By Kieran Webber
Cornwall can often find itself being missed out of the UK music scene but a lot has happened in the past few years, bands such as Blink 1.8.2 and Motorhead have made their way here to play at the infamous Eden Project. This in turn has helped the local music scene grow and there is a now a plethora of local bands pushing Cornwall’s music scene and showing the rest of the country that we do indeed have some serious talent.
One of those bands is The Velvet Hands, with their give a fuck attitude and catchy hooks they are a real contender for one of Cornwall’s most exciting bands. They have already been linked to bands such as punk pioneers The Buzzcocks.
So how was it that you met Toby and at what point did you both decide that you were to create The Velvet Hands?
Dan: We met met when we were around 14 at school when we’d both chosen to study music, but it was a music tech course because not enough people could play anything for a normal music course. He was the only other person in there that could properly play an instrument, he used to play all these mad folk songs on the acoustic guitar, the ones with all the tapping harmonics and open tunings which I thought was amazing (at the time). We kind of used to do ridiculously horrible cover versions with a few friends of radio songs that everyone else liked, then eventually we figured out we both liked the same bands and music so when we were about 16 we started writing some bad kinda indie tunes. Over the past two years we’ve just tried to hone in on a sound and write some nice melodies that aren’t cheesy – the main challenge. What a romantic tale.
Please tell me there is a Spinal Tap Inspiration behind the band name?
Toby: We wish..
Dan: Smell the glove.
What was the influence behind the band name?
Dan: Google it and you’ll find a vast array of spectacular results. Apparently The Velvet Hands were a band of assassins; and on amazon there’s a whole series of books with the name, all dedicated to ‘orgasms’. Then there’s an italian comedy film with the name, I’d say the three of those influenced the name.
Toby: Happiness is a warm gun by The Beatles. We were sat around having a few drinks at our friends house discussing what we could call the band and that song came on with the line ‘she’s well equipped with the touch of the velvet hand..’. We looked at each other like it was a genius band name but, looking back on it, it is quite awful.
You’ve been compared to the Buzzcocks and The Libertines but where do you draw your influence for the music?
Toby: Yeah both of those bands for sure, especially when we started out. Recently I’m much more into David Bowie and Pulp, so watch out for the dramatic genre change..
Dan: I’d say it’s an honour to be compared to them. We’re big fans of 60’s garage rock and all the old rock and roll bands, as well as 70’s punk. I’m a big Lou Reed fan too, he stopped me from wasting time figuring out over extensive chord progressions and just play what’s needed. People hear different stuff in us, some blokes came and told me we reminded them of the Pretty Things, earlier on someone said we remind them of The La’s.
Are their any particular characters or people in your life that made you want to be a musician?
Dan: I’ve been surrounded by music all my life so it was sort of an innate thing for me, my parents used to take me to gigs all the time when I was young and impressionable. No-one told me that before you’re doing arenas you have to be very poor though.
Toby: My Grandad used to teach me guitar when I was younger and got me quite heavily into The Stones and The Who. The first song he taught me was ‘Wild thing’ by The Troggs. 10 years on and all our songs have less than 4 chords too, as if it was meant to be..
From the outside it can seem that Cornwall has a weak music scene (I disagree) but as a band in scene how can you describe it?
Toby: It’s very safe with not too much critique. Some great bands are coming out of Cornwall too, and, yeah, Falmouth has it’s own ‘sound’ which is cool.
Dan: It’s a good breeding ground for new bands to hone their style and songwriting, and be wank for a bit without facing too much scrutiny. Falmouth is really the epicenter of the indie/diy/garage/whatever scene. A lot of the bands know each other so it’s cool.
What can be done to improve the music scene in Cornwall?
Dan: More than two good venues.
Toby: Move Cornwall to the centre of England?
What are your most played records this year?
Toby: Low by Bowie, The Stone Roses, I’m always going back and listening to The Last Shadow Puppets record, it’s great. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s new album is cool. The Clash (US Edition). Berlin by Lou Reed.. The List could go on.
Dan: I’ve been listening to a lot of The Stones, Exile On Main St. and Sticky Fingers in particular. Strange Days by the Doors has had a good few plays, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Raw Power. Lost Dawn’s album too. Now it’s getting colder again I can stick the Cure back on and not feel like I’m miserable. I liked the Cribs new album too.
You recently opened for The Bluetones at the Bristol O2 was that your biggest show? What was it like?
Dan: Real cool. Got a proper dressing room and everything, went straight to my head. We had the latest starting gig of the tour so we had a really good crowd for when we played, it was a real buzz.
Toby: Our biggest show, yet we were still only given warm Stella to drink. I’m very thankful for that gig though, it was great and has really motivated us, seeing what could be ahead.
Out of all the shows you played is there any that stand out ? Any shows that some crazy shit happened?
Dan: The Bluetones was super fun. Boardmasters was fun because we had a way bigger crowd than we anticipated, we were taking bets on how many people would be there before we went on and luckily we were all wrong. We did a gig in a little place called Tywardreath with our friends Lost Dawn and Telephone Medicine, that was great! It was so hot and people couldn’t get in the door, it was one of those – the best kind of gigs. There was just a really good vibe that night and everyone had a load of fun.In terms of outstanding, in the outstandingly shit category, we had a gig where the stage was laminated and we all kept sliding around and I was in a strange mood. Got super angry for no reason and chucked my guitar, which was not economically advisable. Tuning pegs broke off and we had a gig a few days later, so I thought it’d be fine to duct tape it back together – it wasn’t.
Your latest single was recorded in Troubadour in Falmouth what made you choose there?
Toby: They record live there which is great and what we wanted, if you play in your parts one by one you’re going to struggle to get the energy as playing live. I liked the fact that it was on analog, all of the bands we love recorded before digital recording was a thing so it made sense.
Dan: Yeah, all their recording stuff was old and cool. We wanted a raw sound and they had what we wanted. There were no cuts or studio tricks to make us sound better than we are, we didn’t want to lie to people by making something we couldn’t replicate live, so I guess in that aspect it’s a very honest recording.
As the year comes to an end what is planned for next year for The Velvet Hands?
Dan: More recording, singles, EPs, an album would be cool. We’ve got so much stuff but no money to record it all. The help of a sugar daddy would be nice. A little tour, a tour supporting a cool band would be amazing.
Toby: Yeah, we’re currently still just pushing this single but we’re thinking of recording the next one soon. We’ll probably have to get those weird things called ‘jobs’ to pay for it, which would suck.