#1 Some Velvet Morning
Some Velvet Morning, formed by the Lambert brothers from North London, are influenced as much by 80s synth-pop as the guitar melodies and counter-melodies of U2’s The Edge. “A lot of bands start out the art school way,” says Des, “with a certain purpose. We’re completely the opposite. We just started doing gigs, I could play guitar a bit, and that’s how we went on.” The arrival of Rob, a dexterous and versatile sticks man proved to be a decisive moment for SVM. “I’m influenced by the classic drummers,” explains the Flanagan from Lincoln. “Ringo, Nick Mason and Mick Fleetwood... the great unsung heroes, so often underrated, but the parts they played on those records are unbelievably good.” According to Des, Rob learned to play drums from The Beatles’ Abbey Road and tom-tom laden tracks such as “Come Together” - “that album’s in his DNA.”
To begin with, hello and thank you very much for having accepted to do this interview with us and also to be the very first band in our project «Push Zone». Firstly, can you present the band Some Velvet Morning ?
We are Desmond Lambert (Vocals-Guitar), Gavin Lambert (Bass Guitar-Vocals) and Rob Flanagan (Drums).
– One at a time, tell us about your debut, how did you each start doing music and when ?
Gav: We formed after a chance meeting between Des and Rob on London's Denmark Street back in 2006. We've all been playing since we were children, though, with Des and I learning piano from a particularly young age. Amusingly, Rob used cardboard boxes and wooden spoons to practise on when he was a child.
– Why « Some Velvet Morning », which is the title of a 60's' duet by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood ? Did you have other options, which one ?
Gav: Yes, that's right. It's from the album ‘Movin' With Nancy’ originally. Certainly, ask anyone in a band and they will tell you how tough it is to come up with a band name. We struggled for a long time before Rob suggested Some Velvet Morning – we agreed on it immediately, though.
– This one is for Gavin, everybody knows a backing vocalist also have a good voice, which is true for you. Why aren't you the lead singer ?
Gav: Why thank you. We do often discuss about switching the lead on a song or two. Maybe we'll see on the next album.
– How were the writing and the composition of your first songs ? Which one in the band is writing the songs ?
Des: In the band I write the lyrics for two reasons. Firstly, I have to sing them so it makes sense that I sing my own words. Secondly, Rob and Gav don't care about the lyrics. Rob thinks it's all about the drums and Gavin thinks people only listen to the bass.
– Now tell us about your influences, we already know Coldplay is one of them.
Gav: Yes, Coldplay is certainly a big influence of mine, although I have to admit to being rather disappointed with Mylo Xyloto – Mainly as they have a great drummer in Will, but he seems to be being massively underused currently in my opinion. Hopefully he'll be more utilised on the next album.
Des and I are also big fans of Depeche Mode and early U2. Both get a massive amount of play in the tour van. Rob meanwhile is a Beatles maniac. Anything you want to know about the Beatles, ask him. It's frightening.
– Tell us about your first album 'Silence Will Kill You', where is this title from ?
Des:The title was from a song we had written that never made the first album. I think the title works on many levels. On a political level it reminds me Martin Niemoller's poem 'First They Came'. I also think it works on a personal level about one's need to express our feelings emotions for our wellbeing.
– Desmond, during my research I found out something that you said about the album in an interview : « The first album allowed us to get our bearings. We didn't know exactly where we were going, but what we knew is that we had the songs. But we still had to get the format – the production, the arrangements, the band's aesthetics.» We understand by this that you didn't get your bearings yet, can you explain that?
Des: Before we made 'Silence Will Kill You' we were flirting with various genres. We had yet to learn what sound the three of us made that we could call 'ours'. Some bands start with a sound and need to find the songs. We had the songs but no sound. ‘Silence Will Kill You’ was about us finding and establishing our sound.
- Rik Simpson is a big name in the music industry, did he help you to find your bearings and your identity as a band ? What did he bring to the band ?
Gav:Rik was great to work with – a real professional and an incredibly hard worker. We're really pleased he's done so well with Coldplay.
– Working with such a producer for a first album is not nothing, how did it happen, as we know he was working with Coldplay the same year on their album 'Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends'?
Rob: Rik came through Jo Beckett at Stephen Budd Management, who was Rik’s agent at the time. Jo arranged for us to meet various producers and we played live for several of them over a few afternoons. Of the people we played for, we liked Rik the best and thankfully the feeling was mutual.
- During an interview, Rik Simpson described you as one of his best new bands, saying « Some Velvet Morning (a classic yet forward thinking 3 piece rock band) ». Any reaction about that ?
Des: We got on really well with Rik so it's nice to hear that.
– In the titles of your songs, we can feel the desire to denounce and reveal things. For instance, in your first album, with the song 'Propanganda' or with 'How To Start a Revolution' and 'Resistance' in your new album 'Allies'. Is it your aim?
Des: As a songwriter when something moves you it then inspires you. With those songs I just happen to have been inspired along those roads.
- What's the story behind your album 'Allies' – which was released in France last month. Where is this title from ?
Des:'Allies' was the title of the last song that we wrote and recorded for the album. The title seemed perfect for the album as a whole. The album was made thanks to crowd funding from nearly 400 people. They were our 'Allies' in making it possible so the title seemed a nice way of us saying thank you.
- Produce your album on your own is a great and tough decision, how did you make this decision and why not working again with Rik Simpson, Mike Pelanconi or another producer ?
Des: Making a record is all about the team. So we did discuss if we wanted an 'outside' voice coming in to help the project but in the end we decided that between the three of us we had enough skills to make the record we wanted.
– With 'Allies', we can feel a great energy and a sound more 'Pop-Rock' than on your first album. How did you delevelop that in staying in the SVM register ?
Des: The sound hasn't been a conscious decision it has just naturally developed from us writing new songs and playing around the world since the release of ‘Silence Will Kill You’.
– Any plan for your future or are you focused on the promotion of Allies right now ?
Gav: Yes, we're currently busy touring ‘Allies’ at the moment. However, we hope to be able to get into the studio before the end of the year to start work on our new album.
– How did you find yourself with 'My Major Company', which is a french label ?
Rob: They actually found us. There was a buzz about the band with our demo of ‘How To Start A Revolution’ being used in the film trailer for ‘Kick-Ass’. Jimmy Mikaoui was the label’s UK A&R man and he signed us to the label.
– You are touring at the moment for the promotion of your album Allies, including a few french dates especially. Would you describe yourself as France and french audience lovers ? Is France a great step for you to establish yourself outside the UK ?
Gav: We are undeniable fans of France and the French audiences. We always look forward to coming over and always receive an amazing reception when we visit.
– The fact that you are close to your fans, is it your nature or a communication strategy to get people's heart?
Des: If people take the time to listen to our music and come to our concerts, it only seems fair that we take time to meet and talk to them. Fortunately, most of the people we meet through Some Velvet Morning are genuine people. So we are lucky.
– Do you find there are similarities between you and some great bands like Coldplay ?
Rob: I think in writing and performing that everyone you like is an influence. So for us, an idea can come from anything in our record collection. In that way, Coldplay have been an influence as we have their albums. I think their attention to detail and use of melody is one thing that we share. We share other things too, I mean, Will Champion is a brilliant drummer! (Laughs).
– Let's talk about Coldplay now. Have you ever been to a Coldplay concert ? Have you met them ? Also, can you tell us which one of their songs is your personal favorite ?
Gav: Yep, I've seen them live on a few occasions. It always seems to rain when I'm there, though, for some inexplicable reason!
Sadly, we've not met them. There was talk of Chris playing on one of our songs a while back, however his busy schedule meant that didn't happen, which was a shame.
Favourite song? What If from X&Y, which I feel is a massively underrated album of theirs. So many great songs. In fact ‘ Twisted Logic’ is playing in the background as I write. ‘Politik’ is probably top song among the band overall.
– What do you think about our «Push Zone» project whose you are the subject with this interview ?
Rob: I think it’s great. When I became a fan of The Beatles and had bought all their albums, I was keen to find records by other artists that had similar qualities. Coldplay have great songs and musical parts, so we hope that people who like them, will also enjoy our music.
Finally, thank you so much for having taken the time to talk to us and tell us your story. I was very pleased to ask you these few questions. On behalf of the entire team, I wish you a lot of success and a long and great career. We are glad to count you in our numerous forthcoming interviews and that you are the lauch of our project to introduce new bands to the french speaking Coldplay fans.
Rob: Thank you Coldplay Corner.