Jeremy Neale, frontman of Velociraptor – a band with enough members they could give up music and successfully invade a small European nation, possibly Belgium – was recently a speaker at a music conference aimed at young people looking to get into the music business.
What kind of lessons could the musicians of tomorrow learn from Velociraptor? What mistakes have they made others should avoid? “Probably everything the band’s ever done,” Neale says.
“It’s hard to say. Velociraptor’s a unique example because I guess a lot of people might write off the recorded works but then they’ll see us live and have a really good time.”
He impersonates a potential audience member, reacting to their music: “‘It’s really different, I thought they were clean and polished and I really enjoyed the rambunctiousness of the live show,’ or whatever. It’s like we always have to attack at two angles, which means touring has to be a thing we do, but touring is such an expensive thing for us to do. It’s a financial pitfall, but it’s also essential. I can’t use Velociraptor as a way to tell people what to do except maybe not to form a gigantic band.”
There are advantages to having a platoon-sized band, though, and one is having a lot of different viewpoints on each song. When it came to recording their self-titled debut, following on from their 2012 mini-album, The World Warriors, having a throng of opinions pushed them in a different direction.
“When everything was just, like, three power chords and drums and vocals on a demo, the initial vibe, what it was aiming towards, was a very ’80s Ramones Pet Sematary vibe,” Neale says. “But once they were taken to the studio and once everyone did their thing to them we got in the studio mindset, which was like, ‘Let’s play with this and see what happens’. I think things got quite far removed, in a way. But it was good, it was interesting. What could have been a very straight-up record has now got peaks and dips.”
A song like Leeches is either one of the peaks or one of the dips, depending on how you look at it. Though surrounded by upbeat Kinksy garage-pop, it finds Neale in a baritone lamenting broken people. Echoing vocals from several of the other boys in Velociraptor form a wall of man behind him, singing: ‘All the lovers you have doomed / And the leeches fill the room, the room’. Uncharacteristically, it sounds like a bad trip. “I think Leeches is everybody’s favourite song on the record, actually. We probably would have done an album like that – if we did another release it would be very much down that path. It’s fun to do a variety of stuff, I think.”
There’s a touch of the ADD kid in Neale, who performs solo as well as in Tiger Beams, Lovely Legs and Running Gun Sound, each an outlet for a different style. While Velociraptor started out loud and loose, as their gloriously ramshackle live show still proves, their recordings have become more like melancholy Merseybeat pop. “When the band started no-one had responsibilities, everybody didn’t have to do anything. Now everyone’s gotta work full-time to survive, it’s why maybe it’s more mature. It’s got a bit sadder, it’s got a bit more real-world heaviness to it in parts because that’s what real life is I guess. It’s not just a drunken party. But sometimes it can be.”