Perth rock band Veludo, have picked their Portuguese moniker well. Translating to 'velvet' in English the literal definitions are apparent, they have the characteristic smoothness of a well-established outfit and there's a softness to the humility of their lyrics. If the more 'informal' definitions of this word reign true: 'a very pleasant, luxurious and desirable situation' and 'clear gain or profit, especially when more than anticipated' these boys are in for a positive ride.
Originally hailing from Perth, it throws up the question most everyone is asking, "What is happening in Perth to produce such great talent?" Charismatic frontman Gab laughs and surmises, "I think it could be the drinking water!" With our WA being such an isolated city, he believes this is a contributing factor. "We have that really relaxed beach culture and Melbourne is really fast paced, there is always something going on. Because in Perth there isn't that, you get drawn to picking up a guitar, writing something – you don't have that distraction, I can't put my finger on it."
It was this lack of distraction that saw them as former hard rock band – Gasoline Inc, cut their teeth in Perth before making the move to not-so-sunny Melbourne. "I guess making the move to Melbourne was a decision more on the touring side of things. It was becoming a costly exercise to fly over, so we decided to shift over, it was a business decision more than anything."
At the time of this interview, the band was back in Perth starting their current tour to promote new single Stay Young and self-titled EP, "we love Perth and it is good to be back. We played at the Rosemount when we first launched as Gasoline Inc, so it is like we are going back to the start, we are doing the full circle." [Gab, guitarist Jason and drummer Leslie are originally from Perth, moving over to Melbourne at the start of 2011].
Being back home, Gab reflects on the band's decision to pack up their roots, "the move from Perth to Melbourne was a big thing," as the band needed to start surrounding themselves with the kind of music that was happening in Melbourne. "As well as losing a few members, the direction of the sound started heading into the Veludo aspect of it all. We got to a point where we lost our guitarist and Jason was on bass at the time, he started bringing in his own songs. In the past he wasn't in that position."
The band made a conscious decision to change names as it wasn't fitting into what Gasoline Inc was about. They felt that a move into a different realm with a focus more on the style of sound they are producing now, was an important shift that needed to occur. "Gasoline Inc used to be more closed off, as Veludo we experiment a bit more with electronic sounds and rhythms." Gab finds this more rewarding, "there's a lot more freedom, I'm really happy with where we are at now and how the songs are sounding."
New song, Stay Young was written from Gab observing what was going on in the world and to people in general. "I think people are attached to this conditioning, once you reach a certain age you can't follow your dreams. They are just doing their job, paying their mortgages... sometimes we can get caught up in that and lose sight of what really matters to us. That is what the song is about."
Through the song, the band want fans and new audiences to pick up on the anthemic lyrics and be inspired to follow their dreams. "It is about removing yourself from your fears, insecurities and inadequacies. I was seeing that a lot, people in these jobs they don't like – what is more important, the money or the happiness? The song had to be anthemic because it had to reach a lot of people. It was filmed in Melbourne and we had to take it back to 1992. It was a lot of work actually - we did a lot of eBay shopping", Gab recalls laughing, "we borrowed stuff from people, I had some stuff lying around, everyone sort of chipped in."
It's this 'chipping in' element that is a big focus for the band, family and friends were invited into the studios on the last day to be a part of the recording. "That was really important for us, we spent this whole energy and output in the studio, and we had this opportunity on the last day for family and friends to be involved. We did an competition online for fans as well. It was like a celebration, it was about enjoying Staying Young and bringing people into that. I think the song captured that as well, it is all about the love."
Connection with fans is essential for the fan and they enjoy both the social media elements of Facebook and providing behind the scenes footage from filming their clips, to recording sessions and general day-to-day antics. "I think that is really important in this day and age, to get people to connect to you. It's not about the rockstar mystique, where you try and be standoffish - it's more about connecting and communicating with other people, bringing them on the journey as we are all in it together."
The band did debate about releasing video content of themselves initially, as they wanted people to get attached to the songs. "We've got so much footage of us in the studio and people can discover us as we go along. It's really important as a lot goes on now in social media and it is harder to get people to come to gigs. If you give them a sense of who you are and what you are about, they'll say these guys are cool - they are just doing something they love, let's go along and support them."
With the global nature of social media, fans from as far as South America are jumping on board, asking when the band is coming over. With Gab's Brazilian heritage a proud strongpoint, this may open up opportunities for the band to tour internationally and work on projects overseas. Gab is philosophical about this, "it's a bigger picture out there, bands can sometimes get carried away saying if you can't make it in Australia you can't make it at all. What does that even mean making it? It's just little things like this backlash going on with Triple J, people saying if you can't make it on Triple J you can't make it in Australia - it's not true, it's not true. Triple J are Triple J and what they do is what they do. Just because you don't fit that, doesn't mean you should stop pursuing your dreams or doing what you love."
For Gab this viewpoint really highlighted to the band there is a bigger audience out there to be reached, "just confining yourself to one country or market is a really myopic view of what we are capable of doing, not only in the sense of music, but as humans. I think that was a good thing for us to witness."
The band have a really humble approach to their journey and herald introspective periods as being conducive to this, "I don't want to sound too trippy or anything like that, but I'm into meditation, things like that and I did a lot of inner work on myself, sort of removing that ego.I accepted things were a part of me, didn't let them get in the way and those things came through in the lyrics. Jason writes the music and then we jam it out. What I was feeling [at the time of writing the EP] was more of the connectedness to the universe."
Tying this back into his Brazilian heritage, [Gab moved to Australia when he was five] is pertinent to understand the power of the meaningful lyrics, "in Brazil in particular they get onto that straight away. South America predominantly has third world elements there. People are a lot more happy with that they've got and they are receptive to that emotion that comes across in our songs and they understand it."
With the World Cup and Olympics coming up in Brazil, he sees this as placing his home country at the forefront of the world's consciousness for a couple of years, "and it is good to see them responding to our songs. It gives us maybe an opportunity to go over there in the next year or two and see what we can do over there as well. We're excited about showcasing new sound and direction."
With Gab's uncle running the biggest Samba school in the southern hemisphere, he's been talking [when the time is right], to put the band in and create a collaboration. Drums are an iconic fixture in Brazilian music and this concept is an exciting one. "Rhythm and people is such a primal thing, before anyone could strum a string, they could hit things and it is such an instinctive element of music that I really want to explore a bit more. Brazil really have that culture and music."
For now the band's feet are staying planted firmly on Australian soil, touring Melbourne in March\April and another tour lined up in the latter half of the year. "We've got a bit of depth on this EP that we can maybe go out with another song or two. The plan will be to tour again and push another single, I think it is a good introduction to the band. We want to produce at album at some point in the future, we just want to keep reengaging with the fans. We want to build that relationship and journey. We're taking a big leap of faith doing what we are doing."