Return of The Velvet Teen
With a new EP and an extra guitarist, Santa Rosa favorite sons are back
It’s been an interesting few years for the members of Santa Rosa’s The Velvet Teen. Since we last checked in with the band back in 2006, its label Slowdance Records called it a day, bassist Josh Staples left to concentrate on his project The New Trust, and more significant, drummer/ cofounder Logan Whitehurst died after a two-year battle with cancer. It’s enough to have doomed most bands. And while The Velvet Teen never officially quit, the band hasn’t released any new music since 2006’s Cum Laude!
But the clouds have cleared. Staples has resumed bass duties. Drummer and one-half of longtime Chico duo The Americas Casey Deitz has stepped in and (quite forcibly) directed The Velvet Teen sound. And the band—now operating as an airtight four-piece—just self-released a new EP called No Star, whose title-track delivers spastic thrills along with razor-sharp hooks.
Life is good. And 2011 finds the band—in particular frontman Judah Nagler—feeling optimistic about the future. The always-humble Nagler took a break from the band’s West Coast jaunt to field questions about the past, present and future of The Velvet Teen.
CN&R: The Velvet Teen has had to deal with some heavy life stuff over the last few years. How has that affected your approach to being in a band together?
Judah Nagler: Nothing lasts forever; life and the band are no exceptions. That said, by no means am I done yet with either. Everything is constantly changing, and as a band I think we’ve rolled with the punches relatively well. There hasn’t been a year that’s passed where we haven’t done at least some writing and touring. We’ve had our fair share of chaos, but things seem to finally be settling into a more stable situation.
Has working as a four-piece changed your approach?
Working as a four-piece has given us more options for what we can do live, and we’re working on new electronic material as well. Matthew [Izen] has been a solid asset to the band; it’s been a lot of fun arranging dueling guitar parts together. It’s also been awesome having Josh back—it wasn’t the same without him. Casey is a force of nature and my favorite drummer. I’m lucky to play with them all.
The Velvet Teen has always made drastic turns from one record to the next, although the No Star EP sounds similar to Cum Laude! What was the approach with the new recording?
Casey has a very recognizable style of drumming, and I’d imagine that’s one of the main things that ties Cum Laude! and [No Star] together. As for approach, I wrote the foundations for the EP songs using a harmonizing pedal, which is also very distinct. We spent a lot of time on arrangement, honed it all to our best ability, and otherwise let the songs tell us what to do.
And you’re working on a new full-length for release later this year?
Do you feel like you’re finally settling into a sound that represents the band, or do you think things will change with the next record?
I think one of the main things that represents our band is that we never like to do the same thing twice. The heart of the music can be traced through all our releases and is sure to only become clearer and more confusing as we continue.
How’s that shaping up?
I’d say we’re about halfway there with the material, and it’s definitely going to be an eclectic mix. Some songs in the No Star vein, some electronic, some with acoustic guitar. Should be a fun listen if you like what we do.