Slow Wave is coming in hot
With a bass player barely legal south of the border, The Velveteins—quickly becoming Edmonton’s pop darlings—are wrapping up an east coast tour and heading for home.
But the band’s homecoming will be fast and furious, here just long enough to drop its long-awaited debut full-length album Slow Wave at The Buckingham this weekend. Edmonton fans are getting a special treat with access to the physical album ahead of the official May 12 release date.
While finally offering fans a full package of dewey-eyed, sombre doo-wap—not far from the moody pop of Allah Las and beach goth trend ignited by The Growlers—the new work demonstrates an evolution from the first tracks Spencer Morphy and Addison Hiller recorded as teens in 2014. Not only do they have a few more years and many miles under their belts, they have Dean Kheroufi playing bass and keys—bringing his own songwriting and stylistic influences.
When I caught up with Morphy to chat about the new album, the band—having been on the road for almost a month—was somewhere “in Pennsylvania still? I’m not sure,” says Morphy, with Hiller at the wheel and Kheroufi napping in the back seat.
“It’s hard to just, like, stop and eat a regular meal so you’re always just hitting the same old fast food places and you feel crazy,” Morphy says. “But, having a few beers every night helps—I think—with that.”
Having its name spoken far and wide is something The Velveteins hope to achieve, and with a now-solid lineup and significant album in its back pocket, every day on the road brings the guys a step closer to reaching their dreams.
Kheroufi, a prolific player in the local scene—rumoured to be engaged with 40 separate bands including N3K—was brought on board shortly after Morphy and Hiller wrapped up recording A Hot Second with The Velveteins in Nashville. They needed to round out the group for live shows and Kheroufi fit the bill.
“I think I knew him from before,” Morphy muses. “I think I went to his house parties a few times and drank beer. I think I threw up in his bathroom once … I knew him.”
Six months earlier, while Hiller was in recording school, the duo put together its Fresh Claws EP “so that we could play shows and prove that we’re a real band and have music out there,” Morphy explains, but the batch of tracks they took south to Lincoln Parish in Tennessee was their first true-blue professional effort.
“I knew [Parish] had just quit Cage the Elephant, and I knew that he was starting to record bands and that he was free, so I hit him up and he was feelin’ it.”
While all three players call the prairies home, the music of The Velveteins gives no clues to this fact. Some of the band’s first influences came from ‘60s Brit-pop, and the material they turned out—music, with its sweet lilts and simple ideals, many mothers would approve of—aligned closely. Slow Wave shows a roughness and distortion that comes with age and experience, the candy pop being fuzzed out and expanded upon while retaining the plucky surf twangs that keep it fun. For this latest effort, the band headed to Colin Stewart and his studio The Hive, now revived on Vancouver Island.
“The studio’s built into the house and we went out and stayed, like in his house, for 10 days, recorded in a sweet wooden cottage, it was cool,” says Morphy. “We got to try the songs live before we went into the studio, and had a little more time and we put more thought into [the songwriting].”
The comfy abodes of friends and acquaintances are always a welcome respite, but as a budding band on the big circuit, The Velveteins have a ways to go before they’re guaranteed a roof over their heads every night.
“It’s always nice to have friends in cities. That’s usually a saving grace because you know you can stay at their place,” Morphy says. “It’s when you go to cities you’ve never been to and you’re just fully hucking it and like, you don’t know if you’re going to have to sleep in the van.”
Fri., May 5 (7 pm)
The Velveteins w/ Altameda
The Buckingham, $10