely wasn’t like “I want to play Lollapalooza." 

Mikey- I remember a show you played years ago where you had everyone tie a string to one another’s wrists and then to yours, creating a “circuit” of sorts…

Val- I think that was the first show we played together!

Mikey- I believe it was too. 

Val- I loved doing things like that. It was fun when it was simple and there was space for something magical and unexpected to happen. 

Mikey- There was so much excitement in the air at that time. Felt untouchable. For me, participating in underground music/arts was my whole world. 

Val- With Time and Temperature, the more intimate it could be, the more electric it was. I’m not really a performer per se. I liked it best when everyone was sort of on this equal footing in the experience. It’s also why I love getting heckled I think. 

Mikey- I liked to rile people up. Get them upset. Not in all phases. But there was a period, like Iggy or something. But yes, that connection…

Val- Yeah, like…we are all just people in a room, why not yell out something? It’s allowed. 

Mikey- I remember opening for US Maple years ago. Solo performance. Real agitated noise type deal. I think the project was called “Maggoth”. 

Val- Nice

Mikey- It was at this kind of bigger spot in town and there was this guy there in the audience, he was a “real” musician. He yelled at me through the whole set. I remember it really upset me at the time. But now I’m like, “that’s great!”. 

Val- Ahh see, I love that. 

Mikey- He was moved. He yelled “ANYBODY CAN DO THAT!”. Hahhha. EXACTLY DUDE. 

Val- Right, exactly. Except, not actually. 

Mikey- Yeah, I’m guessing it took guts at the time to go up on a stage in a jock bar and scream into a delay pedal about god knows what. 

Val- I just saw a bunch of indie rock peerage types play the worst improv sets ever. So really not everybody can do it. 

Mikey- Other thing of note about that show is that the guitarist of US Maple had a scarf on but when I met him after the show I realized it was just toilet paper. 

Val- Now that is hilarious. I just had a conversation with this dude who is a tour manager and he was telling me this hilarious heckling story and I was like "AMAZING" and he was like “No, you don’t do that to the "THE ARTIST”. Which made me laugh even more. Like what the fuck kind of rarified gaslit universe do you think this is, dude?! I love it when people yell out “YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL”.

Mikey- That’s a good one. 

Val- Because to me, it’s like, I didn’t make the rules. I never said I was, someone else made that the standard. 

Mikey- But at the same time, they are wrong. We are ALL special. We all deserve to get up there and make some noise. 

Val- Right, right…I like to think that we’re all NOT special which is why we're in the performance together. But I guess if it ruins someone else's experience to have that attitude, that’s worth considering. 

Mikey- “Special” and “Not Special” are the same thing. 

Val- Yeah, I agree. 

Mikey- We’re all going to die. 

Val- But musicians die less because our recordings live forever. We die less even if no one is listening. 

Mikey- I live by this opinion every day. It’s why I open up the laptop, start up my GarageBand and record my teakettle blowing. Someday, someone will understand. 

Val- Hahah. My GarageBand has system overload every time I open it. I’m telling you, it's bleak over here. Am I being too much of a downer? 

Mikey- No way. Do you need a bathroom break or anything? Order a pizza? 

Val- Uh, no. I actually took my laptop into the loo with me so there wouldn’t be a break in the conversation.. That was like 30 minutes ago. 

Mikey- I managed to make some tea, eat a banana and listen to Aphex Twin. 

Val- So can we talk about pop music/bad music for a sec? 

Mikey- I’m very into music at the moment. I listen to it nonstop. Except for when I’m sleeping. 

Val- I always thought of you as being very into music. I remember that New Year's I came to Lexington and stayed at your house. You were up until 4 listening to music by yourself while everyone else was sleeping. And I actually woke up a couple of times like “dude what is that?”. You’re a vault. 

Mikey- I wonder what I was listening to? 

Val- I think the entire early 90’s Matador catalog. Haha. 

Mikey- I must have been drunk. 

Val- It was New Year’s Eve. 

Mikey- It was also the 2010’s. 

Val- Yeah, that too. Fuzzy times. 

Mikey- Ugh. 

Val- I’ve been listening to a lot more pop music lately.

Mikey- Oh yeah? Highlights?

Val- That kid Zayn. I think he was in One Direction. He’s a maniac. I listen to his record from a couple years ago a lot. 

Mikey- What’s it called? 


Mikey- Hang on, lemme give it a quick listen. 

Val- It’s kinda long. 

Mikey-I put it on the track “Pillowtalk”. Listening now….nope. Next. 

Val- Listen to “Bright”

Mikey- Ok. One second. I’m watching the “lyric video”. 

Val- Pop albums are like…you have to LOVE one or two songs enough to listen to an hour of unknowns. I listen to a lot of “bad” music honestly. I get more out of it than listening to cool music. 

Mikey- (still listening to “Bright”): I like the production. That beat is nice. This is pretty good. 

Val- “Like I do” is good too. 

Mikey- What else are you listening to?

Val-  Well I’ve been listening to a lot of Gangsta Boo and Mike Jones. That's not bad music. That's fucking great music. I’m obsessed with that production. Also Roisin Murphy always, she’s also incredible. The first TLC album. I’ve realized I’m actually just really into psychotic production. 

Mikey- Gangsta Boo is great. Modern rap production is out of this world. Very magical. I have a great female rapper playlist I listen to on the bus a lot. Well, it’s a combination of female rappers and 90’s drum n bass.

Val- Yeah, rap production has always been magical but right now its like no one gives a fuck about going too far out there. 

Mikey- I love when I’m into something else and I remember rap and it's like a mind blower all over again. 

Val- You know I feel like I appreciate it so much more as an adult. I was such a softie when I was a kid. 

Mikey- Completely…have you heard the new Kendrick? I’m currently into this song (sends over “We Cry Together” ft. Taylour Paige).

Val- Haven’t yet. I don’t like him as much as I want to….listening now. 

Mikey- The track is pretty much just a couple fighting. They’re angry at each other. 

Val- Oh man. Hahah. I have so much to say about this, this is not my thing. This is a good performance though. 

Mikey- Taylour Paige’s rapping is great. She shines. 

Val- Yeah I’m interested. Her voice is amazing. She is totally shining. 

Mikey- Their yelling makes me nervous. Hahaha. 

Val- I know, me too, total softie. I’m such a production head. This is a snooze. I think Kendrick is very cute though. I mean, he’s just gorgeous. I don’t know if Im redeeming myself or not…if he ever reads this…I once dated someone who liked Lana Del Rey and I was “fuck, I’m in danger”. And I was in danger. You can tell a lot about a person by what mainstream music they’re into. 

Mikey- What’s the deal with Lana Del Ray? I tried to get into her for a minute but her music didn’t really stick with me. 

Val- I mean she’s just got a real chaotic daddy issues vibe. She’s a codependent nightmare, lyrically speaking. 

Mikey- Ah, a lot of dudes are into that I bet. 

Val- It’s a red flag. Like if I was into Machine Gun Kelly or something…not that I know what he sounds like. But I can guess it’s a red flag. Someone is going to hate me for saying that. 

Mikey- I liked Lil' Peep for a few weeks but it started bumming me out. 

Val- That’s funny. Have you heard of that kid Tommy Cash? That’s a red flag. 

Mikey- No I have not. 

Val- I say I like bad music but I won’t go there. Like I don’t go into self-loathing territory, just uncool. Like I’m really into CKY but that’s not a sign I hate myself. They’re just uncool. 

Mikey- I know who they are but I’ve never heard them. 

Val- Great riffs, honestly. I’m for them. 

Mikey- But they use the classic Ozzy Osbourne font. Which is sacrilegious to me. 

Val- You gotta give them a chance! 

Mikey- Probably won’t. The Ozzy font is a red flag. 

Val- You’re missing out Mikey. 

Mikey- Okay, okay, I will try to check it out. 

Val- Uncool music is such a tightrope. This is part of why I love it. You’re so vulnerable. 

Mikey- Yes. I feel like I need a bath now. But I took a chance. With someone I trust. No regrets. 

Val- I know how to clear a room.

Mikey- I’m trying to think of something bad I like. 

Val- I used to make mixtapes of music like this for people when they needed other people to go home. 

Mikey- Amazing. 

Val- But honestly! Like I’m not listening to St. Vincent, thank god. I have standards. And I’m not taking it seriously. 

Mikey- What about emo or pop punk? I like some choice stuff from the 90’s.

Val- That stuff doesn’t count. If it was cool at the time but it just didn’t age well, it doesn’t count. It has to be like, social suicide. 

Mikey- Ah, okay. 

Val- But with merit. You like the Chili Peppers. That’s controversial. I love them. 

Mikey- Oh yeah but not so much anymore. 

Val- Oh come on. 

Mikey- I don’t like the new single

Val- Haven’t heard it. 

Mikey- I go back and forth with them. But it’s like a family I guess. You fight a lot. And then you make up. Did you read Flea’s book?

Val- I’m not a completist, they’ve made some stuff that makes me a little nauseous, I just think they’re incredible anyway. No I haven’t I forgot about it! 

Mikey- It’s great.

Val- I listened to Anthony’s book on tour when it came out. 

Mikey- I read Keidis’ book three times. 

Val- Isn’t it great?

Mikey- The last time I read it, I felt so nauseous. I no longer own a copy.

Val- I am so glad my brain isn’t like his. And my brain is not great. But at least it’s not that. 

Mikey- It’s like a map of how to not be. 

Val- Are we off task? 

Mikey- Yes, I know the clock is ticking for you. 

Val- I have 15 minutes. 

Mikey- Do you believe in aliens? UFOs?

Val- Yeah, I believe in them. I used to be afraid of abduction when I was a kid. I’m not afraid of that anymore. In fact, I’d welcome it now. 

Mikey- Does this somehow tie into any spiritual practice you might have (if you currently have one)?

Val- I wouldn’t say it ties in, no. But I’ve always been a very spiritual person. I don’t like to turn any good idea away spiritually, but I don’t subscribe to any one practice. In a way, I wish I did so I had a routine, but mostly I just pray to something. Which sounds like I’m in AA but I’m not. I believe in a “god” of sorts. I believe humans are tiny and unimportant and the things we do are essentially meaningless. But I like to believe in some higher cosmic order. I don’t like the idea that everything is just random chaos. Well, chaos isn’t necessarily a bad word. Spiritually speaking, I think chaos is good. But you know what I mean. 

Mikey- Completely. 

Val- I don’t believe there are no forces above us because that would be horrible. 

Mikey- Yes. That would be a bummer. 

Val- We are terrible. 

Mikey- Are you currently working on any music at home? 

Val- No. I am in therapy instead. But I want to be in a band. 

Mikey- What kind of band?

Val- I want to be in the best new wave band in America. No exceptions. 

Mikey- You do a talk show/livecast type deal. Can you tell me about it?

Val- Yeah! Mid pandemic I was looking for something creative that wasn’t music, so I started a talk/variety show on Instagram called Clean Routine. Most of the time I interview artists and musicians but sometimes we go off-road and play an absurd game for two hours. My baseline is to give people a chance to be themselves ultimately because journalists can make you sound the wrong kind of stupid. But if people don’t want to talk about themselves they can do whatever they want. 

Mikey- I hope that Kendrick track wasn’t too much of a buzzkill. 

Val- Not at all. But I am gonna listen to some Master P now. Give me that thin, thin production. 

Mikey- That sounds great. 

Val- Thanks for chatting with me, Mikey! Hope there’s something useful in there. 

Mikey- This has been great. Thank you so much! Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers out there? 

Val- Dua Lipa is pretty good. She’s the best pop star we’ve got right now in my opinion. 


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