“You have to give this band a listen, they sound just like Depeche Mode.”
That’s the comment that sparked my interest just enough to take a few moments to listen to Velvet Saints, an electronic driven rock band based in Louisville, Ky.
One listen to their debut release, ‘My Addiction’, was all it took.
Velvet Saints, like many of today’s emerging indie and modern rock artists, have embraced the electronic sound made popular during the 1980’s, but that’s where comparisons to today’s artists stop. Like Depeche Mode, the Velvet Saints provide a dark and confession-filled journey, which provides the listener a soundtrack for struggles that they may have or yet to face.
Jeff Epperson, who handles all programming and mixing responsibilities, was the catalyst for the eventual forming of Velvet Saints.
“It started off as an electronica instrumental type of project, but once we started putting some vocals together I was amazed with what we were coming up with.” said Epperson, who also performed the guitar work on the album.
Vocalist Kevin Manning, who helped pen most of the thirteen tracks on the band’s initial release, admits that his struggles are a basis for much of the album.
“It’s my therapy really,” said Manning. “It’s been a way for me to face up to some of my demons.”
Manning’s lyrics, which lend well to personal interpretation, dives into the difficulties of addictions, love and letting go. From the track “On and On”
“Here I go, fallen again
I can’t believe, I was untrue
It’s all come down to, this situation
It’s all come down to, just what I choose to do”
However, the Velvet Saints are also far from a just an electronic act delving into Manning’s past.
Consisting of Manning, Epperson, vocalist Jillian Edds, guitarist Kevin McCreary and Ryan Murphy on drums, the Velvet Saints draw on the strengths of each, which helped create an album that takes many twists. In addition to Depeche Mode, other influences include David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails and Crystal Method.
“When I first started getting involved I was at a point where the last thing that I wanted to do was join a band,” said Murphy, who is also currently working with Toucan Cove/Universal artist Peter Searcy. “When I heard the first couple of finished tracks, at that moment, I was like, ’oh my God’. I quickly realized that this is well worth all the extras that you have to deal with as a member of a band.”
Beginning with the album’s opening track “Devil”, the Velvet Saints prove that they have meshed elements of the electronic, dance-floor friendly beats, with the energy of an electronic guitar driven rock band.
The presence of Jillian Edds on vocals alongside Manning provides a sense of comfort throughout the thought-provoking album.
“She gives us even more depth,” Manning said. “The things that she has written and her counter-melodies give us another level and it helps us to relate to even more people.”
‘My Addiction’ has plenty of songs that jump out as potential fan favorites, with “Devil,” “On and On,” “Watching” and “Ode to the Stalker” helping to form an album that is well, addicting. Evidenced by their continually growing popularity on myspace.com, receiving over 1 million plays during their first year on the social network, Velvet Saints are quickly becoming more than just a Derby City buzz.
On March 1, the Velvet Saints put their product on display live for the first time at the Louisville Gardens. Following an unwritten rule for electronic acts and surprising most in attendance, the band set the mood perfectly with a well programmed visual show that coincided with a performance that sounded road tested and perfected.
The Velvet Saints are available online at myspace.com/velvetsaints.