Interview : A chat with VENUS SLEEPS… Posted: 22/10/2014 by John O'Brien
Taking place twice a year on the Sunday of each Easter and October Bank Holiday Weekends, The Siege Of Limerick festival is one of the most anticipated events on the Irish Metal calander. And with the next ‘Samhain 2014’ installment rolling around once more on Sunday 26th Ocober, the city will once again be set upon by hairy, bearded hoardes of metallers hungry for their beer-fueled fix of all things heavy.
So! In anticipation of the upcoming festivities, the Irish Metal Archive has taken it upon itself to hand pick a few of the participating acts to poke a stick at and see how they react!
We’ve already bothered and badgered 80’s glory metallers STEREO NASTY and the rejuvenated doom Titans, MAEL MÓRDHA. So next on our hit-list is another new(ish) band to the local scene… Dublin Doom outfit, VENUS SLEEPS.
Here’s what they had to say for themselves once we finally caught up with the band…
Alright! Lads… How’s the form?
Thanks a million for taking the time to answer some questions.
Thank you for your support and interest in the music, it’s a pleasure to chat to the keeper of the annals.
VENUS SLEEPS is…
Sie Carroll – Guitar and Vocals
Sean O’Connor – Bass
Steven ‘Andy’ Anderson – Guitar and Backing Vocals
Fergal Malone – Drums
And seeing as this is for the Irish Metal Archive, tell us about each of your backgrounds, past bands, etc…?
Sie : I have been in one previous band to VENUS SLEEPS, an electric blues based unit called THE ELECTRIC AGE, and I have been playing guitar around 15 years, singing was something that I was kind of stuck with in that band, it’s only in the last few years that it’s become something I enjoy doing.
Sean : Before I joined up with Sie and VENUS SLEEPS, I played bass in a few bands. Only two of which did I actually record something with (see UTOPIAN RUINS and PETROCHEMICAL ACCELERATOR). They were good times, with some very good gigs, but it was nothing compared to the commitment and vision of this band.
Andy : I’ve been playing guitar and bass in Metal/Punk/HC/Noisy Experimental bands for what seems like an eternity now! Previous bands include CRUACHAN (right at the start… early 90’s before they recorded anything, although there is some poor quality video and audio of me playing with them in Cork in 1994 knocking around on the web!), THE STEAM PIG, PETE THE KILLER, SIR KILLALOT and ESTEL. I currently play in YURT as well as in VENUS SLEEPS.
Fergal : I’ve played bass since I was a teenager and an ex-girlfriend gave me her drum kit… so I started a doom band ‘cause slow drums are easy! That was COUNCIL OF TANITH. I guess I was pretty late starting an instrument at 23!
The 2012 Demo was a completely DIY recording by Sie without any other input from anyone else. Is that correct? Was that an easy or difficult route to take?
Sie : Yes, the demo was a complete DIY effort but I never thought of it as a a difficult route to take at all as there was no intention to record a “demo”. I was no longer in a band but had some songs and I wanted to hear what they could sound like, so I got some basic equipment together and put some time in when I had the chance, they were really only ever for myself, no pressure or expectation. I enjoyed the mixing and mastering, it opened up some sides to making music I hadn’t explored before, the toughest aspect was programming the drums, an instrument that is quite alien to me, so I kind of did everything backwards, the drums were added last. Having initially sent the songs for feedback to four, at the time strangers whose opinions I valued and respected through their music reviews, they then encouraged me to put them to tape and put them out there. Actually, the biggest pain about it was trying to fold the covers neatly whilst listening to high speed dubs of the tracks again and again!
The Demo was widely praised and quickly thrust VENUS SLEEPS into the Irish Underground. And there wasn’t much time wasted after it’s release before the hunt for new recruits for a full band was under way. Did that process take long before you could take to the stage as proper band?
Sie : The reaction to the tape was very positive and unexpected, but I had to decline the gig offers I was receiving which was very frustrating, not being involved in the scene at the time and having no contacts to tap as regards this type of music meant that there was actually a large gap in between the release of the demo and the bands formation proper. Sean had been in touch around the time of it’s release but due do personal circumstances nothing happened at the time. It was July 2013 when Sean got back in touch and it was really his drive and enthusiasm to play live which pushed forth the creation of the band proper.
And again, we received support from some heads whom the band owes it’s creation to (Jamie Grimes) and through these channels Fergal got in touch in September 2013 and added his talent. He craves the live experience so we got the heads down and played our first gig in support of TRIBULATION just four months after. Having played three gigs as a three piece Steven got in touch through Fergal and (straight away) added that missing 25% to the music, and that’s when I would say the band was properly formed, just seven months ago.
Sean : The process from a one man demo to now has, in my opinion, been unreal. Once Sie and myself got jamming again things clicked into place. We jammed with a few drummers, but they didn’t suit what we were going for but when we first jammed with Fergal, both Sie and I knew that “this” was the sound we wanted. Thankfully he was into the music and full of input and ideas. After that we got stuck into writing and rehearsing. Steven came on board after our third gig. I was reluctant at first to adding a fourth member because I felt that we were doing well as a 3-piece and was worried that a fourth guy could upset the balance, etc… I was very wrong. Fergal had been going on about Steven for a while saying he’d be perfect. We had a jam and the decision was made fairly quickly that he had to be a part of VENUS SLEEPS. So the evolution in the last 13 months has been remarkable and I’m very happy with the progress.
Andy : That demo really stood out for me when I first heard it. I was very impressed by the atmosphere and the vocals in particular, and the fact that it was all the work of one person. From that point onwards I started to stalk the band via facebook, etc. When Fergal joined I stepped up the stalking as I knew him already… “Put in a word for me if you’re looking for a second guitarist”, that kind of thing! I went to their first gig and thought, yes, I want to be a part of this. Finally I got to jam with the lads and it felt right straight away. Played my first gig with them a month or so later. I think our progress has been very swift, sometimes I forget that we’ve only been together as a 4-piece for a few months!
Fergal : We gelled pretty quickly. I was really impressed at our first jam how good musicians Sie and Sean were. It’s been just over a year now since I had my first jam with the two lads so it’d be fair to say our progress has been astonishingly fast compared to what I’ve experienced before.
VENUS SLEEPS will have their debut album coming out very soon. Has the full band dynamic made much of a difference to the sound and style when compared to the demo?
Andy : I think the most obvious difference between the full band sound and the demo is the heaviness that naturally comes with a full band lineup. The general ethos of what Sie was doing is still there, just expanded further and fuller sounding in my view. We’re still developing our sound though, we are really only a baby of a band after all!
Sie : There is a massive difference to the sound of the band when compared to the demo. The input has been immense. The layering which was required on the demo to make up for the shortcomings in drums, bass, and guitar, is no longer required. The drums and bass are now piloting the guitars as opposed to the demo and the girth of sound is fantastic and focused. Stevens voicing and style on guitar is very different to mine and it’s brought the dynamics to places I could never have went as a one man outfit. The singing perhaps remains as a constant between the two, though this too has reaped the benefits that come which a full band, especially in regards to confidence and more recently exploring backing vocal possibilities in live and studio settings. VENUS SLEEPS was always supposed to sound like it does now, hence the use of the band name on the demo rather then my own, it’s exciting to be part of.
Sean : Yes! The debut release as a full band is soon to land. What Sie did with the demo was great. But that’s exactly what it was… a demo! It demonstrated what he could do and what it could become. We are a new band, but full of experienced musicians and the difference in sound and style will blitz what was done on the demo. I’m excited and nervous to how the debut will be received. There has been allot of hard work put into it, so hopefully that comes good for us and people enjoy it.
Fergal : The demo contained some quite good programmed drums but the beats in there still sound somewhat odd and unnatural for a real drummer to do. I concentrated on bringing a doom metal style to one of the songs, ‘Dawn of Nova’, and we’ve taken ‘Burn You Up’ on more of a space rock direction with an open section we roughly improvise each time. We played it live recently and a friend in the audience commented that we fluctuated between PENTAGRAM and HAWKWIND. A comparison I am happy with!
Tell us more about the album? Is it fully recorded, mixed, mastered, etc? Have you artwork in place? Basically… When can I have it in my hands???
Andy : Soon! Let’s just say we’re on the final stretch with everything now…
Sean : The album is called “Dead Sun Worship” and we hope to have everything ready to go in the next few weeks. We recorded it with Tommy O’Sullivan in Silverline Studios. He is a legend and so easy to work with. He made the whole experience so easy for us. We sent the final mix off to James Plotkin for mastering. He’s done a few albums for friends bands and came highly rated. The masters came back recently and we all couldn’t be happier. Emmett Connell (Lost Cosmonaut) is doing the artwork for the release. He is an amazing artist and the work he has done for us is breath taking. I think I speak for everyone when I say, we are very excited about getting this out.
Fergal : I won’t add anything to what the lads said above other than to praise the work of recording engineer Tommy O’Sullivan and artist Emmett Connell of ‘Lost Cosmonaut’ who handled the artwork. Two very talented and professional individuals every band should consider working with!
I can’t wait for it myself! It’s pretty high up on my ‘Eagerly Anticipated’ list…
I take it you’ll be self-releasing it?
Sean : That’s the plan at the moment, anyway. The usual spots should have it… Bandcamp, Soundcellar, Into The Void, Plug’d and of course at our gigs.
You’ve been gigging a fair bit in the last year with some rather tasty support slots falling your way such as IN SOLITUDE & BEASTMILK only last weekend, as well as playing at the upcoming Siege Of Limerick – Samhain 2014. How has the band been received in the live setting?
Sean : I think we have been received well… Yes! We have been busy. We landed some great support slots including TRIBULATION, SLOMATICS, LECHEROUS GAZE, IN SOLITUDE, BEASTMILK, etc… For our first year together that is a pretty good haul in my opinion. The Siege is something I’ve wanted to play… I’ve been to two of them as a punter and the set up that Bad Reputation have for it is very impressive. The diverse and enthusiastic crowd it gets there is something every heavy band in the country needs to get in front of.
Sie : It’s been great to gig with the band, I’m a little rusty having not played live for a few years but with every gig the confidence comes up a bit and I’m learning. I think the addition of Steven’s sound has taken the overall tone of the band to new heights on the stage. The feedback thus far has been very positive and the support we’ve received from local bands like WILD ROCKET and WIZARDS OF FIRETOP MOUNTAIN, as well as a number of local promoters in putting us on stage has been fantastic and we are trying to repay the confidence by becoming a good live band. Can’t wait to experience the Siege, there’s some fabulous bands playing there this year.
Fergal : The Siege will only be our second trip out of Dublin for a gig, we recently played down in Cork with the crushing HEADLESS KROSS of Scotland and we got a really great response from many people there. It’ll be another chance for the Cork contingent at the Siege to catch us and an opportunity to play to heads from all around the land who haven’t gotten to see us yet. We hope to get more gigs around the country in the new year.
Will you be looking further afield after the album is out? Will you be pushing to maybe play some UK or EU dates? Or will that be a bit more down the line.
Sean : Playing in the UK or a trip to the European mainland is definitely something we’ll be aiming for next year. Hopefully the debut album is well received and we can make it happen.
Andy : I would definitely be hoping that we can get ourselves abroad next year, I have a few old friends in the UK and Europe that I’m hoping will be able to sort a few gigs out for us, no concrete plans yet though, we’ll see what happens I guess!
Alright, then! Thanks a million for the interview, Lads.
And I can’t wait to finally catch you playing live.
Roll on the Siege…!!!
Interview/Questions by John O’Brien
Photos by Fran Geoghegan
( https://www.facebook.com/frangeogheganphotography )