We caught up with Samuel Jones from Velvet Morning to talk vinyl, pubs and, erm, the Amazonian rainforest.
For the record, can we start by getting your names, what your role in the band is, what genre of music you are, and where each of you are from?
Drums: Chris Richardson
Bass: John Kirkwood
Guitars/Backing Vocals: Charlie Carmichael
Lead Vocals/Guitars/Songwriter: Samuel Jones
We are from the fishing town of Leigh-on-Sea just on the edge of Southend-on-Sea.
I tend to try and stress a lot that we never want to be put into any box, because we aren’t necessarily intentionally trying to make what people’s preconceptions of ‘psychedelic’ music is – like it’s something to trip out to or something.
I guess, to make things easier for everybody, you could argue we fall into a similar category of what is going on at the moment from around Los Angeles, some parts of London and a lot of antipodean bands – a kind of new rhythm and blues with an element of psychedelia, if you like.
How did you first become interested in music? Did your family play a large role in your musical background?
Apart from stealing a few of my step-dad’s vinyls when I first got into collecting my records when I was about 13, I would say my family had absolutely nothing to do with my exploration of the world of music.
I think a few friends showed me bands like The Stone Roses, David Bowie, Joy Division and The Beatles. Bands that they got from their families, I suppose, and in hindsight that was a pretty good place to start. But when I properly started taking music seriously was most likely when I first started writing myself.
Even though the first bunch of songs I wrote were terrible, when you start listening to bands like The Velvet Underground and Spacemen 3 you start to refine your taste and only really generate things you are into.
Who would you say are your greatest musical influences growing up?
Well the best thing about music is you never seem to stop discovering bands. When I was younger it was The Beatles and all that 60s lark. When I got older it was The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and various garage bands to come from that 60s period. Now I find that I listen to a lot of P.I.L, The Fall, Soft Machine, White Fence and Thee Oh Sees.
I am constantly refining and discovering music, but in general I’m influenced by all of them still.
Why did you start the band and how did you come together?
I was constantly working on songs for about a year or more whilst being in another band called The Banana Club Sandwiches. Then a few people departed to go to university, so I figured: new band, new name, new sound.
It was inevitable that there would have to be a change and we got some people from that band and a new drummer together to play in my bedroom project. From then on the sound in the rehearsals made everything seem much more vivid and we all got excited by it.
What’s it like in rehearsals?
Our rehearsal space is somewhere we spend a lot of time in – hanging out or playing music. The room is a pretty great reflection of ourselves, which is what you want.
Do you practice every week?
What was the first gig you ever played? When was it? What was it like?
It was when I was in The Banana Club Sandwiches, at a local pub called The Ship. It was fun. I was really nervous even though the only people in the room were about twenty of our friends.
What was the best gig you ever played?
We have played a load of good shows. As long as the drums are mic’d and the energy is good we always have a great time.
What was the strangest gig/venue you’ve ever played?
We played a festival called Village Green and the stage we were on was mainly psych or alternative bands. It was a beautiful day and we all decided to dress up.
Our families came for the first time, so we decided to unleash our secret weapon: ‘Sleazy P’. He’s our buddy who likes to join us on stage occasionally, sporting his shiny silver thong range, and extreme sports sunglasses. He was thrusting at our various family members. My nan was there. So that was pretty weird.
If you could play at your dream venue, what would it be?
My dream gig would be somewhere with amazing surroundings, probably outside, but enclosed, full of like minded people and close friends. Somewhere like the Amazon rainforest.
So tell us a bit more about your new single. What inspired it?
Well, we wanted to really exaggerate the sort of view of Velvet Morning we want people to have. Not a lo-fi sound, but a new wonderland of melody and swaying, languid grooves with the addition of an almost fictional lyrical approach.
What was the inspiration for the new video? How did you come up with the concept for it?
We live near a really great wood and we basically took a camera out ourselves and just went for a walk. Definitely not on hallucinogenic drugs!
How has your music changed since you first became a band?
Better songs. As we have played together and the songs have imprinted in all of our minds as well as playing together for a while we all have a much better understanding of this place we are in and all play better together.
How did your new deal with RIP Records come about? Is this your first major label deal?
We had a few options we could’ve gone for, and after talking to a few people we got in touch with them. Turns out we had been on their radar for a while so we met up a few times. RIP Records were the kind of label that gives the music industry a helping hand by being passionate about music of a similar taste to mine, and not allowing us to be swept under the table. They’re ambassadors of ‘no bullshit’, if you will.
What do you think the future holds?
As long as we continue being into the music, we will progress. Simple.
Any plans for major gigs?
We have some gigs coming up, playing with some of our favourite bands – like Holy Wave in Southend on 28 September, and Tomorrows Tulips in Manchester on 11 October.
In the evening we are all looking forward to being at the castle in Manchester again on Halloween with the likes of Theo Verney, Menace Beach, Hooton Tennis Club and Tess Parks.
If there has to be one thing about Velvet Morning you want to tell people, what is it?
Love your mother. Stay in school. Eat your greens.