Two parts boy-two parts girl four-piece Veronica Falls might be based in London, but it's certainly taken them a long-winded journey around the UK and beyond to get to their adopted home.
Initially formed by former Royal We and Sexy Kids members Roxanne Clifford (guitar/vocals) and Patrick Doyle (drums), ex-Your Twenties guitarist James Hoare quickly jumped aboard and mutual friend Marion Herbain, formerly of no musical experience whatsoever, soon found herself cajoled into learning the bass and completing the line-up in the process.
Having released the excellent 'Found Love In A Graveyard' single to rave reviews earlier this year, they're set to follow that up next month with their second 45 and first for ace London imprint No Pain In Pop, 'Beachy Head'.
Contactmusic caught up with the four of them over a swift half in Camden's Lock 17 bar.
You're playing four shows over the course of the next two days I believe?
Roxanne: Yeah, it's all a bit mad at the moment! We're playing a Rough Trade show this afternoon then Camden Rock tonight, then we have an acoustic show around lunchtime tomorrow followed by a headline slot at the Blues Kitchen later.
You've been confirmed for several festivals this summer including one of my personal favourites, Indietracks. How did that come about?
Roxanne: We just sent them an email and they must have liked what we were about as they offered us a slot almost straight away.
James: It sort of makes a nice change for promoters to get in contact straight away as a lot of the time they never tend to reply!
You're all from various parts of the world so how did the band get together?
Roxanne: Me and Patrick have known each other for a while as we played together with a couple of bands in Glasgow. When the last of those broke up we moved to London and got introduced to James through a friend and just started playing together.
Marion: I knew Roxanne and Patrick from Glasgow as well.
Roxanne: That's right, and we really needed a bass player to complete the line-up so we somehow managed to persuade Marion to learn to play!
So was that the first time Marion had ever picked up an instrument?
Marion: Yes! I've messed around with different musical instruments at home before but never been able to play them, and it was the first time I'd ever even picked up a bass! I'm still learning to be honest, although fortunately it isn't the hardest of instruments to get used to.
Your sound is quite different to that of all the bands you've been in previously and has been compared with that of the so-called C86 groups like The Primitives and The Shop Assistants. Were they a major influence on Veronica Falls?
James: To be honest, I think our music is more influenced by sounds from the 1960s. The Velvet Underground is much more prominent in to us than The Primitives.
Roxanne: I think The Primitives and The Shop Assistants were two of the best bands to emerge from that scene, and although people like to romanticise about C86 they seem to deviate from the fact there were also lots of rubbish bands associated with it as well.
I can hear the 1960s influence on 'Found Love In A Graveyard', particularly in the vocal harmonies. Where did the lyrical ideas come from for that?
Roxanne: I'm a really big fan of Roky Erickson lyrics. They're quite twisted, almost beyond madness in some places, so 'Found Love.' was meant to be a simple love song with an eerie aspect I guess.
Why do you think you've been pigeonholed with the C86 scene?
Roxanne: I don't know really to be honest; maybe it's because of the bands me and Patrick were in before?
Patrick: If a scene like that want to pick up on a certain band then they will, regardless of how they sound. I think it probably stems from playing with bands like The Pastels in the past as well, and straight away you've got an older crowd who remember that scene from the first time around and immediately associate any current bands playing together with those from that era as being of a similar vein.
If you had to choose one band or artist that all four of you are bound together by who would you pick?
Roxanne: Just one? God that's tough!
James: Probably The Velvet Underground.
Roxanne: Yeah we all like them.
Patrick: Probably Felt as well, and Beat Happening.
James: That's three already that we all like!
Patrick: I think we all share a love of artists who sound like they're still trying to find their definitive sound, still learning to play together even. I think we can empathise with them because we're at a similar stage at the minute.
Do you still see Veronica Falls as being at that stage where you've not discovered how you want the band to sound?
James: I don't think it's healthy for any band to have just one definitive sound. If all the songs sounded the same then we couldn't really argue with any pigeonholing that takes place as a result.
Patrick: I don't see this band ever stop developing and just churn out copies of songs we've written before.
James: Yeah, to me that would be so limiting.
Patrick: I think we're actually at our most creative when we're making mistakes if that makes sense. There have been times when one of us has played something in the wrong key or hit the wrong note and its actually ended up making the song sound more interesting as a result. For that reason alone I'd say Veronica Falls could never aim for a specific style or sound.
I suppose that makes any kind of genre classification almost impossible as well.
Roxanne: I think that's a good thing because we don't really know where we'd put ourselves in the grand scheme of things either. I guess the fact that we all like so many different types of music probably helps as well. I mean, I do believe that it's a good thing to have the odd little link here and there to make us recognisable to people but not necessarily to the extent that it becomes obvious.
So where would you not want to be seen in terms of genre definition?!?
James: We really hate being bandied with the twee label. At the same time a festival like Indietracks will obviously appeal to people who like that kind of stuff but then at the same time we were called Goth Punk recently.
Roxanne: I think when we started playing together we were a lot softer but now we're quite loud.
James: Again, I'd say part of that was to rid us of the whole "fey" and "twee" tags really.
Patrick: It can be such a dangerous word, "twee", because it really doesn't mean what it used to. People seem to associate bands with that label more by how they dress than how they sound..
If you were asked to record a cover version what would it be?
Roxanne: We already have one, 'Starry Eyes' by Roky Erickson. I'd really like to do 'Thorn In My Side' by the Eurythmics, or anything by Alex Chilton actually! We were talking once about maybe doing an EP of covers by people who've died.
James: When someone dies who we like we'll do a tribute record as a cover or something.
You've put two singles out on different labels in the UK and are set to be releasing a record on Captured Tracks in the States. Are there any long-term deals in the pipeline or interest from record labels to tie you down?
James: At this moment in time, no. We're not looking for a label to work with long term, we'd rather just put a couple more singles out and see what happens from there. We like the whole control aspect in that we're tied to any schedule or timeframe, and not reliant on other people's money either, so basically we can choose how and when we want to put a record out rather than someone doing that for us.
Roxanne: We're still only in the early stages of writing songs together anyway, so I'd say we're not really ready for that kind of pressure.
Patrick: It would be nice to put an album together at some point in the future but at the moment we're happy just concentrating on singles.
The first time I heard the band was on the Rough Trade Shops Indiepop compilation earlier this year. How did you end up with one of your songs on that record, as I dare say that would be most people's first experience of Veronica Falls?
James: A friend of ours who works at Rough Trade came to see us and really liked our show, and after that he was really enthusiastic to the other guys at Rough Trade, so eventually they asked us if we wanted to be on the record.
Marion:.and it was really crucial timing as well as it was only a few days before the album was being pressed.
Roxanne: His exact words were "They can't not be on it!" They even put the deadline back a little bit just so we could put 'Beachy Head' on there.
So, do you prefer playing live or recording in the studio?
Patrick: Funnily enough, whenever we're working in the studio I want to be out there playing live yet whenever we're playing live I want to be recording!
Marion: Both for me. We've only just got our own practice space so we can go there whenever we want and either write new songs or just run through the live set if we need to. There's no pressure with whatever we do at this stage.
Do you see Veronica Falls becoming your full-time vocation in the future, maybe even as your main source of income financially?
Roxanne: I think it would be difficult at present as we all do have day jobs, but at the same time if we could take six months out and just concentrate fully on the band I reckon we'd get a lot further.
Patrick: It would be nice to spend a lot more time on writing and recording. I mean, we're not a career band as such but obviously everyone harbours ambitions of being able to make a living out of something they enjoy doing.
The single 'Beachy Head' is out on the No Pain In Pop label on Monday 14th June.
The Cat With The Cream
What I Did For Love feat. Emeli Sandé [Lyric]