If you’ve formed your opinion of the Glaswegian four piece Veronica Falls based upon industry hype and press reviews, this statement seems as shocking as Noel Gallagher claiming he’s not a fan of The Beatles. It’s hard to agree with the dewy vocalist and guitarist Roxanne that ‘We don’t sound anything like those bands…’ when you hear the Velvet Underground-esque woozy scuzz vibrating out.
But if the guys don’t see themselves slotting into the 80s shambling ethos, backstage at 93 Feet East, it seems that they’re not particularly keen to be dropped into a category with contemporaries either.
‘To be honest, we don’t like many current bands,’ says James, the drummer. Him and Roxanne, the more vocal and vehement half off the group try to bounce ideas off one another, but conclude that it is in vain.
Not even Los Campesinos, or Bright Eyes, bands whom the twee tag has also been applied to?
The word ‘twee’ triggers even more tetchiness than ‘C86.’ ‘It’s become so fashionable to call bands ‘twee’’, complains James, ‘but what does that even mean? There’s no definition.’
‘A lot of the bands lumped together don’t even sound similar,’ Roxanne agrees. ‘Oh, they’re wearing cardigans, they must be twee.’ Based on this criteria, they most certainly are – 75% of the band are dressed in button up jumpers.
On stage Roxanne is dirty doe eyed, the girl next door with a dark secret, and having heard that the band are less than forthcoming in interviews we fear that this ethereal aloofness that suits the vibe of songs such as ‘Found Love In A Graveyard’ an ‘Beachyhead’ so well on stage may make this post Brick Lane curry interview slot a little slow. Not so. Whilst James and Roxanne dominate proceedings, it’s clear there is an affable understanding and mutual respect in the band.
Having comes from the remains of numerous other bands (Your Twenties, The Royal We, Sexy Kids) we wonder if this was something missing from the previous groups. We put it, however, more bluntly.
‘So why will Veronica Falls work when all your other bands haven’t?’
‘It’s just so fun now!’ exclaims Roxanne; the first genuine non nonchalance of the night.
‘All being into the same music helps too.’ says Patrick, even if they’re not too sure how to define that.
‘It’s a breath of fresh air to be all working towards the same thing. In other bands I’ve been in it’s always been a bit of a battle, a constant fight. It’s nice to play something that someone actually agrees with!’
Marianne, the bassist, is the exception, having not spent her formative years in dark bedrooms leaning chords, or busking around village halls, jamming until fingers hurt, but being asked to join the band before she could even play the bass, and only subsequently learning her craft as she goes.
‘Have I learned it?! I think I’m still learning now’ she smiles, shy eyes hidden behind long hair. In fact, the first time we see Veronica Falls, supporting Two Door Cinema Club at The Garage, Roxanne on occasion leans across to help Marianne, and the boys’ winks of encouragement give visible confidence.
So why join a band when you can’t play an instrument? She shrugs. ‘It seemed fun.’
And has it been?
Fun isn’t the first word to drift in front of your eyes upon hearing Veronica Falls, with their shoegazey sound and lamenting lyrics. They’re bloody good, but not a bubblegum blast.
‘Your lyrics are quite dark – do you write about anything in particular, or find yourself returning to specific themes?’
‘We don’t look to write about any one topic, I wouldn’t say that there’s a plan or genre’, says Roxanne.
James visibly shudders. ‘Genres, labels, we’re not into all of that.’
Patrick gets involved. ‘The majority of what we write about is circumstantial; you know, boys, girls, beaches, cars. Just whatever we’re doing at the time. it’s cool to look back and see what we were doing, or feeling. A bit like a record of our life I guess, a diary.’
‘Yeah, don’t worry,’ grins Roxanne. ‘We won’t be writing about graveyards forever. I like happy sad songs, where there’s some ambiguity, and the listener has to think about the meaning, or make their own.’
Given the band’s adamant assertion that they don’t fit into any slots or pigeon holes, what do they feel that they have in common with label mates on Captured Tracks, the US label that snapped them up. Or is nepotism a dirty word?
‘Patrick just knew Mike Snipes from when in New York, so it worked that way. I guess we have similar influences, and friends in the scene.’
So what next?
Planning world domination strategies is not the way that Veronica Falls does things.
‘Er, maybe a single in the summer,’ offers Roxanne. ‘Beachyhead?’ she suggests, in an inflected tone, as though looking for reassurance. There’s a couple of labels interested too, so we might sort ourselves out.’
And when’s there going to be an album?
‘We need to write first!’ interjects James. Roxanne confirms the lack of material. ‘When we first got together we had loads of stuff, but then all these gig offers came in. Now we’ve no time to write, it’s just practise and play.’
‘All we do is practise,’ nods Marianne. ‘We really need to push ourselves to do an album.’
‘What are we doing?!’
End of the interview, and we seem to have left Veronica Falls on a brink, pondering their course of action and unsure of the direction to take. Just as we drain our cans and get set to leave, James asks, ‘Er, so what is this interview for?’ I raise an eyebrow. ‘Well we were just asked, and said yes.’
We give him the spiel, and hand over a couple of copies of the previous issue, where Veronica Falls featured as a hot tip off. Patrick is thrilled. ‘We’re on page three guys!’
As a ten minute discussion between the band members about why ’zines are amazing commences, suspiring utterances about the DIY ethic and the joy of sharing new music, our recorder turns off. But not before it captures James: ‘I love ’zines, that’s brilliant.’
We’ll leave the last word to them.