Ventenner has been rocking their way through the darker scene with their blasting take on industrial metal since 2012. They've been hard at work releasing multiple albums, remixes, and singles throughout the years as well as touring with recognized acts such as Skinny Puppy and Revolting Cocks. With plans for the future and a solid foundation, we chatted with the frontman of Ventenner and founder of Syndicol Music, Charlie Dawe.
Hello there Ventenner and welcome to Brutal Resonance! We’re going to be exploring Ventenner’s history in this interview so let’s start there. When did the idea of Ventenner first come to mind?
Charlie: It was circa 2007, I was 25, working in a bar and I was bored and I had stopped my DJing career. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but not really sure what it was. I just knew there was something I needed to be doing that I wasn’t. The idea of starting a music project hit me out of the blue but it made sense and all the pieces fell into place. So I gathered some equipment and over the next 18 months I began work on early songs, moved to London and released an early demo album called "Dead Reflections" in 2009. On my second ever show I was opening for The Unkindness Of Ravens, just me and a laptop. It was a terrible show, but they liked it and offered me a spot on their brand new label at the time, Sonic Fire Records. A couple of years later my first official release was out and it built from there. I still find it amazing to look back on it. An idea that I came up with and worked on in my bedroom is now a living, breathing thing that exists out in the world. Crazy.
Who is in the band and what roles do you all play? Where did you guys first meet?
Charlie: So I cover vocals and the synth/programming/production side of things generally. I do write on the guitar too but in the studio and onstage it’s all Jonno. He’s the guitar guy 100% and a master of his art. We do all collectively throw in a few ideas here and there on different instruments. Cat takes care of the bass and Luke is on the drums, and both have a hand in the song writing process and live approach. It’s very much a collective thing that you hear.
Now, you had your first official release back in 2012 with "This Is The Reason". In comparison to your sound now and then, do you think you guys have matured? If so, in what ways?
Charlie: Oh very much so. "This Is The Reason" was all me on writing, production and recording, it was a one man show back then. So on one hand it was nice to be able to sculpt this vision of what I wanted on my own and really immerse myself in the process, but there was also no one saying “Hey, that’s a bit shit,” and bringing new ideas to the table. There were also ideas I had that were outside of my abilities at the time so I had to compromise. But there’s still 5 or 6 songs off that album that make it in to our live set now so it’s definitely held up against the weathering of time.
We’ve all improved at communicating, bringing ideas in to the studio and a lot of that unspoken oddly telepathic talking that bandmates do when they’re writing. I’m all for experimenting and trying something totally unexpected and I think generally we’re all more developed as song writers.
Altogether, you have three albums out. Including "This is the Reason", you’ve "Distorture" and "Invidia". Out of these three albums, which one is your favourite and why?
Charlie: It’s a tough call as it feels like I’m being mean to the other records, but I would say "Invidia". The actual recording process was a really great two weeks of solid work out in the country in the middle of summer at Priory Studios and once it was finished I could honestly say that I was happy with every track. Everyone’s good at being a clever bastard in hindsight, but I personally find nothing on "Invidia" that I would change even now. It was a great album to tour and a solid offering to the fans. It was also way heavier and more guitar orientated so it was an interesting new direction for us. I always say that any artistic creation is a snapshot in time, and that was a very accurate one.
Jonno: For me "Invidia" is by far the stand-out record, as you'd hope with it being the most recent. We learned something each time we went to make an album, and this one is for me the most solid.
In 2017 you performed at shows with the likes of Skinny Puppy, Revolting Cocks, Author & Punisher, and went on a UK tour with KMFDM. After performing and touring with these acts, did you learn anything new from them?
Charlie: One of the great things about being around other musicians constantly is that I am always learning and it’s a wonderful thing. Whether it’s their choice of equipment, creative process, their performances, little tips and tricks, anything really. Just sitting backstage swapping stories over a beer, and making friends along the way. It’s also very humbling at times, and other times massively impressive. Seeing Author & Punisher made me fall in love with the synth again, and seeing KMFDM touring as a family on their bus was just such a nice thing.
From the technical side I’ve definitely had a re-think on how I play guitar live since that tour and the logistics of my whole set up. No more big chunky valve amps for me on stage that’s for sure, all my live sound is going through amp modelling now. I’ve definitely streamlined everything.
Jonno: For me, seeing Author & Punisher deliver the brutally heavy show that he did using only electronics and hardware really rekindled my love of dark, heavy industrial music. I'm a huge fan of Godflesh, and have been interested in making my own industrial music for as long as I've been making music, but this did take a back seat as we made a more live album with "Invidia". Going forward, this is definitely something I'm keen to explore more with the next Ventenner album.
When we were personally talking, you mentioned that the singles released in 2018 were meant to bridge the gap between the sound you already had and the sound you were going towards. Primarily you’ve been an industrial metal project. What is changing in regards to genre, sound, or production in general?
Charlie: I guess yes we have had both industrial and metal in our sound at different points, but there is a lot of material in between that covers a big spectrum. I wouldn’t say we ever set out to deliberately chase a sound, but each album has a definite feel to it and a goal in mind, thematically, lyrically and musically. Over the last year I could feel myself being drawn to a more synth heavy sound, but more aggressive and darker with different ideas going on. 'Ataxia' and 'Killing Jar' were lyrically fitting for the time, but they were also there to silence the critics and say “Hey, we’re still what we were, don’t think we’ve gone soft”. It was just what the creative process was pushing towards. Sometimes it’s out of your hands.
Also in those talks, you’ve mentioned that you’re working on a new album. This might be hush hush right now, but is there anything that you can tell us about it? Title, release date or window, etc.?
Charlie: Yes, we can confirm we are definitely working on a new album. I have about ten to fifteen tracks I’m working on currently and the rest of Ventenner are doing some writing sessions without me to see what comes out, which will be interesting as I’m usually knee deep in the process. It’s definitely going in a new direction so far. I’m looking forward to it. There is a title and ideas and our good friend and long time collaborator Kay Arne Johansen is doing the artwork again. He did the artwork for "Distorture", "The Remixes", "This Is The Reason" reissue and some video work for us. It’s all coming together at the moment.
That’s all I’m saying right now. I can say we are hoping to get it done and released this year. I’d like to be recording it this summer.
You are gearing up for your first UK headline tour as well. When will this tour happen? Do you have any solid dates or locations figured out? Are you nervous being the headliner for the first time?
Charlie: Yes we just announced our Spring 2019 UK tour dates at ventenner.com. We’ll be hitting a variety of cities and festival dates throughout the next couple of months, and trying to play some cities we haven’t before. Meeting up with some old friends along the way and doing a lot of the shows with our good friends Cold In Berlin and Bone Cult. It’s definitely daunting heading out into the world to play to people without the comfort zone of a big headliner, but I’ve seen some bands in the past play to a couple of people in a basement and go on to great things. Plus, we’re a band, we play music. Getting out there and playing is what we’re supposed to do. Some people would like to hear that music, why shouldn’t we visit their town.
Is there anything else in regards to Ventenner that you would like to announce that I have not yet covered?
Charlie: We have a couple of remixes and other bits and pieces coming up this year, and currently planning an autumn tour. We’re always making new stuff available, new merch, vinyls etc. so stay tuned.
Now, you also oversee record label Syndicol Music. You’ve had a stellar and eclectic mix of music released on the label. Dark electro, industrial metal, witch house, etc. What’s next for Syndicol? Anything people should be keeping an eye out for?
Charlie: Well I think the label is getting pretty well established now. It’s a fully functioning business with worldwide distribution and a team. The foundations are there to build on. It’s also nice to have complete control over Ventenner. What we release, when, how. No restrictions whatsoever. And being able to sign bands I like and releasing their music is a wonderful thing. Most of the Syndicol artists have releases planned this year, including Moi Saint, Starsha Lee, Deflexity, Evestus and Down From Above. Plus a couple of new projects coming up, and I’m also looking at getting some events going. Watch this space. With Syndicol, I am definitely playing the long game.
Lastly, I would like to thank you for your time and wish you the best of luck with everything you have planned for 2019. The space below is yours for any final words! Cheers!
Charlie: Many thanks for having us, and thanks for constantly supporting the scene. Always a pleasure to catch up with Brutal Resonance.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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