By Daniel Cooper
A few months back I went to see another national “buzz worthy” band (who I don’t recall) and luckily caught the opening act at Brillobox. Usually I try and skip out on these because; well frankly, they aren’t always that good. Velcro Shoes was the local act that evening and simply blew me away like no other local band since Wise Blood. A three piece that jumped onto the scene out of nowhere, the band played an electric set that I still recall vividly compared to the “buzz” act. The band describes their influence as The Horrors, The Strokes, Foals, Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles, Interpol, Autolux and Nirvana. Honestly, they aren’t too far off.
Velcro Shoes is made up brothers EJ and Eric Emerson with Bill Krowinski on guitar. They formed in February 2010 after Eric relocated from Baltimore following a girl, and EJ eventually followed him. The two brothers have been playing with each other since grade school. In past bands the brothers had toured with the likes of Guided by Voices, Jet and American Minor. Currently the band members all work fulltime jobs, but consider this a very serious venture. I was able to ask Eric a few questions about his previous acts to how his experienced band creates their music today.
Eric Emerson: I would have to say that for me it is the most enjoyable. Most of the bands that I have been a part of in the past, there was always a split responsibility going on. For years I had to always share the lead vocal responsibilities with other musicians, which I didn’t mind, but I always had a yearning to be heard and grow as a lead vocalist/song writer.
DC: How close did you come from hitting a major record deal?
EE: Pretty close, while up in New York City we had a sit down with Maroon 5’s entertainment lawyer. I think it was all about timing. We had raw youthful energy but we just weren’t on that level yet. We were really close — hell it was amazing even getting a sit down with such a person, however it just wasn’t our time. Then things fell apart not too long after through rocky tours, geographical separations, drunkenness, you know all the things that happen when one is young and full of… you know what. So, it just didn’t happen at that point in time.
DC: You all balance fulltime jobs with being in a band. How serious of a venture is this for you?
EE: This is a serious project for us all; it’s just that we like to think we are a mature band right now, not a young one. It all comes down to the product; the actual sound recordings, the songs… if they aren’t great then you have nothing. So we are allowing ourselves time to develop and write better and better songs without all the go, go, go pressure and play here, play there, type deal that just doesn’t make sense.
DC: How close are you to an actual album? When do you hope it will come out?
EE: Well… we have a 5 song EP recorded and in the hands of Rick Bowman of The Frauds as we speak. He is mastering and I just got an email about an hour ago that he worked on it all weekend and is getting close. After he’s done we’ll have a 5 song EP; however we have roughly 5 other new songs that are even better that will be getting recorded very soon one way or another. The EP is titled Hook and Loop. We’re contemplating an LP… right now we are just trying to keep writing and recording as much material as possible.
DC: You all are a quite experienced band so how do you balance out creating your music/lyrics?
EE: Usually I, Mike or Bill bring an idea and the others decide to tweak or not tweak. Recently though we wrote a new song from scratch together; it’s called “Axiom” tentatively. We think it has a lot of potential. My brother, EJ likes for us to bring structures to him. He then adds the drums that he thinks will work. Sometimes we have a suggested beat, which he chooses to follow or not follow. We give him complete freedom.
Daniel Cooper has resided in Pittsburgh for over 10 years. He enjoys a wide variety of music and arts. On most weekends he can be found enjoying the public parks of the county.