Even in the eclectic New Orleans music scene, the Vettes strike a different chord. Inspired by synthesizer-laden 1980s pop, the Vettes recently released their second full-length album, Gold Star. The album shows how expertly this mostly sibling band crafts and reinvigorates the distinctive sound of ’80s and early-’90s pop and rock.
The Vettes feature the dynamic, blond frontwoman Rachel Vette, her brothers Todd, Chad and Brian and, adopted for the musical purposes, Mitch Gray.
Rachel Vette, despite being from the city that produced decades of rhythm and blues, jazz and funk, got hooked on ’80s music. Too young to have experienced much of that decade, she discovered the era’s music through such ’80s-influenced bands as the Killers and the Strokes.
“When those bands were coming out, I read their interviews and saw who influenced them,” Vette said. “Then I’d go check their influences out. I’d be like, ‘Oh, my gosh. Duran Duran. Awesome.’”
Add the likewise synth-based Flock of Seagulls, a-ha and Depeche Mode to the Vettes’ inspirations. Also Blondie, the punk-gone-new wave band that went mainstream in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
The Vettes formed in 2005, initially as a cover band. The group immediately began writing original songs. Searching for the ’80s sound, the band also began collecting vintage keyboards.
In 2008, the Vettes released their official recording debut, the T.V. EP. The full-length Plasticville followed in 2010. Gold Star, the Vettes’ second full-length album, appeared in March.
Recording sessions for Gold Star began in 2013. The lengthy gap between the Plasticville and Gold Star albums happened for a few simple reasons, Rachel Vette said. “Because we’re paying for everything ourselves, with no support from a record label or wealthy parents. And sometimes you have to live life to have something to write about.”
Gold Star features one song not written by the Vettes. The group arranged a synth-rock reinvention of LeRoux’s “New Orleans Ladies.” The Vettes adapted the Gulf Coast classic, which reached Number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, at the suggestion of Thomas Naylor, a.k.a. Jammer, a radio personality at local Top 40 radio station WEZB-FM (B97). Last year, the Vettes’ slightly retitled “New Orleans Lady” was the station’s 52nd most played song between July and October.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever adapted a song to our own style,” Vette said. “Jammer liked our version and he gave it a shot.”
The Vettes hope their follow-up to Gold Star won’t be seven years in the making. Early next year, the band plans to release an album of songs that didn’t make Gold Star. “Sometimes songs just don’t fit on an album, but they’re all still our children,” Vette said. “We want all of our children to be heard.”
Sunday, April 15, 2p
GE Digital Big River Stage