Since the release of their debut EP in the spring of 2015, Edmonton rock band The Velveteins have gained well-deserved praise for their fuzzy, surf-rock tunes. The trio, with Spencer Morphy on lead vocals and guitar, Addison Hiller on drums, and Dean Kheroufi on bass, recorded A Hot Second With The Velveteins in Nashville, touting Cage the Elephant’s Lincoln Parish as producer.
The band’s latest record Slow Wave is deliciously psychedelic, meshing gritty garage-rock with dreamy indie-pop to serve up a sound that is undeniably groovy. The result is a truly delightful record, including the bouncy Kinks-esque lead single “Don’t Yah Feel Better” and hazy, almost-but-not-quite lo-fi “Midnight Surf.” Over the past two years, The Velveteins have produced an infectiously fun catalogue, with equally enjoyable visuals to match. The music video for “Midnight Surf” features the band gallivanting around the city in Morphy’s VW Bus, with shots of color block animation rounding out the song’s dream-like whimsy.
The laidback three-piece stops by Café du Nord on July 11th as a part of their West Coast tour. Before heading on the road, frontman Spencer Morphy sat down with SF Sonic to talk tour plans, songwriting, and superhero food trucks.
SF Sonic: What is the story of The Velveteins? Did you guys all know each other or did the band bring you together?
Spencer Morphy: We all knew each other through our friend’s group. Like, we’re from Edmonton, which is in Canada. We all kind of went to shows and met each other through going out and seeing bands and playing in bands, and all that stuff.
SF Sonic: Cool! So you’re from Canada, can you give us naïve San Francisco Bay Area listeners a crash course in what the Edmonton music scene is like?
Morphy: [laughs] It’s pretty chill! It’s a smaller city but there’s tons of bands. It’s actually, like, the perfect size because there’s enough people that make it interesting, and there’s always new stuff going on, but it’s also a pretty tight-knit community. And there’s tons of people who, like, play in multiple bands, so everyone pretty much knows each other.
SF Sonic: That’s awesome! So you guys did a showcase at SXSW, right? What was that like?
Morphy: Yeah! Oh, it was crazy. That was our first time in Texas and at SXSW and there was like, so many people. It was, like, the most insane week. [laughs] Ah man, it was cool though.
SF Sonic: Are you guys excited to be back touring on the west coast?
Morphy: Yeah! We did a similar tour last year around this time and it went really good and now we’re doing it again. It’s always a fun cruise for us, ‘cause we’re on the west side of Canada anyway. So it’s like, going down, getting tropical, ya know, playing shows.
SF Sonic: So you’ve got San Francisco, LA, San Diego all coming up. Do you have any plans to explore the cities while you’re there?
Morphy: Yeah, it’s a pretty tight-knit tour. We don’t have a lot of days off, but I think we have a few days off in San Francisco so we’ll probably chill for a sec. And the cities aren’t that far apart, so we’ll do a little bit of driving but we’ll have some time to check out the spots.
SF Sonic: Those times you get to spend in the cities, do you think that influences your music?
Morphy: I mean, it depends. Depends how we’re feeling. Every time we go on the road it’s like, ya know, a life experience that will probably find it’s way into the music somehow, if you know what I mean.
SF Sonic: For sure. Do you have any really memorable moments from touring so far?
Morphy: [laughs] We played in Vegas in March on our way to SXSW, and that was pretty memorable. I don’t know if we remember it, exactly, but I’m pretty sure it was fun.
SF Sonic: I can imagine!
Morphy: Yeah, we went to New York for the first time in April, and that was really cool. We went to Brooklyn. You know, just seeing all the cities for the first time and enjoying them and experiencing them is pretty cool.
SF Sonic: Do you have any dream venues you one day want to headline?
Morphy: Lemme think. I don’t know, I’m not too savvy with venues. But…huh, maybe some like crazy cool-oh, Burning Man. If we played Burning Man, that’d be tight. That’s not a venue, though.
SF Sonic: It works! So, I think the video for “Midnight Surf” is ridiculously cool. How did you guys come up with that concept and what was it like filming?
Morphy: We kind of came up with that just because we had the van in the video in mind and we were just like ‘We should use this.’ And so we came up with that concept and we filmed it all on 16 mm film. So it was super, super stressful ‘cause you don’t really know if any of the shot is working until you get it developed. It was pretty gnarly. And the film crew got in a car crash the day we were supposed to start shooting. It was pretty crazy, actually.
SF Sonic: Wow, yeah! What beach was in the video? Where was it filmed?
Morphy: It was in Vancouver.
SF Sonic: So what is your typical songwriting process look like? Do you make time to sit down and collaborate together, or does it mostly just come from random inspiration?
Morphy: Usually it’s me and the drummer Addison kinda working on the music. One person will come up with an idea and we’ll kinda collaborate and make it into a full-fledged song. That’s typically how it goes. Lately our bass player Dean has been kind of involved with the writing a little bit more than he was before. Kinda changing it up a little bit.
SF Sonic: Do you have any artists or songwriters that you most admire?
Morphy: Yeah, definitely! I’ve been really feeling Willie Nelson, lately…he’s a pimp!
SF Sonic: [laughs] Do you think you guys emulate any of the bands or artists you really like in your songs?
Morphy: Yeah, maybe subconsciously. I think maybe it’s just we like the way something sounds so we try to do something similar to that.
SF Sonic: If you were to read that you were compared to a band, who would you most want to be compared to?
Morphy: Someone said our music sounded like T-Rex once, and I was pretty stoked on that.
SF Sonic: Nice. So you have this West Coast tour coming up. What’s next for you guys?
Morphy: We’re doing a bunch of dates in Canada through the summer and then we’re slowly working on a second record.
SF Sonic: Can’t wait to hear it! So I have some more unconventional questions to round it out. First one: if you were going to run a food truck with any superhero, who would the superhero be and what food would you serve?
Morphy: Whoa. It would probably be…Spiderman. And I would run a food truck for making churros, I think. ‘Cause he could like, stick to the roof, like he could work on the roof and I could work on the floor. We could work together, that’d be sick.
SF Sonic: I like it, really practical. So if you could hear any one of your songs in any place, like walking through the grocery store or any random place, what song and where would it be?
Morphy: Oh man, I’d probably want to hear “Don’t Yah Feel Better” while I was playing laser tag.
SF Sonic: Nice, that’s really cool. Are you familiar with Harry Potter?
Morphy: Oh, yeah! All the books.
SF Sonic: Okay good, just checking. If you were gonna pick a Patronus for your band as a whole, what would it be?
Morphy: Whoa, the Patronus is their spirit animal, right? Lemme think about that. Probably…oh, that’s hard. Maybe like a koala bear.
Find out more about Velveteins here.
Listen to Slow Wave by the Velveteins on Spotify.