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This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music



You know, I like Portland. The culture of that city can only be described as hip, the club scene is hot, and it’s not very far from Seattle—a quick trip in my mom’s Prius, and I can be there and back in just a few hours. (Yes, I have a car, but it’s a V-6 and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pay to drive that gas-guzzling beast any significant distance unless I have to; yay, Mom!) And now, as if there weren’t enough reasons to visit our sister city to the south, Portland has produced one other reason to hop on I-5 in rush-hour traffic: Velabonz.
Fortunately, I had the pleasure of seeing Velabonz for the first time here in Seattle at The Fenix, where I also snagged a copy of their EP, Examples of Wasted Time. The first thing I noticed was the quality of the singer’s voice, which was, well, kind of pretty (and hey, that’s a good thing!). The second thing I noticed about him was that, as a front man, he could only be described as passionate and professional; he was emotive and had that brooding, tortured-artist thing that usually gets girls like me all hot and bothered.
While I stood there admiring the singer’s hair and eyeliner (also pretty, in a dark, rock & roll kind of way), I noted his artful weaving of vocal melody with the dynamic accents of the music, and the way all of it blended seamlessly with the harmonies produced by the other guys’ background vocals. Yes, they all sing and play guitar—and quite well, thank you very much! (Except for the drummer, I later found out, who is apparently such a notoriously bad singer that he’s not even allowed to sing in the van on the way to gigs.)
The singer’s bright, high-pitched voice, coupled with the dark content of some of the lyrics, and a few snarly, rock & roll growls, gave a very satisfying texture to the songs; I was instantly fascinated. I thought to myself, “Well, this is not your run-of-the-mill, crappy rock band!” Like, they sounded good. It was a pleasant surprise to stumble across a band who can prove that flawless musicianship and a keen sense of style are not mutually exclusive, and so, even though I was there to cover another band, I decided right then and there to write about Velabonz instead.
Founded back in late 2003 by singer/guitarist (and hometown Portland boy) Rob Daiker and bassist Brian McMillan (a transplant from Indiana), the band also features guitarist Aaron Daiker (Rob’s little brother), guitarist Eli Russell, and drummer Kevin Johnson. I interviewed Daiker for this article and found out the band as a whole likes a lot of elements of 80s music, which was obvious by the style of the tasty little hooks and melodic accents in evidence on their recording. But when I tried to come up with something to compare them to, I just couldn’t…I tried, really I did! But there’s just no “Van Halen meets Prince” or “Duran Duran on acid” bullshit to be said about this band, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Other people have said that Velabonz sounds like T. Rex and Nine Inch Nails, according to Daiker, but I don’t hear that any more than he does. They actually do have a sound all their own, which is a rare thing these days. I kind of thought “Love & Rockets meets The Cult” at first, but that’s not right, either…and Daiker said that people like me usually cite bands or artists that he and the other guys in the band never listen to, or weren’t really influenced by. (I guess finding a band to write about that has catchy songs with a unique sound is both a blessing AND a curse! It would have been so much easier to simply dismiss them as “another so-and-so”, but I can’t.)
One thing is clear—Velabonz has a stylistic vision which includes an eye (and an ear) for beauty, and Rob Daiker had a thing or two to say about putting on a good show:
Bands need to get back into trying to set themselves apart from the audience, and make it a show. They shouldn’t go up on stage in street clothes and stare at their feet. We’re sick of all those shoe-gazer bands, the ones that act like they’re not even happy to be up on stage, all brooding and pouty. Rock bands are supposed to be fun.
Hell yeah, and put me on the guest list! This penchant for showmanship is evident on the DVD, which comes as a bonus inside the EP (every song on the CD has an accompanying music video—now, that’s worth the consumer’s $9.99 on CD Baby!). Some of the videos were even shot in Seattle (“Trouble,” “Scream,” and part of “Break”), so pick up a copy, Jet City residents, and see if you recognize anything!
When I asked Daiker how the DVD came about, he said,
I am very lucky to have a good friend in Seattle who is a very talented director, Brian Parker. We originally shot the first video for fun, and we had so much fun doing it we decided to do a video for each song on the EP—which was cool because you don’t usually see that with a new band.
Hmmm, “Because it was fun”: good answer! I have a feeling that this is going to be a recurring theme with this band—you’re going to see some things you don’ - Extoic Magazine


EP - "Examples of Wasted Time" 2005


Feeling a bit camera shy


Currently at a loss for words...