Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Velveteen Habit.

Despite seeming to have just burst onto the scene, Velveteen Habit have actually been around for a while now under the moniker Anatone. They've just decided now's the time to push forward and make things happen and Tim Johnson, who covers vocal, guitar and keyboard duties for the band, is happy to explain the band's history.

"We're a bit of a mishmash of bands from the past," he admits. "Basically the three of us in the band are all related; there's the brothers Matt and Marc and then me who's their cousin. And the drummer was a friend of Matt's. Around a year ago we decided to get back into it and take things a bit more serious this time around. So we decided to get a whole new name, you know - get a fresh start and all of that."

Normally a band would probably play around the local Adelaide scene a bit, get some experience and try to forge a bit of fan base before they hit the studio. Even then, a band would probably only record an EP. But oh no, not Velveteen Habit: they've decided to jump into the deep end. "We got down to the nitty gritty and recorded an album. We figured we'd just put ourselves out there," he laughs. "At least if it doesn't work out we can look back and say 'we recorded a fourteen track album, and that's cool' ."

They've not just managed to put an independent release together, they've also made it sound amazingly professional and included some very catchy tunes. "Some of [the songs] we actually made up in the studio. We did the album in around three sessions, doing around five songs each time. And we found that each session was totally different. And as the sessions progressed, we found we'd developed a bit more of a catchy edge to the songs compared with what we had been writing. I think we were trying too hard [in Anatone] and thinking about it too much, so we kinda let go and everyone involved had a bit of input into it. So everyone was starting to get a bit more creative as time went on, involved with sounds and vocal styles. We're really happy how it came out.

"We come from pretty diverse backgrounds," explains Johnson. "I used to play in a band called Gilmore back in the day - during the first Triple J Un-Earthed competition - which was very short lived, whereas Matt came from a heavier sort of musical background. It's funny though, because we all listen to pretty different styles of music and we don't try to write a certain way, or a certain style at all. I know everyone says they don't want to fit into a certain style or genre of music, but really we just turn up to practice and someone might have an idea for a song or whatever. It's all a bit of a mix really, with a little bit of everything."

The band do, however, sound a lot like some of the better bands of the UK indie rock persuasion. Johnson admits they get that all the time. " I guess it's Marc's David Bowie thing, maybe... we all kind of grew up on that sort of thing - and some of the local bands, they've all had an influence on our sound. Subconsciously, though - we don't try to write like that."

But it's not only the music which morphs the band's various tastes and styles into one impressive whole - the artwork also blends their various tastes and personalities. "The stars on the front are actually made up of little gramophones, which we thought was cool. And a lot of the little things in the background of the art are things that are important to us."

The most perfect example of this is the swirly design you'll see wrapping around the band members' photos on the inner sleeve. Study them carefully and you just might recognise the logo of a certain popular iced coffee drink... "Although we might not want to admit we've plagiarised something on our cover," he laughs.

Ryan Smith

Velveteen Habit launch 'Portraits & Poetry' at the Jade Monkey on Thurs 5 Aug.

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