The Whipping Post presents...
Venia Interview - Added 12/09/04
One of the newest, promising metal acts out today is Finland's own Venia. Read along as I discuss the band's new demo and their future with lead guitarist/backing vocalist, Viktor.
Whipping Post: Since many of the readers out there may have never heard of your band, tell us a little about the history of Venia.
Venia: The band had it's start around Christmas 2002 when I and Jere started jamming together with a drummer. At first we played mostly cover songs but soon we started to concentrate on our own material. We started to look for a vocalist and bass player without result, and after the summer, the drummer was too busy to play with us anymore. Me and Jere however kept the flame alive and wrote and recorded rough versions of our songs at our homes, hoping to one day complete the band. Nothing happened however and in the beginning of 2004 we had almost lost hope. In February however we were contacted first by Veronica, and one week later by Daniel. Veronica showed great potential and Daniel is a very talented drummer, so it was without question we took them in. That was the real beginning of the band Venia. At this point we had decent home recordings with drummachine tracks of many songs, which helped Veronica and Daniel to learn the songs very quickly and we could start training. In May we also found a bass player in Juhani. We had earlier already had thoughts about recording a demo, so we did that at our rehearsing place during the summer. The demo was released on Venia's first concert 8th September 2004.
WP: What is the current lineup of the band?
Venia: Veronica – Vocals, violin | Viktor – Lead guitar, backing vocals | Jere – Guitar, backing vocals | Juhani – Bass, backing vocals | Daniel – Drums.
WP: You recently released a demo called Genesis. What was the main purpose in releasing just a “demo” and what kind of responses have you been hearing?
Venia: Well, we had a lot of ready songs and we wanted something to promote the band with. We felt that we didn't want to go into a studio yet as the lineup was brand new and we didn't know what kind of response we would get. Also a demo leaves the door open to re-record the songs with better quality some day, and we feel they deserve that. The feedback has been better than we expected, people have really liked our music. The main complaints have been the sound quality of the demo and that Veronica's vocals are too weak. Next time, if all goes well, we will make a studio recording and Veronica is growing all the time. You have to consider, that when we recorded the demo she had just been with the band for a few months with no prior metal singing experience and we had never performed the songs live then. On the demo recordings she already did a much better job than on the pre-production demos and she has kept showing progression all the time. So I'm sure there will be more power in the vocals the next time.
WP: How would you describe the band’s style and influences to someone who’d never heard Venia?
Venia: We describe our music melodic metal, as it really covers our music the best. We have a lot of influences from different metal styles; classic metal, power metal, thrash metal, progressive metal and so on. We have a pretty broad taste when it comes to metal, and I suppose it shows in our music. We're however balancing the influences so that the songs fit together. For example, although I'm a great fan of thrash, you're not very likely to find a pure thrash song preformed by Venia, we're not a thrash metal band although we're thrash influenced. Melody is our main focus, we try to make good melodies backed by good riffing and a variety of different stuff.
WP: While female vocalists are not unheard of in metal bands, they are still a little bit rare. How does it feel having a woman behind the microphone and does that change how you promote and want others to view your band?
Venia: We didn't originally seek a female vocalist, but Veronica seemed right for the band. She has a great voice and really knows her stuff when it comes to vocals. She has been showing constant progress when it comes to metal singing, so we definitely think she's at the right place. It doesn't really feel that different than having a male vocalist, she's one of us guys now. We expect people to give her the same chance they would a male vocalist.
WP: What was the recording process of Genesis like? Is their anything you came across that you definitely want to do differently next time?
Venia: It was quite a hard time. After we were ready we felt that we're never going to record again, but luckily it's been some time and we've already forgotten most of the difficulties and are planning our next record. We recorded it all by ourselves using my computer and the mixing table at our rehearsing place, without any outside help. We started in June and recorded the drums in just one day, then we recorded a lot of guitars because the bass lines weren't ready yet. We ended up recording the bass in a hurry since our newest member, Juhani was going away on summer holidays. We ran out of time so I recorded the bass for all of my songs after Juhani had left. The biggest problem was the mixing software we used, it didn't allow direct recording so we had to place all the tracks in the sequenser manually and it was a pain trying to figure out if the tracks are in the right place or if they're just badly played. The guitars took really long to record, but the longest process was the vocal recordings. Veronica was working all days in another city so she had very little time to record. Also, we basically created all the backing vocal lines while recording, so that took a lot of time as well. We were finally ready with recording in August and sent the music off to our friends who promised to mix it. Since they were also in another city we had no contact with them, just heard that things were progressing well. When we finally got the final mix it sounded great compared to the mixes that we had done, but some tracks were missing and some in wrong places. This was 5 days before the release concert, so we had to make a quick trip to Riihimäki and get the mixing done right. We worked for 12 hours straight and even had to record some backing vocals again that had been corrupted in the transfer. We ran out of time and had to leave some stuff undone, that still bothers us. But generally we're quite pleased with the result. We think the demo is good enough and showcases our music, so it's filling it's position. I doubt we will ever record anything on ourselves anymore, and never ever use that horrible software for mixing the tracks, nor start recording before we have all the bass lines and vocal lines ready. We just got in a hurry as people were going away. We also recorded too many songs, if we would have focused on a few we might have been able to do things a little better, but it was hard to choose songs. We did in fact leave out one song in the middle of the recordings that would still have required a lot of work.
WP: Are you guys currently working on a follow up to Genesis? How will the new album differ from your past work?
Venia: We have new songs that we're working on and rehearsing. One thing the new songs have in common is some use of more extreme vocals. We almost have enough material to record a full-length but we're thinking about doing a mini-CD first to gather some more experience before we do a full album in studio. What will come and when, is really up to the Lord, but hopefully something will come, sooner or later. We definitely want to step up and do a better quality recording. We're taking one step at a time however. At the moment we want to take the time to perform live and gain some valuable experience.
WP: Do you get many chances to play live? What is your favorite aspect of a Venia show?
Venia: So far we have only played two small shows. At the moment we're basically playing anywhere that we get a chance. For the fall we started looking for gigs so late that almost everything was already booked. We're in the process of booking shows for the next year now and it seems we will get to play at some bigger happenings, more suited for this kind of music. The favourite aspect of a show is probably the audience. It's great fun to play in front of other people.
WP: What is your favorite song that Venia has written and why?
Venia: That is a very hard question. I like all songs for different reasons. We have never had a song that I don't think has been good. We've had some songs that have still needed some more work, but they have always turned out great in the end. The favourite song seems to always be the newest one, simply because it's still fresh and you haven't gotten fed up with it playing it over and over at the band rehearsals.
WP: You guys have some very well written lyrics. Who writes the lyrics and how important is it that your relationship with Christ show forth in what the band sings about?
Venia: So far I have written all the english lyrics and Jere all the finnish ones. We have quite different lyrical approaches, but we both agree that we want the lyrics to touch people somehow and provoke thoughts. From the beginning we have prayed that God will use the band somehow, that we won't do this just for the music, but want to have some deeper purpose as well. The lyrics are very important to us when we listen to music, so it's only natural that we try to write our lyrics well too. Veronica has written lyrics for one of our new songs, which I think are really good. Hopefully she will write more in the future. All our new lyrics can be read at our homepage, by the way. Another important thing is that we write the lyrics just as much for ourselves as for others. We too need to constantly be reminded of the promises and freedom that we have in God. It's one thing reading / hearing something and another thing to really realize what it means, and live according to that.
WP: Have you guys had interest from any record labels?
Venia: Not really, we haven't even bothered contacting bigger labels as they have quite high standards and usually want a more ready package than a starting band's first home demo, when signing bands. It seems like our next release will also be independent, and that of course limits what we can do and also leaves much more things to be arranged by us, like the packaging, manufacturing and distribution. We do hope that we will find someone interested in releasing our music soon, so that we can concentrate more on the music itself.
WP: When Venia has finally called it a day and all of you are old and gray-haired, what do you want to look back and see when you look at the history of the band?
Venia: I think what we all would like to see is that we made quality music that made an impact. That we have reached people and that our lyrics and ministry have helped people somehow and that God has been able to use Venia. Also, that we haven't sold out and started to follow trends to become more popular, but that we have stayed true to ourselves and our music tastes.
WP: What are some of the bands jobs and hobbies outside the band?
Venia: I'm studying computerengineering, Jere is studying business information technology, Juhani is studying electrical and communications engineering, Veronica is studying paramedics and Daniel is just about to finish high-school. Jere is almost done with his studies as well. I have a part-time job as a website programmer outside my studies. Most of us are also involved in other bands and musical projects which take their time too.
WP: What are two or three of the bands that you’ve been the most into lately?
Venia: I have recently gotten into black metal and the bands I have liked most are Antestor, Vardøger and Lengsel. The talent and emotion that these bands' songs showcase is just awesome.
WP: Any final comments?
Venia: Thank you for your interest in Venia! For mp3-clips and more information, visit our homepage (http://www.veniaband.com/). Also come and say hi in our guestbook.