[INTERVIEW] with... The Velvet Hands

The Velvet Hands L-R Toby Mithcell, Sam Hilder and Dan Able     Photo: moodfoto photogging
"I think the one thing that keeps this band together is good songwriting, that is what we are all attracted to really. You can listen to one song and get really excited and then have enough ideas to make and record a whole album. That is what we have done" says Toby from The Velvet Hands.

There is no doubt good songs look set to continue to play a key part in The Velvet Hands' career. Still super young, the band are finding themselves right at the core of the underground guitar music scene in London and they are making an incredible contribution to it. While the band originally came out of what the NME saw as the "Kernow Wave", signifying the emergence of garage rock scene in Cornwall, The Velvet Hands definitely see themselves as a London band.

On a gradual rise, the combination of their thrillingly explosive live performances and recognisable punchy guitar riffs means that the band have been receiving praise from enthusiastic fans. There has also been a range of airplay from some of the UKs leading radio hosts including the likes of John Kennedy of Radio X and the BBC’s Steve Lamacq, Huw Stephens, Radcliffe & Maconie, Phil Taggart and Tom Robinson. 

Definitely destined for more great things this year, the last 18 months have seen The Velvet Hands release a string of garage punk hits including the likes of Only Blame Myself, Sick Of Living and Habit. The band were also part of This Feeling: Big in 2018 lineup.

Released through through Zen10 and Easy Action Records, today, on Record Store Day, the band are dropping vinyl copies of their debut album Party's Over. 
 Photo: @jonmophotography
Singer and guitarist Toby Mitchell, guitarist Dan Able and bassist Sam Hilder from Cornwall have  musical knowledge and understanding which probably equals a lot of older bands who have been around for a lot longer. 

While the band may well have moved on, writing and working on their second album, It's All Indie are of course super keen to hear their thoughts on Party's Over

Dan: I am really glad we recorded it when we did. Looking back at it now there is probably some stuff we would have done differently when we worked on it but as a debut we are really happy with it. It is nice to have that kind of moment in time being recorded there and then. Maybe we would have sat on it longer if we could but then I would imagine you are always feel that way about an album.

Dan: Originally, we planned to release it last summer but then things worked out better than we expected. It is definitely great to have it coming out now and having 500 of the vinyl copies available for sale on record store day seems a good way to do things. 

Party's Over is recorded by Ben Woods and mixed and produced by Ben Woods and Jules Able from JamX at Troubadour Studios in Falmouth. Jules also manages the band. 

Producer influence seems to bear some resemblance to Gordon Raphael and The Strokes' Is This It

Toby: Our producer Ben is super inspired by that kind of sound. I think the thing to bear in mind is that when we first started chatting to Ben we were about 18 and we had just started being in this band. We knew that we loved The Strokes and we sort of went 'we wanna sound like The Strokes' and to be fair on Ben, we do sound a lot like them on the debut. But what we will be doing on our second album is slightly different to what we are doing here.

But what a sound, it is not exactly the worst inspiration to have, let alone build on. Ben is a very young producer, what else can you tell me about his background and experience? 

Sam: Ben is from Falmouth but he is living in London, he is still just in his twenties and that is kind of like how we started out and got to work with him because there was like a bit of a Falmouth scene going on a the time when we were living in Cornwall. Ben had produced quite a few of the local bands on that scene including the likes of The Black Tambourines.

Tell me about the bands you enjoy listening to?

Toby: The kind of bands I grew up with when I was 14 and 15 years old, of course I kept getting into new bands and discover new music, but like for me it is always the same bands I go back, so the likes of The Strokes, The Stones and similar bands.

Dan: I am a big fan of Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers, they only made one album but I really like it. It is very raw, you could quite happily sit and listen to The Velvet Underground but then it is like 'OK this is pop compared to that'.

Dan: When you are feeling a bit sad or lonely you can always put on an album by Voidz, I am quite a big fan of raw power when it comes to music. And there is always The Band as well, we are all big fans of them. We are also into real punk and then we like country rock too.

Sam: If there is a really good song with a great melody but it also has an edge to it, that kind of takes it to the next level for us. We were always really interested in that. A good example of this is a band like The Buzzcocks.

Tell me a bit about what you are looking to achieve and any plans you have

Toby: I remember when I was about 16 and 17 when Dan I first writing songs together I would say things like as long as we are able to go on tour and live off music then we would be quite happy and now we are not too far from that really.

Dan: We would quite like to make it as big as we can with our integrity still intact, so we are not like some bands, be successful and then give it all up. It would be great to be able to be in a position where we could experiment, try out new things, add different instruments when we want to do so. At the moment we are not always able to do that.

Aware you are already recording demos for your second album. What are you able to tell us about it at this stage and how would you say things compare so far?

Toby: The new songs just started demoing and there is of course the whole thing about the difficult second album but because we are in a position where we are kind of doing it from the ground up. Obviously, being signed to an indie label we kind of want to put the record out and work from there. We have got quite a lot of time to write the second one which is a great position to be in.

Dan: The newer stuff has a bit more of a groove to it and will be something very strong we can continue to build on. I think we are just wanting to build on it making it sound like we are moving up a level in terms of the production. We still want to keep a 'live' sound but we hope to have enough money to be able to perhaps achieve an even clearer and better sound and be able to spend a little more time on it, our first album was recorded and mixed in less than a week.

Sam: I would say it has a stronger rock'n'roll sound and is probably a bit more Rolling Stones but it is still garage rock and is a natural progression from this first album that we are about to release.

And as if we did not already know that any out of touch perceptions about guitar music being 'dead' can safely be put to rest and The Velvet Hands are definitely shaking up live music and keeping it fresh

Toby: Assuming that guitar music in fact did go actually away for a while because it is definitely coming back and it is here to stay. I don't know if that necessarily means it is going to make a triumphant Top 10 entry or it is just gonna get a bit bigger than it is and my point is that people are always going to want guitar music, there is a certain vibe to it that you don't get in other types of music.

Dan: When people say that guitar music is dead that is probably the best time to be in a guitar band because those leading the music mainstream are behind, not seeing what is actually going on. As an example, just before The Beatles changed music forever someone had told them guitar music was on its way out. 

Dan: John Kennedy (Radio X) has said to me that actually becomes a really great moment as it means guitar music is becoming the 'new' underground.

Joining and celebrating the new underground is definitely something that we should all continue to do and be part of. Enjoying The Velvet Hands' music is a pretty good place to start and the band just keep getting better

Sam: It is nice to see how the songwriting has matured and progressed and the next record release will probably show that.

 Photo: @jonmophotography

The Velvet Hands - dates

Release dates 
Party's Over - debut album:
21 April - digital + limited edition Record Store Day vinyl
4 May CD + vinyl 

On tour with The Bluetones
2 May, Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
4 May, Exeter, The Lemon Grove
5 May, Bristol, SWX 
7 May, Oxford, O2 Academy

Other live dates
21 April, Manchester, Jimmy's - This Feeling
27 April, Paris, Truskel -Parisian High

11 May, The Studio Bar, Penzance
17 May, Manchester, Night People - Bring It On Down: Northern Exposure 
19 May, Brighton, The Black Lion - The Great Escape
25 May, Nottinghill Arts Club, London - IndieEssence 
26 May, Plymouth, The Underground - Creative Events @ The Underground

14 June, London, The Finsbury