Taking time out of his lunch break at work to talk to Tone Deaf, Velociraptor’s Jeremy Neale tells us all about the new LP, the tour and most importantly… his love of dinosaurs.
Fresh from a big night out at the Queensland Music Awards just a couple of weeks prior to this interview, where the band closed the night out with a ferocious and energetic performance: “Yeah we definitely went out to change the game”.
It was a very busy night for the members of Velociraptor, with not only the band closing the night but also singer/songwriter Jeremy Neale picking up awards for his solo efforts, as well as Velociraptor bandmates, the boys from DZ Deathrays.
“It was certainly a good night and the free beers amped the excitement a little bit,” explains Neale. But if you thought it would have been nothing but crazy parties afterwards, think again. “We actually had to go straight off to another show so we were straight out of there to Alhambra Lounge where we didn’t finish till like 3 or 4am. It was a hectic night.”
For a band like Velociraptor that has 12 members you could imagine that double bookings are quite common. “We do double book a lot… mainly because there is so many of us and we all play in other bands, we double or even triple book quite a lot.”
As if playing double booked shows on a constant basis wasn’t enough for Velociraptor, add in a new mini LP, a new tour and the fact that DZ Deathrays are currently on an international tour and you’ve got one busy band. “We got it well planned in advance,” says Neale, “so the tour will be great and the album is all coming together pretty smoothly. We’ve had it all recorded for a while now, we’re actually on top of it for once.”
Listening to the band’s new album, The World Warriors, you get a bit of an old school feel – especially on the Beatles sounding opening track “Cynthia” and the closing number “Surf City Raptors” which has a Beach Boys sound about it. “It’s a bit of a wide spread of influences from the garage side to the very pop side to the dirtier side of the album,” responds Neale to the suggestion.
“It crosses a few different genres and seeing as though we haven’t released anything in 3 years, there is some stuff on there that is about that old so it’s a bit of a ‘filling the gap’ record.”
So how does a band with 12 members write an album without completely imploding? “We’ve had a few of these songs in the set for a while now so we’ve just been screwing around with them live before going into the studio. On this record six out of the eight tracks have been written by myself, whilst the other two were done by drummer James X Boyd, but because there are so many songwriters in the band I imagine the next release will have something from everyone -making it a very interesting record.”
It may have taken them three years to come out with a release but the wait is well worth it. Eight punchy, upbeat tracks showcasing the brilliant talent of two songwriters and 12 musicians. Neale explains that “this time everyone just came in and had their half day or whatever to put down all their parts and what not but working around everyone’s schedule makes it quite a drawn out process.”
If you read through the band’s profile you’ll find many comical aspects, including the little known fact that they invented the mini-LP; and the time machine for that matter! “You can be sure that whatever we come out with we’ll claim we invented it,” says Neale.
“Our manager, Jesse Babera and I sit down and throw words around which is fun. Probably the best part of all this is just coming up with bios and press releases, shooting the shit and having a good time. In fact the guy who does all our artwork, Sam McKenzie, has actually done a couple of comic books so he might even work with us on making our own.”
Any fan who has seen Velociraptor live will know what an energetic show they put on and with just having a tour announced kicking off with BIGSOUND this week, fans have reason to get excited. “BIGSOUND is incredible and we’re very fortunate to be playing a late timeslot on the Wednesday night which will be good. We came out of BIGSOUND last year being very much talked about, all the stars aligned and we did a really good show so hopefully that’ll happen again.”
With Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley, aka DZ Deathrays, also on tour at the moment – it means that two members of Velociraptor won’t be touring. “They will be overseas when we hit the road but ten on the road is still not a bad deal, not to mention it makes it easier to get a Maxi Taxi. I think the minimum we’ve ever taken out is six which is still very doable; we can still do a pretty amazing show with just six.”
Remembering such times, Neale explains: “Every now and then you’ll rock up with less and the promoter will try and bring something up about the contract but it’s generally always good. If everyone had to turn up to every show we’d have a lot less people in the band because it’d just be too difficult with schedules and work.” Seeing as though Neale and drummer Boyd wrote most of the songs, as long as they’re there, they’ve got a set.
For a band who have grown up and got their start in Brisbane, playing their hometown is obviously quite important and they have shown their dedication by starting and finishing their tour in their hometown. “We do play a fair bit in Brisbane, [it’s] always really nice to us and it’s just nice to play in your hometown not to mention the last show will be an all ages gig which will be good”.
Velocirpator even extend their state pride to taking other Brissie bands interstate with them: “We like to take a lot of hometown bands on the road with us if we get the opportunity. We’d love to take Cannon on the road with us and we’d love to do a co-headline tour with DZ, last time we did that was a lot of fun.”
With awards ceremonies, album releases and national tours… plus this interviews, you’d think that would have to be it for a while for the band? Neale informs us otherwise. “Hopefully next year there’ll be another album that’ll focus on all the best aspects of all the songwriters in the band.”
As well as a new record, the 12-piece will also be making their first trip overseas:.“Hopefully we’re gonna go over to the UK and do a couple of shows early next year which will be a bit fun as well. It’ll be interesting to see how we’re received and see if we can make a bit of urban legend of ourselves as a 12 piece band coming from Australia, and maybe even the Jurassic Park fans will come out to see us”.
Now if you’re wondering if Jeremy Neale himself is a Jurassic Park fan, the answer should be obvious by now. “Oh definitely man, I think it was probably not just the movie but also you know during the Ekka they had the Jurassic Park show bag,” enthuses Neale, barreling into his memory banks.
“There was like a holographic watch that you got with a raptor on the face and I had that for a good part of my life. Then one day in a juvenile meet up with the guys from DZ, I think we were having a few drinks and I said, ‘how cool would it be to play in a band named after a dinosaur?’ and before you know it, we were born. There’s a kid in all of us.”
The World Warriors is out now through Create/Control. Velociraptor are currently on their World Warriors tour. Full dates and details here. For fun, you can also check out Velociraptor’s cool Facebook videogame here.