Velvet Devils unleash debut EP
Featured photo by Todd Turner
Velvet Devils come into their own with the release their debut EP, Buzz Rock, on Jan. 31. Though plans for global domination remain in the air, the group is grounding itself as a unit and looking to party at a show near you. “Hunter and I actually share the same main goal of blowing up and acting like we don’t know nobody,” drummer John Chester said about his fellow Velvet Devil, guitarist Hunter Good.
“Riff Raff is where we get most of our drive as a band,” Chester quipped of their motivation. In their pursuit, Buzz Rock marks a milestone for the Greensboro rock ‘n’ roll four-piece, formed from members of American Thieves, Jonas Sees in Color, and Massive Way.
“One of the best days in recent history is when John called about the idea of Velvet Devils, and here we are,” said bassist Mikey Deming, who’s been performing with Chester for 14 years. “It was nice getting a fresh start and not having any expectations of what we’re supposed to sound like or what venues we’re supposed to play,” Chester said of the formation.
Boasting a testament to the power of open jams, both guitarists joined the fold through chance encounters at open sessions in local dives. Good was playing around at Longshanks, while vocalist Derrick Davis ran into Chester at Walker’s. They arose as Velvet Devils in early 2018.
Two singles on Bandcamp and youtube sufficed as a demo to snag a steady string of notable shows. And the group self-released a homemade video for Reptile Skins, featuring spliced footage from the ’60s sci-fi flick, Voyage To The Planet Of Prehistoric Women. ”Making a music video on an iPhone is harder than it sounds,” Chester noted of his directorial dabbling.
Meanwhile, the time for an established official release grew nigh. “We finally decided to put the next release on all those major platforms we kept hearing so much about,” he noted.
The result is Buzz Rock, a collaborative effort with material “often sparked by a riff or two, and then worked-on in our luxurious storage unit,” Chester explained. The song selection was simple:
“The rule was, if it makes you want to dance—and break something at the same time—it stayed.”
Their intended direction falls between Oh Sees and Black Mountain, “it’s music that we’d want to listen to that we felt was missing from the airwaves,” Chester said, alluding to the notable presence of heavy-radio-bar rock which hangs in their 2018 singles. Akin to dad-rock, for dads who party.
Chester disagreed about the dad-rock bit. “I wouldn’t consider what we do to be dad-rock,” he said, “more like garage rock or stoner metal jacked up on Mt. Dew.” But Chester’s got an infant, Good has a preschooler, and Deming’s a “number-one stepdad” (with the T-shirt to prove it.) They’re dads. They rock. “Lyrically speaking, there’s probably not much that your mom would want you listening to,” Chester shifted to the EP with continued with parental notions. “Unless your mom really likes to party,” he added.
Partying remains salient. “The mission of the band itself was to always be transparent about being nerds. Nerds that party,” Chester noted. “We all listen to White Reaper a lot,” he added of notable influences, “and also pretty much anything Dave Grohl has ever been a part of.”
Dad-rock or not, their hopes reside in making “whatever genre people put us in a little more fun and danceable.” For the EP, they enlisted the wizardry of Kris Hilbert at Legitimate Business for tracks and mixing, with mastering by Jamie King.
“We added a few more layers with auxiliary percussion and funky effects pedals but stuck to the ‘live tracking in the same room’ vibe for the most part,” Chester said of production. As for the art, “we wanted something with a darker tone but didn’t want it to be overly satanic or super serious.” Audiences, it seems, can have a little devil as a treat.
The single, “Help Me” premiered on Jan. 12 via “Underexposed with Divakar” on 106.5 FM, (in between Charlotte rockers, Fortune Tellers, and Knowne Ghost.) There are plans for regional tours. “We hope to build on what we did over 2019 and record again in the spring,” Chester said, noting their celebration of another formative milestone: getting a band van.
“Look for us crawling out of a ’96 Chevy Astro at a venue near you!”
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands touring NC the following week, from 5-7 p.m. on WUAG 103.1 FM.
Velvet Devils unleash their debut EP, Buzz Rock, across streaming platforms on Jan. 31.