Friday, August 14, 2009
Venus Infers: The Official Interview
Venus Infers is one of Orange County’s, if not Southern California’s fastest rising hot young bands. They have opened for Chris Cornell and Peter Murphy and have had their music used on MTVs The Real World, Road Rules, Gauntlet, The Hills, The City, Making The Band, FX’s Damages as well as a myriad of British and Canadian TV shows. Growing in popularity with a fantastic brand of sharp power pop, I was lucky enough to meet with lead singer Davis Fetter for lunch at Taqueria De Anda in Santa Ana. Over Carne Asada and Al Pastor tacos lead singer Davis Fetter and I talked about the band, the state of music, and the highs and lows of being in a hip young band.
S:How did you guys meet?
D:I've known Hiro the longest cause we both went to college together. He was the only other guitar player at school who liked My Bloody Valentine, so naturally we became friends. I met Steve because we shared a bill together and I noticed whenever he played drums he insisted on using a metronome and I thought, '' Why don't all drummers have a G1 phone?''
S: How long have you been playing? Are you the main songwriter or does the whole band contribute?
D: Yes I write all the songs in the band. And yes, the guitar riff on ''You Can't Scare Me At All'' was taken from T-Rex. Personally I've been playing guitar for 14 years. I've been writing songs with lyrics for the last 3 and been singing for the last 2, when Venus Infers was born. I never wanted to sing, but never wanted someone else to sing my songs either. I started the band with the sole intention to give the whole songwriting/singing thing a good go. That was when I truly realized how un-important guitar solos are. Unless of course you're the next Jimi Hendrix which I can assure you John Mayer is not!
S: Speaking of well known musicians, you opened for Chris Cornell and Peter Murphy. A couple of questions regarding those shows; Peter Murphy said some very complimentary things about the band- do the veteran headliners usually pop in and give some words of inspiration and can you generally count on at least spending some time with these established acts? Same with Cornell-I assume maybe he had never heard of Venus Infers before; did you talk with him before or after the show?
D: Sometimes the headliners will chat with you a bit before the show and comment on your haircut or something. It's the conversations after the show that matter. Peter Murphy is a very nice guy. He offered us a tour after hearing one song! His drummer is the raddest dude, he helped us get food and showers and stuff on tour. He also played for Queen of the Stone Age, which was great.
S: Do you guys have a management company?
D: As of now we are completely self-contained. We've toured, recorded records our own way, and made all our decisions as a band. However if Ari Gold gave me a call tomorrow, we'd have our manager.
S: I liked how the CD “The Truth About Venus Infers” has an intro and an outro...I always thought it cool the bands and artists who have a recurring theme on CDs or even tackle the entire concept album. Have you ever considered trying to put together a Venus Infers type concept album or maybe try and put together some elongated suite of music like Green Day's “Jesus of Suburbia”?
D: Thank you! I think that record (The Truth...) is the closest we'll get to releasing a concept album. Hit-Parade and the Intro/Outro were all written together and they envelop the record. "We were late to your hit-parade" lyrically sums up the entire point: here's a collection of pop songs that we feel will stand the test of time. We released our debut
record to let people in, but this second effort was to show people the depth we have to offer.
S: Here is the question that might get you guys into trouble and get you to step on some toes. I won’t actually print this as well if you don’t want but-what Bands do you hate? I don't mean the obvious ones that everyone hates and lambastes but what popular bands do you think overrated or hear one of their hits on the radio and think "my song is much better than this piece of trash."
D: This is a very good question. I hear songs all the time that get airplay that to me, have no soul whatsoever. I don't judge music based on genre, I judge it based on the depth it has to offer: musically, lyrically, or both. I will gladly go on record and say the following bands are crap: The Ting Tings, Lady GaGa, Kanye West, Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, etc. Bands like those dumb people down. It makes the average person feel intimidated about getting into good music because he/she "just doesn't get it." What that person really means to say is "My attention span is shot because I've been inundated with fruity-looped rap beats and auto-tuned vocals too much." I will never underestimate the ability the average person has to appreciate good music when it is shown to them! Most average people inherently have
good taste, it's the industry that doesn't provide enough variety to them.
This is all not to say I resist anything mainstream. Quite the contrary! All the bands/artists I love were some of the biggest of all time: Bob Dylan, U2, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Elvis, Oasis, The Smiths, The Beatles, The Stones, The Killers, The Strokes, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, etc. The one exception being my choice for the most overrated artist of all time in Elton John.
S: On that same note-What is your favorite Beatle’s album?
D: The best Beatles record is Revolver. Why? Because of the guitar riff on ''And Your Bird Can Sing.'' Actually Magical Mystery Tour is probably the best record because of ''I Am the Walrus'' - get your mind around that song and tell me how John Lennon wrote it! Is Paul McCartney Godlike? Probably but I guess it’s up for debate.
S: On that same note, you mentioned the guitar Riff on the Beatles "And your Bird Can Sing." I don’t know if you are aware of this but one of the stories regarding this song is while the Beatles used two guitars to record that riff there are some players who have been said to play by themselves on one guitar. Do you consider yourself a stealthy enough player to try and tackle that legendary riff...have you ever tried...have you ever heard that story?
D:When I was 12 and picked up a guitar I learned every Beatles riff I liked, some came quick and some took time. "And Your Bird Can Sing" took me a little while to get down, but I was proud as hell when I learned it. After the Beatles came Chuck Berry - probably the best guitar player that ever lived and certainly my favorite player!
S: You guys are a still a young band and with what I hope, a huge future ahead of you with plenty of more releases on the horizon-that said what are some of these things you found surprising so far on the road to fame and what are a couple of the crazier things that have happened to you, you weren't expecting or just found unusual?
D: Every gig we play is completely 180 degrees different than the one before it! You could play to a sold out crowd opening for Chris Cornell or Peter Murphy and the next day play to 10 people at midnight at the Slidebar in Fullerton. But it doesn't matter. Every experience is good because we get better every show. I feel like at the moment I finally learned how to sing - 2 years after I recorded "Venus Infers...(the white album)." And it's the gigging that makes you learn something about yourself and what you can do. I will say the best crowds ever are the all-ages ones. Kids don't care, they either like you or they don't. I only wish the 21+ crowds shared that same honesty.
S: What are some of the most satisfying things on a personal level that makes the grind of touring and writing all worthwhile?
D: In general, I am always amazed when people connect with my songs. That to me is the most unexpected surprise. When Kat at KROQ picked our song "Some Things Are Better They Way They're Remembered" to put in her rotation I thought "F yeah!" Never in a million years did I think radio would play a song with that long of a title! It gave me
hope that there is an audience out there for Venus Infers.
S: What’s it like sitting and watching TV or a movie to hear something you wrote being used?
D: Every television placement we get makes me laugh because they'll use some lyrics for a scene in their show where it seems very emotional and I'm thinking "If only you knew what the song was really about!" But that's the power of music, it is 100% up to the listener to feel what he/she wants to feel from the song. When I listen to "Don't Look Back In Anger" I could honesty care less what the song is really about, it's about what I want it to be about!
S: What are the plans for the future? Any impending New Releases or rumors of opening for some other well known act? I take it Coldplay may now be out of the running by virtue of a previous answer but at this point but any other notable acts that may have shown some interest?
D: We are always looking forward. I've already written the next batch of songs we'll release but it will take some time for us to settle down from gigging to go hibernate for a while and record again. We have touring plans, more shows out of town, etc. Every day we work on 100 different things, but only about 10 doors may open - that's just the nature of the music business. If I put as much energy as I do in a band into starting a business, I'd be rich by now.
S: I always felt one way to "fastrack" exposure and getting a hit is to find an old hit song that’s not particularly upbeat and make it upbeat-you may have heard this on Joey Ramone's Cover of "It’s a Wonderful World." Any cover tunes in the back catalog or ever thought of simply taking a moldy oldey and spicing it up a bit?
D: After we recorded "Helter Skelter" it made me realize that we could really do some damage with the right cover. We play blues songs all the time, and we're working on some very unique covers - that stuff is always fun to do. We could do a great version of any Little Richard song! Too many bands don't have good taste so when they choose to do a cover so they muck it up and pick Don Henley or something. Could we do an Iggy Pop song? Yeah! We'd murder one! You know I always wanted to steal Janie Jones from The Clash - that song is pure genius! I never like to hide my influences; they're all as transparent as I can possibly make them. My philosophy is simple: why steal b-sides when you can steal singles!
S: Without question the most commercially successful OC band is No Doubt. Have you met any of the members or ever kind of used them as a measuring stick to your success? Ever thought about getting a smoking hot female lead singer?
D: Hahahahahaha never! And that's only because I can't find someone better looking than our current lead singer! Actually, No Doubt's drummer came to one of our shows with the Green Day drummer – which was interesting. Those bands were lucky; they came out in the 90s. And I say that because the 90s was the last decade that really cared about rock n roll bands you know? You could turn on the radio and hear Nirvana, Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Pixies, all these great bands. Plus even bands like Sonic Youth and Pavement were able to sell records.
S: Finally, I will do everything in my power(which will be small I admit) to pimp you guys where ever I can and help you get some exposure and make it big. When you guys get as big as a band like "No Doubt" for instance and making a lot of money-will you help pay off my condo mortgage?
D: As soon as we get that million dollar deal - you're coming with us! Sell your condo cause you'll be staying in 5-star hotels around the world and won't give a care about coming back to Orange County!
S:Sounds great, maybe you can write a song good enough to sell that notion to my wife and kids.