The Veldt fell just short of being an anathema in the Chapel Hill indie rock scene of the early '90s. Sounding and looking nothing like the striped shirt contingent of Superchunk, Polvo, or Archers of Loaf, the band was more at home with the likes of England's dream pop bands. They were predominantly black, an unfortunate mark against them. What could be more natural than black men playing rock & roll? Keep the atmosphere of the Cocteau Twins and A.R. Kane, add some aggression and more prominent guitars — that was the Veldt. They were influenced by Echo & the Bunnymen just as much as Jimi Hendrix and Prince, adding discernible lyrics and upping the emotional power where most bands of their ilk shied from the microphone, burying their vocals in guitar wash.
Founded in 1986 by vocalist Daniel Chavis and his brother, guitarist Danny Chavis, they added drummer Martin Levi two years later. With Cocteaus and A.R. Kane associate Lincoln Fong producing, engineering, and providing bass, the Veldt recorded Marigolds, an EP released in 1992 on Stardog/Mammoth. Shortly after its recording, they recruited a full-time bassist in Dave Burris. Signed on the strength of the EP to Mercury, they released Afrodisiac, an excellent, muscular dream pop record. In keeping with the A.R. Kane ties, studio comrade Ray Shulman (Gentle Giant) produced, while the Cocteaus' Robin Guthrie provided some guitar. A number of the record's tracks had "alternative radio hit" written all over them, but unfortunately this didn't happen. Ejected from the major-label world, they issued Universe Boat on the independent Yesha, an EP of demos. At some point prior to the recording of the quietly released 1998 album Love at First Hate (on their own End of the World Technologies), tensions between the Chavis brothers led to Danny's dismissal; Burris also left. Daniel carried on with Sam Clowney and Des White, but the band didn't survive long after support dates for the record.
Somewhat fittingly, the band received their warmest response while touring in the U.K with the Cocteau Twins. The textured guitars went over well, and concertgoers were more than happy to see a band who could sound layered and emote vocally at the same time. As the well-worn cliché goes, this didn't translate across the ocean.
The Brighton-based three piece known as Veldt is at http://www.last.fm/music/Veldt
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