Bad Feeling: Veronica Falls

"There's nothing like singing in harmony with your friends!"

Preparing for a live appearance on 6Music, Veronica Falls singer Roxanne Clifford sounds tired. Little wonder – the band have been writing, recording and touring almost incessantly for 12 months. A handful of singles caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic, with the four piece seemingly able to conjure up the spirits of ye olde indie pop. After an often frustrating wait – for fans, at least – ‘Veronica Falls’ now lingers on record racks across the country, basking in the warm glow of critical praise.

“Things just take ages in the music industry!” laughs the singer. “I think when you record an album it takes a long time to actually get it out. We let things progress organically, we didn’t really have a plan when we started the band. We didn’t have that fear that we need to do everything by the book.”

Recording an album’s worth of material, Veronica Falls took the brave decision of nipping the nascent project in the bud. Ditching their initial stab at their debut, the four piece demonstrated an independence of mind often lost on new groups. “It just kind of lost a lot of energy” Clifford sighs. “It just didn’t really sound like how we sound live. We just scrapped it. We use a few of the recordings from that session and remixed them but the majority of the album we just recorded live in three days in a studio in Wapping.”

For a band so steeped in pop culture, it is perhaps appropriate that there is a great lost Veronica Falls album. Largely cut live, the second – official – version has all the charm of their live performances. A barrage of influences, the songwriting zips between Nuggets style garage to jagged, single note Riot Grrrl guitars. Pegged as an indie pop record, in reality the description just shows up how desperately ill-equipped genre names are to deal with the sounds they encapsulate. “We’re influenced by loads of different stuff. I guess the main underlying theme is really primal, honest music which is quite immediate. I think that’s part of what links the Riot Grrrl, punk stuff to 60s garage. Maybe that’s the underlying theme!”

At its heart, though, ‘Veronica Falls’ remains contradictory. A patchwork of nods and winks to a superb record collection, it nonetheless has an emotional core which supersedes any notion of name-checking. Leafing through her own lyrical choices, Roxanne Clifford names some rather pained characters. “Roky Erikson, Jackson C Frank – people who have had really tragic life stories. I really like it when their life becomes part of what you think about when you think about them” she explains. “A lot of the songs are quite heartfelt, emotionally and I’m sure that they come from some kind of personal experience and things like that. There’s a lot more kind of story telling and fantastical ideas and things like that. I’m just kind of using my imagination but I think everything is based on something you’ve experienced.”

With songs such as ‘Beachy Head’ – a reference to a suicide spot – and ‘Bad Feeling’ it could be argued that Veronica Falls have a clear split personality. The band match sugar sweet melodies with dark subject matter, done with a verve and wit which prevents the album falling into the realm of the maudlin. “I really like it when something isn’t happy and it isn’t sad, it’s kind of both at the same time” the singer explains. “I like that. I guess I think the lyrics are just written quite quickly and we’re all quite humorous and I think that’s it. We just like the juxtaposition of ‘Leader Of The Pack’ – songs like that. They’re kind of funny but sad at the same time.”
Yet Veronica Falls are always moving. Her voice tiring as the interview progresses, Roxanne Clifford begins to talk about new material, and potentially more releases. “We all have very similar tastes in music. We all have the same sort of vision. Our music is changing all the time – the new stuff is not necessarily like that, actually, it’s quite different” she says. “It’s quite tricky to talk about the seeds of the songs when they happened quite a long time ago now, thinking about it.”

Continuing, the songwriter reveals that a new single is already at the planning stages. “We’ve always got a backlog of things that we’re working on that are in various degrees of being finished. But recently we’ve been playing about three new songs in our set so we’ll try and record those, definitely. We’ll maybe record another quieter song for a B-side or something. We like to do something a bit different for the B-side which we don’t necessarily play live.”

Allowing their live sound to bleed into the studio, Veronica Falls placed a short, four part round before ‘Bad Feeling’. A slender piece of Medieval folk, it somehow epitomises both the cold, stark lyrical themes and the throwaway style in which they are delivered. A nod to The Stone Roses’ ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ the track was developed during long rides on the tour bus. “I just really like that medieval sound, like singing in a round. We really love doing it in the car to practise our vocals” Clifford laughs. “I’m always the one who’s trying to get us to start singing in a round but when you get into it then it’s really good. There’s nothing like singing in harmony with your friends!”

‘Veronica Falls’ is out now.

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