The Velveteen Band successfully completed a kickstarter for their new album coming out in September. Even with all that activity, we got a chance to talk with them a bit about, well, everything.
The Velveteen Band is an eclectic musical side show which delivers a wonderland dreamscape, set to capture the imagination and rock you to the core. The theatrical rock ensemble features puppets on vocals, a deranged mad scientist, and is led by a six foot trumpet playing rabbit named the Baron Von Velveteen.
Foe the Destroyer, you’re the lead singer of The Velveteen Band. Before you plot our doom, tell us a bit about how you found the band (or they found you) and what led you to becoming their lead singer? – and maybe include a bit about your name.
First of all, Have you turned on the news lately? You’re plotting your own doom! All I have to do is sit back and watch. Secondly, I’m A Singer in the band, not THE singer. You can’t pin all the blame on me like that! As far as how I ended up in the band they needed cheap labor and I’m made of felt. So it was a natural fit. My name is a different matter. “The Destroyer” is more of a family name, goes back generations. The stories I could tell about my great grandmother Edna The Destroyer are HILARIOUS… cruel and horrific, but hilarious nonetheless.
Fum, you’re no second fiddle to Foe, although you do backing vocals. Still, you’re voiced by Cap’n Dan, the band manager. Describe the process you (and the band) goes through when planning one of your awesome videos.
Process? Planning? A Jedi craves not these things. Also, Professor Z says to tell you our videos are 90% improv, and 700% editing. I don’t think he understands math.
Claire, as the keeper of the Fum and Foe (and the puppeteer for Fum), which one is more difficult to manage (Foe seems like quite a character to try and be his keeper)? Do you spend a lot of time with Daniel, the voice of Fum, working on the lyrics to keep in-sync?
Foe is a butthole, but he listens when you’re firm. To me, at least. Fum is actually more difficult to keep because he keeps breaking his ears partying and dancing too much, at least Foe has the decency to never lose a shoe. As for practicing with Dan… we never practice, maybe if we did it could be even better? But the truth is Dan and I have been married 8+ years, and known each other for 14, I could finish his sentences so it’s not so much that we practice as I know exactly what he’s going to say, when he’s going to say it. In Spanish or English.
Professor Z, you are tasked with containing Foe’s range, you also handle the keyboards. What is your secret and what is Foe’s range (and what does Foe think it is?)?
My secret is, I don’t contain anything. Foe’s been running loose for three years and the band’s none the wiser. #science!
Okay, wow. Scratch that. There’s no secret; you just have to jog circles around him mentally. Which isn’t really difficult, because he has no legs, and tiny little mental feet.
You should know, for example, that Foe will never read any further than the first paragraph into an answer. Not even one that he’s obsessed with finally cracking. He can’t do it. Feels too much like research.
Baron von Velveteen, you play both Trumpet and Guitar. Which one did you learn first? It is an interested combination of instruments (not easy to play both at the same time). How much did you intend on incorporation both instruments into the band’s ‘sound’ at the beginning?
I learned Trumpet when I was just a weeee bunny, and learned guitar soon after. The songs are very guitar driven, so I typically start writing with guitar, but many of the melodies I write on the trumpet. I want these melodies to get stuck in people’s heads, so trumpet lends itself very well for writing them.
Christopher, who would you say is a major influence to your driving drumming style for the music of the band?
My influences come from a very wide variety of drummers and music groups from the past 50 years. Off the top of my head, some of my favorite styles that help contribute to The Velveteen Band sound come from such groups like Steely Dan, Yes, Pink Floyd, The Police, Rush, Van Halen, Men at Work, Oingo Boingo, Primus, Toto, Journey and many more. The list can go on and on, but I’d like to say that one of the most important things that helps me contribute is the want to challenge each other in the band. Each one of us happily contributes to the writing of these songs and it’s just good fun wanting to be the best we can be musically and to be able to share that music with the world
Buster, as bassist, you play a variety of different styles, from polka and metal in “Stroll” to pop and rock in “The West is a Robot.” What is your favorite style to play and why?
All the different genres and styles we touch on have something that makes them distinct from each other and fun to perform. From a tempo standpoint though, I really like playing the faster stuff. Gives my fingers a good workout. There’s a lot of stuff on the new album that fits that bill.
You say fans of Gogol Bordello, Aquabats, Danny Elfman, Weird Al Yankovic, They Might be Giants, and the Muppets might enjoy your music. What elements of each of these to you bring to your music?
If you look at those bands and other big influences on us the common thread is both musicality and whimsy. We want to see people dancing and singing along with us but maybe equally as important is we want them to be smiling when they do it. We want them to have as much fun hearing it as we have making it and I think that could be said about any of those bands.
How much collaboration goes into writing the music? Is there a person who does most of the lyrics, or someone who writes most of the music?
We collaborate from the ground up on pretty much every aspect of the band and the music is no different. Primary songwriting and arrangement comes mostly from The Baron along with Professor Z and Chris but everyone has a voice and all ideas are welcome. As far as lyrics it the same type of thing, most of them are coming from Dan, Jason (voice of Foe) and Professor Z who either work together or on their own depending on the song but again, all ideas are welcome and everyone has a voice.
You always bring your A game to each performance. How much rehearsal do you do leading up to a show, or before you perform a song for the first time?
Short answer: A lot.
Longer answer: A WHOLE lot.
We take a lot of pride in our live show and it takes quite a bit of work to live up to our own expectations! We are very lucky to do a wide range of shows at a wide range of events and all of them have their own needs. So we often go from 1 set where we are playing a quick 30-40 minute set to a convention or party where we are playing from 90 minutes up to 2 hours and that means having a lot of songs in a constant state of ready to play. So yeah, it does take quite a bit of work. But we love it!
Your kickstarter is successful! Have you started thinking about album 3 yet?
Shhhhhhh, you’ll make Foe start crying again. He’s barely recovered from recording this one! Really, it’s sort of a yes and no answer to be honest. We are so focused on getting these new songs out there into the world as well as into our set that we’re not spending much time talking about new ones yet. But being at the end of the process for this album we are very much talking about what that process might look like next time. Mostly it’s all the boring technical stuff.
Just because you really need to hear some of their music.
Their website: thevelveteenband.com