i-D interview, September 1999


Ever wonder where music is going next? It's a question that's vexed Russell Senior ever since he left Pulp, but he reckons his own band might have just the answer. Again. "It seems to me there's a nascent movement out there that hasn't got a name," Russell opines. "Maybe it's just a combination of uncomfortable ideas and ambitions, but you stand the chance of looking absurd if you're trying to be bigger and bolder than twee groups who live in Nerd City, who seem wimpy enough to make me feel hard and Northern. Basically, if the music press loves something, we hate it. And if they hate it there's a lot of people like us who take that as a sign we'll love it." A heady cocktail of dark mod sensibility and garage riffs, Venini records come from the same sharp-dressed internationalist perspective as those made by Berlin's Stereo Totale or Sweden's Komeda - big on kneesy-uppie abandon as much as precision collisions of style, design and revolutionary thinking. "I think we're finding out what we aren't right now," explains singer Debbie Lime, who moved to Sheffield for cultural action. Russell's her friend since Pulp's salad days. "Not fitting in is really important. And I never have. Imagine people who want to match a place like Walsall!" She's the kind of girl who performs one-hand-on-hip on songs like 'Mon Camion' she becomes the latest torch singer to operate in 'seditious hairdresser' mode. Russell and Debbie eulogise absent keyboardist Danny Hunt, who's weekending in Paris to investigate a collaboration with French producer Betrand Burgalat, while 'rhythm trolls' Nick Eastwood (very early-Manic) and Robert Barton (very quiet) keep the conversation jumping with anti-parochialist rants of their own. Smart about art, a bomb with aplomb, Venini would rather connect than merely be 'followed'. They're not about feeding ironic nostalgia to the masses. "Actually, if we're about anything, it's only one thing," Nick says finally. "We'd spent so much time asking 'where's the party?' it was time to throw our own." Party hard!

Susan Corrigan