an interview and feature on post-punk / shoegaze band Venn
One of the major changes that I’ve seen in my lifetime is the consumption of media. The way we absorb and discover music and films is more of a needle in a haystack type of way. Every now and again I discover a band or artist that brings me back to the simpler time of the 90s. Not just in the musical references but in the construction of sound and ethos. Lately I’ve been browsing Bandcamp in the attempt to create a perfect radio station uncovering independent artists and a general new sound. Right in my own backyard of DC I came upon the dream-pop/ shoe-gaze inspired post-punk band, Venn.
It must have been fate because just after buying their EP they played a show in town which was the perfect time to get together with the guys and chat about their influences and how they shaped their sound.
The Black Cat venue is a DC landmark. Anyone who grew up here remembers hearing about this awesome music club that Dave Grohl is part owner in. Our answer to LA’s The Viper Room on the Sunset Strip. For a band that has only been around since February to be headlining the MainStage is really something. That’s just what Venn is about to do. I caught up with the guys in the bar just before the show.
I was greeted by all members of the band, Jon (guitar/vocals), Gabe (drums), Holden (bass), and Julian (guitar). We quickly sat down surrounded by pinball machines, the pounding music from the bar, with only a few moments to chat before the show. I’ve found there are always two types of interviews when it comes to bands. Some are quiet with a reluctance to talk about their music, wishing for it to speak for itself. Then on the other side of the spectrum, other artists with stories, influences, and nuances within their music that it makes for great conversation and discussion. Thankfully, Venn was the latter.
The guys met in high school and two even earlier meeting at summer camp. When Venn formed initially they started as a jam band- “it was less about influences and more about elements”. While it’s impossible to ignore their soundscapes and lush distorted vocals of their music that are indicative of the shoe-gaze movement, Venn manages to fill the gaps with a bit of the post-punk sensibility.
The most impressive quality about the band is the time they take to perfect their music and every visual put forward. In this sense it reminds me of bands from the 90s when you had to wait months and sometimes a whole year before hearing new material. In this age of constantly uploading demos to Soundcloud in order to appease your social media audience, there is something for honing your sound and studying it. “We took over 1000 hours to complete our EP.” Julian says. “Gabe had been working day and night and we were constantly revising the sound”. It definitely shows. Their debut EP sounds exquisitely produced and mature for band less than one year old. For this to be their debut effort, I can only imagine what will be next.
Their live show is something I wish I could relive over and over again. The voluminous sound emanating through their guitars coupled with the stage presence of music veterans got the crowd super hyped. The interludes and sonic experience of Venn just can’t simply be matched with the spin of a CD or a Spotify playlist. There is no substitute for the rhythm filling your body.
With a four song EP released and a well regimented sound, there is immense promise with Venn. Just earlier this year they directed and conceptualized a music video for New Order’s Ceremony. “Our next move is complete a demo only for labels. That will enable us to progress.” Jon says. “We don’t exactly know our trajectory, but we want to establish ourselves.” Never has the promise of the journey but not knowing the exact destination ever been so exciting for a new artist.
interview & photography by Lauren M Brown