One of Brisbane’s ‘biggest’ bands, Velociraptor, are having a big year. They released their debut album in August, before releasing the vinyl edition earlier this month, and have been on several national tours, with and without the guys from DZ Deathrays (whose current success is a whole other story). I spoke to band leader Jeremy Neale back in August about the album release but didn’t transcribe the interview in time. With their last Melbourne show for this year or, according to their Facebook page, maybe ever coming up this Sunday at The Blurst of Times, I thought it would be a good idea to dig it up because it’s still one of the weirdest and best interviews I’ve ever done.

Hey Jeremy, it’s Wes from What Sound how are you?

Hey man, how’s it going?

Doing alright! Everytime I do an interview though I double check the date and time and look at my watch and I’m just like, “Am I calling at the right time?”

Haha, I can’t escape the unexpected sound of “Hello Jeremy speaking.” It’s a bit ambiguous. I should seem like I’m ready and just be like “Hello Wes.”

Haha. Well I think I did one at the wrong time on the wrong day and it was just awful.

Well it’s all meant to be, with interviews it’s all meant to be, it’s fine.

Exactly! So yeah, how’s your day been so far?

It’s been a bit of a struggle man I kind of hit it a little hard last night and am hungover for the first time in 3 months so, you know. Sometimes you’ve gotta push the boundaries and see if hangovers still exist: and they DO.

Ha! I manage to make myself the driver every time I go out with mates, they’re getting hammered or high and I’m just like “Yeah, cool.” Everyone’s having a good time and this glass of water is fucking amazing.

But your tomorrow’s going to be great.

Yeah. So you’ve been very busy with work, has partying not been an option for a while?

Well I’ve just been trying to look after myself a bit better I think. After we got back from Great Escape we did some shows in Singapore where there was way too much drinking to be good for anybody so I kinda cut dry for a couple of months and focused on being healthy, did exercise and those kind of things. Played sports.

Wow, that’s unexpected. Did you do it for a cause like Dry July or anything or was it just for yourself?

No it’s all in the interests of living longer I guess, I want to stay around and see what the future’s like.

Self preservation then.

I’m pretty excited about space travel so I want to hold on as long as I can. If you want to see the future, you are your own time machine you know. You’ve just got to stick in the game as long as you can.

Note: By this point in the conversation we’re already so far off track that it doesn’t matter what I ask next. Somehow though, I come up with this gem and, weirdly, Jeremy isn’t phased by it…

Do you think about dying often?

Probably more than I should. Do you think about death?

Weirdly yeah, because I’m an atheist so every time I think about death it’s like “What does happen?” Because I’m fairly convinced there’s no afterlife and what gets me is thinking “How will I know when I’m dead?”

Exactly! You can’t comprehend not existing because all you know is existing except the point before you existed I guess.

ROBOT LADY: To make another call press hash hash.

Did you hear that? A robot lady just talked to me…

There’s nothing but dead air and I realise we’ve been disconnected. Then Jeremy calls me back.

Did we just hang up on each other?

Yeah I dunno what happened but don’t worry, we’re back.

I just had a lady telling me to make another call and I…

Goodbye.

Woah, what was that??

Well we obviously got too philosophical for the machine.

Yeah, things got too existential and it was just like “no no no no no!”

Machines can’t comprehend real depth, we haven’t developed AI yet so thankfully we’re not up to Skynet but we just got far too nerdy, far too philosophical, far too quickly.

It was bound to happen.

So I’ve been listening to your new album today, I really like it. I read in an old interview that the aim of having so many people on stage is to kind of build up to Phil Spectre’s idea of the wall of sound. Was that still an aim for the record?

I guess the record was much more focused so it was just doing what was best for the songs which, oftentimes, was only having two guitars on them. And in the scope of the band, initially it was the live spectacle and it was also for a big sound, but now I guess the purpose of having that many members is more so a flexibility thing now. So we can say ‘yes’ to more things but also people can continue to do all the other things they want to do with their lives, like work and have other bands and that kind of thing so it’s not like an all-consuming venture now to be part of the band. I think it’s the only way the band could have existed until this point, I don’t think it was sustainable. It would have probably finished after the last release.


It’s kind of like a big side project for everyone, you’ve got your solo project and obviously DZ Deathrays are involved as well, and a few others…

Everyone in the band is pretty much a songwriter so they’ve all got their own band they write for as well so it’s, yeah, the only way it could exist is just as the fun kind of venture that it is. We get to do some cool things, we get to kind of have the adult equivalent of school camp I guess when we go away in tour so it’s good. Keeping it like that and not punishing ourselves to do six or seven tours in a year anymore is great. We probably will tour twice, maybe three times a year and that’s perfect.

What’s the highest number of people you’ve had on stage recently?

At the moment it’s probably around ten, usually when DZ are back in town then we get ten or eleven on stage. There’s always somebody that can’t make it, the thing of numbers is like probability that someone can’t make it to a show or life happens. Last time we came down to Melbourne for the Ramona tour Lauren didn’t even make the show she had to go to hospital, we got her to the city and then she had to go to hospital. There’s always something that stops people getting on stage!

As far as the songwriting goes, you do most of it yourself but when it comes to arrangements is it collaborative or do you do it like Omar Rodriguez-Lopez?

I think things do develop in the studio, especially this time. All the demos were really bare bones and then I got together with Yuri (bass) and George (drums) and then we kind of worked it out from there to figure out what would work, and then… by the time we got to the studio everyone had a go at them and they became what they are now on the record, which is I think quite produced in a way because it’s not as straightforward as it would have been if we’d just played it as it was and recorded it then and there. Actually doing blocks on this thing has created something quite interesting, more interesting than what people might have expected us to do maybe. Not sure. I don’t know what people’s expectations were.

I’m not even sure what my expectations were, I read 10 piece/12 piece band and I just thought ‘What is that going to sound like? Is it just going to be a cacophony or is it going to make some sort of cohesive sense?’ I really like the approach you’ve taken.

I think we try to actively communicate to people now that we’re not trying to sound like a 12 piece band, we just have a lot of members and we like the value of flexibility in our lives.

Well you describe yourself as a drunken version of The Avengers, which really suits the model, but my question to you is: why not the Justice League?

Well that is a very good question. I spent a bit of time with the Justice League but I think, predominantly, as a comic collecting kid I was just a 90’s Marvel guy. There were DC moments but I was predominantly collecting Uncanny X-Men, The Avengers, Adam Warlock and The Infinity Watch, all the golden 90s titles.

So if the band is ‘The Avengers’ that would make DZ Deathrays basically Spiderman because he’s not in the movies…

But everybody hopes he will be!

…but would you consider yourself as say more Captain America or Wolverine?

I’m no wildcard, I’m too straighty 180 so the Captain America role is pretty much on board, except some people do call our manager Captain America though as well, because he’s from America and he’s got a lot of bravado…

You co-produced it with Sean Cook and Magoo mixed it, what did they bring along to the project?

I think Sean was a great influence because it was great to have someone else who was super emotionally invested in the project, he’d heard stuff in the demo phase and he came in with a lot of ideas. One of the biggest things Sean did was challenge the arrangement of the first single, Ramona, because the first demo I sent to him I was like “I feel like this is the maximum emotional impact this song can have.” and he was like “well, I think here’s your best bit and I think you flop on this bit” and he wanted to raise the momentum so there was just more and more surprises as the song went on. Him challenging that stuff when I came in and said “This is how it’s gonna be” was great, otherwise I don’t think that song would have the arrangement that we know and love. *laughs* I think it was good to have someone who was challenging things and always having good interesting ideas. And then Magoo, he is just a weapon at mixing. That guy is unstoppable… I don’t know what the world thinks about Magoo, but I think he’s great.

One final question, is the velociraptor actually your favourite dinosaur?

Woah, that’s a really big question! I was just thinking about stegosauruses yesterday and how cool stegosauruses are, because of the blades on the back, yeah I don’t know. That’s really tough. I was always a T-Rex guy as a kid. I think it’s still probably the T-Rex. To think that creature was on this Earth, that’s out of control!

Wes Fahey

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