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GigRadar: Interview 

I got interviewed by GigRadar.  Here it is:

DISCOVER THIS: VELCRO MARY

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.

Phonograph Me: Getting Smaller 

Portuguese music blog, Phonograph Me, posted a lovely review of the Soft Bomb Jangle track "Getting Smaller":

SUNDAY NIGHT DELIGHT, COM OS VELCRO MARY 

Domingos à noite são dias para preparar a semana que está aí a aparecer, sem nos esquecermos de gozar o que ainda resta do fim-de-semana. E nada melhor do que falar no mais recente single dos americanos Velcro Mary, este "Getting Smaller" para que isso aconteça e continuemos cheios de energia. 

Já não é a primeira vez que falamos aqui nos Velcro Mary, e embora adore o nome da banda, não nos vamos prender em pormenores. Vamos antes perceber porque é que "Getting Smaller" é uma canção tão marcante. 

A letra de "Getting Smaller" é muito bem escrita e muito actual, sendo uma espécie de relato do mundo de hoje, mas de uma forma muito concreta, o que me encanta sempre. A própria melodia, embora um tanto densa, cola-se logo, e, a subtileza do piano, em conjugação com a força da voz e com o sintetizadores, a bateria e a guitarra, fazem desta uma canção inesquecível. 

Bom para quem, como eu, continua apaixonada por David Bowie e para quem gosta de canções reais, é a canção perfeita para deixar os sentimentos vir ao de cima e ligar-se ao mundo lá fora.

The only problem is that I don't read or speak Portuguese, so I had to rely on the internet for a translation.  I'm sure it is 100% accurate:

SUNDAY NIGHT DELIGHT WITH VELCRO MARY 

Sundays at night are days to prepare for the upcoming week, without forgetting to enjoy what remains of the weekend. And nothing better than talking about the latest American single Velcro Mary, this "Getting Smaller" to make it happen and we'll be full of energy. 

This is not the first time we have spoken here at the Velcro Mary, and although we love the name of the band, we will not get caught up in the details. Let us first understand why "Getting Smaller" is such a remarkable song. 

The lyrics of "Getting Smaller" are very well written and very up to date, being a kind of account of the world today, but in a very concrete way, which always delights me. The melody itself, though somewhat dense, soon sticks, and the subtlety of the piano, in conjunction with the power of the voice and the synthesizers, the drums and the guitar, make it an unforgettable song. 

Good for those who, like me, are still in love with David Bowie, and for those who like real songs, it's the perfect song to let feelings come up and connect with the outside world.

Read the full review at Phonograph Me.

Queen City Sounds And Art: Molly 

Denver based blog, Queen City Sounds And Art wrote an excellent review of "Molly":

“Molly” by Velcro Mary is a Tender Ballad to a Relationship Gone Awry

Velcroy Mary may be “the only band in North Carolina that did not record their last album with Mitch Easter at The Fidelitorium” but maybe it’s single “Molly” was recorded with Chris Schultz at Wavelab Studios in Arizona because it’s melancholic anthem is reminiscent of DeVotchKa circa How It Ends. The doleful accordion melody and the words of resignation and yearning bracketed by gently strummed guitar spells out a message meant to offer comfort and reassurance to someone who might be going through a period in life fraught with insecurity and emotional fragility. Tender and touching it’s simple structure and graceful performance makes what is hinted at by “this time apart’s supposed to help us grow” and “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and a troubled relationship that has all but drifted apart for good. Listen below and follow Velcro Mary’s excellent string of singles at the links following.

Click here to read the full review on Queen City Sounds And Art.

Stars and Celebs: Molly 

My Nguyen over at Stars and Celebs reviewed "Molly":

One man band Jason Erb embraces the DIY attitude on his solo endeavor Velcro Mary.  A project that pays tribute to 90’s bands, Erb commandeers all the instruments himself – a feat that would normally be left to the devices of a normally larger operation. 

On Erb’s latest single, “Molly,” the contrasts of sound that could be heard on the brand new track culminates in a healthy stew of cadences from the acoustic guitar to the sounds of the accordion, drums, bass, and percussions.  These is some order to this madness with Erb singing with dogged passion.  This dynamic sounding track resounds with unfaltering melodic guitar riffs and winning vocals. 

With a cadence that has an underlining somber sense to the song, due to the seriousness of the track, listeners will be drawn to its overarching grave sense. 

The music is simply riveting with energized performances from the acoustic guitar and Erb’s impassioned vocals. 

The single showcases Erb’s ability as a guitarist.  The numerating over the acoustic guitar demonstrates Erb’s deft finger work.  The strumming interplays very well with Erb’s husky vocals. 

The song is a strong sample of Velcro Mary’s work.  And is a solid indicator of what is to come from the solo musician. 

Erb’s enthused musicianship in the DIY spirit demonstrates his passions for classic rock and indie music.  His sound that blends in sounds of 90’s grunge and alt rock is a compilation of cadences from the distinct era. 

“Molly” is a refreshing listen that brings back the familiar decade to nostalgic fans of the time.  Well establishing his unique sound in the single, Erb melds the past into the present, delving into 90’s grunge and alt rock with a more modernized feel.  With a foot in both worlds, Erb takes the old and makes it new again with.  What you get is an acoustic alt sound that is undeniably Velcro Mary.

Click here to read the full review over at Stars and Celebs.

START-TRACK: Molly 

START-TRACK is a daily music blog out of Bratislava, Slovakia run by Filip Zemčík, head of Z Tapes and United Cassettes.  Here's what they had to say about "Molly":

I always find interesting to know the location from where the musicians are coming from. Charlotte, North Carolina. I have been there along time ago. I always wonder whether it has effect on music, whether you can discover the essence of location in the track. Maybe you can, I did not get there yet. 

Molly is sweet little track with a simple melody and lyrics. I love that.

Click here to se the full review on START-TRACK.

My Beautiful Streaming Pie Chart, And The Ugly Reality Underneath 

I recently asked the subscribers on my mailing list what service they use to stream music.  I thought this would be valuable data, that would get me one step closer to my ultimate goal:  taking over the world.  Here's what they said.

YouTube - 26%  The majority of the survey participants picked YouTube.  I'm sure Google makes plenty of money off of the platform, but i do not.  The latest data claims YouTube pays around $0.00069 per stream (if they pay at all).  My best guess is that I've made less than $2 from them in my lifetime.  It's not even worth the effort to look up the real number.  If you ever wondered why I don't make music videos anymore, this should explain it.

Spotify - 23%  Next up was Spotify, which happens to be my streaming platform of choice.  They only pay around $0.00437 per stream, but I make enough money from them to pay for my own premium subscription.  So that's a win, right?

None - 19%  This surprised me.  With the prevalence of smartphones, high speed internet, and free streaming options, I would have thought that everybody at least dabbles in streaming.  I don't get it.

Something Else - 13%  I reached out directly to anyone who gave this answer to find out what they were using.  A few people mentioned Bandcamp or Noisetrade.  But most of the people just didn't write me back.  :(

Apple Music - 11%  I've tried Apple Music, but I didn't like it as much as Spotify.  Plus, other than a limited trial, they don't have a free streaming option.  My music is starting to get some traction there, but it's nothing compared to Spotify.  They pay $0.00735 per stream.

Pandora - 4%  I go back and forth on Pandora.  They've got some cool (and free) tools artists can use to promote themselves.  But they don't always work.  And they've got their fancy music genome project algorithm that does magical things.  But it doesn't always work.  They pay $0.00133 per stream from their "Premium" listeners (not sure how much from free accounts).  I don't make much money there, but I like being potentially discoverable by their algorithms.

Amazon - 4%  This is another one that doesn't offer a free streaming option, other than a trial period, so I've never really bothered with it.  A penny probably trickles in every once in a while, but that's not going to send my kids to college.  They pay $0.00402 per stream.

The Absolute Losers  The other options in the survey that nobody picked were Deezer, Google Music, TIDAL, and Napster.  Apparently, nobody I know uses any of those.  I don't either.

So what have we learned with all of this valuable data?  I don't know.  That I'm screwed, and will never make any real money off of my music?  I kind of knew that already.