When Yung Life’s Will Farner joined with buddy Caleb Atchley, writing new material that didn’t square with Yung Life’s synthesizer-centric approach, the duo quickly decided they needed a full band to flesh out the songs. YL’s Elliott White quickly took over the drummer’s chair, but that still left the new band — which they have since dubbed Velvet King — without a bass player.
Enter Sam “Guetts” Guetterman; the irrepressible mop-topped frontman for Knoxville’s Crumbsnatchers heard the call, and happily stepped up. “It’s cool stuff,” Guetts enthused, speaking on a break from the road on a recent Crumbsnatchers mini-tour. “Will and Caleb both have cool voices, and they write good songs. I’m excited about the band.”
Velvet King doesn’t have any music in the hopper, as of this writing. But for those who haven’t managed to catch one of the outfit’s few early performances, mostly at area house parties and a couple at the Old City’s Pilot Light, Guetts describes the new project as “feel-good, happy-times rock ‘n’ roll. There’s something familiar about it when you hear it. Yet it’s still unique enough that it’s fun to play. And fun to listen, also.”
Whereas Yung Life is a synth-oriented outfit steeped in ’80s pop, Guetts’ Crumbsnatchers are full-throttle guitar-driven indie rockers, given to hell-bent live shows characterized by razor-sharp, almost prog-ish musicianship and an antic stage presence. Somewhere in the vast gulf between them, says Guetts, resides the music of Velvet King.
“It’s not as wild and crazy as the Crumbsnatchers,” he says. “It has a slower kind of groove to it. We do have one or two faster songs, but even those are pretty tight and in the pocket. We don’t do a lot of wandering.
“The band has a lot of potential,” he continues. “Everyone in the band is a songwriter, and we can all sing. There’s the potential there for four-part harmonies. There’s lots of ways the music can go.”
It’s a very different role for the exuberant Guetterman — and a welcome one, he says, given that he doesn’t carry the burden of being emcee and chief instigator, as he does when he is singing and playing rhythm guitar with the hyperactive Crumbsnatchers.
“It’s really cool,” he says. “I get to relax and hang out in the back. I just focus on Elliott’s drums. I don’t have to worry about being the frontman. I’m just concerned with laying a solid foundation.
“I do my best to facilitate what they write,” he continues. “I might suggest a part here or there, as opposed to the Crumbsnatchers, where I bring a lot of the ideas in.
Should the band continue in its current incarnation, Guetts says there’s a chance he might contribute more to the songwriting. “But I’m not trying to force my way in,” he says. “Those guys have been writing a lot of songs, pretty quickly.
“We’re still a very new band. We’re still finding our way live. We’re getting comfortable. We’re still figuring things out.”
Velvet King will play Scruffy City Hall Friday, June 24 at 9 p.m. with Chalaxy and The Sacred.