Last week, the couple drove from the Austin SXSW showcase to a gig in Louisiana. After that, they trekked back to Texas to play shows in San Antonio and Houston. The geographic spiral is one more jaunt in an endless tour loop, which has kept the band on the road continuously for a full year-and-a-half. The two have long since quit their day jobs.
Both halves of Jucifer began performing relatively young. Valentine began as a solo singer/songwriter in northern Georgia at age 17. At 10, Livengood picked up the violin. By age 15, he was also proficient on the trumpet, and the upright and electric bass, performing at parties in and around the D.C. area. Jucifer's musical influences are non-genre denominational; they draw inspiration from a divergent spectrum, referencing everything from Bob Dylan to Minor Threat. This creative range is echoed in Valentine's vocals, which careen from a whisper to a scream without warning.
Jucifer formed in 1993 as a trio, but quickly dropped its artistic third wheel. As a two-piece, the band has suffered inevitable comparisons with reigning alt-rock darlings the White Stripes. In truth, such comparisons begin and end with a simple head count. Valentine
| JUCIFER |
Thursday, March 20
"Unlike a lot of couples out there," says Valentine, "we actually enjoy each other's company. Some people actually maintain their relationships by not spending time together. When you are with someone as long as we've been together, you become a part of each other. But we haven't lost our self identities. We definitely allow each other to be our own person, which is uncommon. I do feel very lucky in that respect."
Jucifer's recent release, I Name You Destroyer (Velocette Records), was well-received by critics nationwide. Many marveled at the duo's ability to fill a vast sound space normally allotted to full-blown, cock-rock orchestras. The band, however, remains ambivalent, unable to decide if the recording is everything they expected it to be. "Honestly," says Valentine, "both of us tend to be able to listen to our recordings objectively only after a significant amount of time has passed. After we recorded our first album, I don't think we listened to it all the way through for several years. I think distance is key. Check back in a few years." •