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Veludo vert low resVeludo is the Portuguese term for ‘velvet’, which perfectly sums up the modern rock grooves of Melbourne’s Veludo. Frontman Gabriel Vargas tells SHANE PINNEGAR they’ll be playing tracks from their just-released debut EP at the Rosemount Hotel this Friday, February 21, and Oakover Winery on Saturday, February 22.

Veludo’s self-titled EP sees a huge progression in sound from the days when Gabriel Vargas, alongside guitarist Jason Millar (who played bass in those days) and drummer Leslie Stuart spearheaded Perth rockers Gasoline Inc.

As the band relocated to Melbourne and players came and went, they realised their sound had evolved to a different place, and the next step was clear.

“Jason started to experiment more with the electronic side of things, loops and samples and so on,” explains Varga of the resolutely modern feel to Veludo, which still retains the soaring choruses and rousing melodies that hint of Noiseworks, U2 and INXS, “And we pretty quickly realised that it wasn’t Gasoline Inc, and we couldn’t keep going as Gasoline Inc, and so we made that conscious decision to change the name and rebrand. It was a big leap but we had to realise that if we wanted to evolve, this is what we had to do.

“A lot of times in the past I was sort of closed off to exploring those different genres and sounds, and once I let go of that close-mindedness, immediately it started opening the doors for other stuff to come into the band, experimenting with different sounds and not being afraid to venture into that realm.”

Vargas agrees that ‘Veludo’ may not be an obvious name for an Aussie rock band, but says that was the point.

“Well I think that was the aim,” he laughs, “because Gasoline was such a literal term, when people heard that name I think they immediately had preconceived notions of what the sound should be. So we wanted something a bit more ambiguous, where people could sort of make up their own minds of what it meant to them.”

A friendship struck up on tour in 2012 led to James Reid, singer with Kiwi band The Feelers, co-writing a track on the EP and laying down some vocals, explains Vargas.

“We toured with The Feelers as Gasoline Inc in 2012, and I struck up a friendship with him in particular. They’re a great band and what they’ve done in New Zealand is kind of akin to what Powderfinger did here in Australia – every album they’ve put out has gone platinum.”

A music video for Stay Young has been released to promote the EP, set in 1992 and full of kitsch reminders of that time, including a lot of day-glo. Vargas explains how the concept owes a debt to a Youth Group video featuring footage from Australia’s first skateboarding competition in 1975.

“I started thinking about the song Youth Group did – that Alphaville song, Forever Young – the music video for that with the skateboarders. I remember my uncle at the time was in his 40’s and he said to me at that time, ‘Gab, I really love that song ‘cause the video takes me back to my youth’ and I really resonated with that.

“So when it was time to do Stay Young I thought we could do the same sort of thing, but for kids that grew up in the early ‘90s. So we decided to set it in 1992, get all the props together, and it really tied in with the song nicely.”

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