The Velveteers: The Download Interview

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Having just released their critically acclaimed album, Nightmare Daydream, now is proving to be an exciting time for Colorado’s three-piece band The Velveteers. Fresh from their storming set on The Dogtooth Stage, The Midlands Rocks hooked up with the band (vocalist and guitarist Demi Demitro and both drummers Jonny Fig and Baby Pottersmith) for an exclusive chat.

You’re fresh off the Dogtooth stage. How was it?

Demi: It was fun. This is our first UK festival date so we didn’t really know what to expect, but the audience was really cool, a lot of people came out real early.

What’s your impression of Download as a festival?

Demi: I think it’s really, really cool. I’ve never been to a festival like this before. The energy and the vibe is really good.

Have you had a chance to check out any of the other bands?

Demi: We really want to check out The Darkness and Twin Temple.

Can you give me a brief history of The Velveteers. How did you all get together?

Demi: Baby and I met when we were 15 and 16 and then we formed the band. And then Jonny and Baby used to hang together so we invited Jonny to join us a couple of years ago.

Where did you get the idea for two drummers?

Demi: We were originally a two-piece band, then I had the idea that having two drummers could be really cool. Everyone was always telling us that we needed a bass player, and I wanted to piss those people off by doing it. It turned into something we all really resonated with.

What’s it like playing in front of two drummers? I imagine it feels really powerful.

Demi: It feels really cool. I couldn’t imagine doing this band any other way.

Baby: There used to be some problems before we figured out how to do it. We used to both have a pair of symbols and the only thing we could hear was symbols, so I don’t imagine that was good for Demi, as a vocalist and guitarist, but we finally figured it out.

How do you get the sound levels right on stage? I imagine the drums could easily over power the guitar and vocals?

Demi: It’s always kinda tricky, especially at festivals, where you only get a quick soundcheck, but I guess we know through playing together and our dynamics.

When I saw the two drummers playing in perfect synchronicity I immediately though of the twins from The Shining. Do you have a telepathy or does it come from playing together a lot?

Jonny: I think it’s a little bit of both.

Baby: We do a lot of things at the same time, but by accident, when we’re not drumming! I’ll leave that to your imagination! [laughs]

You’ve played with some big names like Guns N’ Roses and Smashing Pumpkins. How did that come about?

Demi: With Guns N’ Roses, their support act backed out a few days before and we got a phone call asking if we wanted to open and we were like ‘Yeah! For sure’ and with Smashing Pumpkins it was kind of the same thing. We got a call and asked if we wanted to play.

Baby: We got the call and we were already on tour and as soon as Smashing Pumpkins were mentioned Jonny’s eyes got as big as I’d ever seen them.

The band was an an amazing trajectory and then the Covid hit. How did you keep the band ticking over during the pandemic?

Demi: During Covid is when we actually recorded our album. So, we stayed pretty busy with that, writing a lot and making demos, we kinda went insane over that, and then doing livestreams and all of that kept us pretty busy.

Baby: Jonny and I actually live together so we were really lucky, especially during the first months when we couldn’t really go out and see anyone we could really be creative and make demos and be more creative than we had been in the past.

It’s a great album but is there anything you’d like to go back and change now it has been out in the world awhile?

Demi: I don’t think I’d go back and change anything. I think it’s a special moment in time and I wouldn’t change it.

Jonny: We find variations to play live, which keeps it fun.

As artists how do you know when to walk away and say that a song or album is finished? It must be tempting to constantly go back and tinker.

Demi: Yes, that’s definitely something we struggle with. On this album our producer was Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys and he really helped us stay grounded. I think that’s what a producer should do, they should be the one to tell you “This is the one, this is the take, you don’t need to do any more”. So he helped us a lot.

You have a crazy magnetism that draws all these great artists to you; Guns N’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins, Dan Auerbach. What’s your secret?

Baby: We’re just so cool! [laughs] I don’t know why, but I’m so grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to work with these people.

Who are your musical influences?

Demi: I really love PJ Harvey and Nick Cave.

Baby: As a drummer I really like Lana Del Ray.

Jonny: Radiohead is the coolest band, ever.

Is there one band that unites you? Something you all rock out to in the van?

Demi: We all really like Richard Swift.

They’re cool influences but I don’t really hear them in your sound.

Baby: A lot of our influences don’t really impact on the way we sound, which I think is maybe a good thing. We did try to sound like our influences in the beginning, I think most bands do, but now we just do what we want.

After Download, what are your plans?

Demi: We’re going back to the States tomorrow and we’re doing some dates with The Black Keys.

Any plans to come back to the UK soon?

Baby: Nothing’s set in stone yet, but if not this year then we’d like to next.

Finally, where do you envision your sound going in the future?

Baby: Wherever it goes, wherever our song writing takes us, we’ll go there.

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