Select 'Ignition' piece, October 1999


Venini
Former Pulp lieutenant Russell Senior trades in Oxfam chic for the jet set

"My former occupation was about drawing on dole culture," says former Pulp guitarist/violinist Russell Senior. "About trying to make glamour out of skips . . . whereas what we're attempting now - and whether we succeed or not isn't important - is to revel in glamour in a straightforward, unironic way."

He's still meddling around with skewed notions of glamour, but this time Russell's determined to do things properly. Having left Pulp in early 1997 due to a profound divergence of artistic intentions, his new four-piece Venini are Italian sports cars rather than Hillman Imps, and the French Riviera rather than the sexually repressed Sheffield suburbs.

Theirs is a glam-pop that owes something to the sophisticated perversity of Serge Gainsbourg (a long-time hero of Russell's), the brassy pop of Slade (singer Debbie Lime has West Midlands roots) and nothing at all to Russell's previous group. So you won't be hanging around any Oxfam shops, then?

"I'm more into PVC, really," reveals ultra-tall Debbie. "I really want a black catsuit. But when I try them on, the legs come up to my knees."

Their second single, Carnival Star, further testifies to Debbie's preferences, being a lustful paean to circus freaks. "I am attracted to things other people find a bit strange," she admits. "Weirdos, freaks, dwarves, that sort of thing."

As with many other facets of Venini - not least the disco-dance archness of their debut double-A sided single Mon Camion/St Tropez - Debbie's tastes were formed by matters European. Specifically, the six months she spent living in the red light district of Amsterdam. "You're walking round seeing tits in every window and it gets to feel normal," she recalls. "You move back to England and it's like, 'Why aren't there tits in every window?'"

Debbie and Russell, along with bassist Nick and drummer Robert (no surnames are forthcoming), aspire to being Eurotrash in the jet set rather than Antoine de Caunes sense of the term. "It's just about trying desperately trying to get there, instead of being in the Hull Adelphi reading the graffiti," shudders Russell.

"Now that was a strange experience," says Keith. "The crowd were really odd. We'd play a song and there'd be absolute silence. More people kept coming in, and eventually there were 300 people standing there, just gawping in silence. It was like, are we still here?"

So Venini know where they want to be, and where they don't. For the moment though, there are videos to be made.

"What I don't want to do is one for 3000," says Russell. "It's either got to be 300 or 300,000, have plenty of exploding helicopters in it, a river of champagne and a cameo from Richard E Grant wearing a mask so you don't know who it is."

"And dwarves," adds Debbie, unneccesarily.


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