Sitting on the fence is the current EP from Newcastle (Australia)’s Velvet Lane. What are the band’s favorite tracks on the EP?
It’s a throw up between My Dear, Harlequin Lover, and Brian Jones, although we obviously have a soft spot for all of the tracks. Len (the bass player) really likes Harlequin Lover, although our collective favourite is most likely My Dear. Brian Jones was a bit of a grungy track trying to take piss out of (make fun of) the aggressive, tattooed-macho-male-steroid character that has seems to have exploded in Australian drinking culture. Lyrically we enjoy the contempt we have of this fictionalized character that for no particular reason shares a name with an ex-Rolling Stones band member. My Dear is probably the most radio friendly, and I just like that people think it’s a typical boy-girl love song, which it ain’t.
What process of song-writing and arranging does the band employ?
This is pretty straightforward answer; Rhys Tranter (the person answering the questions) is the main songwriter in the band. Usually I will come up with the basic structure, melody and lyrics of the track. There is no formal process to the song writing, either it’s an idea I have in my head, like a melody, or a theme I want to write about, or something I am noodling on with the guitar/bass or piano. If I think it’s good enough, I then take it to the band and as a team we turn it inside out, and try and figure out if a) it works and b) how to get the most out of the track. I believe the arranging part is the most fun as everyone gets to collaborate as a team and offer their opinions on how to layer and arrange the rhythmic and tonal qualities of the song. Part of my insecurities mean I would prefer for others to write as well, or that songs come out of a ‘jam’ session per se, but the best way we have figured out to work is by the method I just described. Len is a brilliant songwriter, and is my cousin; hopefully he will decide to include some of his own tunes in the set list one day.
Your tracks are longer than many currently receiving radio play. What traits does the band possess that make the tracks a must-listen?
Good question. We do have long tracks. Part of us as a band feels that, hell, if the groove and the story we are telling in the song is worth it, then we owe it to ourselves to see where it goes and not focus too much on the length. Obviously, we are not exactly a pop band, and being more psych-rock – sometimes the structure isn’t exactly coherent and can go in odd places. We may change this in the future, and try and limit ourselves to 3minute pop-rock tracks, but we’ll see.
I spent some time thinking what makes the tracks worthwhile, and it’s hard to answer without coming across as arrogant and conceited. But in saying that, we probably believe that we really have some growing room as a band because this is early days for us, and secondly we feel that for some listeners out there, the typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus tune can be predictable. We get that we’re not the catchiest sounding band, but if you give our songs a listen they grow on you, like some viral infection that you need to see a doctor for. But yeah, I guess we have a sense of humour, we don’t mind making fun of ourselves and we believe by working hard and not taking ourselves too seriously we will win over fans. Surely there has to be some merit in having a personality in music these days. As well, our music is definitely layered, it might not be instantly accessible but if you listen to it in a dark room with headphones on, you’ll find some depth there either with what we are wiring about or the melody, or something, I don’t know.
Which artists are the greatest influences for you and your music?
Well, really if we’re going to be honest it’s mostly music from the 60’s and 70’s. We all have an eclectic taste and will happily listen to Mozart or Coltrane, and even dodgy 90’s pop. But for this style of music, well, the 60’s was the moment advant garde took centre stage and that is really what we love in this style of music, that and krautrock. We love: the Beatles, the Kinks, Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, 10 Years After, Rolling Stones, Can, Cream, Robin Trower Trio, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, the Byrds – the list goes on. We also love grunge like Nivarna, and Mudhoney. The two key guys that influence us the most are probably Syd Barrett and John Lennon.
How can individuals hear your music?
If you don’t live in Australia then you probably won’t be able to see us live anytime soon unless some miracle happens (for us of course) and we make a breakthrough and build up an international fan base.
But you can listen to us online, through Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and Triple J unearthed – just search Velvet Lane and we’ll pop up.
We have also signed up for some streaming sites (Veromuse) and have our music on iTunes. You can definitely order our EP through band camp, and if you contact us through our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/velvetlanes) you can order a physical copy of our EP and we’ll post it if you prefer to not have a digital copy.
If you live in Australia, look out, we’ll be playing live somewhere near you soon!
What does the rest of 2015 hold for you?
Really, just trying to build up our profile. Hoping to support some good bands at gigs, and tour around the east coast of Australia. We plan to do some more interviews, and get our EP reviewed – maybe a photo-shoot and a video clip of one of our songs.
The fun stuff will really be doing a single in June, and having it mixed by a professional (we mixed Sitting on the fence by ourselves), in August we plan to work on our second EP and really try and make a concise and tight EP. We have a bit of a plan of attack with a shift in direction for our sound, and mostly 2015 will be about playing live music! It’s the best thing about being a musician playing live, and trying to win over people in the audience who have no idea who you are – see if you play covers it’s easy to get an audience involved, but a whole lot harder if you are trying to sell original songs to people who have never heard them before.
How are social media services different from the traditional face-to-face meetings that musicians traditionally utilize with live dates?Are the types of fans different between online and offline interactions?
For us it’s a matter of being flexible with bookings, and using the mediums that booking agents and venues prefer. Some are happy to have a phone conversation, and meet face-to-face, while others prefer contact through emails and Facebook for live dates. There really is no traditional format for this anymore; with the advent of social media things have changed, for better or worse. For us it can feel a bit disingenuous and unauthentic at times, as your trying to build relationships with booking agents in an impersonal setting. They can just choose to ignore your emails if they wish, or ignore Facebook messages when you are trying to book live dates, which wouldn’t happen if it were face-to-face. As for fans, you probably get your fans that are the ‘regular’ punters so to speak, and listen to your music and may like it, but won’t follow you up, unless you’re playing a local venue near them. Conversely you will have your ‘typical’ online fan that may like your Facebook posts and download your music but won’t turn up to see you play live.
What sort of twists and turns will Velvet Lane include on their new LP? What was left on the cutting room floor from the recording process on Sitting on the fence to the finished work?
We definitely are in the process of doing our next EP! Really excited about it as well, we probably can’t afford an LP as of yet, but are keen on finishing the next bunch of tracks for a follow up. We really want to write something a little bit more polished, and a bit more melodically pleasing for listeners. We have most of the tracks worked out, and it is just finding time to get them practiced to the point we feel comfortable recording them. It will still be as psychedelic and hard rock sounding, but this experience has taught us vocals need to be brought to the forefront as it’s the first thing that typically grabs a listener. It was a learning experience recording, producing and mixing our own stuff, but we are glad we did it. As for songs left on the cutting room floor for ‘Sitting on the Fence’, well there weren’t really any. We had a clear idea of what we wanted, two or three songs maybe should have made it, but we kind of preferred to pay someone else to produce and mix those tracks. Our first EP was a DYI effort.
Do you have any other thoughts for NeuFutur’s readers?
No, I can’t think of anything positive or heartwarming to win over your readers over.
Thank you so much for the time.
Velvet Lane Interview