It says in The Guardian that Venn “are a neo-postpunk band from London and Berlin. They are steeped in the dark but rhythmical music of 1980, when groups such as A Certain Ratio made an oblique, noirish nightclub music.” Hey, I didn’t know there was such a thing as neo-postpunk, I mean isn’t everything post punk postpunk? But I guess I get what they’re saying – and I was around when A Certain Ratio were too so I can see ….anyway the important thing is these guys have produced some great tunes and have a very bright future. They’ve just released their excellent new single “Esalen 64”. We featured them a couple of times when we were FEW and we caught up with Stuart to find out a bit more about the band and their influences.
Tell me a bit about the history and evolution of VENN?
I met Ben about about five years ago when we were both playing in another band. I was kicked out of that band, but me and Ben kept playing together and eventually decided to form a new group. After a couple of false starts with people who were not able to commit their efforts to the project, I posted an ad and John replied. That was in 2014. We rehearsed, played some shows, recorded some music, and then Ben moved to Berlin, and me and John didn’t. Since then we have expanded the live show to be a four piece, but the writing has remained among the three of us. This might change though.
Are the the songs a group effort and if so do you always agree on musical direction?
There are relatively few songs that we have written totally as a group. However, by nature of the fact that we play them together in a room, they all get put through the filter of ‘VENN’ as a collective unit. The arrangements and recordings are always the product of a group effort. It’s actually quite rare that we all totally agree on a direction, but that’s fine.
What was the first tune you loved, and why?
‘Spaceman’ by Babylon Zoo was the first record I loved enough to buy.
What is your favourite song/piece of music that you’ve written and why?
Personally, my favourite is ‘Real Blood’. I have very fond memories of being sat in my room making the demo and coaxing a form out of it.
How do you know when a tune you’ve written is complete?
It’s usually finished the day before we are booked into the mastering studio.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written and why?
I don’t know about written, but I bet it’s really fun to be Adam Jones and play Tool songs live.
What artist(s) has been your biggest influence and in what way?
Personally, Jack Kerouac. His writing taught me that there is something beautiful, if not significant, to be found in everything you encounter; providing you allow yourself and all your senses to get lost in details. I think his writing and his practice has the potential to totally eradicate the possibility of ever being bored. He was also very self-critical, which I think is an important trait to nurture in yourself; especially if you aren’t already. I’m sure this must be relevant to our musical output in some way. Ben and John mention Philip K. Dick, Bowie, and Joe Meek a lot, so they probably constitute the rest of the list.
Name a song that makes you happy and why does it have that effect?
‘Friction’ by Marcel Fengler, because it doesn’t let up.
Name some of your favourite records.
PJ Harvey – ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’
Kayo Dot – ‘Choirs of the Eye’
Deerhunter – ‘Microcastle’
William Basinski – ‘The Disintegration Loops’
SWANS – ‘To Be Kind’
Talk Talk – ‘Laughing Stock’
Deftones – ‘White Pony’
John Coltrane – ‘A Love Supreme’
‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’.
What is the best new band that you’ve heard recently?
What’s your favourite radio station?
Radio 4, specifically for In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg and Will Self programs.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
4’33’ by John Cage.
What question would you like to be asked that you never are? (and what would be your answer?)
Q: Do you have any questions for us?
What’s next for VENN?
We will release our new E.P on August 26 on our own label ‘RUNE’ (catalogue number: RUNE002) and we’re head-lining a show on September 20 at Servant Jazz Quarters in East London.
Contact the band for bookings or anything else on weare.VENN@gmail.com