a Q&A with Veronica Falls’ James Hoare

London’s Veronica Falls’ 2011 self-titled debut was released to generally favorable critical reviews for a sound that had been described by many of my colleagues and fellow critics as goth-tinged pop. The February 19th release of the band’s sophomore release Waiting For Something To Happen through Slumberland Records in North America and Bella Union Records in Europe and elsewhere has the band refining and perfecting their sound.

With the release of the album’s first three singles, “My Heart Beats,”“Teenage” and “Buried Alive,” it’s obvious that the band draws some of their influence from 60s pop through their use of bright, buoyant melodies and gorgeous harmonies. And it’s done in an effortlessly elegant fashion that reveals how well-crafted and constructed the songs really are – each part of every song works perfectly together and every song fits in with each other.  

I recently spoke with the band’s James Hoare about the new album, their upcoming New York-area date at the Bowery Ballroom on March 8th, and several other topics in the Q&A below.

 

WRH: How did each of you get into music? 

JH: Listening to the Beatles when I was 5 or so. Then getting a guitar a couple of years later and trying to learn their songs. Then starting a band 

WRH: How did the band meet? 

JH: Roxanne [Clifford] and Patrick [Doyle] moved to London from Glasgow. I met them through a mutual friend, and we started the band through having a free practice space. After we’d played a few shows we recruited Marion [Herbain] on bass and the band was completed.

WRH: Who are your influences? 

JH: The Velvet Underground, Beat Happening, the Feelies, REM, the Clean, etc. 

WRH: How would you describe the band’s sound?

JH: Moe Tucker playing with Roger McGuinn and the Raincoats.

WRH: Who are you listening to right now? 

JH: The Clean, [The] West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Bob Dylan

WRH: What would those who are unfamiliar with you and your sound expect to hear on the band’s forthcoming album, Waiting For Something to Happen? How does the new album differ from your previous work?

JH: I’d expect a collection of pop songs, influenced by 60’s British Invasion groups, 80’s punk rock, [the] Flying Nun, early 90’s American Lo-Fi bands, etc. The album differs in lyrical content to the first record. With more introspective songwriting. The sound is a continuation of the first record, more developed and complex (especially the vocal arrangements).

WRH: I understand that the new effort is a change of musical direction from your full-length debut. Was that a conscious decision to change things up or did it come about organically as you were writing the material that became the new album? Do you think your fans will be accepting of such a change? 

JH: I hope people who liked the first record will like this one too. I don’t see it as dramatically different. It’s the same instrumentation, recording process, etc., the main change is the lyrical content. I can’t imagine we’ll alienate our previous fans with it. At least I hope not.

WRH: Many of the songs lyrically sound as though they’re these intimate and almost old-fashioned, sweet confessions of love, love lost and the attempt to move on, and find new love. How much are the lyrics influenced by your own real life experiences? 

JH: The lyrics are influenced by personal experience. Some of the songs more than others. It’s the same things people have been writing about since the earliest days.

WRH: How did you come up with the album name? Was it something that came about organically, where you knew ahead of time – “this is only name for the album”?

JH: It came about later on. We had the record finished and then realised title track (Waiting For Something To Happen) seemed to fit well and made sense in the context of the whole album.  

WRH: The material on the new album is so impeccably crafted – every piece fits into each other perfectly, down to the beautiful harmonies. How does the songwriting process work for you? Does one member have an idea that requires the others help to flesh out? Do you come up with lyrics first or the music first?

JH: Three of us in the band (Roxanne, Patrick and myself) write the songs. Sometimes collectively, but most of the time they are individually brought to the table in different states of completion. They often end up sounding quite different from the original idea. Sometimes they come about with ease but most of the time we work on them a lot to get them into the finished state.

WRH: The band will be embarking on a tour through North America during most of March, and it includes a stop at the Bowery Ballroom here in NYC. What should readers expect if they were catch you live?

JH: I don’t really know what to say for this. we’ll play a collection of songs from both records. with (hopefully) a high energy performance 

WRH: What advice would you give to independent musicians trying to make a name for themselves?

JH: Work on your songs. Also try and get some recording equipment together. That’s always a help. Listen to the classics, stay away from drugs, the man, etc.