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No. 1, “Bombs Away,” a guitar-driven descent into apathy. Vocalist Joe Brewer, 27, and guitarist Joe Calvarese, 28, shrug off global chaos with a layered, melodic chorus: “Bombs away/Can’t change anything at all.” A sound bite of FDR’s Pearl Harbor speech comes in at the bridge, adding a historical analogy to the song’s modern concerns.
“We’re all berated by everything in the news,” says Brewer. “You want to make a difference, but you’re tired of hearing it. It doesn’t even phase you. It should. It should get to you right in the heart.” But Velvet took care to quote from “Day of Infamy” instead of “Mission Accomplished.” “We wanted to avoid using a George W. Bush speech that would alienate people unintentionally,” says Calvarese. “We try really hard not to be a political band with some agenda.”
Smells Like Teen Spite:
Velvet came together in 1995, when Brewer, Calvarese, and bassist Andrew Walker, 30, were still students at Hyattsville’s DeMatha Catholic High School (drummer Udi Farber, 26, joined later). “Joe had gotten in trouble and lost his free period, and for punishment, had to sit in my English class,” Calvarese says. “I thought, This guy looks like Kurt Cobain or Tom Petty. I couldn’t tell which,” he says. He asked Brewer if he could tag along to a jam session. “He said ‘no,’” says Calvarese. But within a week, Brewer had relented and invited him to a practice. “When I heard him play, I finally said, ‘Yeah, OK, you’re a lot better than me, you should be in the band,’” says Brewer. —Amanda Hess
Velvet plays the Black Cat Friday, Dec. 21.