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Jeremy Neale of Velociraptor: “It’s here now; the apology record”

velociraptor band

FOR five years, Brisbane many-piece Velociraptor have been living up to their self-elected position as Australia’s most dedicated party-starters.

Now, ‘earth’s mightiest band’ (their words) is releasing its debut album, and is ready to bring the party to a venue near you, says frontman and songwriter Jeremy Neale.

“It’s really exciting,” he says. “Although I’ve heard [the album] so many times that I’ve lost objectivity on it, so I don’t really know what it sounds like to a new listener. I think retrospectively I’m really happy with it, so I’m looking forward to seeing how people respond to it. In an ideal world it’d be satisfying to be releasing music at least every 12 months, if not quicker than that. For us it’s been two years now, which is quite a length of time, but it’s here now; the apology record.”

The band’s self-titled debut, which comes after EP releases in 2010 and 2012, is littered with pop-culture references and ’60s pop vibes, as on tracks like ‘Monster Mash’ and opener ‘Robocop’.

“Well, obviously one of the greatest songs of all time is called ‘Monster Mash’,” Neale laughs. “I just wanted to use that as a way to paint the scene. If you imagine someone dancing to ‘Monster Mash’, you immediately get the vibe of that party, but the song is a bit dark, and I like the juxtaposition of the happy imagery in the middle of a sad song. The Robocop thing was a cool context to put it in, but the real sentiments behind the song were about being in love with something who is everything to you, but to them you’re just the best option at the time. I don’t know how Robocop came into it, but I wanted to create that kind of imagery of essentially a gritty, neon city that features on the cover art of the album. When this album was first demoed, everything was quite minimalist in its approach; everything was just power chords and simple beats. The vision for the album was to do a dark, ‘Pet Sematary’ or ‘Bonzo Goes To Bitburg’ kind of record, but after we played around with [the songs] in the studio it become more of a variety record than how it might have sounded.”

With anything up to 15 members in the band at any time, you can never be sure of what you’re going to get at a Velociraptor gig.

“We keep it all quite fluid, as everybody does have responsibilities,” Neale says. “It’s kind of like ‘here are the dates, who’s in?’ There’s nine of us going to Perth this time, which is out of control. It’s obviously a lot of fun, and it’s a unique and rewarding experience once we’re there. Having now done the record and booked all our flights, except for Adelaide, theoretically all the hard stuff is done. Now, we just have to go and have a good time and deliver the product. We’ve been playing [first single] ‘Ramona’ live for probably a year, and we added ‘Robocop’ and a song called ‘Leaches’. When we added them both to the set ‘Robocop’ [went down] fine, but ‘Leaches’ just did not work for people on first listening. It’s a very interesting experience working out what people want to see live; they just want to be familiar with it, I guess. They looked at us like ‘what are these guys doing; a weird cover or something?’ Once the album is out in the world and people have had a chance to hear it and still want to hear it, we’ll be able to get behind everything on there. It’s all relatively accessible and it’ll be more ‘party’ and faster live. I have high hopes for how it’ll translate.”

VELOCIRAPTOR’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT IS OUT AUG 22.

TOUR DATES:

THURSDAY 21 AUGUST
NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB,
MELBOURNE

FRIDAY 22 AUGUST
NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB,
SYDNEY

FRIDAY 29 AUGUST
THE BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE

SATURDAY 30 AUGUST
THE COOLY HOTEL,
COOLANGATTA

SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER
THE CAUSEWAY HOTEL, PERTH

SUNDAY 7 SEPTEMBER
THE NEWPORT HOTEL,
FREMANTLE

SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER
PIRIE & CO SOCIAL

For mX

Record review: Jeremy Neale – In Stranger Times (2013, EP)

Jeremy Neale

Brisbane indie-pop troubadour Jeremy Neale must be one of the hardest-working musicians plying his trade today. Not satisfied with being a member of rabble rousers Velociraptor, surf-rock piss-takers Teen Sensations and space-noise act Tiger Beams, as well as being support act of choice for the likes of The Preatures and Surfer Blood, he’s now releasing a long-awaited debut EP under his own name. It’s reasonable to think that having fingers in so many pies might mean In Stranger Times would be a patchy affair, but in reality, it contains some of the Queensland Music Award winner’s best musical output to date. Giving generous nods to sixties lo-fi garage-pop and classic girl groups of the same era, it’s a fun and catchy breath of musical fresh air from start to finish. Neale’s innate ability to write three-minute pop gems and his soulful garage croon are his strong points, most notably on latest single ‘Swing Left’, which manages to mix clap-along pop with ominous piano-led despondency. The title track is another highlight, as Neale joins forces with Brisbane’s favourite all-girl guitar band Go Violets to run through a perfectly-rounded pop song with instantly catchy guitar intro and boy-girl harmonies to die for. ‘A Love Affair To Keep You There’ is a darker effort; the inevitable break-up song that’s in contrast to the previous lyrical content. It will be interesting to see if Neale continues with his solo ventures in the near future, or whether he’ll be happy to remain as frontman and song-writer for Velociraptor or one of his other acts, but on this evidence the path to take should be pretty clear. (Create/Control)

Live review: 4 Walls Festival – QUT, Brisbane – 3/8/13

Billed as being for young people by young people, Youth Music Industries’ fourth annual all-ages 4 Walls Festival at QUT boasted quite a line-up this year.

Before a hoard of baby-faced and expensively attired onlookers, local alt-rock quartet Twin Haus provide an early highlight on the rooftop stage with a tidy racket of a set, before English-Australian four-piece Tourism unleash a new batch of Arctic Monkeys-esque tunes with some heavy moments on the main stage in the darkness of QUT’s lecture theatre. During a previous Brisbane gig guitarist Adrian Brown puked on his guitar mid-song, but everyone is clearly under instruction to be on their best behaviour today, which is helped by the lack of bar at the venue.

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The biggest draw of the day so far is Brisbane’s Go Violets, who almost send a swelling crowd into spasms with their cheeky brand of all-girl indie, with more than a hint of the ‘1-2-3-4’ aesthetic of J-Pop and near-perfect depiction of adolescent angst. With lines like “I really like you, I like your hair”, they could be any teenager here today, and after eliciting proposals of marriage from male members of the crowd, they finish with the Powerpuff Girls theme song. Once they master stagecraft, this band could be huge.

Meanwhile, SURFER CATS are making a boneheaded yet strangely charming mess of noise on the rooftop stage with a set of songs about – yes, you guessed it – surfing and cats, including tunes with names like ‘Vampire Cat’, ‘Catch A Wave With Me’, and ‘Schizophrenic Cat’.

Baseball cap-sporting Jeremy Neale takes to the main stage to thunderous applause, and proceeds to provide the throat-shredding vocal performance of the day, with ‘Winter Was The Time’, ‘Merry Go Round’, and ‘Darlin’ featuring, before being joined by Go Violets and members of Major Leagues to finish with a raucous ensemble version of ‘In Stranger Times’.

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Having just driven from Newcastle to make the gig, Pigeon proceed to up the quality tenfold and steal the show with a high-energy blast of electronica, including a ten-minute Daft Punk medley which fuses ‘One More Time’, ‘Around The World’, ‘Robot Rock’, and ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ into a single pulsating jam.

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Late additions to the bill Cub Scouts headline the main stage with their usual collection of well-crafted indie-pop tunes and send the kids of Brisbane home tired but happy, while the rest of us retire to the nearest bar for a well overdue drink.