Oliver Peterson meets with Codeine Velvet Club’s John Fratelli, and talks to them regarding their experiences, influences, and the difference between tabloids and broadsheets.
Unfortunately I did not know that guitarist, John, who I interviewed down on the big red tour bus was a member of the already successful group the Fratelli’s. I thought he might stab me in the eye for this huge mistake, but fortunately, he was cool. Unfortunately however, this put my first question completely out the window, which would have been what experience have you had.
Codeine Velvet Club has been together since August and their tour ends back down south in Birmingham on December the seventh, after already beginning in Manchester and heading up north to Inverness they were on their way back stopping in Aberdeen. When I asked their musical influences the reply was, ‘same as always and can’t say the Beatles are that bad’ but a more affirmative answer was given with ‘music from around thirty forty years ago’. I asked about future plans and it was made clear America and Europe were on the horizon but like anything, you work hard and build your way to your goal and this is what their tour is trying to achieve now. I asked Lawler how he felt about performing on stage and he remained constant that it was about having fun and he didn’t get nerves, so fun isn’t out of fashion he seemed to feel fun had gone out of fashions for some musicians.
The members of the band are all Glaswegian minus the keyboard / guitarist Will Foster who is from London. I asked if the fact that the band had a strong Glaswegian element made any difference and it did not. Lawler said, ’it comes from American rock n roll so it’s not Scottish at all’. I also asked the old cliché about the bands lifestyle and if it consisted of sex, drugs as well as rock n roll. Lawler replied by showing off his wedding ring and that he couldn’t speak for the rest of the band because he might cause trouble. Ultimately they lead an exciting life. Lawler said ’there are not many exciting bands these days but we are one of them, other bands might thing they are exciting but don’t have the ears to tell the difference, the difference with us is that we do have ears to tell the difference.
Being on tour already with bands travelling is a big part of life which is something that John enjoys from this career path. He went onto say, ’you can’t have a completely well formed world opinion if you haven’t travelled and seen the world’. You could say he is well enlightened and has formed his own world view.
I asked what kind of following he was looking for the Codeine Velvet Club and it seemed he was aiming at a slightly older audience but happy for anybody to listen just don’t expect Codeine Velvet Club to fit into the popular scene.We talked about musical imagination; I said ’It’s hard to be original after so many notes have already been played’, ‘he assured me that they had enough musical imagination and there are still plenty of original notes to be found’. To be honest he was a fairly sound guy but I sensed if you pissed him off you might do well to expect a dramatic surprise.
When the press were mentioned he said, ’there is no difference between the tabloids and the broadsheets in fact the broadsheets are worst because they are always trying to prove their intellect.’ He said fame wasn’t a problem in Scotland because the Scottish don’t buy it unless you’re a footballer, making life in the pub a little easier.
Before I finished I asked if he thought the band would return to Aberdeen, he replied, if we do it will be a good thing because it means we are working as a band.
I went to check them out later that night and it was apparent they already had a following. The played a solid set and they were tight a band, some major guitar riffs were coming from Jon and Ross the Boss on the drums kept it banging. The vocal pair held well and there was a spiritual side to the band glowing, the Velvet Horns accentuated this essence. After their set ended an encore was demanded and they came back out to perform a few cover songs including, the Stone Rose’s I am the Resurrection.
Their gig was good and I personally enjoyed it. Codeine Velvet Club, have great potential for a band in their early stages. They’re already well professionally set up. Go see them if they’re in your area or just check them out on the tube.
The Band are:
Guitar/Vocal: John Lawler (Fratelli)
Vocals: Lou Hickey
Drums: Ross ‘the boss’ McFarlane
Bass: Lewis Gordon
Keyboards: Will Fosters
Horn players: Velvet Horns
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