Venini biography

Debbie Venini's story begins in the spring of 1998. Singer/guitarist Debbie Lime gave a tape of her songs to Russell Senior (former guitarist with Isengard, Nightmares, Bath Bankers and Pulp) and the two began working on material together. That summer, they recruited Nick Eastwood (ex-Bhuna, bass), Robert Barton (drums), Charlie Collins (ex-ClockDVA, treated woodwind) and Danny Hunt (ex-Chevette, keyboards) and christened themselves Venini, the name reflecting a love of all things European.

Nick The six-piece spent the second half of 1998 rehearsing intensively, recording demos and playing early gigs in Sheffield, Hull and Warwick. In an attempt to allow themselves time to develop at their own pace, the band kept a deliberately low profile throughout this period: no official announcement was made at the time as to their existence, and any occasional gig they might have played would be either unannounced, under an assumed name or both. The public, however, wouldn't have long to wait.

Bob Venini finally revealed themselves to the world in May 1999, playing their official debut gig at Blow Up in London and releasing debut single Mon Camion on their own label Bikini the following month. Declaring along the way a love of "experimental pop music and colour co-ordination" and boasting of a large collection of inflatables, they continued to ease themselves into the public eye that summer with live appearances up and down the country, including Glastonbury and Reading. With new keyboardist Michael Ash taking Danny's place, a second single, Carnival Star, was released on November 1st. A string of live dates to promote the single towards the end of 1999 followed, including a semi-legendary spot supporting Sparks at the Shepherds Bush Empire.

Russell After an extended break (during which Nick attracted acclaim with his Sheffield club Le Citrus and Debbie concentrated on her second career as an actress), July 2000 saw the band return to the public eye with the unveiling of the brand-new track Postcard via their redesigned website. A third single, the mail-order only Un Shaker, appeared in October, but live appearances failed to follow, and rumours started to surface that all was not well in the Venini camp.

At the time, the band was still planning to continue: Russell and Bob had both departed earlier in the year, but replacements had been found and rehearsals with the new line-up were sounding good. The plan was for Russell to move to a managerial role, and for an official announcement to be made on the new Venini when they were ready to play live again (plans were being mooted for a spring 2001 tour). But somehow it wasn't as easy as before, and in February 2001 the announcement was finally, irrevocably made: Venini had split up.

In two-and-a-half years of existence, Venini spent just six months in the limelight. But although they may have failed to take over the world, in retrospect maybe they still achieved everything they set out to. The hope and the excitement of that time will always remain with those who were there, and for that reason alone, Debbie and Ash's new project Tokyo Lucky Hole, and Nick's new band Dolly TV, will be more than worth watching.

Those of an obsessive bent may wish to click here to read a Venini timeline.