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Interview: Velveteen

If I asked our readers to raise their hands if they’ve already gone to Azerbaijan, the number of hands raised would be extremely low, almost zero perhaps. If I asked them to raise their hands if they’ve already heard of Velveteen, the result wouldn’t be that different, some time ago. In these past weeks, Carsten, Christoph, Tommy and Chris counted on a surprise factor named “Charlatantric”. This guy is a blogger who, after making some adaptations in Velveteen’s last album, leaked it as Death Cab For Cutie’s “Narrow Stairs”, which was (and still is) very awaited by the audience.

“Last year I made this kind of joke and will do it again this year. On the following year, I will do it another time because I know everybody will believe”, that’s what Jerome Holeyman (a.k.a. Charlatantric) said to the north-american MTV. This boy – who, let us agree, has an awful sense of humor – started this “thing” because of the great similarity between Death Cab and the German Velveteen, which is our interviewed band this week. In this point, I agree with Jerome, they are very similar, I listened twice to the fake “Narrow Stairs” and I didn’t notice anything different (feel free to call me an idiot how much you want).

Velveteen hasn’t a contract signed with any record label yet, but has already released three CDs, on the good and old indie style. The first one was “Keep It To Yourself” (2003), which “is more like an EP than like a real album”. Later, “The Outdoor Method” (2004) came, “way more versatile when we speak about production and sonorous arrangements”, followed by “Home Waters” (2007), which mixed rock instruments to records made in zoos and shopping malls, by the own band.

You will find the my interview with the vocalist/guitarrist Carsten Scheauff below, wich was ended with a “to all friends in Brazil: God Bless”.

MTJ!: How was Velveteen started?

Velveteen: Well, we started a couple of years ago listening to all those so called “shoegaze” bands like ride, my bloody valentine, slowdive, etc. Then decided to form a band.
It took us a bit to figure out what the direction was, that we’re at now, but it was always about building massive guitar walls around a melancholic center, I guess.


MTJ!: Tell us about your three albums: ‘Keep It To Yourself”, “The Outdoor Method” and “Home Waters”.

Velveteen: The “keep it to yourself” album was more EP than a real album, but at that time we put in all, and I mean all, our money into the production, so we thought it has to be worth the effort.
If I look on it back now I would rather consider it to be more EP than album, also because we recorded it on analoge 16 track only within a few days.
“the outdoor method” was the next step, more versatile within song arrangement and production. Songs like the “body and the frequency” got us getting more and more into alternate instrumentation
apart from just putting a billion guitars together like on “at the birdhouse” where we literally overdid the guitar overdubbing from a conventional point on recording view.
With “HOME WATERS” we took one step further and put more keys, piano, drum loops and stuff together and mixed it with sounds we recorded at the zoo or in shopping malls.

In order: Album Covers to ‘Keep It To Yourself’, ‘The Outdoor Method’ and ‘Home Waters’.

For the next record which is presumably going to be an EP we want this development to go on, because we feel really comfortable with it.

MTJ!: How often do you play in places outside Germany?

Velveteen: We’re an unsigned band. We had very, very bad experiences with major record companies in Germany, so we didn’t sign anything since years.
We’re completely independent which makes it nice to work on records but it fucks you up when it comes to touring.
We not booked for international shows or festivals or something. We tour Germany, once did Belgium. But for now that’s more or less it.
But if anybody in Brazil is interested to put out our record…hahaha?


MTJ!: Velveteen has some shows booked with We Are Scientists for the end of this month. What expectations do you have for these shows? Will this be the first time playing with a band with such a large following? Who are some other bands that you have worked with?

Velveteen: We played a sold out show with them already two weeks ago in our hometown Frankfurt.

Velveteen playing live at Mousonturm, in Frankfurt

They watched our show and seemed to have liked it. So they asked us to support them during their German tour.
We had a great time, and are looking forward to the end of the month.
Obviously it’s a great opportunity to play bigger venues and in front of bigger crowds for us. Maybe this leads to something else, maybe not.
We don’t waste time in expecting too much of anything, since we were let down too many times and have learned to enjoy good times the moment they appear.
But the Scientists are decent people, who do not practice this sort of “main act” behavior, so I’m sure we are going to have a good time.


MTJ!: Recently, a blogger called `Charlatantric` leaked your last album, Home Waters, to the internet. It was passed off as `Narrow Stairs`, the upcoming album for Death Cab for Cutie. What, if any, part did you play in this April fools prank?

Velveteen: Well that’s been pretty strange. My phone rang and it was MTV New York. Believe me, this does not happen too often to German indie bands. They asked us about this prank and everything. I spoke to rest of the band and Tommy our drummer remembered to have contact to Charlatantric. Although we don’t see that much similarity to death cab for cutie we understand it as a compliment. And we got used to it since the German press also considered my voice to be similar to Ben Gibbard’s. So our part was a passive one in this particular case. The glory belongs to Charlatantric.

We think that DCFC is a great American band, but the only connection between us and them is made up by this blogger. I hope nobody took this too serious, and what lasts is that all those that went for that joke are going to buy narrow stairs anyway since presumably it’s going to be good. So don’t get me wrong, we like DCFC but, we do our own thing since more than 12 years now and are happy about the bands development, apart from any projected influence launched by people that all of a sudden write or speak about us.

Velveteen making some noise in Nachtleben, also in Frankfurt.

MTJ!: This joke may be beneficial for the band. I noticed that due to the publicity here in Brazil (and probably in other parts of the world) you have some new fans. Did the number of hits on your MySpace increase?

Velveteen: Of course this whole thing is beneficial for the band, we’re just realistic in how far. Our MySpace profile gets up to a thousand hits a day and we get record requests from all over the world,
which we’re unable to handle, since we have neither a record company, nor any distribution structure. So if this is not going to change, which is not only in our hands – things won’t change that much.

MTJ!: Besides opening for other artists and April fools pranks I see a bright future for the Velveteen. What growth do you expect for your band in the upcoming years/months?

Velveteen: People have written hundreds of wonderful e-mails which was really heart-warming. Thanks from here to those who did.
We will keep on recording records and play shows. It’s just a matter of dimension.
At the moment we’re doing our best to answer all interview request (as you see) and are happy about all the attention. What’s in it for us at the future we just can’t guess.
So let us all keep our fingers crossed that things turn out nicely, because we honestly love what we’re doing. Maybe this time well get the reputation for it. Maybe not. We’ll see.

Visit Velveteen: Official Site | MySpace

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