Vocalist/songwriter, Steven Berez, is living proof that no matter what age you are, it’s never too late to live out your dreams. While Berez spent the last few decades as both a journalist and part time record producer, he hadn’t been in a band since his teen years, when he briefly fronted a local band. But music had never left Berez. A few years back, while working on a home improvement project, Berez started jamming with some of his co-workers, who happened to be musicians themselves. This eventually led to Berez thinking that he could certainly front a band again, and soon after, he formed the first version of the band Venrez.
In addition to singer Steven Berez, who now simply goes by the name Venrez, the band consists of a cast of awesome veteran musicians, including guitarists Jason Womack (formerly of Juliette Lewis and the Licks) and Alex Kane (formerly of Life Sex and Death - aka LSD - and Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg), bassist Michael Bradford, and drummer Ed Davis (also formerly of Juliette Lewis and the Licks).
The band quickly earned a reputation as an exciting live band. After touring Europe twice, the accolades started pouring in. Their live show, coupled with their innovative and unique sound (a derivative of classic 70’s rock with elements of punk and glam), has music critics and fans across the globe praising Venrez as the next big thing. The band is currently on tour in the USA, opening for Fuel. Their debut record, “Sell the Lie,” will be available on Feb 28th.
What follows is an exclusive interview with Steven Berez (Venrez). During this chat he discusses the formation of the band, their future plans and much more.
RockMusicStar: I want to start off by stating that I really like the unique and fresh sound that you have created with Venrez. You have a cool 70’s rock vibe with a bit of a punk edge. How did the band come together and what lead to the development of your sound?
Venrez: The band coming together was a rather interesting story. I had a bunch of friends, who were musicians, that helped me build this tiki bar on the sun deck of my house. The building sessions started turning into some jams. That’s when I hooked up with Jason Womack. He plays guitar in the band, and writes the music, and I write the lyrics. Literally, a few months later, we formed the first version of Venrez. There have been a bunch of different versions since. But, that was back in September of 2009. The current version of the band has been together for two tours through Europe and recorded our current album, “Sell the Lie.”
The sound of the Venrez is an interesting story. Jason grew up in the 70’s, and was greatly influenced by Jesus and Mary Chain and bands influenced by them. You know it. Sick, in your face, dark rock music, with a good beat to it, combined with powerful lyrics. So Jason really liked the lyrics that I was handing to him. And I think that we’ve been writing some pretty good songs together. When we went into the studio, the guys pretty much recorded everything live, just like they do when we perform. When I went into the vocal both, I just sang all the way through, as if I was performing. That’s how we were able to get that type of sound.
RMS: Yeah, I can hear that. The album has a real live, raw feel to it.
V: Yeah, Jason Womack produced the album and I think that he did a great job. He wrote the music and he’s got a lot of experience. He was the bassist for Juliette Lewis and the Licks for three and a half years. I call him the professor, he’s just a genius.
RMS: Many of your band members have experience playing in other bands. What were you involved with before you formed this band?
V: Music has always been in my heart and soul. I was influenced a lot by the Stones, the Who and the Doors and the performances that they gave. I actually started singing in a band in my late teens. We were jamming in the house of my drummer's parents. And everyone throught we really had it together. We played out a lot, but then it all fell apart. And then I never sang again until I put this band together. So, it’s kind of an unique story. I always was part of the music scene. However, this is the first real band that I’ve ever been in.
RMS: Wow, that’s really incredible.
V: (laughs) Yes, it really kind of is. I sort of acquaint myself to that of the Robert Redford movie, “The Natural.” That’s what I relate it to. Except its rock n’ roll, instead of baseball.
RMS: Were any of the lyrics from “Sell the Lie” written before you formed Venrez?
V: No, I never wrote a song until the first part of 2010. When we formed Venrez, there was another guitar player in the band. He was writing all the music and the lyrics. It became very apparent to me, that if I was to become a real artist, I would have to start writing myself. So, I started writing and writing and writing. And I’ve written a lot of songs ever since. Prior to that, I had written magazine articles, newspaper articles and I studied journalism in school and I’ve written a book. Writing songs is very different, but it’s also very natural for me, because I found that I was talented at writing very short and sweet things. When I started writing lyrics, I started getting in touched with my feelings, experiences and views on life and writing became easier and easier. And that’s what I write about. Lessons that I’ve learned that need to be taught to people and experiences that I have that I feel are important. I even go into to politics and how the world conducts itself today. I feel a responsibility, lyrically, to have something of importance to say. Hopefully, that’s what is happening.
RMS: You’re CD is called, “Sell the Lie.” What was the inspiration behind the title?
V: The idea for the title came from our drummer, Eddie Davis, formerly of Juliette Lewis and the Licks as well. It is also a track on the album, so it’s the title track. We wanted to be careful that we didn’t limit fans or potential new fans into thinking the album was all about that one song. The cover artwork of album, of a wolf and a hot girl, was based on a concept of mine. And the concept is corporate greed. I also have a real problem with violence and the taking of lives. “Sell the Lie” is about blood for money and for oil. It’s primarily about fighting wars in places that we don’t belong and collateral damage and loss of live of the boys and girls in our armed forces. That’s really about what it’s about.
RMS: Yeah, after listening to the album, I can see that. You are currently on the road supporting the band Fuel. How has the reaction been to Venrez on the tour so far?
V: We have had a very positive reaction to the band so far. A lot of people came up to me after the show and said that they came to see Fuel, but really enjoyed us. The word I kept hearing was "entertained." Venrez is just a different kind of band. I don’t do a lot on stage, but I do enough to be entertaining, and I kind of bring the swagger of vintage Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart back to the stage, but with less movement. And with the beat of our music, people can’t help but to move on to it. And people really dig it, which is nice to see because we toured Europe twice, and I know they love us over there. I didn’t think it would be any different here, but the USA is a tough market. After, our first few shows on this tour, I’m pleasantly happy to say that they like us here too, which is nice because this is our country.
RMS: I’ve been checking out some of your live videos on youtube and the band has a real chemistry and is very entertaining. Your shows seem to have a real party vibe to them.
V: Thanks. Yeah, it’s a real rock show. It’s a raw rock show. The band goes on 'feel' a lot and almost every show is a little different than the other, based on the crowd and on the energy. So we definitely don’t sound exactly like the recorded record every night like some bands do. But I do believe the live show backs up our recordings.
RMS: My last question for you is, what are the tour plans for Venrez after the Fuel tour?
V: We don’t have anything signed yet. But, our management company wants us on the road as much as possible and concentrating on the USA. Right now, there are several big name band tours that we are up for, which would start in mid-April and go on until mid-May. But, at this point we don’t know who we are going out on the road with yet. But we will definitely be going out. I’m pretty certain that we will be touring all year.
For more on Venrez, including tour dates, please visit www.venreztheband.com
Special thanks to Chip from www.chipsterpr.com for setting up this interview.