Dan Shears & The Velveteen Orkestra

Dan Shears & The Velveteen Orkestra

BandFolkAlternative

"Tenderness and bitterness. Epic orchestral anthems and slow-burning murder ballads from a seemingly fragile mind that could both pour out love and adoration and also hold brutal ambitions"

Biography

While weaving tales of love, heartache and fantasy in his intensely dark and mystical style, Dan Shears is proving himself to be one of London’s more interesting and captivating artists. 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 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 Ray Davies 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”.

Dan would study things in meticulous detail, being able to recite chunks of dialogue from film and television, or statistics from football matches that happened before he was even born. Before his ambition to make music emerged during his teens, Dan’s obsession had been football. He would invent entire football clubs, name the players, design their emblems and strips and place them in leagues and tournaments where he would log all the scores. He had played competitive football since the age of six but despite trials with several London clubs his dream of becoming a professional footballer did not come to fruition. As a toddler Dan had been seriously ill with meningococcal meningitis, lost a large percentage of his body weight and hadn’t been expected to survive. “I still use it as an excuse for why I’m so thin now but I don’t know how much longer I can keep attributing the blame to something that happened when I was two” he jokes.

When Dan moved to a secondary school in Bromley he experienced the British class system for the first time and found it fascinating to meet people who seemingly had no knowledge or experience of the world he had known up to that point. He excelled academically, particularly in English and Drama. In one of his English lessons Dan delivered a presentation about the music of the 1970s which culminated in him singing a Black Sabbath song. As a result of that he was invited to be the vocalist in a covers band. Dan then began to teach himself guitar on borrowed instruments and developed his playing skills with his innate attention to detail. On his sixteenth birthday he was rewarded with a guitar of his own and started his own band. Named Coma as a reference to his childhood illness, the band entered and won a music industry competition. This encouraged Dan to push on further with his music and the gigs grew bigger but the band played their last show in the Spring of 2007.

Dan moved to Brighton and began to study for a music degree at Sussex University where he continued to write songs and perform under the name Petrushka, a favourite fairy tale character of Dan’s when he was a little boy. He was inspired by and empathised with the protagonist who displayed characteristics that might be associated with the archetypal villain. Dan’s love of the dark and fantastical writing of authors such as Angela Carter

Lyrics

London by Lamplight

Written By: Dan Shears

This song is all that I am and all that, I give to you
And for this I ask only for your heart
Black night creeps over the hills and descends into my old town
Bleeding through smoke-filled streets, it paints the sky

London by lamplight
London by lamplight
Your sense is impaired for the dim orange glare
Of a dancing flame is your only means of light

This town is all that you see and all that you want to know
There's poetry in this voice it just don't come out right
Sing out to me, sing out to me

London by lamplight
London by lamplight
Your sense is impaired for the dim orange glare
Of a dancing flame is your only means of light

Sing out to me, Sing out to me

Discography

Against a Sea of Troubles (EP) 2012
The Eternal Mystery of the Human Heart (EP) 2010

Set List

We can play for anywhere up to an hour, live set features songs such as 'London by Lamplight', 'One Dry Eye in the House of God' and 'In the Shadows of Better Men'.