Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007

Rock in the ’burbs

When day jobs end, residents jam into the night

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Photo courtesy of Joe Calvarese
Joe Brewer (left) of [velvet] plays guitar during a recording session with producer Andros Rodriguez at Monkey Claus Studios in Virginia.
Joe Brewer spends his days enforcing Hyattsville’s city code. Joe Calvarese provides litigation support at the U.S. Attorney’s office. Udi Farber teaches Hebrew at schools in the Washington, D.C.,-area and Andrew Walker is an arborist.

But once their 9-to-5 jobs have ended, the four members of the rock band [velvet] get together and jam.

‘‘It adds something to your life other than just working 9-to-5 and going home and watching TV,” said Brewer, 27, of Mount Rainier, who plays guitar and sings.

The members of [velvet] have been making music together since they attended DeMatha Catholic High School in 1995, with the exception of Farber, who joined the group as a drummer three years ago. They will release their fourth studio album, ‘‘Well Thought Out and Well Planned,” Friday. They recorded albums, all released independently, in 1996, 1998 and 2001.

‘‘This album is a big accomplishment for us,” said Friendship Heights resident Calvarese, 28, who plays guitar and provides some background vocals.

He said the group had been preparing to go back into the studio when their previous drummer left the band. After Farber joined the group, they wanted to take time to get used to each other’s playing styles.

‘‘We took the time to get everything together. We didn’t want to rush into the studio and do something sloppy,” he said.

Brewer said the six years between their last album and ‘‘Well Thought Out and Well Planned” were spent practicing, playing shows and saving up money to record a good product.

The group recorded their first three albums at Phase Studios in College Park, but former DeMatha classmate Andros Rodriguez, a producer for major bands in New York, produced and mixed their fourth album.

Their sound is what Brewer described as typical rock: ‘‘Two guitars, bass, drums, screaming, some melody and energy.”

But Calvarese said as they’ve gotten older, their music has evolved.

‘‘We’ve rounded out some of the edges, so we’re more refined. But we still rock hard,” he said.

Brewer said it was hard for their albums to have the same level of energy that their performances did.

‘‘When people saw us live they would tell us we sounded so much better live [than on our CDs]. So we tried to capture that energy more this time,” he said.

But even with the release of their fourth album, Brewer said he and his bandmates don’t necessarily have dreams of rock stardom.

‘‘We’ve always said that if a label can match our salaries and retirement then we’d sign [with them],” Brewer said. ‘‘But we don’t do it to make money. We do it because we enjoy playing in a band together and being friends.”

[velvet] will perform a CD release show 9 p.m. Friday at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Admission is $10 and CDs will be available for $5.

CDs can also be purchased online at

E-mail Maya T. Prabhu at