Waiting for Something to Happen: Best Fit speaks to Veronica Falls

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“We never really started with a plan to actually do anything. It all came together pretty naturally.”

Veronica Falls‘ James Hoare is speaking to Best Fit from his flat in Whitechapel, where the band have just wrapped their penultimate day of recording for sophomore release Waiting for Something to Happen; with the record already wrapped up, the finishing touches are now being applied to the accompanying EP of covers that will ship with deluxe editions of the album.

“We did one for the last record as well, and it was really well-received, it sold out straight away, so we thought we’d do one again,” Hoare says of the EP, which is set to feature covers of artists as diverse as Ween, Bob Dylan and The Moles. “It’s been good fun to be recording in a more relaxed environment than the studio.”

Veronica Falls, by now, are already pretty intimately acquainted with the recording studio, with Waiting for Something to Happen set to arrive less than eighteen months after their self-titled debut; James attributes this impressive level of output to the band’s work ethic. “We really had very little time off, just a short break before we started knocking the ideas we had for these songs into shape,” he says. “And that was the only time we spent off the road; by the time we’d started recording last summer, we were juggling the time we were spending in the studio with going out and playing festivals. The whole process was a little bit disjointed, but we’re pleased with how it’s come together.”

At first glance, Veronica Falls seem a pretty disparate bunch, at least in terms of their geographical roots – England, Scotland and France all represented amongst the band’s membership – so it’s maybe a little surprising to note what a cohesive outfit they really are. Common interests have driven the band both sonically and lyrically so far, and James confirms that the new record will essentially stay true to the formula that served them so well on their debut. “Simple drums, bass, guitars, a lot of focus on the vocal melodies. There’s no keyboards or synthesizers or anything like that; I just don’t think any of us have ever been particularly influenced by that side of things.” The simplicity of the band’s modus operandi is reflected in their approach to recording; “the new album was mostly done live again, with minimal overdubs. We found out pretty early on, when we were making the first record, that our music’s suited to that type of recording process. We ended up scrapping a lot of the early recordings we did for the first album because we didn’t like how it sounded when we started tracking everything individually; it didn’t really sound like us.”

Speaking of misrepresentation, the band have continually had to contend with being mislabelled and pigeonholed with genres that even the most cursory knowledge of the Veronica Falls sound, with the dreaded ‘C’ and ‘T’ words cropping up time and again, and proving a point of considerable consternation. “I think that kind of stuff can often just come from things as simple as photography, like people looking at press shots of us and just thinking that we look like a twee bunch of people,” James laughs. “We’ve said before that C86 was never an influence for us, but I’ve been reading reviews of the new single [‘Teenage’] and some of those have mentioned it too, so for the time being at least it seems like something we’re struggling to break away from.”

Much was made of the dark nature of the first record’s lyricism; lead single ‘Beachy Head’ was an ode to the infamous Sussex suicide spot, whilst ‘Bad Feeling’ was written about a stalker and the likes of ‘Found Love in a Graveyard’ were loaded with gothic, ghostly imagery. The most striking divergence from album number one on Waiting for Something to Happen is the move away from those themes; as James puts it, “the darker elements are something that we were all really into when we first started the band; we were inspired by a lot of dark stuff we were listening to from the early sixties and eighties. One of the main differences with the new album is that we went for a lighter sound. There’s still some darkness in the music, but you can definitely hear a lot of more upbeat sixties stuff in there as well; that kind of sunshine music was definitely an influence.”

The reverb-heavy guitar sound on Veronica Falls was arguably the record’s defining feature; Pitchfork described the “clarity of texture” of that album’s guitar work as “immaculate”. “I think Lou Reed‘s always been the main influence on my playing. The one influence that’s definitely crept in a bit more on the new record is Television,” James says. “I’m a big fan of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd as guitar players. You can definitely hear their influence on a couple of the new tracks. Teenage Fanclub were an influence as well in that respect, but I think that’s something that’s carried over from the first record too; we were lucky enough to tour with those guys a couple of years ago.”

Given the breakneck pace at which Veronica Falls have moved thus far, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if they’ve already got an idea of what’s on the horizon, beyond an intensive touring schedule that currently runs up to May. “I think it’s going to depend on how busy the summer gets for us. We definitely want to be doing some more recording; I think the more you record, the better you get at it, and we want to try and get the next batch of recordings done even quicker.” The band seem to have maintained that focus on the studio from the beginning, having started out with a succession of single releases before finally came to record a full-length – and even then, they didn’t sign to Bella Union until after it was finished. “Ideally, we’d put records out as often as possible,” says James. “I think there’s a tendency for a lot of bands to be lazy these days. If you look back to the sixties, it wasn’t unusual to be getting two records a year from a lot of artists. That’s an extreme example, but really we wanted to get this album out at the end of last year; there just wasn’t enough time for press and everything else to make it feasible. It should be a fairly quick turnaround when we do something next.”

Whatever the ‘something’ is that Veronica Falls are waiting to see happen, wider recognition, both critically and commercially, certainly seems viable with a new record that plays like a more nuanced, refined version of their debut; if the something you’ve been waiting for is the return to prominence of pop records that rely on vocal melodies and plenty of jangling guitars, Veronica Falls look set to lead the charge.

Waiting For Something To Happen will be released through Bella Union on 04 February. Pre-order the album here, and catch the band playing the following live dates:

February
08 – London, Shoreditch Church
14 – Norwich, Arts Centre
15 – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
25 – Sheffield, Harley
26 – Glasgow, CAA
27 – Newcastle, Cluny
April
17 – Liverpool, The Kazimier
18 – Dublin, Wheelan’s
19 – Dublin, Voodoo
20 – Manchester, Deaf Institute

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