Know Ventenner’s new album from the inside out

By John Clay

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Nine questions for Charlie Dawe and one for Guitarist Jonno Lloyd. Let’s go.

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1 –  The start is the end
John Clay: Catchy and damn hard, this first track has been the perfect antidote to block out the drilling from maintenance workers who’ve been waking me up at 8am these last few weeks. What inspired the song?

Charlie Dawe: This song for me sets the tone of the album. It sums up a lot of the ideas that are going to be explored later on. Thematically, this song is ultimately a warning. The final lines of the song are “this will never end”. And it takes an entire listen to get to the end of the last song when the same words are echoed again. It’s pointing out that the protagonist of the record has gone full circle, and after all that exploration and understanding and a gruelling journey, you should have just listened at the beginning. The whole thing is a fool’s errand.

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2 – Break in two
John: The slide on the guitar reminds me of a swath of early 90’s grunge acts. Intentionally drawing from that time, or is that just my mind playing with itself?

Charlie: I think Jonno is best answering this one:

Jonno Lloyd: I think we’re all a sum of our influences, and 90s grunge was definitely a huge one for me. Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were a huge part of my musical education and definitely influences I’m happy to take going forward. My mentality always used to be if it sounds like something else that’s come before throw it out, now I’m a lot happier with something that has that familiarity. As long as you’re working it into a new idea, there’s nothing wrong with a tip of the hat to the people who made your art what it is.

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3 – Saligia
John: This could be a single, but I dunno how you go about choosing them, mainly because the hooks really come from the changes of rhythm and the guitar riffs. Tell me how you select your singles man?

Charlie: When it comes to singles we obviously don’t pick the most brutal songs on an album. Essentially our songs do follow a very conventional/pop format. We have a hook, a structure, a catchy lyric or two. So picking singles really comes down to two things: How accessible is the song and is it a good representation of the album. Single releases do introduce new people to the band so it needs to be able to give them an idea of what we’re doing as a band straight off the bat. In the end it comes down to a vote.

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4 – Enemy
John: Love the slow down on this song. Do you guys write as a band to achieve moments like that, or do you present an arrangement to the group and dictate?

Charlie: This whole album was written as a band. Initial ideas and demos are usually worked out in our own home studios, but they were brought to life in a studio together for months before we even went to record. The whole of Invidia was very much a band effort, and it’s definitely stronger for it. A lot of ideas are thrown in, some work, some don’t. We tend to vote on everything and there’s certainly no dictating going on. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to think I know best. I may be known for my whopping ego but I don’t think I’m always right. I’m keen for experience and the guys in the band are all excellent musicians to learn from.

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5 – Be still
Loved filming this live round your studio. Odd question now: have you ever considered doing a near silent acoustic version of this song? Think ‘Hurt’ By Nine Inch Nails.

Charlie: We’ve mentioned it a few times actually. At first a few of the guys thought it sounded insane, but I think with the right songs it could work really well. It’s something for further down the line definitely. I’ve always wanted to do stripped back delta blues versions, especially with some of the earlier songs.

6 – Only the empty remain
John: You talk of drawing a star on the ground so someone can find you. What’s that all about? And what’s this no body no soul about? Lovely harmonies on that line by the way!

Charlie: This whole song is about defining yourself with the time you are given, leaving a legacy, fame and what you are prepared to give to achieve that. I don’t agree with being famous for the sake of it obviously, but leaving your mark is something that has a profound presence in me. That said, this song isn’t about me specifically. I’ve spent a lot of time in Hollywood, it feels like there are ghosts everywhere of what came before, and how much these people gave and bled in a desperate plea to be remembered. And some were. “A star on the ground so you can find me” is a reference to the walk of fame. Maybe to some it’s a shallow achievement, that’s all someone has to leave, but to others it meant the world. And it’s true that those people will live forever, without a body or a soul. After every album is completed I get one or two tattoos to mark it, last year I got “HOLLYWOOD” and the alpha+omega symbols.

7 – Circle
John: This song felt a little by the numbers to me. Tell me it’s about a dead cat of yours so I feel uncomfortable about not liking it.

Charlie: This started as a riff that Jonno started playing, it turned into a jam and I said straight away it was too cool to leave out. It’s odd as a lot of people pick this out as their favourite song on the album. I find it interesting what people pick up on in a Ventenner album and what they like and don’t like. I also find it odd you think it’s by the numbers as there is no verse, chorus, bridge or even a clear narrative. Maybe it’s not as good as I think it is!

8 – Dividing seed
John: The time timing of the beats just after the two minute mark are very Tool. Love it. Plus the music would really mesh well with a shoot em up. Ever considered licensing your music to a gaming company?

Charlie: Yes. We have a publisher who deals with all that stuff, and I have talked with the main guy at Sony who deals with music for gaming on numerous occasions. But personally I’d rather not license it, I’d rather make a soundtrack from scratch. That’s definitely something I’m looking in to. These things obviously become far easier to facilitate the higher you climb. I write a lot of instrumental stuff on the side, so would love to have a bash at an original score.

9 – Bruxism
John: Where is it you want to escape from in this song, and who is the person or the people that are surrounding you in this place?

Charlie: This song is about anxiety. As someone who suffers from a crushing anxiety disorder it can be sometimes very debilitating. Lying in bed at night, it often feels like I’m not alone. This presence, this grey mark across everything. Bruxism is the medical term for grinding your teeth while sleeping, which is a major symptom of anxiety. I’ve shattered fillings and have permanent tinnitus from it. The idea of being locked in somewhere but you’re never alone is a daunting concept.

10 – Anamnesis
John: Intriguing opener, and the singing style reminds me – of early Filter. Care to tell me what the tunes about?

Charlie: Thanks, I love Filter. One of my first musical loves and Rich is a great guy. This song is about the inherent flaw that brings about hedonistic pursuits. A lot of this album was based on the evil demon idea by Descartes, and this song in particular explores it. His philosophy was that we have a voice inside telling us to make awful decisions, but convincing us that they are in our best interest. A program of self-destruction wrapped in an illusion of self-preservation. The part of me that craves hedonism, chaos and self-destruction is something that I’ll probably always be fighting back. Sometimes I win, sometimes she does. This may all sound very self-indulgent and “woe is me”, but Ventenner from the offset was designed to be something for others to relate to. If people hear a song and say “fuck, I’m not alone, these guys get it” then that’s a really positive thing, and that’s what I aim for. We all had our teenage albums that spoke to us.

11 – Omega
John: My one gripe is that there could be more quiet on the L.P. I wish the album was broken up with more stuff like this. Why is this not so?

Charlie: Previous records have had that separation. This album was very much influenced by our last couple of years on the live circuit. We set out to make a far more aggressive record. More energy, translates to the stage but keeps that cohesion and running themes I aim for in Ventenner albums. We didn’t specifically say no to quiet stuff, this is just what came out naturally. All art is a snapshot in time. This was us at this time. Anything else would have been untrue.


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