INTERVIEW: Samuel Bauermeister (BLUE VELVET)
Sydney proprietors of lighthearted punk Blue Velvet are the type of band you want to spend long summer days with; packed full of bubbling vibes and sunny punk tones, this lot have made the transition from emo bois to fully-fledged indie rockers, ultimately arriving at their own liberated take on positive party-ready anthems that have placed them alongside the likes of Luca Brasi, Trophy Eyes, Dear Seattle, West Thebarton and more.
With their 2018 release A Lesson in Regression firmly cementing their foray into musical territory full of life, love and optimism, the Blue Velvet lads have since jumped head first into 2019, most recently unveiling their latest sonic delight: It's All Gravy, a nostalgic love letter to conspiracy theories that'll make you forget your worries and drift off into a world of 90s punk and 80s tones, all wrapped up in the enigmatic Blue Velvet fashion.
With their new tune out in the world today and a brand new music video for It's All Gravy due out next month (thanks to the lads winning a triple J Unearthed comp to produce the music video with none other than NIDA), what better time to chat all things Blue Velvet with king of the keys and frontman Samuel Bauermeister, covering everything from goofy DJs to songwriting and why band roll-call is no laughing matter.
TIANA SPETER: Well hello and thank you so much for chatting! It’s a pretty fun time for Blue Velvet right now with the release of It’s All Gravy. I actually woke up with it in my head a few times the last few days, it’s certainly a catchy number, so thank you for helping me start my day off right! And you’ve managed to make alien conspiracies catchy without treading on Tom DeLonge’s toes, can you talk me through what inspired you guys to conjure this tune?
SAMUEL BAUERMEISTER: Thank you so much! So stoked that you’re digging it. When we were in the studio getting the track down, we were having a chat about how hilarious and out there some conspiracy theorists are. We’ve always been pretty fascinated with how out there some of these theories are and we kind of wanted to lightly poke fun at the weird sort of world that they surround themselves in. We had a brainstorm around the personalities of these people and what they believe in and we always kept going back to alien abductions. From there, the lyrics we were writing ended up weirdly shaping this one character who was so adamant that they’d been abducted and having all of their friends and family not believe them. It was definitely the most creative we’ve been when it’s come to writing out a song and the whole process was just hilarious as we tried to think of the most stereotypical traits of a conspiracy theorist.
TIANA: There’s a fair bit of nostalgic sonic tendencies kicking around on It’s All Gravy, particularly with some 80s and 90s goodness peeking through. Is this new track a pretty firm indication of where Blue Velvet are headed musically as you traipse into the last few months of 2019?
SAMUEL: We really wanted to try out something new to our sound when it came to this song while still sort of keeping the essence of what a Blue Velvet song is. We’re not the same sort of people we were days, months and years ago and in that sense, each song we write is a reflection of that. It’s always fun to challenge yourself when you’re writing a song to try something different out but still using the foundations that we’ve built. I think this is a really nice, little snapshot of what we’re currently cooking up though when it comes to the direction where Blue Velvet as a band is heading.
TIANA: 2019 has also gifted us with Soggy Cereal, yet another dreamy toe-tapper that’s lovably rough around the edges. Since your release of A Lesson in Regression last year, has the process for writing this new material changed dramatically? Or do these songs easily come to life overall for you guys?
SAMUEL: I feel like things have definitely changed pretty significantly in the way that we write and that sort of all started when we started writing Soggy Cereal. Before that song came to life, we were all really focused on working with a sound that we didn’t really enjoy anymore. It made writing a chore and our hearts weren’t fully in it which made everything pretty boring. After A Lesson In Regression released we all decided that we just wanted to have fun with what we were doing and make the music that we really wanted to make. It made everything really exciting and it all felt new to us that it was this amazing refresher in why we love just being in a room together. We started this band because we loved writing and playing music and we reminded ourselves of that. As a result we’re just feeling really reinvigorated and we’ve never had this much fun doing it.
SOGGY CEREAL (BLUE VELVET)
TIANA: And we’re also due to be gifted with a music video for It’s All Gravy next month after you lads won a triple J Unearthed comp to produce a music video with NIDA that’ll also get a run on Rage. Some pretty prestigious company right there, what was it like to land this opportunity? And is there anything you can reveal about the video, or do we just have to wait and see?
SAMUEL: Oh my god, it was absolutely insane! When I got the call that we won, I thought it was so cruel, horrible prank call and it was pretty hard to believe. We were all so impressed and absolutely loved the previous years' videos and that fact that we would be able to collaborate with some of the most talented people in this country was an absolute dream. It’s honestly insane that we were able to be a part of that entire process and it was like nothing we’ve experience before. I can’t say a whole bunch about the video just yet, but what I tell you is that the NIDA team really understood who we were as a band and our personalities. They also totally got what we were trying to say in the song and everything just fitted together more than perfectly.
TIANA: Blue Velvet actually have roots in the emo world, with you subtly evolving into this more upbeat indie-rock realm. Did you guys make a conscious decision to transition into the current sonic incarnation of the band? Or was it an organic evolution?
SAMUEL: It definitely came to us organically. The more we were writing, the more that we realised we were straying away from that Emo sounds that we started off on. We’ve all sort of changed from the people we were when this band began writing. Our music tastes have changed, our personalities and what we believe have changed. We went into the studio and listened back to everything we recorded and noticed that there was definitely a noticeable change from everything we’ve done in the past and we were pretty excited about that. The most important thing to us as a band is that we write whatever makes us most happy and what we’re really liking while also keeping the essence of who Blue Velvet are within the songwriting. When you keep a sound just to stay the same, things get kind of stale so it’s really fun for us to be mixing things up each time.
TIANA: Over the years you’ve played alongside some pretty big names, including Luca Brasi, West Thebarton and Press Club amongst many others. Has there been a particular standout live show for you along the way? Or do you just love them all equally (aww).
SAMUEL: It’s so hard to say! I think the reason we love playing shows so much is that each one is so different from the last. Whether it’s a crazy venue you’ve never played before, playing with acts you’ve never played with or the crowd being crowds you’ve never played to, I think what makes it all so special is that each show is locked in as this one crazy experience that is so different from the last. So I guess it’s kind of like picking a favourite child in a really weird way where each one is their own special little thing which sounds so cliche!
BLUE VELVET THROWING DOWN LIVE // pic by Mitch Strangman
TIANA: And to strike a balance of the good with the bad, have you had any live show disasters, or perhaps even a hilariously disastrous tour story to share?
SAMUEL: There are way too many to even count. Everything from giving myself a heart attack after spilling beer on my keyboard, our inner road rage coming out while we scream at cars in standstill traffic when we’re late for bringing our gear into the venue, so many things have gone kind of wrong but laughing about it hours later is what makes it all fun. Oh, we also accidentally drove off without Brendan in the middle of nowhere after thinking he was in the car after about 15 minutes. Ever since then we have a band roll with everyone saying ‘present’. Never again...
TIANA: For someone part of the indie punk world, what bands or artists did you grow up listening to? And do all you lovely Blue Velvet lads have similar musical tastes, or do you get some aux cord battles happening when you’re all listening to tunes together?
SAMUEL: The first thing we all noticed when we started Blue Velvet was how insanely different all our music tastes were. I grew up listening to a lot of Indie and Punk, stuff like Descendents, The Lemonheads, Teenage Fanclub while Brendan and Lewis has always really been into Melodic Hardcore growing up on bands like Have Heart, Verse and Touche Amore. We all really brought that to the table when we first started writing together trying to find a nice blend of all the acts that we really loved to find a nice combination of everything. In order to avoid messy arguments, we always build up playlists before we head on the road so everyone gets their song. There’s everything on there from Madonna to Brockhampton to ABBA and we haven’t even fought since!
TIANA: For a Sydney-based band, I feel I have to ask the inevitable: what are your thoughts on the music industry and live music scene in Sydney right now, do you feel optimistic for its future? And do you feel there are adequate opportunities as an emerging band in Sydney?
SAMUEL: It’s definitely a massive bummer. We were pretty lucky to be old enough to see the tail-end of the decline of Sydney’s nightlife and we have a load of amazing memories from it. At the same time, Sydney is really lucky to have some amazing venues who really support Australian music like the Lansdowne, Waywards and Crowbar who are doing some absolutely amazing things to make sure that live music is accessible to everyone. It’s amazing to see everyone rallying together to make sure that music stays alive in Sydney and for that reason I think everything is going to work out. New venues are still opening, breweries are also encouraging live music and the Sydney music scene currently has some really exciting and amazing acts; as long as there's music and we’re all still supporting it, I think things are going to work out!
SAMUEL BAUERMEISTER // pic by Zac Zak
TIANA: As a band who publicly claim to be channeling their “inner goof’…what’s the goofiest thing that’s ever happened to you guys as a band?
SAMUEL: Okay, so at the time this story happened, I think we all felt that we looked like the coolest people around, but looking back on the video footage and thinking about it we would’ve looked like the biggest losers there. We played a festival in Moruya where the lineup consisted mostly of DJ’s. Later in the night, we had a couple too many drinks and asked one of the DJs about to go on stage if we could be hypemen during their set. We were on stage for about 20 minutes jumping up and dancing like losers, playing around with smoke guns and pyro on stage...It all seemed like a great idea at the time. The next day we look at the video footage and it was no where near as cool we thought it looked. It still haunts us to this day.
TIANA: And finally, beyond the release of It’s All Gravy and the music video next month, is there anything else you can reveal about what may be on the near horizon for Blue Velvet?
SAMUEL: A whole bunch of stuff! We’re always writing new stuff and it’s the most excited we’ve been writing. We’re also going to be playing in cities and places we’ve never been to before as a band and everything is getting so excited. So definitely stay tuned!
GO GET YOUR EARS AROUND BLUE VELVET'S BRAND NEW TRACK IT'S ALL GRAVY RIGHT NOW - PLUS KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THEIR BRAND NEW MUSIC VIDEO DUE OUT IN OCTOBER, FOR MORE INFO HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER