Big Issue 'Sound Bites' piece, January 2000


POP GOES VENINI
Sheffield's very own Europhiles fly the flag for glamour. David Sue says 'Oui'

It's a sad inevitablitity, but every time you come across the name Venini in the music press, the ominous shadow of Pulp will invariably lurk close by. True, both bands stem from Sheffield's subruban ennui, and yes, Venini guitarist Russell Senior formerly found gainful employment as Jarvis Cocker's right-hand man, but Venini warrant further attention on their own merits.

"We were worried about the ex-Pulp mileage to begin with, but I think it's finally starting to wear off," confides vocalist Debbie Lime in an only semi-penetrable Midlands drawl. "Because Russell was in a successful band like Pulp, we're bound to get a certain amount of attention, but I think Venini have got good enough songs to stand up on our own."

Although to many if seemed Senior's amicable departure from Pulp would put paid to his musical endeavours once and for all, after months of pottering around Sheffield, bored and directionless, he consequently enlisted the talents of Lime, Nick Eastwood (bass), Robert Barton (drums) and Danny Hunt (keyboards). Venini were born.

"I knew Russell from when he was in Pulp and we just kept in contact after he left," explains Lime, slowly piecing together Venini's gestation. "I used to be in a shitty death metal band, but my lyrics didn't really fit so I tried them out with Russell instead. I think he originally wanted to go to France and do a cool underground thing, but we ended up going all pop."

What ultimately separates Venini from their Sheffield peers however, is their unrepentant annexation of the glamour ethic. Whereas Jarvis Cocker and co revelled in the mundane ephemera of working-class chic, Venini's portrayal of glamour remains joyously unironic. Indeed, their last single Carnival Star displayed influences which ranged from T-Rex to Blondie, while underpinned with all the sleek sophistication of Serge Gainsbourg (a long-time hero of pretty much everyone in the band). So, as we hurtle into the auspicious dawn of a new Millennium, is pop irony on the wane?

"Yeah, I think so," says a hopeful Lime. "We just want to do things 'unironically' and with glamour, kind of how Roxy Music used to be. The glam-pop influence in our music probably comes from Slade, since I come from the Midlands. I wouldn't say we're reacting against pop irony, but there are stacks of bands who write about dole culture and depression and it's been done to death. We want to write music that's uplifting and can elevate our listeners."

It's a promise which should be fulfilled on Venini's forthcoming album Venini which promises to be one of this year's more idiosyncratic offerings. It's a rougher and more etheral affair than their previous singles, but should continue to persue Venini's peripatetic worldview nevertheless.

"If there's a theme to the album, it's probably about travelling," explains Lime. "Russell travelled around the world when he was in Pulp, and I spent six months living in Amsterdam, while the rest of the band has a love for Italy and France and injecting heroin into their hands and feet.

"We are a very European band."

Forget government prevarication, if anyone can improve Britain's Euro-relations, it's Venini.

Venini is released on Bikini on January 24th


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