A Ripple Conversation With Toby From The Velvet Hands

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphanies since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.


What have been your musical epiphany moments?


We have them all the time, it's what makes us feel alive and keep doing what we're doing. My first one was probably my Grandad teaching me how to play Wildthing by The Troggs. Those 3 chords have stuck with me since, never needed anything else. Around the same time I got the first Arctic Monkeys CD for my 10th birthday and listened to it on repeat, not knowing what the fuck they were singing about but making up my own meanings to each song. Then a few years later when we started finding out about all the local bands in Falmouth and listening to their demos on the way to college. That was the moment that Dan and I realised that all you need to be in a band is a few songs and a few pairs of sunglasses, it's really fucking easy. From there we formed a band and it's taken over our lives.


Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?


Everyone starts differently. Normally the melody comes first and once we confirm that we haven't ripped it off someone then we get the lyrics together and start playing it with the band.


Who has influenced you the most?


On the new album we really wanted to make the music that we would have loved when we were 15, loud and exciting! So we took inspiration from great guitar bands of the 70's and 2000's. Blondie, Talking Heads, The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand etc etc. Holiday in My Head is a bit of a bad example but the rest of the album is danceable, a new territory for us as we're used to mosh pits.


Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?


Everywhere, Nowhere.. When we're making good music it's very easy to keep making good music and to keep developing the sound forwards. It's when we hit a creative slump that we have to actively seek inspiration. But for the moment inspiration seems to be coming to us rather than us searching too hard!


We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

Well where we all met and went to school was St Austell town and where we wrote most of the album was Falmouth. Though only an hours drive apart they're two very different places. I'd say that Falmouth brings the hope to the music and St Austell brings the dread to the lyrics!


Where'd the band name come from?


The Beatles track happiness is a warm gun. We were playing Boardmasters festival and needed a name on the poster. The Velvet Hands was the best of a bad bunch.


You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?


Chicken Run 2.


You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?


Holiday In My Head by The Velvet Hands of course.


Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?


We have far too many to share. My personal favourite is playing a 'do it for the money' festival in Cornwall. Dan obviously didn't get the memo and wore the most outrageous leather trousers a man has ever seen, only to be greeted by children doing knee slides and the strong smell of cow shit as we walked on stage.


Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

Watching/ playing a velv hands gig is a lovely hour of chaos. We did a tour straight after lockdown and I'm not sure who was more excited, us or the crowd. If you're planning on coming to one of our gigs make sure you don't mind getting sweaty.


What makes a great song?


Something that can take you somewhere like a film. Doesn't matter whether that place is an american freeway in the sun or a camden boozer in the rain. If you listen to a song and it takes you somewhere I always think it's done its job right.


What one single album do you wish that you'd written or performed on, and why?


The Eagles greatest hits album for the £££.


What piece of your music are particularly proud of?


I still love the title track on our debut Party's Over. It's not the best piece of music that we put out but for some 17 year old kids to come up with it it's pretty impressive imo! It also holds amazing memories of hanging out, no responsibility, loving life.


Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?


I really love the Wet Leg album - great lyrics and great music! Also the few singles that Ezra Furman has recently released sound amazing and are really inspiring imo.


Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?


Digital, easyyy and cheap isn't it. Do love vinyl though of course, I am in an indie band after all.


Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice


Beer because you can drink more of it!


We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?


There's a great one in Truro Cornwall called Music Nostalgia which contrary to the name gets great new releases in.


What's next for the band?

We're doing a few gigs in the South West and London to celebrate the release of our new single Holiday In My Head, a few festivals this summer and then putting out an album that we're all incredibly proud of!


Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?


Come + see us play, it'll be fun!!!!


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