The Veldt is back to teach hipsters a thing or two

CorrespondentMarch 7, 2013 

The Veldt plays Local 506 Tuesday and The Pour House March 20th.

COURTESY OF ED MARSHALL

  • Want to go?

    Who: The Veldt with Your 33 Black Angels

    When: 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday

    Where: Slim’s Downtown, 227 S. Wilmington St., (Monday); Local 506, 506 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill (Tuesday)

    Cost: $5 (Monday); $8 (Tuesday)

    Details: 919-833-6557 or 919-942-5506; www.reverbnation.com/theveldtrocks

Daniel Chavis is tired of hipsters.

The Raleigh native is tired of their lousy attitudes, their smug tastes and, of course, their skinny jeans. He’s also tired of hipster bands, especially those that sound like The Veldt, the band he started with his twin brother Danny more than 25 years ago.

So, in an attempt to remind people how true alternative music is done, The Veldt are back together, hitting the road and dropping new music. “We just said, ‘(expletive) it!’ ” says Chavis, now 46, who shares vocal duties in the band with his guitar-playing bro. “Everybody is just doing what we were doing back then and getting away with it. Let’s show them how to do it right – and that’s why we’re doing it.

“When I look around and I see a bunch of hipster idiots getting away with it, I’m like, ‘That’s why I started a band,’ ” he says. “Because all that is just ridiculous, you know.”

Formed in 1987, the foursome got notice for their unique blend of guitar-heavy rock and hip-hop attitude. When Spin devoted a 1991 issue to promising new bands worth keeping an eye on, The Veldt was profiled alongside future alt-rock successes like Primus and Alice in Chains. They were still fixtures in the Triangle music scene though, opening up for such bands as The Pixies, The Church and Throwing Muses. “What was so great about Raleigh was whoever came through town that had the sound we had, we’d probably be opening for them,” he says. “North Carolina basically gave us a chance to basically play with a lot of our influences, which was really great.”

Even though they released three albums and an EP during the Clinton era (their final album, 1998’s “Love at First Hate,” consisted of a bunch of demos Chavis had lying around), Chavis says their record label at the time wasn’t keen on properly promoting them, even refusing to foot the bill when they wanted to tour overseas. Eventually, The Veldt disbanded. Chavis and his brother moved to New York and formed Apollo Heights, a group that specialized in that experimental-rock sound known as “shoegazing.”

“What kept us afloat was putting together Apollo Heights,” he says.

Although the brothers released several EPs and a full-length (amusingly titled “White Music for Black People”) as Apollo Heights in recent years, they decided that returning to their Veldt selves was a good idea. “We decided to put the band back together again about a couple of years ago,” he says. “And, then, we initially thought about going out and doing new material and kind of, like, trying to basically re-brand the band.”

For this new tour, which will have them performing three shows in the Triangle (two next week and one the week after), the twins will be joined by original drummer Martin Levi and Apollo Heights bassist Hayato Nakao. They’ll be performing their old material along with new music from their latest release, “The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Furr,” which they’re distributing on their own label, 5BC (which Chavis says is the band’s homage to famed indie label 4AD), and, at the moment, only selling at their shows. “Back then, there weren’t a lot of bands that were around that were kind of like us,” he says. “We were a little bit ahead of our time. And, all of the sudden, now time has caught up … It seems like the time is right to do it now, because people has caught up with the sound. They understand it more now.”

But, more importantly, Chavis and The Veldt are back to remind audiences that not only can “white” music be done for black people, but by them as well. “One of the things about The Veldt is that I always had the idea that music is for everybody, and I don’t think you should covet a particular sound because you have a beard or a plaid shirt and wear black, skinny jeans,” he says. “I don’t think that’s right. I think that people should share music, and I would put that message out to anybody, you know.”

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