Punchy guitars and pounding drums reverberate through Veludo Planes’ “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. Brought together with snappy lyrics, the song builds to an unforgettable chorus, making it easy to see why this song is a favourite amongst fans. We caught up with the band to find out what the song’s about and how it came together.
blu: Can you tell us about “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”? How would you describe this song?
Veludo Planes: “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is probably the biggest representative of our collective sound. It blends a psych riff, with driven verses and an anthemic chorus into what is actually a typical 3-minute pop song. It’s probably our most well-known song, with the chorus being a real sing-a-long point within our set.
The song shares its name with a famous short story by Ernest Hemingway. How does the song draw from this work?
Chris: When I was writing the chorus, all the words seemed to fall straight into place, out of the chords pattern. I had no idea where they came from however at the time I was reading Ernest Hemingway’s short story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro. It’s essentially about a man dying on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, telling his wife how he never loved her. Me and Mike thought it would be great to write the lyrics loosely around that concept, with the theme of song being based on a fictional relationship born out of desperation as opposed to any romantic grounding. We were feeling quite pretentious at the time!
How did the song first come together?
It started with the chorus and went through about 3 different versions before settling on the final one. The verses were written very much to fit the chorus, something which we struggled with originally because of the timing difference. It was when we went into the studio it really came together. Being in that environment enabled us to be more analytical of the structure, and really settle on what was best or the song.
Has the song changed much since you first wrote it?
It changed a lot in the initial writing process. It was less heavy in its first form, but that soon changed, particularly as we were writing it at a point where our sound was naturally going in more of a rockier direction. Since we have recorded it the song hasn’t changed one bit. It grounds our set, and gives the audience something familiar in a set which is always changing!
Was this a particularly challenging song to get completely perfect?
Definitely. The verses and chorus worked perfectly independently of each other. It was writing the gap between those sections that took the most work. We spent loads of studio and rehearsal sessions getting those transitions down. Now they feel natural, but for a long time it wasn’t always the case.
What’s it like to play this song live?
We all love playing this song. It’s probably in our top three best songs to play live. Because it’s the first track we released, there is a history to it, for both us and the audience. Also, the outro is a point where you can really let loose with your stage antics, and have a real laugh.
What was the reaction like when you played it live for the first time?
The first time we played this track was supporting The Subways in front of 500 people and it was the perfect place to debut it. It’s a big song anyway, but in front of that rock audience, it went down brilliantly. We had a few people singing along by the end, and at that point we knew it was keeper.
How do you think this song compares to the rest of your work?
It’s our most catchy track, however as we wrote it a couple of years ago now, we’ve definitely progressed musically in that time. In each song, we like to have a big chorus or big hook, something that people can hold onto. That is something directly inspired from the response we got to “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. In that sense, I think it set our sound for last two years.
You have a new EP due out soon. How does its sound compare to “The Snows Of Kilimanjaro”?
When we started writing the EP we were trying to write something as good, if not better than “Snows”. We dropped this mentality quite quickly and decided to just go with whatever came naturally. The tracks are big chorus tracks, so in that way they are similar to “Snows”. However, they are all quite different, and I think that shows the variety of our sound.