CHAT IN THE NEON LIGHT Veil Veil Vanish

On the set of their
new music video, the band pulls the veil back on themselves and their music.

 

BY GIL MACIAS

 

 

Veil Veil Vanish are in a great place right now. The San Francisco based
quintet is currently riding a high tide of praise and great reviews for their
stunning debut album, Change in the Neon
Light
(reviewed here). Most of the press can’t resist comparing them to The
Cure, but they’re far from being some new copycat Goth band. If their new album
is a sign of things to come, then there’s a good chance they won’t be vanishing
anytime soon.

 

I had the pleasure of meeting all of the band members on the
set of their very first music video for the new single “Anthem for a Doomed
Youth.” It was a small production yet there was big energy and positive vibes
from the band and their crew. I caught up with charismatic lead vocalist Keven
Tecon and keyboardist Justin Anastasi on a break and chatted with them about
the new video, how they’re handling all the press, the future of their music,
and their outlook on their career.

 

***

 

BLURT:  So we’re on the set of your first ever music
video, which is for “Anthem for a Doomed Youth.” Can you tell me how you guys
came up with the idea for this video?

 

TECON: Well,
we’re working with Justin Coloma, who is a good friend of ours who we’ve known
for a long time. We’ve seen him do a lot of videos before, so it was fun to
finally work with him. The lyrics to the song are very visual, in a way; there
are a lot of descriptions of nightlife and cityscapes. So we really wanted to
capture a lot of the atmosphere and the mood of the song.

ANASTASI: We’re
just trying to keep it really simple. We’re not the glossy video types. At
least that’s our idea of it. We don’t know what it looks like yet, so…

 

 So it sounds like you’re keeping it simple
because it’s your first music video. Do you think as time goes along and you
get more comfortable with filming, your
visions might get bigger, more expensive and glossier?

 

TECON: I hope not. [Laughs]
I hope we never do that. I thought it was fun to do a video. We’ve never done
one before. I don’t think it’s much of a sign of things to come. I don’t think
we’re going to do bigger, huge videos to the point where we’re like Axel Rose
jumping off of a ship, swimming with dolphins and stuff [Laughs].

ANASTASI: There are different degrees of success. We
probably wouldn’t do anything that’s dishonest to ourselves.

 

 Are you tired of all The Cure comparisons your
band is getting?

 

TECON: It happens sometimes. It’s fine. I don’t care.

ANASTASI:  We could be
compared to worse people [Laughs].

TECON: When bands start out, they always get compared to
somebody else. I think it’s a good entry point to get people interested.
Because if you have a band that gets no comparisons to anything, you have no
way to establish interest or give people something to grab onto. As you start
to listen to the music more, you kind of realize it’s something different. I
don’t think this album sounds like anything The Cure would make in any way. I
think it’s alright. It’s happened to a lot of bands. Even when The Cure
started, they got compared to…

ANASTASI: The Buzzcocks. They were considered a Buzzcocks
rip-off band.

 

 It could be worse. At least they’re saying you
sound like Robert Smith, versus saying you look like him—the way he looks
now.
[Laughter]

 

ANASTASI: [Looks at Keven]
Well, you have a few years to go. [Laughs]

 

 Justin, last night I noticed you were wearing
a Siouxsie shirt. Is she a big influence on the band?

 

ANASTASI: Well, personally, for me yes. Actually, we were
just talking about Siouxsie albums today. I like the first three or four albums
the best. The Scream, Kaleidoscope, Juju. Juju is probably
one of my all-time favorite Siouxsie albums. I definitely think she’s an
influence. I think a lot of the bands from that era got a bad name because of
what came after. But I think they’re still relevant.

TECON: I agree that it got a bad name. Eventually, all dark
music became “Goth.” It became synonymous with cheesy.

ANASTASI: I think it became synonymous with mall culture too.

TECON: A lot of those bands came from the punk movement. I
think we feel more kinship with that than anything that came after.

 

 You guys are a very young band. This is your
first album, you’re working on your first music video. Have you thought about
how long you might be doing this yet? Do you see yourself like U2, 30 years
later, still making music, videos and touring?

 

TECON: [Laughs] I
hope not.

ANASTASI: Ah, wait. I can see you keep going. You’ll keep
going. [Laughs] I need support to
know when to quit though.

TECON: I don’t want to. I don’t want to keep playing music all my life. I think it’s something I
want to do right now and it’s something I’ve done all my life so far. I think
it would be sad if I did it all my life without doing something else. It’s
exciting right now. I feel with that feeling that it’s not going to continue
forever, it’s kind of a good feeling that you can make everything as poignant
as possible. I would like to make our next album the last thing we ever do. I
don’t know if we’ll stick to that, but that’s my plan and then just move on to
something else.

 

 It sounds like you guys are living in the
moment and focusing on what’s going on now.

 

ANASTASI: I don’t know what will happen. [Looks at Keven] It’s been a day to day
thing for how many years now? [Laughs]
I think there’s something that’s said for being concise and knowing when to not
outstay your welcome, but who knows when that will be? Even when playing live,
if things aren’t feeling right, we cut the show short.

 

 So what would your alternate career path be?

 

TECON: I don’t know [Laughs].
I don’t have an answer for that. I’ve been so focused on doing this.

ANASTASI: I would do graphic design. Other than that, maybe
painting.

 

 If you could tour with any band or musician
right now, who would it be?

 

TECON: I don’t know, maybe A Place to Bury Strangers or Lady Gaga [Laughs].

 

 Wow, those are polar opposites!

 

ANASTASI: Lady Gaga would be fun. I would definitely do that
just for the experience. [Laughs]

 

 Are you guys actually fans of some mainstream
pop?

 

TECON: Amy [the bassist] is.

ANASTASI: Amy follows teen pop, mostly. I think she takes it
within the spirit it’s given, you know what I mean? It’s just meant to be fun.

 

 What was the writing process like on this new
album versus the first EP?

 

TECON: With this album, I ended up getting a lot of
keyboards at garage sales for free. I started writing a lot on keyboards. I
felt it was kind of exciting to write on a different instrument that I’m not
used to playing on. I would start writing on drums, keyboards, bass and other
instruments. It was kind of refreshing to approach things in a different way
and to start writing from sound sets as opposed to, “Ok, let’s all sit down and
write this bridge or this chorus” or something like that.  It was like building an atmosphere.

 

 I know your debut album is still brand new,
but have you started work on a follow-up yet?

 

TECON: A little bit. We started writing some stuff. It’s
going to be completely different from this one and the first EP. I think it’s
kind of important to move on as a band and try other things. For this one it
was kind of an experiment. I said, “Ok, let’s try doing music that’s a little
more pop.” We had never really written anything like that. There was actually a
bet that I started. [Looks at Justin]
One of the first songs we started was?

ANASTASI: It was literally called “Pop Song.”

TECON: Yea. A friend of mine bet me I couldn’t write pop
music. So I gave it a shot, and one of the songs came from that. I don’t mean
that it’s all a joke or anything like that, but it is like taking some of that pop
music and some of the undertones of the darker music that we really like and
some of the harsher sounds and more experimental music, and we really tried to
put that into the pop format in a way. It’s interesting because there’s such a
dichotomy with some of these pop formulas, but some of the sounds are so harsh
and experimental. Also, the lyrics are really not pop lyrics. It really had a
message we were trying to put out with it. So there’s a lot of different
dimensions to it all.

 

 Are you worried about the risk of confusing or
alienating fans by putting out a record that sounds completely different?

 

TECON: Even with this album at first, we definitely weren’t
doing pop music before. We weren’t sure if people would be into it or not. People
seemed to really like it a lot and felt like it still had a lot of the feeling
that our older material did, but really kind of pushing it further.

 

 Your album is so short and sweet too, there
are only 9 tracks.

 

TECON: I really wanted it to have a cohesive feel. I feel
that with longer albums, they start to lose their focus and as a listener you
start to get tired. Well, at least I do. I wanted to keep it kind of consistent
with a cohesive and whole feel. I
felt like it would start to lose that if we had more songs. Even our live shows
are short. I don’t want to see a band play for very long unless they’re U2.
After 40 minutes or so, I get tired or want to sit down.

ANASTASI: People are used to variety too. Especially because
of the way people listen to music now. I think more people listen to things as
a sparse mix of all these different genres at the same time. So, like I said,
it goes back to outstaying your welcome.

TECON: Plus all the classic albums we really like were all 8
or 9 songs long. I thought that was great.

ANASTASI: I know Keven wanted the album to be concise.
Though it’s a pop format, it is sort of a narrative; it has a beginning,
middle, and end. It’s a stream of consciousness.

TECON: The lyrics are really meaningful to what we’re doing
and also to what we’ve gone through, like living in the city and watching it
decay. It is really a sign of the times. I think it’s really a current album in
that way. Some of the lyrics get playful sometimes and other times, it’s just a
really direct representation of what we’ve gone though.

 

***

 

At this point he guys had to get back to their filming and
the conversation had to be cut short. The guys informed me that they are still
taking this whole music video process in, as it was a bit of a frazzling and
exploratory process for them. More conversations were had as the band invited
me down to the house-turned-studio hybrid in the Los Angeles Valley
where they lived for weeks while recording Change
in the Neon Light
. All 5 members are a truly amazing, hard-working and
passionate bunch, gifted and surrounded by a creative circle of friends who help
the band achieve their goals. To my surprise, the ‘20s inspired album cover was
created by Anastasi and featured a model who is also a friend of the band. You
would have guessed it was an authentic art piece from 80 years ago. As their
name becomes more known and the fan base grows larger, the promise of big tour
buses, larger venues, and seeing them travel the globe shouldn’t be too far
off. The band will be back in Los
Angeles in May, so look forward to a continued
conversation with Veil Veil Vanish next month.

 

Check out the band on
the web: www.myspace.com/veilveilvanish

 

 

 

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