While weaving tales of love, heartache and fantasy with their intensely dark and ethereal style, Dan Shears & The Velveteen Orkestra are proving themselves to be one of London’s most interesting and captivating bands. Beautiful, flowing vocal melodies, with lyrics that bring to mind carnivalesque lullabies written by a much older soul, cascade over delicate and intricate guitar work, soaring vocal harmonies, a surging ocean of orchestral sound and songs so immersed in passion and pathos that they’re sure to haunt the memory long after the first listen. Dan Shears recalls Matt Bellamy’s slower and more resonant tones but the Muse similarities end there. With an incredibly wide vocal range and a gorgeous poetic quality, he has a sharp wit and cockney charm and a voice that evokes memories of artists as diverse as Nick Cave, Morrissey, Frankie Valli and Roy Orbison amongst others.

 

Born in South East London in the mid-80s and living on the road where Bon Scott had died six years earlier, Dan Shears grew up surrounded by music. He would make his dad play Pink Floyd’s ‘On The Run’ continually because it ‘scared him’. He was intrigued by how certain music seemed intent on painting a moving picture and evolving a narrative, be it lyrically or sonically. He was introduced to blues and various forms of guitar based rock music and would make mix tapes and pretend to play them as a live set in front of the mirror. “The first band I can really remember getting into was Squeeze. My brother had a collection of all their music videos and I would watch them all the time”.

 

When Dan’s brother first played him ‘Creep’ by Radiohead, he was only seven years old but became instantly hooked and used his brother’s old guitar to play along to the record. “I would pluck the strings and move my hands up and down the neck convinced that I had learned the song. It was only when the CD was turned off that I realised I couldn’t actually play it”.

 

During his childhood, although he was popular with his friends, Dan spent much of his time playing alone.  He would entertain himself by writing stories, watching videos or playing games that usually involved a ball and a wall to hit it against.  “It wasn’t that I didn’t like anyone or saw myself as any better or worse than anyone else, there was just this private little world around me that I felt was so precious to me and wouldn’t seem as important to others.  My brothers and their friends were all over eighteen and introduced me to music, films and comedy that probably shouldn’t have been experienced by a kid of my age. This equipped me with an understanding of more mature themes and aspects of life ahead of my peers”.