The Veldt’s ‘The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur‘ is one my favourite records of this year (I wrote about opening track Sanctified back in May). It’s so inspiring to find a band who have been around for 30 years but have stuck to their creative vision and are making the best music of their career. So I am super-excited that Danny Chavis from the band agreed to answer some of my questions on childhood, fatherhood and a life in music.
Were your parents music fans? What influence did they have on your own musical tastes?
My mother and father were not together by the time we took note of certain music, the family in general listened to the music of the time BB King, Motown, and a lot of soul/r&b my mom was 16 so we heard all of the top hits of the time. I pleasantly remember Shotgun and Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin. My grandfather had more of an influence with all the blues records.Sun House, Slim Harpo just to name a few.
At what age did you start playing music? Did you learn any instruments when you were a kid?
I started playing guitar at age 13 my grandfather bought me my first guitar first an acoustic then a vantage flying V guitar.
When did you and your twin brother Daniel first start playing in a band together? Did you start out as The Veldt, or did that name come later?
The band was called The Armory first then The Veldt, prior my brother played in a juke joint band, and I played in church.
At what point during The Veldt’s existence did you become a father? Were you already an established touring band by then?
I became a father at 19 we were not established by then it was just the beginning. She was born July 6th 1986 Aprincesae Sade Glenn.
Did a career in music made it more difficult to spend time with your family (due to touring commitments etc.) or did not working a 9 to 5 job give you more freedom to spend time with them?
Well in between time on and off I made time for her until her mother and I separated due to personal differences.
Do you think becoming a parent influenced the music you make?
Yes it made me determined that I wasn’t going to be just another father who didn’t try to be more than he could.
How did your children feel about having a musician for a father when they were younger, and how about now?
Well it seemed like she liked it at the time, I used to take her to practice with me from time to time. And she liked it. I could have been anything and my daughter would have loved me for as long as I spent time which unfortunately wasn’t that often, from time to time, but I never gave up, there are a lot of things that I would do over for her if I had the chance.
Have your kids shown any interest in following you into music, and if not, did you/do you encourage them to do so?
Well my daughter has a pretty set idea of how she wants to live her life, I’ve never tried to influence her to do music. More like art and painting.
The Veldt’s sound is not quite like any other band I’ve heard, which other bands and musicians have influenced you?
Sun Ra, Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Lee and Love Cocteau Twins, Miles Davis
What prejudices have you experienced as a black man in a genre of music that is very white-dominated? And are things any better nowadays?
Too many to begin to tell you, not much in the US as you can see. We tend to go where we are wanted. We pretty much know the passive-aggressive stance in indie music toward us the fake liberal agenda doesn’t go over to well and you can usually see right through it, not to mention when your own people do it to you it’s boring…
The records you put out in the 1990s were on a variety of different labels. Why do you think your record labels wouldn’t truly get behind you at that time?
Same old thing these labels served their purpose at the time, they were too concerned with racial stereotypes and marketing so we got pigeonholed. Which was the norm with most majors we encountered. But we persevered and continued making music, most people by that time had either gave up or moved on to other things. We never stopped because we didn’t know we were supposed to, so to speak…most people that were involved also moved on for one reason or another but we held on to our vision till this day.
After recording as Apollo Heights in the 2000s, what brought to you back to being The Veldt?
Our history brought us back and the feeling that it was just time to do it, ironically there are tons of so called shoegaze bands now.
Was there ever a point where you and your brother stopped making music together?
Yes 97-99 we didn’t see eye to eye on the direction.
You released a fantastic EP earlier this year (The Shocking Fuzz of your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation). I understand a new album is on the way. What’s the latest on that?
At this point it’s going to be an EP we like the idea of doing small projects from time to time and keep releasing new things.
And you’re over here in the UK for Liverpool Psych Fest in September, can we expect more UK/EU dates?
We are currently in the process of getting more gigs we’d like very much to play more dates here!
Thanks so much for your time Danny.
The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur (The Drake Equation) is available from Bandcamp. Tickets to Liverpool Psych Fest are available here. And when more tour dates and the new EP are announced I’ll be sure to let you know!