Veronica Falls is hardly the first band for singer-guitarist Roxanna Clifford, but it is the first to amount to something other than an opening slot at the local pub on DIY Tuesdays. Reached in the tour van on the way to Cleveland, the Scotland-raised, London, England–based frontwoman notes that it didn’t take her long to figure out she was onto something after hooking up with singer-guitarist James Hoare, bassist Marion Herbain, and drummer Patrick Doyle.
“Music has never really been a grand plan of mine—it’s always been something that I’ve just done, and been really passionate about,” Clifford says on her cellphone. “I’ve been in lots of bands and played lots of guitar. For some reason, people really took notice of this one, and we got offered lots of cool things right away. And I guess it just kind of snowballed, to where this is what we spend the majority of our time doing at the moment.”
As the frontwoman notes, Veronica Falls made an immediate impact, with critics and underground pop aficionados embracing the band’s self-titled 2011 debut right after it hit the streets. Thanks partly to song titles such as “Found Love in a Graveyard”, that first outing got the band erroneously tagged as a goth-and-gloom outfit more suited for Halloween than sunny spring days.
If there’s any lingering confusion as to where the group’s musical allegiances lie, the just-released Waiting for Something to Happen should clear things up. Once again, Veronica Falls puts a huge emphasis on the wonderful boy-girl interplay between Clifford and Hoare. The two walk a line between honey-soaked harmonies and spiky live-wire tension. On the sonic side of things, the dreamy, distortion-barbed guitars quite rightly suggest that the college-radio favourites of the early ’90s get plenty of play in the tour van.
“We are really into ’90s indie rock—bands like Yo La Tengo, Guided By Voices, Galaxie 500, and things like that,” Clifford says. “We also love a lot of ’60s stuff like the Velvet Underground.”
As you might expect, the album mixes druggy dark-dream diversions like “Shooting Star” in with jangly sweater-pop confections such as “Tell Me”. Where Veronica Falls also impresses is with simple but effective lyrics that paint pictures even the most unimaginative among us will have no problem locking onto. Witness, for example, the lines “Driving late at night, I let you listen to the music you like” from the sepia-toned beauty “Teenage”.
“We like to have a lot of storytelling in the lyrics,” Clifford says. “We’re not really writing songs that refer to any one exact moment. We’re more out to do something to create an image like something you might see in a film. Something that conjures up the kind of thought that anyone can relate to.”
Plenty of people are obviously doing just that, which explains why Veronica Falls spends much of its time on the road in the States and Europe, as well as making the rounds on the festival circuit. Those gigs, it must be said, are of course far preferable to hoping for a hump-day headlining slot at the Cockwell Inn in Liverpool.