Winning hearts, plaudits from New York hipsters, and maybe a goldfish or two

Photography by Pavla Kopecna

Winning hearts, plaudits from New York hipsters, and maybe a goldfish or two

Ask your average sultry, shoe-pondering band if they’d prefer a record fair or a Fun Fair and no doubt most would choose an afternoon sifting through dust smothered vinyl. Not Veronica Falls. Following a well-received set in the leafy suburbs of Herne Hill, the band are faced with a dilemma – musty backroom, full of halves of mild and Kate Bush castaways, or carnage at the funhouse? Before you can say Pat Sharp’s mullet, the foursome are dodgem-bound with lead singer Roxanne explaining this wouldn’t even be her first visit. “It’s not really a ride but I went to the funhouse in here and it’s terrible,” she says. “I normally love the funhouse!”

It’s not for everyone though, and this tight-knit foursome aren’t unanimously crazy for carny folk – “I don’t really like rides, I find it all a bit weird,” says James, bouncing off Roxanne as his vocals and guitar did on stage earlier.

James’ crumpled, disapproving face remains one of a playful jibe though as Veronica Falls are friends first and foremost. Connections at Glasgow Art School and a shared love of Comet Gain have given them a backbone, and it clearly shows. Warmth envelopes each song as cascading guitars and pounding rhythms fill every story Roxanne eases into existence with her delicate voice. DIY perhaps, but they can certainly play, and have experience on their side to boot.

Formed from the ashes and uprights of The Royal We, Sexy Kids and Your Twenties, they have a musical schooling in place (James still plays for YT, and when asked if this bothers the rest of the band they all reply in unison ‘yeah it does actually’, tongues firmly in cheek‚” perhaps). Crash-coursing her way into the band, Marion, having taught herself bass in a month, epitomises the gang mentality and inclusive spirit. “We didn’t want to audition people we didn’t like and we all wanted her in with us so much,” explained Roxanne who seems to have done a better job than blood – “My Dad’s a bass player and he’d being trying to teach me since I was 2!”” laughs Marion.

Drummer Patrick thrusts us back into realms of the Fun Fair as he reminisces on his time living in New York. “Do you remember that incredible funhouse in Coney Island?” he asks his band. “It’s classed as a listed building and it has one of the earliest roller coasters in the world in it.”

James remembers: “Lou Reed named an album after it, didn’t he?”

Clearly they would be at home at both the record and Fun Fair but Patrick gained more from his visit to New York than just a candyfloss addiction. Making good friends with Mike Sniper’s (aka Blank Dog’s) Captured Tracks label meant his band were soon on the radar of Brooklyn’s indie elite. Very soon in fact – “They somehow contacted us after we had a MySpace page for just one hour!” recount a still very pleased Veronica Falls.
Indeed, that’s pretty fast work, even for Captured Tracks, and Veronica Falls’ sound seamlessly slotted straight in with the lo-fi pop aesthetic of the label (bands like Dum Dum Girls and The German Measles are typical releases while Spectrals’ ghost surf debut album is currently being recorded for Sniper to release). “There is such a specific group of people that are involved with Captured Tracks it would have been hard to avoid working with them,” explains Patrick, a release sounding inevitable.

“I think they put out some really good records and are really into it so you can’t help but be enthusiastic,” adds an excited Roxanne. “He [Sniper] is also really into the artwork which is great.”

“I wanted us to recreate the Sgt Pepper album with Hitler in it,” deadpans James. “Maybe we could all wear Nazi uniforms!”

Roxanne (above giggles from her band): “I quite like it when bands have a similar look to all their records, it’s great when you can instantly recognize a band by their cover.”
The end result of this MySpace-mutual-appreciation-ambush: an EP entitled ‘Found Love in a Graveyard’; a love letter to a ghostly apparition; and a lament for the broken hearted.
“Sometimes I can over romanticise a lot of things,” explains Roxanne, while Patrick has another take on the EP and the band’s material. “The song’s about making the most of a dark situation, seeing the good in a pretty bad scenario” he offers, before going on to explain how inspiration comes from an unlikely source.

“I’m really into the lyrics people write when they have gone mad like Daniel Johnston and Roky Erickson. When they write crazy lyrics about demons, there is a lot of creativity that can come out of it.”

Unfortunately, Roxanne falls short of a lazy-eyed wild stare, instead preferring to share a joke with the others. If there is an underbelly to Veronica Falls it’s likely to be full of beer and lying around in the sun. As dusk descends, talk drifts to drinking dens and the band rush into the Fun Fair, perhaps to find love on the ghost-train, although probably just to have a good time.

By Ian Roebuck

Originally published in issue 10 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. September 2009

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