Los Angeles-based Velvet Starlings are back with a new single (and lineup) with the release of “Bullfight” — giving us all a taster of the psych-pop band’s forthcoming new album Pacific Standard Time, dropping this summer.
Summing up “Bullfight” in an impressively long sentence, 20-year-old frontman Christian Gisborne tells us,“it’s an off-kilter psychedelic punk epic about bloodsports set to a cacophony of noise by means of flute, theremin and a guitar running through a pedal collection to rival Kevin Shields’ board.”
“It explores the concept of adrenaline addiction, whether it’s caffeine, moshing, playing FPS video games, spectator sports, or going to a bullfight,” he adds. “The song is filled to the top with samples and I’m very excited to see how many of them are recognised.”
Strictly speaking, the track isn’t brand spanking new; they’ve been playing it as a finale since 2019, to conclude the mayhem of their gigs, born out of a desire to play something “fast and crazy” live.
This resulted in the creation of “Bullfight” — a riot of screeching sonics and an Oh Sees-inspired shredder, beginning with a rockabilly stomp before descending into sinuous, hypnotic sludge. The accompanying video, shot by Jared Martin at LA’s iconic DIY venue The Smell, serves up a flavour of what to expect at one of their live shows. Spoiler: chaotic energy.
It’s clear that live performance has been key to Velvet Starlings’ rise: the band has played iconic LA venues like the Troubadour, Lodge Room and The Echo; showcased at SXSW; toured the UK multiple times and played at festivals including Summerfest, Beachlife and Isle of Wight. Anyone who caught one of the latter shows will be pleased to hear the band are returning to UK shores for another full run in 2024, with festival dates to be announced.
With this current iteration of Velvet Starlings, Christian has found a set of bandmates who share his omnivorous tastes, including flautist/vocalist Amaya Montgomery and drummer DeRon Monroe, both members of The Intelligence with Thee Oh Sees’ Lars Finberg; and keys player Aaron Hoang.
“The goal of Velvet Starlings isn’t even for people to like it – it’s for people to hear it,” says Christian. “I’d rather listen to something objectively bad than something that doesn’t make me feel anything. The goal for me is to make people feel something.”
“Bullfight” by Velvet Starlings is out now, available on your favourite streaming platforms here.