CLEAR AND PRESENT MELLOW David Vandervelde

 

 

Feeling fine, David
Vandervelde gets free n’ easy on
Waiting for the Sunrise.

By RANDY HARWARD

 

After the lush Bowie-T. Rex glam of David Vandervelde’s
debut LP The Moonstation House Band,
his follow-up is a surprise. The cover photo, showing the twentysomething
singer songwriter in a bedroom with James Taylor hair in the soft morning
light—and the dulcet tones of lead track “I Will Be Fine”—scream “soft rock
sounds of the seventies.” It seems a musical left turn for the burgeoning singer-songwriter
and his Moonstation House Band, going from Major Tom in a Jeepster to Fleetwood
Mac in a convertible, placidly cruising the Pacific Coast Highway. Except the
through-line is Vandervelde’s introspective, candid songwriting and melodic
sixth sense which, while couched in a new context, are as clear and present as
ever.

 

Did you know you were
creating audio Xanax with “I Will Be Fine”? Seems like a guy could ditch
antidepressants and therapy bills by just using the song as a personal mantra.

 

Yeah, man. Music therapy! It’s just anti-stress, you know?
Just bein’ mellow. [Affects hippie voice] It’s like, no matter what, maaan…
it’s cool! [laughs] That song, lyrically, how it fits into the album with some
of the other songs, is maybe a search for hope… total reassurance [considering]
how fucked up our country is right now.

 

So on the first
record you folded Bowie glam into indie rock. Now you’ve done the same with soft
rock—but it’s not a “thing.”

 

It puts me in a difficult spot, with a lot of that. Those
are definitely the records that I’m into, and I’m not tryin’ to hide it or say I’m
doing something incredibly new… But to have two records come out, and both of
them—you know. I’m a pretty traditional rock songwriter. I just write songs,
and I think they can come across in so many different ways. A lot of that has
to do with the production that I’m into and the overall vibe that I wanna
create. It’s not like I intentionally did some throwback record. They’re all my
tunes [and I] I definitely put my own spin on things.

 

Well, Moonstation was great, but Sunrise will establish you as a
songwriter.

 

Awesome, man! That’s pretty encouraging to hear. This
record, I think, has a lot of people talking and thinking; they have a lot of
different views. I really don’t read a lot of [my press]… it’s not gonna
change what I do or where I’m at. But the most annoying thing that I’ve seen is
like, “David’s just always flip-flopped what he’s into from the seventies—and
now he’s this dude.” That’s just an
easy way to review something without really listening to it, or researching who
I am as a songwriter. So I’m glad you said that, because… some people really
get it, and some choose not to.

 

There’s a Fleetwood
Mac thing, Rumours-era, going on here:
strong pop songwriting with subtle experimentalism.

 

Yeah, [Moonstation]
is totally filled with weird studio trickery, the tape being pitched all over
the place… With this record, I focused on vocal sounds a lot. And drums. The
drum sounds are pretty key to the record. I got really into this super dead,
simple, dry, in-your-face drum sound, as opposed to more of a washed-out,
reverby room sound. I just checked all the mics and we just kinda went for it,
all in the same room, except for Derek in a dead room with the drums. When
mixing it, we did a lot of triggered drums, early-80s drum samples and drum
machines underneath the actual drums, mixing in a dead, thumpy, 80s-sounding
snare under the real one on “I Will Be Fine,” “Someone Like You.” “Old Turns”
is a drum machine, this old late-seventies Lynn drum machine.

 

So to play devil’s
advocate, you’ve done 60s and 70s stuff, glam and soft rock… is a butt rock
album coming forthwith?

 

[laughs] Well, actually, you’re not too far off. I’ve
already been working on the third record and it’s definitely more… kinda what
you said. [laughs] There’s a couple songs that I play live that haven’t made it
on records yet and… I don’t know. I think I’m kinda goin’ for a super rocker
for the third record.

 

Could I be so bold as
to suggest an amped-up anthemic version of “I Will Be Fine” called “I Will Be
Alrite Tonite”?

 

Hell yeah!

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