Vern and the Spacemen is the solo project of Trey Shilts, a musician from Los Angeles whose skills span a variety of musical genres and instruments. Shilts describes this project as "genre-less," as each song he produces includes elements of various musical styles.
Originally from Red Bluff, a small town in Northern California, Shilts began performing music by playing piano on Friday nights for Drug Addicts Anonymous/Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at his church.
Shilts moved to Los Angeles in 2021, and started going to local shows with his friends from Rowdy P. After putting out the album Slow Wave from Vern and the Spacemen, Shilts drew the attention of other individuals in the scene and began joining bands while continuing to work on his solo project. Currently, Shilts plays in the bands Strange Nondeath and Finish Postcard on top of Vern and the Spacemen.
For Vern and the Spacemen, Shilts records every instrument himself.
"I play a little bit of everything, but I’m really more of a songwriter than an instrumentalist, if that makes sense," Shilts said. "So I can get by on piano, I like to write on piano and guitar the most, but I’ve also recorded on trumpet, I’ve recorded bass, drums, in high school I played sousaphone… I can play a little bit of a lot of instruments."
The newest release from Vern and the Spacemen, There is Peace in the Eternal Valley, will be coming out this summer, Shilts says.
This new EP is rather different from previous works released for the project, which are reminiscent of early MGMT, utilizing synthesizers to create a more electronic sound. There is Peace in the Eternal Valley has more of an acoustic singer-songwriter sound — heavily influenced by a breakup Shilts went through in November of 2021.
"I think more broadly the songs are just about feelings that we all kind of go through, if we’re in a relationship, or not, if one is ending or not, it’s all about connection and loss and feeling stuck, feeling free, feeling stuck in freedom," said Shilts. "It’s cheesy, but a lot of the things that we feel are really universal, even if they feel really particular to the situation we’re in."
The name of the album is inspired by the slogan of a cemetery that Shilts came across during his work as a true crime podcast producer.
"I was giving feedback on this show that had to do with this cemetery and the slogan is, 'There is Peace in the Eternal Valley,' and I was like, 'That is so epic and dramatic,'" Shilts said. "It’s perfect for this silly little breakup EP, because it’s like, small feelings can feel really big and it’s like, ‘The Eternal Valley,’ what’s more big than that?"
While the new album will not be available for streaming until the summer, Shilts will be performing some new songs live. The next Vern and the Spacemen show will take place on April 8, with a setlist comprised of half new songs and half old songs.
"For this [show], I’m kind of interpreting the songs to be played by two people. It’ll be me and one other person. I’ll have an acoustic guitar and they’ll have an electric guitar with kind of a whole array of pedals to accomplish all the different sounds that are necessary," Shilts said.
You can catch Vern and the Spacemen live for free this Friday, April 8 in Venice, Calif. More show information available here.
Vern and the Spacemen is available for streaming on all platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp and YouTube. Stay up to date with new releases and upcoming shows by following Vern and the Spacemen on Instagram.