The musicians in the experimental rock band The Velvet Teen aren’t just local boys who made good and moved on. They’re still local, and they haven’t forgotten their Sonoma County roots.
Currently on a nationwide performance tour following the June release of “All Is Illusory,” the group’s first full album in nine years, the band will end its trek with a concert Saturday at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma.
“It’s where we started,” said Josh Staples, the group’s longtime bassist and vocalist, speaking by phone from a recent tour stop in Philadelphia. “Of all the venues we played in the beginning, we played the most shows there at the Phoenix.”
Staples, 42, grew up in Petaluma and now lives in Santa Rosa. The band’s lead singer and songwriter, Judah Nagler, 35, grew up in Santa Rosa and now lives in Petaluma.
“We sort of switched places,” Staples joked.
It was important to the band to wrap up the tour at the Phoenix, and it took a little extra effort to fit in in, Staples said.
“We actually did rearrange the schedule to add this show on, because our booking agent lives in Chicago, so when he’s thinking of the big picture, he’s thinking San Francisco,” Staples said. “And so do we. We’ve played a lot of shows there as well, but we definitely wanted the Phoenix to be the end show of our tour. It’ll be a homecoming show. We’ve haven’t played the Phoenix since 2011.”
The Velvet Teen was formed in 2000 by Nagler and drummer Logan Whitehurst, both alumni of the popular Northern California rock band Little Tin Frog, and grew out of Nagler’s solo electronic music project. Staples joined the following year.
In its early recordings, the band built on an instrumental core of drums, bass and piano, augmented by strings, horns and electronic effects. One album featured no guitar at all, and another recording featured guitars “dueling” against each other. Gradually, the band grew into a louder, faster brand of rock, but continued to experiment with long, lyrical pieces as well. The Velvet Teen continues to combine all of those elements, Staples said.
The band has been through some lineup changes during its decade and a half of making music. Staples left the band in 2006 and returned in 2009, and Whitehurst died of cancer at age 29 in late 2006. Casey Deitz, 31, of Chico, became the group’s drummer in 2007.
“The core members have been the three of us, but right now we’re a quintet,” Staples said. “We added Judah’s brother Ephriam, who used to do sound for us, as keyboardist. And we added our good friend J. C. McIntosh on baritone guitar. They both live in Portland.”
During its 15-year career, the band has released three previous full-length albums, including “Cum Laude,” which came out in 2006.
The band also put out half a dozen shorter collections of three or four songs each, with the most recent featuring work by a former Velvet Teen member and veteran of the bands Polar Bears and The New Trust, guitarist Matthew Izen, also of Santa Rosa.
The newest full-length album, “All Is Illusory,” recorded over the past three years, is the group’s first on the trendsetting Topshelf label.