Nightmare Daydream, the debut album from The Velveteers was six years in the making — six years since Demi Demitro and Baby Pottersmith met at a reggae show. The two young teens — both home-schooled, were passionate about making music and were surrounded by creative influences. Demitro’s mother studied dance, choreography and theater at CU Boulder, without a doubt connecting her children to the artistic world, Demi forming The Velveteers and her two older siblings, John and Lulu playing in their own band, Pink Fuzz.
The Velveteers officially formed in 2014 as a duo with just Pottersmith and Demitro, later adding Demitrio’s brother John on drums. During their first two years, the band only had their debut track, “Death Hex” out on streaming but that didn’t stop them from touring. In 2016, after becoming acquainted with the Los Angeles duo, Deep Vally, The Velveteers found themselves touring alongside them in the U.K.
Having gained experience on the road and across the ocean, the band recorded their self-titled EP in 2017 and toured the United States soon after. In 2018, when the EP was finally released, the pair gained statewide recognition from the music community and fans. The EP has since been removed from streaming services but the foundation it laid proved to be a monumental stepping stone for the band’s growth.
For two years the band played shows and released videos for songs only a handful of listeners would recognize. Once John departed, Pottersmith claimed their role as the primary drummer. From this point, The Velveteers continued to churn out new songs, eventually adding secondary drummer, Jonny Fig to the mix in 2020 and before long, they began to reap the fruits of their labor.
When it comes to the Velveteers, their trajectory is much like that famous quote, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Nobody can say The Velveteers got get to where they are by luck as much as they were simply prepared for it. For instance, when the opener for Guns N’ Roses, Mammoth WVH had to cancel their appearance in Denver due to a COVID outbreak among their crew members, The Velveteers stepped up to the plate. The band was understandably as surprised as they were excited with only a few days’ notice to prepare for what would be their biggest performance to date — but it’s exactly what they needed heading into the most anticipated album of their career thus far. Despite establishing themselves six years ago in the local music scene, their newly released album, Nightmare Daydream (released October 10), is the band’s proper introduction to the music world at large — an introduction coordinated by none other than The Black Keys’ very own Dan Auerbach.
303 Magazine sat down with The Velveteers to talk about their album, their videos and what it was like recording in Nashville with Dan Auerbach at Easy Eye Sound Studio.
303 Magazine: What are your thoughts on the album coming out as it’s drawing closer? Are you feeling nervous at all about it?
Demi Demitro: It’s something you put so much work into for such a long time. I don’t think I’ve fully processed this album coming out.
Baby Pottersmith: Yeah, I haven’t processed it all. We’ve been so busy making music videos and focusing on the couple of songs we’ve released before the album.
DD: It’s our first big piece of work. For the three of us, it’s a big deal for our band to have our first album coming out. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. We don’t know what to expect.
Their uneasiness surrounding the release is understandable, but the fact that they could have released an album years ago with the number of songs they’d wrote is a testament to their discipline. Rather than releasing an album with the songs they produced, they opted to practice instead. Practice playing, practice writing and practice touring — they practiced everything and when the Grammy award-winning artist and producer, Auerbach came across one of their music videos and wanted to meet them, they were ready. They explained their disbelief and confusion, stating that the invitation they received over the phone to meet was very casual.
DD: It was one of those things that happened out of the blue and we thought, “Is this really going to happen?” We got the call and a couple of weeks later we were in Nashville.
BP: Yeah, all they said is that Dan wanted to hang out with us.
DD: We were all kinds of nervous and thought, “do we need to practice before we go?” I was all ready to play something on guitar and we didn’t play any music. We just talked for like three hours and we were only there for a day.
BP: We went home and thought, “What’s going on?” We didn’t decide we were making a record then and there. We talked about what it could be like and wondered what was going to come of it. It took a couple of months until we realized that this was going to happen.
303: How much writing did you do while you were at Easy Eye Sound Studio?
DD: One of Dan’s favorite things to do at Easy Eye is have a traditional Nashville writing session where he brings in writers from Nashville who do it for a living. So we got to write with a couple of people. We did three days of writing sessions. We recorded and wrote, “Charmer and The Snake” with Dan and our other friend Angelo Petraglia — who was one of the writers and we also wrote, “Bless Your Little Heart.”
BP: Those are the two songs we wrote in Nashville that ended up on the album. The other songs were stuff that we had already prepared for the record. Once we had the songs we recorded them in the first couple takes, which was the polar opposite of how we had worked on all the other songs because we had spent months and months making demo after demo and then rethinking them. It was a refreshing experience to have a song we just wrote and in the next couple of days play it for the very first time and record it and have that be it.
“Bless Your Little Heart” is a song that focuses on Demitro’s vocals and lyrical execution. In one moment her voice can be soothing and smooth and in the next, she’s chanting an irreversible curse — staying true to the band’s dark undertones. In contrast to their previous songs that took you to an Alice in Wonderland type of world — these songs are very grounded in their inspiration and only become enchantingly fantastical through the engagement of our own emotions. This, in turn, intensifies the experience of the album after watching their music videos.
303: You released a few videos for your album prior to its release, was this something desired by the band or was it suggested by the label?
DD: With our art comes a visual presentation. I think we have a good idea of how we want things. I’ve been making music videos since I was younger and so has Baby. So we wanted to direct and make our own videos. So we’ve been doing our last videos by ourselves.
BP: Shot on an iPhone, with very little budget, which I think is cool. For me, at any age, if one of my favorite bands is making their own videos and they’re shooting it on an iPhone, that’s what inspired me to make the same thing. I don’t need a whole team and a bunch of fancy cameras. It’s cool to see something that is more lo-fi and obviously edited by the band themselves.
DD: One thing for me, when I’m writing something I get really strong visuals. Like when I’m writing lyrics and when there’s a chord progression, I feel like I see things in color sometimes. It’s cool to take that aspect of the songwriting and put it into the videos. With all that comes a certain vibe or theme that has inspired the majority of the videos we’ve been doing.
BP: Luckily, Easy Eye’s been down for us to do it. For the first video, they originally had us work with this director and we shot it and it didn’t work out, it didn’t turn out well. We had a feeling it wasn’t going to turn out well so a month previously we had shot our own video of it. So when it didn’t work out and everyone was like, “Oh no,” we let them know we had a backup.
All of the videos for Nightmare Daydream can be found under Easy Eye Sound’s Youtube page and all of them were shot using their iPhones or an old camera by The Velveteers. Everything about the group is hands-on and artistic. The music video for “Motel #27” is something of a psychological thriller while “Brightest Light” is literally a picnic on a lush hillside before transforming into the band’s signature, twilight realm aesthetic.
The most notable attribute about The Velveteers is their desire to do things correctly the first time, so when the band finally heard the finished album, let’s just say there were mixed emotions.
303: Were there any songs that you went back to and nitpicked at after the fact it was recorded?
Jonny Fig: For me, I’m pretty happy with what we got. I think it’s killer.
BP: It changes every day for me. I never go to a place where I don’t like the record, but sometimes I’ll be listening and it’s probably just delusions in my head but I’ll think, “I messed that part up, I never realized I messed that part up.’” Then the next thing I’ll realize, no I didn’t.
DD: The first time I heard the record I cried. I was really upset. I was having a full-on meltdown and was like, I can’t release this.
BP: Then 10 hours later you were crying because you loved it.
DD: I go through lots of up and down periods with liking what I make and then strongly hating it. There are still things on the record I hear and I cringe, and I wish were different. At the same time, it’s those little things that we didn’t change that make the record what it is. Those are important details.
All those important details The Velveteers focused on are exactly why their album sounds like a band that’s been playing for longer than they have. In the same breath, Nightmare Daydream is rooted in rock n’ roll but in no way attempts to be like familiar bands from past decades. You can compare and contrast their sound to something you’ve heard before, but their debut album is very much embedded in the present. That’s not to say they don’t embody a seasoned rock persona. Their attire, performance and their songwriting are enough to reassure the listener they have what it takes to make it in the saturated genre. First, you hear them, then you see them and most importantly, you feel their presence when they’re on stage.
If their bookings, schedule and fan base are any measurement of their potential after this album, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about. After all, how many bands are going to be picked up by a notable figure such as Dan Auerbach the first time around, but it goes to show how dedicated The Velveteers are to their music. Where they are now in terms of their dedication is no different from where they were a few years ago. Admittedly, Demitro has been the driving force behind the band and its success, stated Pottersmith, but it’s clear how close and communicative the members are with one another.
Based on the band’s discography, aesthetic and label, the listener gets a solid understanding of just what direction The Velveteers are going. The album takes you to so many different places — a magical wormhole into brooding dark wonderlands. The album’s intro song “Dark Horse” feels like a historic ode synced with its primal drums. And when the heavy guitar drops, it’s like you’re falling into a dark, echoing abyss. Nightmare Daydream is a pledge of allegiance to their style, their roots and their story — past and present.
303: What are some of your favorite songs on the album?
JF: “Beauty Queens ” is probably my favorite. It is just so chaotic and so fast. It’s just crazy, and it gets my heart racing every time.
BP: What was happening right before we recorded that? Did we have to go up and breathe? I feel like we were both hyperventilating.
JF: (Laughs) Yeah I can’t remember what was happening but we definitely had to go outside and breath for a second and at the very end of the song I said something really dumb. I’m pretty sure they turned it up too. So listen to the end of “Beauty Queens. “
BP: I really love “Limboland”. It’s really beautiful and one of my favorite songs that Demi has written. I love the strings on that. When I first heard it back I was convinced I needed to redo my drums but Dan wouldn’t let me and I’ve luckily come around.
DD: I would say my favorite song on the album at this moment is “What A Smile Can Hide.” It has this driving bridge that feels like it’s taking you to a different place and when I listen to that I get excited.
To be fair, every song is exciting in its own way. The 12-song album is a rollercoaster of raw emotional energy heightened by splitting guitar and unique drum sequences. “What a Smile Can Hide” is a slow burn of situational agony branded by Demitro’s lyrical execution and shredding guitar while also testifying to the band’s emotional grit. It’s as sorrowful in the beginning as it is liberating toward the end. While “Limboland,” like “The Brightest Light” carries a slower tone than what the band is known for playing, the song carries the same depth and weight behind it that the faster tracks do. If their first song is their introduction to who they are, their ending song shows where they can take us.
That said, the band’s standards never fall below extraordinary. Their patience doesn’t turn to passiveness, while contrarily, their protocol can be borderline perfectionism. They don’t stop until they’ve reached the goal they’ve set for themselves and are a perfect example to show hard work paying off. Not only that, they’re as down to earth as can be and deserve the growing recognition they’ve received the last several years.
Catch The Velveteers when they headline the Gothic Theatre (3263 S Broadway, Englewood, 80113) on November 26. Tickets are available here.
Styling by Ashleigh Perri, makeup by Leah Llanes, and all photography by Roxanna Carrasco. Shot at Realm Denver.
Check out Nightmare Daydream on Spotify below:
Editor’s note – “The Velveteers officially formed in 2014 as a duo with just Pottersmith and Demitro, later adding Demitrio’s brother John on drums.” The original article read 2015.
“Once John departed, Pottersmith claimed their role as the primary drummer.” The original article read him instead of their.