Hot on the heels of last years scorching Impact comes Activator by none other than guitar maestro David Victor. David has been hard at work reassembling the Velocity line-up and has put together a tasty little five-track EP. This is what he has to say about it:
I really dug making our first album Impact...it was fun to really just go all the way with that sound and try to make a real melodic rock album. On the new album the music takes a bit more chances...that's an attempt to assert myself as a songwriter and forge my own signature sound. We did a lot of touring after the first album and that also influenced my style. I wanted a bit more of a raw sound, not quite so much attention to the polish. The polish doesn't really come off live anyway...the chunkier stuff works better in your typical club full of rockers. It's certainly possible to blend my vocal style with these punchier underpinnings, and that's what I went for.
Why an EP? Well it was more about the fact that I'd written and produced these five songs and none of the other guys in the band had come up with any new music...so I decided to just go with what we had rather than waiting until 2002. We had a few opportunities to get some airplay and I wanted to jump on it. We released Stay, the Cds first track, and were surprised when KATT (Oklahoma City) voted it #1 seven weeks in a row by the listeners. Its already started quite a buzz.
However the more difficult thing has been trying to juggle a permanent line-up. We seem constantly in a state of flux...that's just the nature of the beast. We've been lucky to have a fairly stable core, but now our drummer has just left the band. Chris Dodge and myself are the two remaining original members. We've had a revolving door of bassist, though my old friend, John Anthony, is filling in for us for now.
Certainly live we have a much different sound depending on who's playing. Typically the reactions we get when we play out is that the whole thing sounds a bit beefier. That's pretty natural I think, but many folks seem surprised at how ballsy everything sounds.
Here is our full interview with David Victor of Velocity
TCE: I was a HUGE fan of your first CD. I felt it had tremendous punch and feel. I'm happy to say that I feel the same about Activator! Very nice job!
David Victor: Thanks a lot! I really tried hard to make this CD as chunky and melodic as I could...glad you appreciate it!
TCE: This record seems to take more chances than the last. You move further away from the Melodic rock / Van Halen sound. Why the change?
DV: I really dug making our first album "Impact"...it was fun to really just go all the way with that sound and try to make a real melodic rock album. On the new album, as you said, the music takes a bit more chances...that's an attempt to assert myself as a songwriter and forge my own signature sound. We did a lot of touring after the first album and that also influenced my style. I wanted a bit more of a raw sound, not quite so much attention to the polish. The polish doesn't really come off live anyway...the chunkier stuff works better in your typical club full of rockers. It's certainly possible to blend my vocal style with these punchier underpinnings, and that's what I went for.
TCE: This is also an EP - are you testing the waters?
DV: Well it was more about the fact that I'd written and produced these five songs and none of the other guys in the band had come up with any new music...so I decided to just go with what we had rather than waiting until 2002 or something. We had a few opportunities to get some airplay and I wanted to jump on it.
TCE: What is your lineup to date? How has it changed the sound of the band?
DV: The lineup is constantly in flux...that's just the nature of the beast. We've been lucky to have a fairly stable core, but now our drummer has just left the band. Chris Dodge and myself are the two remaining original members. We've had a revolving door on bassists, though my old friend and John Anthony is filling in for us for now. He's actually a really good player, but doesn't want to tour or any of that. As things move along, sometimes band members just grow out of really wanting it. I still want it...that's a disease that I've had all my life!
Since I've been the sole songwriter up through "Activator", there hasn't really been much of an influence on the band sound from the other guys on the CDs. Certainly live we have a much different sound depending on who's playing. Typically the reactions we get when we play live is that the whole thing sounds a bit beefier. That's pretty natural I think, but many folks seem surprised at how ballsy everything sounds. I think they just need to turn up their car stereos once in awhile!
TCE: Do you have a favorite track? "Stay?" "Beautiful and Useless" (my favorite - great riff by the way), "Stranger?"
DV: Actually I think my favorite right now is "Alive"...but it's the most recent so I'm always partial to the newest song. I like it because it really combines everything I'm trying to do as a songwriter...solid riff, good lyrics and arrangement. And chunky man, really chunky!!
TCE: What was different about writing the record?
DV: Probably just the equipment used...nothing that important really. I wrote all the songs on "Impact", and I wrote all the songs on "Activator". I was a bit more disciplined for "Activator" perhaps...I tried to push myself a little bit more to make sure all the songs really worked together and made sense as a whole.
TCE: In the US it seems bands have to fit inside a neat musical box. Are you expanding musical boundaries?
DV: Actually, it seems to me that everywhere you have to fit into the "neat musical box". Overseas they loved "Impact" with it's more traditional 80's sound, but they were scared off by the darker sound of "Activator". So to be popular in rock overseas, you have to basically be in the box of the more traditional pop-rock very melodic and heavy on the vocals and backing vocals type of sound. I really love that kind of music myself, but I kind of felt like there were a lot of bands already strip-mining that area. I think "Activator" is an actual step forward. Hopefully our fans overseas will have a chance to hear it one of these days!
TCE: Where did the name of the band originate?
DV: We were originally called "Victor", but when that guy from Rush put out a solo album and called it "Victor"...inexplicably, because it wasn't really a band...we had to change our name. We weren't about to fight with their lawyers and whatnot...so I was reading some magazine and saw the word "velocity" and fell in love. It's cool in that it doesn't really describe the style of music immediately. I wanted people to have to listen to find out what we were all about as opposed to being called "Death Annihilators" or something that puts you in a category.
TCE: The band had some real hot spots in the south west, was it radio play, word of mouth or killer live shows that attracted most of the attention?
DV: It was all about radio airplay first and foremost...then we'd go into an area and try to capitalize on that. There's a tremendous difference between going into an area where you have no airplay and opening a show versus going in where the fans know the songs and sing along with you. We definitely had a few live shows that turned some heads...our favorite one was Memphis where everyone was sort of standing there with their arms folded at the start of the show...and by the end of the show the fists were pumping and the whole crowd was into it. We definitely had a great stage vibe and the audience feeds off that.
TCE: Do you still have influences? Who and what are they?
DV: Oh definitely...right now I listen to bands like Filter, Nikka Costa, Lit, Creed, Stone Temple Pilots, Joydrop, Buckcherry...there are so many great rock bands out there right now. I love albums that feature great rhythm tones...Filter has some of the best rhythm tones I've heard. I don't go in so much for the super heavy heavy stuff...I definitely still prefer song-rock to riff-rock. There's kind of a super-heavy duty-pissing contest going on right now in hard rock music that's not my bag. But there are still lots of great song-oriented hard rock bands that are out there making great music...that's how I'd like to think of Velocity.
TCE: What have you learned in all your years as a musician?
DV: If you love it, keep at it for as long as it makes sense in your life. Because the people I know that have made it have kept plugging away, making contacts, getting their name out there. And when that golden opportunity comes along, they are in the right position to take advantage of it. Be nice to everybody...another cliché, but hey, it never hurts!
TCE: What is your gear set up on stage? Does it differ from the recording studio?
DV: Actually it's very different...I think one of the things I've learned over the years is that a great rhythm tone in the studio doesn't always translate too well in a live situation. I tend to use rack stuff for my studio work. I've got the Marshall JMP-1, the Triaxis, the standard issue ADA MP-1...I've tried out many more in the stores. I have a VHT two/ninety/two power amp that I run everything through. I was lucky enough to get one of those Boogie Recto guitar-monitors...it's a 1-12" wedge that sounds great in the studio and I also use it live. We gave up on the 4x12 cabinet thing live because for the size venues we usually play the volume issue arises every time. So we just mic our little Recto wedges and the sound guys love us to death. For my live amp, I use a new Dual-Recto head. The newer ones have the three channels and the lead boost, which really gives me as much flexibility as I'd ever need live. I do miss my ADA MP-1 stereo chorus for the clean stuff. Best stereo chorus ever in my humble opinion.
TCE: What is your favorite guitar that you own and why?
DV: I tend to stick with Les Pauls...they just define chunky hard rock rhythm tone for me. I have 3 of them, but I play my white Les Paul Studio with the EMGs most often. Second to bat is my Les Paul Classic...plays great. I bought it new for $1350. I couldn't believe how nicely it played and sounded...especially at that price!
TCE: What was your most memorable gig?
DV: Definitely the gig we did in front of 1600 at the Wasatch Event Center in Salt Lake City. That was at the peak of our airplay out there and people just went nuts. It was the classic rock-n-roll experience that you dream about all your life. It really made an impression because we'd only been playing in the clubs and when you get to that next level of venues where the capacity is over 1000, there's something very cool that happens to the crowd noise. It just becomes one giant "whoomp"! I hope to experience it again sometime soon!