The Velveteers started in Boulder in September 2014 when frontwoman and songwriter Demi Demitro started playing guitar. Demitro had been singing and making up songs from a very young age, and eventually, starting some kind of band seemed inevitable. “My parents have videos of us on road trips, and I'd sing and make up all these songs and write lyrics,” says Demitro. “When I was fifteen, I realized that, and I've kept writing ever since.”
Growing up in Boulder, Demitro, now nineteen, was exposed to classic rock through her parents, and for her first live-music experience, she witnessed hometown heroes Rose Hill Drive at a sold-out show at the Fox Theatre. Demitro was only thirteen at the time, but the group's mixture of blues rock and psychedelia made a lasting impression.
Demitro's siblings started the band BANDITS (formerly Branded Bandits) over the subsequent two years and involved their young sister in their endeavors. One night Branded Bandits brought Demi on stage at the Fox Theatre to sing a cover. “I think I sang 'Never in My Life,' by Mountain,” says Demitro. “I was really scared, but it was fun. I was stepping into something I'd never done before.”
Demitro, who had come up singing in musical theater and was confident enough on stage, merely had her appetite for performance whetted by that on-stage experience. By seventeen, she had learned the pentatonic scale from her brother John and had a guitar lesson from Ben Sproul, the younger brother of Jacob and Daniel Sproul of Rose Hill Drive. On that foundation, Demitro developed her own guitar style rooted in bombastic blues rock. But her fledgling band, with her brother John and a rotating cast of characters on drums, needed a name.
“I'd spent about five or six months looking for band names,” says Demitro. “I looked through all sorts of books, including an entire dictionary. I came up with like 600 names — I was obsessed with finding the perfect name. We were in a coffee shop one night, and I was reading this poetry book and came across this word 'Velveteer.' It had a vibe to it, and it didn't mean anything in particular. We wanted something we could adopt and completely make it ours. I don't know what it meant, but it felt very right to us.”
On November 15, 2014, two months after Demitro started playing guitar, the Velveteers debuted at the now-defunct Gypsy House Cafe, playing in the basement with fellow teenage bands Keep Calm and Savage Cabbage. From there, the group became a fixture at DIY spaces and small clubs. “The DIY scene is really cool, with venues a lot of people don't know about,” says Demitro. “The great thing about these venues is that new bands that aren't as experienced can go and play there and just try stuff out without being judged, which is a really important thing for new musicians. I feel like we're very lucky because we're in both scenes — the DIY and the more commercial scene.”
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For one of its early shows, the Velveteers was one of four bands opening for Deap Vally at the Larimer Lounge. The two outfits struck up a friendship, and this past summer, as the Velveteers were finishing up a debut EP, due for a late 2016 or early 2017 release, Demitro shared tracks with Deap Vally, which then invited the Velveteers along for its fall 2016 tour of the U.K. It will be the Velveteers' first tour.
Ahead of those dates listed below, the Velveteers are releasing a digital single of “Death Hex” today, Monday, September 12, that fans and the otherwise curious can check out in the video above or at the band's Bandcamp site or on its Soundcloud page. Your next chance to catch the Velveteers in Denver will be at Club Scum on October 7 with Naan Violence and Death Panels. But for anyone in the U.K., you can check out the band at any of the following dates:
September 15, Thekla in Bristol
September 16, Islington Assembly Hall in London
September 17, Leeds University Stylus in Leeds
September 19, Electric Circus in Edinburgh
September 20, Invisible Wind Factory in Liverpool
September 21, Concorde 2 in Brighton