Welsh rockers Vela Incident

Vela Incident could well be one of the best new bands in Britain…and it only took over twenty years to get there. Sam Lambeth gets down and dirty with Port Talbot’s finest.

Vela Incident are flustered. A recent review from an unknown publication has rendered them angry and forlorn. Not so much because it criticised their sound, but more because the hackneyed hack behind the words did not bother to find out the origins of Vela Incident’s band name.

If there’s one thing the band are passionate about, it’s getting their facts straight.

For the uninitiated, the Vela Incident – also known as the South Atlantic Fast – was a strange phenomenon detected by the American Vela hotel satellite sometime in the 1970s. It was a lightning in a bottle moment, a rare situation, a joyous coming together.

“We wanted a band name that paid homage to our Welsh roots, and ‘vela’ is a Sanskrit word meaning shore or coast,” the band explain. “When we stumbled upon this mysterious event, we went for it.”

It certainly is a fitting name for the band. The group originally came together in the heady days of Britpop, before growing up and moving out of Port Talbot. After a few aborted attempts over the years, finally the magic collided over twenty years after their teenage fantasies.

“It wasn’t until the first lockdown that we got things together,” they say, in unison. “Since we started back in spring, we’ve also recruited Liam and Flynn. Liam’s been a great find, but because of lockdown, there’s only Tweedy (bass) who’s ever actually met him.

“Bringing Flynn in was also a nice story because he’d been a mate forever, but had never shown interest in playing music back then. Bringing him in epitomises what we’re about – we’re mates, the best bands are, you can practice together all you want but there’s no better understanding between musicians than when they have that bond.”

That bond has been positively infectious. Despite only officially forming in 2020, in a world where live gigs are as absent as Stephen Bear’s brain, Vela Incident have attracted a ferociously loyal fan base that spreads across Great Britain (and probably beyond).

The group reckon that’s down to their down-to-earth but saucy demeanour.

“We do have a cheeky edge to us, but we’re from a very small steel town and humility is a big part of our makeup, so we’re eternally grateful to each and every single person who has listened, shared, followed and enjoyed,” they say.

However, it’s not all because of their naughty tweets and threats to take over the world. Vela Incident have tunes. Yes, they should – anything that’s been brewing for twenty years should taste terrific – but damn these songs have been worth the wait.

The stately Home is a gorgeous anthem replete with sterling guitars and a simply irresistible chorus. Queen of Liverpool is majestic and maudlin in equal measure. Their new stash of singles are equally as impressive, namely the uplifting All the Lost Souls.

“These songs are very ‘90s if you strip them back, but they’ve been completely reimagined and produced in a way that’s very much a product of our current influences and everything in between,” they say.

They’re not wrong. Among the Britpop-inflected guitars and lyrical flourishes, you can now also hear the adventurous spirit of The National and The War On Drugs.

“The layering of sounds, the heavy use of synthesizers, recording and production tricks, experimenting, it’s almost the biggest part of what we’re about, and the songs are then sprinkled with lyrics that contain so much innocence and naivety because they were written by teenagers who thought they had love and life all figured out.”

Vela Incident have exciting plans for 2021, Covid-19 permitting. They talk excitedly of vinyl, a UK tour and world domination.

With songs as strong as these – and with plenty of old and new tunes still to be unleashed – Vela Incident’s verve, tenacity and wondrous tunes have swiftly cemented them as one of Britain’s most exciting and brilliant bands.

It’s fair to say that no one will be unsure about the Vela Incident in the future. And as for that name, the boys have got one last titbit to impart.

“We’ve found out there’s a band in Scandinavia also called the Vela Incident,” they beam. “So when we’re rich and famous we’ll force them to change it or sue them.”

Vela Incident are on Facebook and Twitter.

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All words by Sam Lambeth. Sam is a Birmingham-based journalist and musician. More of his work for Louder Than War is available on his archive. His music can be found on Spotify.

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