The Velveteers simply had to be ready when they stepped up at the last minute when Mammoth WVH pulled out from their support slot with Guns N' Roses.
As guitarist and vocalist Demi Demitro tells it, such occasions are the sort of thing you have to just take a swing at. So what if the audience doesn't know who you are? For The Velveteers, whose forthcoming album, Nightmare Daydream, was produced by Dan Auerbach and is just a month and change from being released, this was an opportunity to get out there and give their songs a little air. And who wouldn't be interested in watching a rock trio with one guitar player and two drummers?
“It was super cool to play with such legends,“ says Demitro. “It ended up being a last-minute show because the original opening band got Covid so we were happy to jump in last minute.
“While we were playing we couldn't really tell if the audience actually liked us or not especially because we knew some people were really mad that Wolf Van Halen couldn't make it, but after the show it seemed like everybody really enjoyed it. We had never played on a stage that big before and in front of that many people, so it was definitely cool but also nerve wracking.“
These things can happen. Serendipity often has its way, and already had done with the Colorado rock trio before any positive Covid tests were reported in the Mammoth WVH camp.
In an ordinary day, in a week, nothing might happen, but sometimes the phone will ring and that will have some cosmic bearing on your life. When The Velveteers took a call out of the blue, it just so happened that one of the world's most sought-after producers was on the other end of the line, looking to collaborate.
“One day we were just hanging out at home and we got a call saying Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys heard our music and wanted to fly us out to Nashville to meet us,“ says Demitro. “Two weeks later we were hanging out with him in Nashville at his studio and started talking about working together. It was all super unexpected but one of those things that just felt so right.“
For any artist, working with Auerbach is a rite of passage, not only for his creative input, and insight into arrangements and performance, but for the cornucopia of vintage electric guitars and amplifiers that he places on the menu. When he's making your record, you've got options.
“Dan has an insane amount of gear at his studio, it was like heaven,“ says Demitro. “I got to play this cool vintage double neck Danelectro (opens in new tab) which sounded amazing. For most of the record I got to play through a vintage [Tone] Bender fuzz pedal and also a Vamp amplifier that Dan found which was cool because apparently Marc Bolan played those types of amps too and they’re pretty rare.“
In this sort of setting, Demitro just went all in chasing tones. Nightmare Daydream sees the trio – completed by dual drummers Jonny Fig and Baby Pottersmith – careening between after hours, somnambulant rock and urgent, ruptured alt punk, with more than a few surprises in between.
It's a sound that doesn't sit still. But then that has always been the case with rock 'n' roll, and as Demitro explains, that's the evolutionary path they've chosen.
How would you describe your sound to a new listener?
“Rock 'n' roll, but of the future.“
What artists do you think you could potentially share fans with?
“Rose Hill Drive. They are my favorite band on the planet. I also recommend listening to Black Box Recorders, Richard Swift, Deap Vally, Bad Nerves.“
Which of your songs best represents you and why?
“Hmm, thats a hard question because I think every song we have represents our band in its own faucet of life. That's kinda the beauty of art is that we don't have to be tied down to being just one thing. I guess my favorite song of ours right now is Dark Horse, which is on our upcoming LP, Nightmare Daydream.“
What has inspired the creative process for your album:
“Almost all the songs on the album are inspired by the theme of surrealism and we’re very inspired by the duality of night/day and ying/yang. Each song came about in different ways too, some came very easily and others were little pieces or riffs I had been hanging onto for years that I knew needed a home somewhere.
“I remember before we knew anything about working with Dan Auerbach that I was in a bad writer's block. In order to fix it I was forcing myself to write songs every single day. I hated nearly everything I wrote but then when I would listen back to it like a month later I ended up really loving some of the songs. I think one or two of those songs ended up being on the record.“
What is your favourite musical experience/memory with this band so far?
“I would say my favorite musical experience thus far has been recording our debut LP with Dan Auerbach. We all put so much blood, sweat and tears into making this album. It all really came full circle and felt as though I had been waiting my whole life for that moment.“
Is there a particular album that had a big impact on you growing up and how?
“Americana by Rose Hill Drive. Hearing the guitar and songwriting on that album made me want to start a band. I was lucky enough later on to work with the members of Rose Hill Drive and they have been incredible mentors to me.“
If you could steal the production off one album/track, which would you take and why?
“Masseduction by St Vincent. The vocals and guitar tone on that song are insane and I love how futuristic she sounds.“
Do you have any go-to gear for songwriting and demoing ideas and why is it important to you?
“I usually like to start my demos on an acoustic guitar, I usually just pick up my cheap little acoustic guitar that I got from a thrift store. I start without any effects so that way I can really focus on the songwriting. Once I get the song to a place I like I'll start adding fuzz or whatever I think the song needs.“
What instrument or piece of gear would you like to get next and why?
“I've had my eye on a Danelectro Longhorn Baritone guitar for a while now and I'm also looking to buy the Boss VE-20 Vocal Effects Processor, you can do so many cool things with that pedal.“
- Nightmare Daydream (opens in new tab) is out on 8 October via Easy Eye Sound.