At the same time that My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Slowdive were forging the fuzzy sounds of shoegaze in the UK, a small group of bands in the US were creating their own hazy, atmospheric noise. Amongst the were The Veldt, formed in Raleigh, North Carolina in the 1980s by identical twins Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar). The twins grew up with the sounds of their local church and southern juke-joints, surrounded by gospel, Motown and Pink Floyd, echoes of which can be heard in their music.
Taking their name from a Ray Bradbury science fiction story they were influenced equally by the dreamy sounds of Cocteau Twins, Marvin Gaye’s soul and the free-jazz of Sun Ra and Pharaoh Sanders. They threw European post-punk and modern hip-hop into the mix, pioneering a sound that flitted between fluid dreamscapes and more solid song structures. Their Afrodisiac LP was named one of the top 50 shoegaze albums of all time by Pitchfork, while Stereogum included ‘Until You’re Forever’ as one of their essential shoegaze tracks. The Veldt also have an impressive catalogue of collaborations, including TV On The Radio, Mos Def, Lady Miss Kier (Deee-Lite), A.R.Kane and they have shared a stage with The Pixies, Throwing Muses, Echo & The Bunnymen, Cocteau Twins, Manic Street Preachers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Oasis, Chuck D, Living Colour, and Schooly D.
They arrived at a time when they didn’t fit the expected mould for black artists. “Other black bands were getting noticed, and every record company wanted their Living Colour,” Daniel Chavis explained in a Guardian article in 2016. “We didn’t fit into that mode. When it’s Kurt Cobain, it’s ‘He knows what he wants’, but we’re ‘difficult to work with’.” A label recommended they try sounding more like Lenny Kravitz.
The band recorded their debut LP, Illuminated 1989, with Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie in the producers’ chair, only to see it shelved by their label, Capital Records. Hugely anticipated for decades, this lost album will finally see the light of day this Autumn, with Guthrie returning to remaster the original recordings. Today we’re delighted to bring you the first chance to hear the first track to be released from the album, ‘The Everlasting Gobstopper’, which is out tomorrow on 12″ vinyl and all of the usual digital channels. It comes with a video produced by Jammi York and the late Yuko Sueta.
“As the benchmark of the new sound we had started to develop, ‘The Everlasting Gobstopper’ was a throwback to our younger days of our family getting together on holidays when Willy Wonka will be playing and the certain atmosphere would be filled with a sense of love and security. Upon reminiscing about this, my brother Danny came up with a riff and then called it ‘The Everlasting Gobstopper’ as a lullaby to put his daughter (then maybe one year old) to go to sleep. Thus was born this sound that would develop into what we have right now”, says Daniel Chavis.
“This is significant – the birth of the sound that we have come to develop until present, because back then we were quite a different band. Robin pretty much shaved off all the excess and led us toward the sound we have now, so ‘The Everlasting Gobstopper’ is the cornerstone that Robin helped us to lay for our own unique sound, which we still have to this day.”
The Everlasting Gobstopper’ single will be released everywhere on 5th May, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. The Illuminated 1989 album will be released on vinyl, CD, cassette and digitally. The Veldt is touring North America with Dead Leaf Echo in support of this release.
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Article by Paul Maps
Photograph provided by The Veldt
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