We've been hearing a strong buzz that if you're looking for dark music that's in some way inspired by the cold wave and minimal synth sounds of the '80s, but doesn't sound retro, you need to be in L.A., New York or San Francisco. Veil Veil Vanish hails from the latter, but they're in town this weekend to play Boardner's tonight and The Bootleg Theatre with Tamaryn on Sunday night. The gigs are part of the band's tour of its scene's Big Three cities in support of new single “Anthem for a Doomed Youth.” Veil Veil Vanish's debut album, Changes in the Neon Light is due for an early-2010 release and was produced by Atom, who previously worked with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Maximo Park. We spoke with vocalist/guitarist Keven Tecon by phone from San Francisco.
Your current tour is basically just San Francisco, L.A. and New York. Why limit it to those cities?
There's a really great energy coming from those three cities, especially the bands that we feel a kinship with right now are all coming from those three cities. We wanted to reach out and start playing those places and meeting those bands. We've been playing L.A. for a long time, but New York, we had been talking to them for a long time and it's just now that we're starting to play over there and they're starting to play over here. Those three cities, I think, are the hub of what's going on right now in our scene.
You recently played Wierd Fest in San Francisco. How did you become involved in that event?
We had been talking to Pieter [Schoolwerth, from Wierd] and Blacklist and had played with them in New York. So, we did the Wierd Fest with them and Xeno and Oaklander in San Francisco.
Also, some of the clubs that are coming up now, there's Wierd in New York and M/R/X in LA and in San Francisco, our keyboard player does a night called Tenebrae that's kind of like those nights, but is the San Francisco version of those things that are going on. It's a lot of these bands that are inspired by cold wave and minimal wave music. It's kind of like a new underground of what's going on.
When your band has an involvement with a standing club night, how does that impact you? Does it make it easier to get recognized?
It seems like a lot of the bands that we're dealing with have club connections. It kind of happened that way because a lot of times the bands are forming around these clubs, their places where people end up finding music that they're into and people who have similar ideas and tastes in music and art. It's a way to connect to each other, so people end up meeting and forming bands as well, like with the Batcave back in the day.
One of the interesting things with this scene is that the electronic side is very minimal, but the guitar side definitely isn't. Where do you see yourself fitting into this?
We fit in really well with both sides of what's going on, especially with our new stuff. Originally, we were compared to shoegaze and post-punk and stuff like that. Our new stuff is a lot different. It's taking a lot of that stuff and also cold wave and minimal wave and other types and putting it together into something new. We're not interested in being a retro band. We're kind of trying to push forward into where we think music should be going instead of trying to relive what happened before. We do have a lot of synths and a lot of our guitars are very synthetic and sound like synths, but it still has a really big sound. So, we're able to play with some of the minimal bands as well as some of the more guitar-oriented bands like A Place to Bury Strangers.
Why do you think there is this renewed interest in cold wave?
Personally, I'm getting kind of tired of guitars, the way guitars are typically used. A lot of the way we use guitars are textures, sounds that are almost like brush strokes of a painting rather than writing songs in a typical rock format. I think it's more exciting that way. I think that people are getting tired of rock music. Rock is kind of dead in a way. Another thing is that a lot of people can get keyboards for really cheap. I ended up writing on keyboards because I was getting all the keyboards for free and for real cheap at yard sales, so I started writing with these instruments and it was a new and exciting way for me to write. I think, like when punk was starting, people were realizing we don't really have to know how to play our instruments to start bands. People are doing that now. People are just getting keyboards and drum machines and making a really basic style of music. You don't need to be a really great musician to do it. It's kind of inspiring and I think that's kind of what the new movement is about.
So, in some ways, it's similar to when the synthesizer first became accessible and you had bands like the Human League, who basically started out experimenting on these new instruments.
Yeah, in a way, because it was so new, everything was innovative. It was hard not to be innovative because of all these sounds and no one else was doing it. There's a lot of comparisons to older styles of music that use keyboards, but there are a lot of ways to do it that haven't been done and it's very different, at least with what we're trying to do. We're trying to use some of these older influences and create a new soundscape, something new, that's exciting, that's abrasive and still upbeat and also very atmospheric. I hadn't really heard other people do it before.
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