Hey everyone this is Sanny Veloo from EMPRA, a rock’n’roll band from Melbourne. How’s it going? We were recently nominated for a Vanda & Young Songwriting award.. Whoah! And before that we won the Livenation USA Band Competition and got to perform at the House of Blues where we graced a stage that was built over a foundation of actual mud from the Mississippi River! And recently we just got back from supporting Fall Out Boy overseas.. Our bassist Matt Agius is still recovering from the Yager Shots that their crew forced us to do and today Matt Cattanach just got these uber cool merch banners printed out at Officeworks and Matt Gault’s tweet was read out on Triple J…

Let’s talk about your beginnings. Before you founded EMPRA you were in a band called Boredphucks, but I heard there’s an interesting reason why it was disbanded involving causing a riot that shut down a festival in Singapore. Care to explain?

Yeah I was in a band with my two best mates Wayne Thunder (Rest In Peace brother) and JBoss and we did this festival in Singapore and just before we went on stage one of the stage managers told us not to use any vulgarities and we were like “Yeah no worries Uncle, we won’t say anything bad onstage!”. But then half of our punk songs had vulgarities in it so we didn’t really know what to do… So just before we started the set, I shouted out all the vulgarities I know in a four different languages : English, Mandarin, Bahasa and Tamil. It seems like the most punk rock thing to do at the time and the crowd loved it and we exploded into the set. But halfway things got outta control and the crowd started storming the stage and people were setting on my distortion pedals and it got pretty wild and next thing I know the power was cut and our set was cut short… The police arrived and we were screwed! We were charged with inciting a riot, the violation of the public entertainment act and the insult to the modesty of women (cause I mentioned the C-word by accident). But fortunately the charges were dropped and in the end we were let off and subsequently banned from performing as the Boredphucks in Singapore! Which was totally rad cos after that happened our CD sold out! But we couldn’t play anymore and that sucked… so we moved to Australia and reformed as The SUNS. We never broke up. In fact we only disbanded because our drummer, and my best mate of 18+ years passed away…

EMPRA was born when you made the move from your hometown of Singapore to the heart of Melbourne. How did you meet the other guys and when did you decide to form a band?

Well actually what happened was after Wayne passed on to the other side and the band disbanded I came back to Melbourne and ended up working at Dodo Internet’s call centre until I went insane and quit the job and decided enough was enough and I was going to form a new band to keep the dream alive and pay tribute to my best mate Wayne. So I posted up an add in the infamous Melband Online Forum for a bass player. Only one guy auditioned, his name was Matt so he joined the band by default. Then we tried to record an album but it turned out so shit we had to scrap it… but luckily we had found a guitarist called Matt after auditioning 27 guitar players off Melband… he was the only guy who played the songs note for note and he smelt good so he was in … then we went through a bunch of drummers and one guy quit after he had a kid and another quit after he bought a house… but finally we found Matt through Melband again! He rocked up in a white station wagon. All of us drove white station wagons at the time so that was a positive sign and he rocked the audition and then he was in. So the whole process took about two years and about seven different lineup changes to form but we have now been playing together as EMPRA for about 2 1/2 years now! So yeah… we all formed over the Internet! They better upgrade to NBN soon man… more bands will be forming everywhere! How awesome would that be.

What were your first impressions of Melbourne’s music scene when you first made the move from your hometown of Singapore?

I was so blown away. I haven’t really travelled that much but from what I seen I still think that Melbourne has one of the best music scenes in the entire universe man. I mean you can go out to gigs and watch some incredible bands and be like where the hell did these guys come from, they’re awesome! And you’ll be inspired and get meet so many awesome people at shows and soak up good vibes all the time man… Like just last night I was at the Brunswick Hotel watching the open mic night with this babe and we saw this dude that blew our minds cos he was singing like Jeff Buckley. The quality of talent in Melbourne is incredible compared to Singapore… in Singapore it’s mostly just cover bands which you know, I understand musos have to make a living and all that but I ain’t gonna spend my night out watching a cover band cover that Vanessa Carlton song ‘1000 Miles’.

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EMPRA’s major break came when you won Live Nation’s global band competition, which earned you some serious international attention. What was it like winning that competition and catching a break so early on in EMPRA’s lifespan?

It has been the highlight of our careers so far! It just felt really awesome man… We took it really seriously cos we were representing Australia and we practiced like nerds until everything was pitch perfect and we nailed it and blew everyone in L.A. away man!!! We were up against three American bands, two British bands and one Italian heavy metal band that almost got lost on the way to the competition. It was tough but we just went out and did our thing… but halfway during the set the microphone failed so I had to go into the crowd to teach them how to sing the chorus of our song Only Love and then they caught on and started singing while we played the music and apparently that made us win the competition!!! After we won, that night… we had like the biggest night ever man… I ended up at the beach in the morning and I don’t even know how I got there. Matt Agius and Matt Cattanach almost got beheaded by the Mexican gangsters cos they wanted to dance after the House Of Rock closed and jumped into a taxi which brought them to a dogdy bar from which they narrowly escaped… but that’s an entire interview by itself!

You’ve just dropped the new EP, Strange Conditions. How would you sum it up in terms of its sound?

It’s a neat little rock’n’roll EP that builds on our rock’n’roll foundation with elements of alternative and indie stuff thrown in but still retaining the rock’n’roll balls and super catchy choruses that we love and soulful good vibes. We even have an exclusive live track from one of our sold out shows at Revolver last year as a bonus track! The EP rocks and it’ll get you singing and you’ll be feeling great. I reckon you should check it out on Spotify and buy it on iTunes (don’t be a cheap bastard) and then come just us out live and buy the physical CD!

What were some of the inspiration you guys took into the recording studio?

We were playing shows non-stop across the country for about two years almost every weekend and all those shows and that rock’n’roll journey of an independent band that’s working their arses off while trying to balance jobs, family and girlfriends and ex-girlfriends and all the challenges of our lives over the last two years inspired a lot of the songs. Also we were working with Haydn from Calling All Cars and as a producer he really inspired us to break away form doing what we usually did musically and so we ended up trying new things, new sounds and new arrangements and it was such a fantastic experience over those couple of months.. we were like on a creative high and wrote a bunch of tunes but then we could only afford to record 5 songs and it was difficult to choose which ones we wanted to record but in the end we settled on a neat little rockin’ EP which totally rocks.

You’ve currently in the middle of a headline national tour to celebrate the new EP. How have the shows been so far, and how’s the reaction been to the new material?

We actually start the shows over the weekend but the first has show sold out of physical tickets and the only a couple of online ones are left… and in my daydreams the shows are amazing! Like it’s so packed and hot and sweaty and people be like screaming our names and shit and singing along to the songs and dudes be like body surfing and having the time of their lives and ladies be like fighting over our phone numbers after the show… The response to the songs has been really positive so far! We’ve played a new couple of the songs live already and even in L.A. and when we opened for Fall Out Boy… we got the entire arena singing along to our songs and it was a mind blowing experience! Everyone seems to really dig Strange Conditions and Yours Sincerely and Only Love and performing those songs can always turn a gig around and make it awesome even if the fallbacks aren’t working.

Another recent highlight was your supporting Fall Out Boy in Singapore. What were those guys like to tour with?

Those guys are the loveliest dudes you’ll ever meet! They were really supportive and encouraging and they were really impressed we got their crowd singing along. And the band rocks… like the live show is way harder and heavier that what they are on CD… I’d rate it as one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen believe it or not… And they’re really cool man… they’ve even got this HUGE WWF type of dude who’s their bouncer and bodyguard but he’s actually their mate from highscool which is really cool until you try to get too close to the stage while they are playing! And their roadies love Yager and they were very generous with their food and their riders.

Do you have any particular ritual before you go on stage, or even a lucky charm you take with you?

I actually find the nearest toilet or private space and meditate before the show to calm myself down and I have a photograph of my grandfather that I always keep in my pocket at ever show! After watching the band before us for a bit, we will go backstage or upstairs or on the sidestreet outside a venue and do our warmups and I’ll be like singing to this warmup playlist on my iPhone, and the Matts will all be warming up too then we get together and we jam the first three songs of the set so we can be like all warmed up from the first chord!

What bands or artists get heavy rotation on your tour bus?

We are still saving for tour bus dude, but at the moment we have a tour tarrago with a trailer. And on rotation we have Steel Panther, Japandroids, Tame Impala, Violent Soho, Kanye West, Grouplove, Rage Against the Machine, Weezer, Guns’N’Roses, Glass Towers, British India, Gotye, Queens of the Stone Age, Smith St Band, Airbourne, Vampire Weekend … and we love to listen to a standup comedy like Russell Peters, Eddie Murphy and Joe Wong and we love watching comedies like Pick of Destiny, Nacho Libre, Anchorman... we love laughing a lot during long drives especially the Melbourne to Newcastle drive… it helps to keep the spirits up!

What are the next 6-12 months looking like for you guys?

We have begun writing a followup to the full length album that we released last year and we’ve got a whole bunch of new songs were rehearsing at the moment and we’re trying some of them out at our live shows on our tour… We’re also trying to score a good support so we can go around the country supporting an awesome band so if you know anyone who knows anyone who know someone please drop us our our awesome agent Cassie Walker a line and let us know! We were shortlisted for a spot on the Weezer Cruise which is a four day rock festival on a a boat that sails from Miami to the romantic Bahamas! How awesome would that be if that happened? There’s more stuff happening but it’s all highly classified and I can’t tell you yet but it’ll be huge when it’s announced and you’ll be like “WHOAH!” You can  go to this link and click on the Thumbs Up button so that we can hopefully win this competition to open for Weezer on the Weezer Cruise?

Watch Sanny's latest single!