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Did you know about the creative beats behind the Velvet Underground?

March 12, 2017

If you like and respect creative artists who do things differently – you’ll probably love the music of The Velvet Underground.

A band we formed at Queensland University, Eugene and the Egg, is adding Velvet Underground songs to our repertoire – partly in celebration of the 50-th anniversary of the debut album, and largely because the songs just feel so good to play.

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I only ‘got into’ The Velvets in my impressionable university years in the 80s. I loved how their music seemed ‘accessible’ – as in you didn’t have to be an incredibly gifted and accomplished musician to play it. Well, it sounded that way anyway!

 

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Also, I loved Lou Reed’s lyrics. He was an English Major at Syracuse university I believe – and I thought he and the band were so cool with their ‘sunglasses on stage’ look – and I later found the band wore sunglasses on stage to cope with the bright light show. They were sooooo arty!

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I always liked how the drumming sounded so simple and primitive. No fancy fills. Just relatively straight forward, almost primal beats – and what I call a lonely, sad tambourine. The tambourine is a relatively easy instrument to play and it’s a great way vocalists (like Nico) can contribute to a set when they are not singing. As you may know, Nico was in the Velvet Underground and Nico project (put together by Andy Warhol) and she sang three of the songs on that debut album.

I later found out (through my study of The Velvets) that the drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker was quite ‘revolutionary ‘ and unconventional for her time.

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She liked primitive pounding rhythms and would play the bass drum on its side – and she’d play standing up, hitting the drums with mallets.

She didn’t like cymbals. Legend goes, at one gig after her drums were stolen, she played a couple of trash cans. Now that’s a creative solution – and probably looked very ‘street’ for the look of the band. I’ll have to try the trash can idea at one of our gigs!

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