If Rochester can be viewed as a microcosm of music happening on a grander scale, then you can easily define its own Veluxe. The band emerged in the early aughts as an answer to the previous decade's slick, big rock bloat. It would be purely by definition that this is a pop band of the highest order except for the fact that the band sticks with the hooks and melodies while shunning the plastic sugar. The band's live performance is purely celebratory and reactionary, there ain't a lot of unnecessary show biz fizz. There is however, beauty — beauty challenged by the dynamics of a solid rock outfit set on doing the music's bidding and coming on tres cool in the process.
Life stepped in and the band went away. Life stepped in again two years later and Veluxe is back. It's easing its way back in the pool by hosting a Guided By Voices tribute show with multiple guests. Part of Veluxe — Darren DeWispelaere, vocals and guitar; Adam Porter, guitar; and Tim Elswick, bass — stopped by City Newspaper for a chat. Drummer Steve Daniels couldn't make it. Those who could discussed getting back together, recording, and the band's new adherence to imperfection. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.
City: Why the Guided By Voices tribute show?
Darren DeWispelaere: It was initially my idea. We hadn't been playing for a while. We had a hiccup in the band two years ago and honestly, we really needed a little bit of a break. At that point we'd been together 11 years. I was playing at the time with Attic Abasement. That was getting some traction and we were touring a bit. I was focusing a little more on that.
What precipitated getting back together this way?
DeWispelaere: It got to the point that we missed playing together and we figured this was a good way to get back into things. We'd done a tribute to the Archers Of Loaf before. And I figured Guided By Voices had been one of my favorite bands and an influence on our songwriting so we decided we'd do it with everyone and we'd be the house band.
Was this the band coming clean about the influence or just for fun?
DeWispelaere: I think a little bit of both. I'd be hard pressed to say my songwriting was anywhere near the level of Bob Pollard's or Doug Gillard or any of the guys who wrote songs for Guided By Voices — they're just so freakin' prolific it's ridiculous. They write these songs that are so anthemic that you automatically feel like you've heard them already and immediately identify with them.
Tim Elswick: This show is about getting Veluxe back together and playing and enjoying the things we love the most — like playing live. And Guided By Voices is the vehicle, that's why this show is happening. It's not to revisit our roots or whatever. It's about being in a band again, making sure everyone is OK in their life; reconnecting.
Adam Porter: It gave us a chance to be proficient at playing together again without the pressure of also having to be creative; we just have to learn songs and interpret them.
Note for note?
Porter: As best we can, yes.
DeWispelaere: A lot of this is just the challenge of learning all these songs. We've learned 30 songs so far.
So it's been easy starting up again?
DeWispelaere: I've had a very tumultuous year, a lot of stuff going on in my personal life and these guys have had my back like nobody's business. This is the one thing in my life that's constant and healing and rejuvenating. Not to be cheesy, but it's the power of rock 'n' roll. These are my brothers.
So what's the Veluxe writing process?
DeWispelaere: It depends. Sometimes we'll just hang out and jam. Someone will have a slight idea and we'll noodle around and things will start to develop and it might turn into a song.
Elswick: We have a very eclectic set of strengths that we bring in. I'm a melody hog. Adam is an extraordinary, technically proficient guitar player; he knows all the notes ... all of them. Darren has a scope of everything, and Steve is an incredibly fabulous, dedicated drummer. He always has game.
Any releases in the immediate future?
DeWispelaere: In this day and age I just want to record a song and put it up and once we get enough songs, let's put a collection together, maybe put a record together, I dunno.
Elswick: It might not be released, but that's whatever. It's the best fucking music in the world. There's so much life in it, and there's so much poetic justice.
But you guys have a relatively large back catalog. Why have you been sitting on it?
DeWispelaere: We're perfectionist and kind of got up our own asses.
The next phase of Veluxe, what is it?
Porter: Getting over the fact we have to put out perfect material and we can put out what we make.
DeWispelaere: We're not delusional, but why worry about it? We don't need to be validated by popularity.