Interview with Brittany Harrell of Veara
I went to the awesome Veara show at Luneta Cafe on Wednesday November 6th (review here) and got to sit down and chat with their drummer Brittany Harrell afterwards.
Where does the name Veara come from?
Well there’s a local music store where we’re from in Augusta called Jay’s Music, and when we were younger and growing up there used to be a lady named Veara who worked there. She had kicked some of us out of the store before for picking up a guitar or whatever, and well, she was kind of a bitch.
So when we started the band we were like, “she sucks! Let’s name it after her!” So it was that kind of mentality that kinda stuck with us.
How long since you left home in Augusta?
Well we did our record release on September 20th in our hometown of Augusta, technically that was our first day but we were at home. We’ve been out since then, almost two months. We’ve been in Canada since November 1st.
Augusta is not known for punk rock, but it will be now, what else should they be known for that they aren’t?
Well it’s already known for this, so I’m not sure if this counts, but the Master’s Golf Tournament? It happens there and it’s super popular. I don’t know though, thinking of something that it’s not known for but should be is hard. I’m going to say the food. One of my favourite restaurants in the world, and we’ve been to a lot of places in Europe and Australia, but one of my favourite restaurants is in Augusta, Georgia. I’m a total foodie, too. The Village Deli is “home of the gooey fries” so I’m going to say it should be known for that.
How are you liking Canada so far? What’s your favourite part?
We’ve played Toronto and Montreal before on previous tours, and also just played Montreal last night for the second time. We love this country, but the free Wi-Fi at the McDonalds is the best thing about Canada so far. We probably spent six hours at McDonalds today sitting there using their internet. Free Wi-Fi is like crack on tour, you don’t want to pay roaming.
You have traveled the world with the band, and I know you played Australia. Can you tell us a bit about that?
We were there in 2011 for Soundwave Festival which had Iron Maiden headlining, and it was one of the craziest tours we’ve ever done in our lives. We’ll be going back next year for Warped Tour Australia, too.
Excellent to hear you are going back. If I am not mistaken you will be playing with one of your biggest influences?
New Found Glory! They actually did Soundwave Festival the same year we did, so I made sure to go and watch them. We’re all friends with them and had a chance to chat. I mean we’re not call ‘em up buddies, but we know them and they know us so it’s always cool and watch them destroy because they are awesome.
I noticed a definite progression on your newer album, what do you think about your steps forward as a band?
Yeah, our new record Growing Up Is Killing Me took a step forward musically – I think we became better writers and musicians. With What We Left Behind, I mean, I love that record, but I think there were some things musically that we were scared to try earlier on. As far as dynamics go, we just stepped it up on the new record. Also, as far as writing goes I think it’s a lot more mature. I’m in the band and I can definitely hear a difference in how mature it sounds. So that’s something that’s different for sure.
How was working with Jeremy McKinnon of A Day to Remember earlier on? Still in touch?
Oh man, working with him on What We Left Behind, we were still writing and trying to figure out who we were as a band. Working with him and Andrew Wade really helped us zone in on our songwriting skills and musicianship too, which really helped us get to where we wanted to be. When we got to Growing Up Is Killing Me we already knew who we were as a band, this is what we sound like, not let’s take it a step further. We worked with Dave Korneff, who is amazing – amazing producer, amazing engineer – and he helped us take that next step.
For those not lucky enough to catch you, what can they expect from a Veara show?
Let’s see. If you’re going to come to a Veara show, you can expect sing-alongs, high energy, jumping around, people going nuts. Depending on the market, it can get pretty nuts. I mean, our bass player is a perfect example of our energy. We always try to get the crowd going and get people moving. Brad sings in people’s faces, just a great time with everyone having fun.
Veara has one of the most intense bass players I have ever seen on stage. He is jumping, flinging his bass, screaming, grabbing the crowd…what is his secret?
Yeah, he’s an awesome dude. I think he’s like all of us, once we hit that stage then a switch turns on and all we focus on the show and what’s in front of us. He’s crazy though. Sometimes I’ll be playing drums and I’ll look up and think, “HOLY SHIT, did he just do that?” So it’s pretty cool!
As mentioned before you played big stages in Australia for example, how do you like playing smaller venues like this one, 80 person capacity?
Big stages are fun and all, but when I’m playing a show like this (at Luneta Cafe) where we’re right in front of the crowd, nothing beats that energy. When you’re playing big shows, sometimes there are drum risers and the drummer is far back. So you gotta really try to maintain that energy, but smaller shows like this it’s no problem. I’ll never stop playing this kind of show.
The punk music scene is often seen as a boys club. And drumming is almost exclusively lefts to the boys. What motivated you to become a female drummer in a punk band?
I started playing drums when I was nine years old because of the band Hanson. When I was nine I saw them on MTV and was like, “Holy crap, I really like this a lot”, you know, that bubblegum pop was just irresistible. I saw that the drummer was close to my age, so I thought that if he can do that then I could do it too. I begged my parents and Santa for a drum set, and magically one day a cheap drum set appeared at my house. They thought it was just a phase but I stuck with it and took lessons. I played in middle school and high school, and just remembered that it was always just something I did for fun.
I remember not really practicing much, and then I heard Blink 182. I think “What’s My Age Again?” was the first song I heard by them and so I bought the CD. I listened to it non-stop, and I remember in “Adam’s Song” especially, the drums blew me away. It completely changed the way I looked at playing drums. I never thought you could play verses and choruses the way he did. It made me practice more and is what helped propel me to get better and really made me want to be in a band.
Any advice to girls who want to start playing drums and be in a punk band?
Yeah, I mean I’ve always been really competitive. I grew up with an older brother and was always going head to head with him, but I think I took that mentality and applied it to drums. I mean, you don’t really see a lot of girl drummers, but I didn’t go into it thinking “I really hope I can play this”, I went into with the mindset that I’m going to play the drums and it was something that I wanted to be good at. So my best advice to girls is to just practice lots, and don’t be gender specific. There are actually lots of female drummers that can run with the best, I don’t think gender really matters. Whoever is at the top of the game, guy or girl, that’s what I’m striving for. Always having someone to look up to and trying to achieve a higher level is really important.