Away Team: I see you are heading out on the road with Alice Cooper for 8 dates. How did you get hooked up with that sweet gig?
Ven: Our managers are very close, and have known each other for years. Our manager approached them about touring with him at the end of this year. Alice was interested and said to send over the album for him to check out. Instead of waiting till the end of the year and adding more dates there, he added 8 shows in June and booted the support band off of those dates and put us on them. That’s how it happened and I am still in shock over it. It’s all kind of surreal and I still don’t believe it. But Monday June 11th I’ll be on stage opening for him, and I guess I’ll believe it then!
Away Team: Very cool! How do you think you guys will do in front of his crowd? You’ve got your straight ahead dirty rock sound, but you’re going up against his forty odd year loyal fans that expect a BIG Alice Cooper style theatrical show.
Ven: I think we compliment any band that has been out in the last forty years. My partner Jason Womack who writes the music was born in the 70’s. He grew up listening to 70’s rock. We’re a big ‘in your face’ five piece like Aerosmith or the Stones and I think we compliment Alice pretty well. While I don’t think we can be direct support to Iron Maiden like Alice can do, that’s something I wouldn’t want to chew on, but I think we work well with Alice and his music. And I think we’ll get his fans up, hot and bothered, and ready for him.
Away Team: So I read that Venrez essentially started because you needed some work done on your house and the rest of the band were helping out?
Ven: Yes, it is kind of a funny story. When I was seventeen, I had a friend who was a guitar player, and there was a rich kid drummer who found a bass player and we put a band together. We jammed for about three weeks and it was really sounding good and then everybody just flaked out. Fast forward many years later and many of my friends never knew I could sing because I just never sang around them or let them know. So I have a condo I was renting in the Hollywood Hills, and a friend of mine came down from Oregon and suggested we build this Tiki Bar on this huge sundeck I had so I said go ahead. What I didn’t know was that all the guys that would come to work on it were all accomplished musicians including Jason Womack who recorded and toured with Juliette Lewis for three and a half years. The building sessions soon turned into jam sessions and I started singing and everyone looked at me like, ‘Wow!’ The next thing I knew, we had a band. That was like August of 09.
The original Venrez band was very different than it was today. The only original members of the few first versions of the band are Jason Womack and myself.
Away Team: Did you ever finish the Tiki Bar?
Ven: Yes we did, and it was awesome! It had counterweight logs so the roof opened up in four sections, I mean they went whole hog on it. The funny thing was that we didn’t get permission or pull permits for it at all and after three or four months the landlord went nuts and sued us! Eventually we had to tear it all down but we enjoyed every minute we had it. That’s what Rock & Rollers do; they don’t think about it they just do it! But we had violated like nine L.A. County municipal codes! (Laughs)
Away Team: Your debut album Sell the Lie has this raw dirty Rock & Roll feel to it that isn’t overproduced but doesn’t sound like a garage rock band either. You recorded it live in the studio; can you explain why that was important to you and your sound?
Ven: Jason writes the music and I write the lyrics and we had played the songs live quite a bit and I felt we really owned them by the time it came to record them. We wanted to go into the studio and give it a live sound and go back to the old school days and get away from the perfectionism of the HD Pro Tools. And also, that way, when we did perform them live, we’d really back them up! So many bands today use the trickery of the studio for perfection and you go see them live and your really disappointed or two or three songs into the set and everything just sounds the same. We just really wanted to differentiate ourselves and just step up. Our band went into the studio and knocked this thing out in three days! Believe it or not.
Away Team: That, Sir, is impressive.
Ven: That’s what kind of players they are. I think that’s when Alex Kane decided to come in with both feet. He came in to do the album, and I don’t think he truly understood the quality of the guys he was playing with. He then told me, ‘We’ve got the best band in L.A. man!’ I think when he went into the studio with these guys and played with them, and he’s played with some great musicians, that’s when he said, ‘I’m in something special and I am going to commit to this 100%.’ I went in and knocked the vocals out in seven or eight days, so we did the whole album in about eleven days. Jason produced it; he was the right producer for it because he wrote all the music for it. We didn’t have the funding we have today so Ed and Jason mixed it and they did a great job. We turned the finished product over to Howie Weinberg, the master of Mastering and it made his job very easy. On the next album we might go to Sylvia Massy or someone like that to help produce or mix it.
Away Team: Speaking of the next album, Sell the Lie came out in February of this year, and you are already in pre-production for the next one?
Ven: Yeah, that’s what we’re doing in the down time. We got lucky and got funded with some dough so we bought our own gear. So we’re not under the pressure of going into a noon to midnight lock down in the studio. I don’t know if people really understand how tough that is. After three days you can’t even see straight anymore. So having our own gear and being able to record at our own leisure is a huge benefit. In the down time, instead of rehearsing that day, we’ll record. We are more than half way done with the next album. I think it will be finished on the next break in August or September. We’ll get it mixed and mastered and ready to be released early next year. And then we’ll tour behind that one. I’m still very excited about Sell the Lie and we still have a lot of touring to do behind it. I do think our fans are going to enjoy the next album behind it very much.
Away Team: My favorite songs off Sell the Lie would be the title track and Melting. Can you tell me a bit about those two songs and the messages behind them?
Ven: Sell The Lie is a real important track to me! Ed came up with the idea to name the album Sell the Lie and then we went out of our way to make sure that the artwork didn’t make everyone think that the whole album was about Sell the Lie, because it’s not. You have songs like Melting on there too.
Sell The Lie is one thing I feel very strongly about. I absolutely support law enforcement and the boys and girls in the Armed Forces and one of the things I absolutely detest is the taking of lives for profit. So Sell the Lie is about corporate greed and blood for money. I needed to write it, I needed to perform it, and I needed to get that message out there to get it out of my soul. On the cover of the album we have the wolf in the 20’s tuxedo that represents corporate greed seducing the beautiful woman. The beautiful woman represents us, the masses of all sexes, creeds, colors, and religions. But we’re getting smarter because she’s got that ball-peen hammer dangling. I think the masses are getting smarter and we are going to put an end to this sooner rather than later.
Melting, well, no offense to you but that is unusual. Most of the people that love that song are the girls. I think it is one of my favorite songs on the album too. Like the cover of Can’t Find My Way Home it is melodic and pretty. The guy I was living with from Oregon had a propensity to drink too much and get a little bit out of control. It was really hot, it was the dead of summer and the studio was upstairs and the sun deck was just off it. He kept leaving the sliding door open, and I had complained to him over and over again about keeping the door closed to the sun deck so it would stay cool up there. I finally just gave up and watched him drunk and high go in and out and it was 105 degrees in the studio. So I just sat there sweating watching all these insects come in crawling on my face and I was just like… Ok, I’m gonna write this song ‘before that drink down your throat sinks’… I came up with that line, it was about him, and that’s where it started. ‘You drunken fool you’re pissing me off’, and ‘those itchy ones crawl on my face’… A lot of people thought I was writing about a tweaker on meth scratching at their face. That’s not what it is about. It was about me melting in my studio being mad at him.
Away Team: Sell the Lie came out in February, you’ve toured with Fuel, you’re touring with Alice Cooper, you’re going to finish the second album in August/September, what’s next for Venrez?
Ven: Our first show is June 11th with Alice; our last show is June 22nd in Raleigh, North Carolina…
Away Team: That’s where I’m catching you guys.
Ven: Great! Look forward to meeting you there. So Fuel is on tour right now and we’re going to join up with them again on June 23rd and do six or seven shows with them. Then we’ve got a big show in L.A. at the Whiskey with Junkyard that’s already sold out. Then we’re doing Sylvia Massey’s festival in Weed California August 4th and 5th. Finishing the album, then back out on the road again. We’re talking to two or three really huge bands who are all interested in having us go out with them. So I don’t know who it will be yet, but we’ll be back on the road either September, October, or November.
Away Team: Thank you very much Ven for your time, it was great talking to you, good luck with Alice, and much success in the future, and I’ll see you in Raleigh on the 22nd!
Ven: Thank you Jim, look forward to it. Rock on!
Away Team: And for you reading this Sell the Lie is out now on iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s website venreztheband.com.