Interview: Fuzz, ‘70s obsessions and the American dream - Theo Verney

Fuzz, ‘70s obsessions and the American dream - Theo Verney

For the past couple of years, this Brighton scuzz-fiend has been getting fuzzier by the day. New EP ‘Brain Disease’ sees him taking a serious first step.

Hot on the heels of The Great Escape dates in his native Brighton, ‘70s rock enthusiast Theo Verney is unleashing his third EP ‘Brain Disease’, a dark 5-track beast carrying intense, furious energy that’s been with him since day one.

On this new release, Verney’s growling vocals and unashamedly stadium-sized guitars crash through in gigantic waves. Resolute psych-flavoured ‘Mountain Rose’ is all contagious riffs and hooks. Simultaneously wild and restrained, it threatens to explode at any minute. And that’s the trick with Verney - he’s a thrasher, but he also holds you under a spell. Describing his own sound as “dad rock and classic rock, with a certain amount of plagiarising Neil Young thrown in for good measure,” Verney admits that he doesn’t think too much about any particular genre, but happily asserts that all he listens to is ‘70s rock. It’s a fascination that’s clearly reflected in the final EP track ‘Same Look In My Eye,’ with its smoother and less threatening California-infused vibe. On the eve of his London EP launch, he tells us about his plans and gives a few hints about what his debut full-length might sound like.

Up until recently you were essentially a one-man band. In fact, all of your music was written, played and produced by you. It it mostly about creative control?

This is true. It was certainly partly about creative control, as I know exactly how I want final songs to sound. It was also about not having to rely on other people, I could put as much time and effort into music as I felt necessary.

Do you prefer playing live or recording?

I love both equally for different reasons but right now I'm really enjoying recording. I’ve just started working at Church Road Studios in Hove, so I have a lot more equipment available to me these days. I'm really enjoying experimenting with different mics and taking my time getting things sounding right.

Every track seems to have its own individual character - what’s the main thread of ‘Brain Disease’?

That’s probably just a reflection of my attention span, a long running theme throughout my songs. All of the songs, bar the final track, were written at a similar time about a year and a half ago. I was pretty angry back then, which reflects in the lyrics. I had to write the lyrics down a couple of weeks ago and actually surprised myself at how dark they are! The final track, 'Same Look In My Eye', was written not so long ago and reflects more of a mellow, I'm-getting-older theme. That is a bit of a taste of things to come.

You’ve already released a couple of EPs. Do you prefer smaller releases?

Will you continue producing your own work?I like EPs, they're easy to digest and can be put out semi regularly. However I'm now working on my full-length album which is being recorded as we speak. I'm looking forward to producing a larger body of work that people can hopefully listen to and enjoy. Plus, as people are bugging me for it, I don't think I'll be allowed to put out a fourth EP.

Will you continue producing your own work?

I definitely plan to. If someone like Steve Albini offered to record me for free, then sure, I'd go and record with him but it's definitely not something I long for, like many bands do. The fact of the matter is I don't actually like a lot of modern production, especially when drums are processed so much that they sound robotic. It's all to do with everyone wanting louder, bigger, better recordings. I'm more of the school of thought of capturing a natural sounding recording, and if a band is good then that will shine through. There are definitely some producers at the moment working with that ethos. But not enough in my opinion.

You grew up in Brighton, the city that has a huge creative community and a thriving music scene. What effect did it have on your creative development?

I’m born and bred in Brighton, which is apparently rare. Brighton is good in the way that everyone is free to do what they want because we're all secret hippies. However, a lot of people live in an apathetic bubble here and don't think outside of Brighton. I don't plan to ever become someone like that.

Rumour has it you’re keen on moving to the US. Are you still searching for your American dream?

Ah yes, I long to find a porch where I can drink those small cans of beer and eat crayfish all day. That is my dream. I think growing up in Brighton has spoiled me a bit as it is so creatively diverse. Therefore, I feel the next step up for me is America, as London scares me and stresses me out. I like the confidence of American people, I like American food, I obviously love American music... so why not?

Any new musical or conceptual themes bubbling up at the moment?

I’m super into the ‘70s singer songwriter style at the moment and that's definitely being reflected in my album material. You're going to have to wait to hear what I mean.

Theo Verney plays a 'Brain Disease' launch show tonight (9th June) at London Birthdays with Puppy and Kagoule. See all upcoming shows here.


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