If you like your music eclectic in style, then you’re in the right place with North Carolina singer/songwriter Velcro Mary. His – yeah, we don’t think Mary’s his real name – music sees a mixture of unusual instruments, homemade instruments and high-tech modern electronics, with songs ranging from indie and alternative rock all the way to folk ballads.
Velcro Mary sent us Getting Smaller, the opening track from his new album Soft Bomb Jangle, which was released at the end of last month.
It opens up with piano under cool laid-back vocals “Getting smaller all the time” with flickering synth coming in over the top. Guitars come in for the second verse, with a lingering synth in the background, then big synth sounds, supported by flickering synths, come in as it bursts into a chorus.
A low synth sound continues then shimmering sounds take over through the second verse, which builds up with the introduction of new sounds under repeats of “Getting smaller all the time.” Give it a listen below:
As suggested above, the EP is full of eclectic nuances, including a little harmonica solo on the cool, laid-back Chair, the more upbeat and bluesy Pale Green Horse, and the rocky Flight Risk.
We had a chat with the man behind the music to find out more. Read on below…
GR: Who are Velcro Mary? And where are you from?
VM: “Velcro Mary is a weathered gunslinger, wandering the barren desert wasteland, steadfastly searching for a cool drink of water from a rumored mountain oasis. A solitary shaman samurai on a suicide mission, surrendering wholeheartedly to the siren song of destiny. A man who does everything, except when he does nothing. Velcro Mary might as well be from anywhere, but is simultaneously nowhere and everywhere.”
GR: You just released Getting Smaller. What should people be expecting from the song?
VM: “Expectations are funny things. Sometimes it’s best not to have them. How many times have you seen a movie trailer that gives away the entire plot of the film, or the best jokes? I could tell you to expect a big change around the 1:30 mark, but then you’d be anticipating it the whole time, and the effect would be diminished. Wouldn’t you rather be surprised? Why not discover it for yourself, free of the burden of expectations? Embrace the unknown.
“I can tell you what to expect in a broad sense, in terms of its context on the record. Getting Smaller is the first track on Soft Bomb Jangle, an album that focuses on acoustic, homemade, and unusual instruments. There are cigar box guitars, a lap steel I made out of a 2X4, spoons, cardboard boxes, vibraslaps, and all manner of strange oddities in the music. However, there are lots of high tech modern electronic elements as well.
“Getting Smaller is a good introduction to the audio blueprint of the record, as the acoustic instruments collide with the electronic ones in a harmonious way. At least, that was my intention. It was inspired by the crushing weight of modern-day existence, unfathomable hopelessness, and the death of a friend.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
VM: “Most of what I do tends to be rooted in indie or alternative rock, but I like to experiment with different styles and genres. Since this is a solo recording project, I have the freedom to do whatever I want, which can lead down some pretty interesting rabbit holes.
“It’s probably a little frustrating to be a casual Velcro Mary fan – one single might be grungy punk rock, and the next might be a sensitive fingerpicked folk ballad. Earlier this year I put out a song that was a cross between psychedelic disco and hair metal. I don’t expect everyone to love everything I make but, hopefully, there are some people out there who enjoy the diversity.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
VM: “Here’s a single sentence summary for each song on the album, which will give you an idea of recent themes I’ve been writing about:
“Things are getting worse faster than they’re getting better, so you might be wasting your time if you stick around. Were things better when life was less comfortable? We’re all going to die and nothing we do means anything in the grand scheme of things. I’m going to die. I’m outta here. Life’s worth living. Give me some money.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
VM: “I’ve been thinking about R.E.M. a lot lately. Particularly about how there will never be another band like them ever again. Their trajectory from hard-working bar band, to underground darlings, to one of the biggest bands in the world, and ultimately to a band that I stopped caring about (Up was their last good album, and if you disagree, I’m willing to fight).
“They were massively important to me for so many years, but then… they weren’t. So I’ve been exploring that. Falling out of love. Quitting. Questions of legacy and relevancy. It’s all in “Getting Smaller”.
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019?
VM: “A lot of recording. I currently have at least four different albums in progress. I’ll put one of them out in 2020. The next 2019 release will be a cover of a Nine Inch Nails classic, which would have fit nicely on Soft Bomb Jangle, but will be a single due to licensing headaches.”