BLOG CRITICS MUSIC REVIEW: VENREZ – SELL THE LIE

“But other than a few changes of pace, this is a band that rocks. It’s a debut album that ought to get them quite a bit of attention.” – Jack Goodstein Blog Critics

I had always thought that freedom was just another word for nothing left to lose. But then I read an interview with Venrez (the artist formerly known as Steven Berez) while getting together some information for this review of Sell the Lie, the debut album of the band he fronts, also conveniently named Venrez—Venrez it turns out combines the last syllable of Steven’s first name with the last syllable of his last name. The interviewer asks him what he meant by the line “freedom’s just a state of mind” in the album’s title song. It means, Venrez answers, “that we control how we think and feel. No one can make us feel anything. We have the choice to be the cause or the reaction.”

Nice answer, and not as pithy perhaps, but clearly more political in a song that takes aim at the powers that be and their attempt to control the message. “Sell the Lie” is the kind of song that could appeal to both Occupy Wall Street protestors and Tea Party patriots, depending on whom you think is doing the selling—big corporations or overreaching government. In the interview, Venrez talks about “corporate monsters,” but big government would do just as well for his message. Especially as many would argue that there isn’t much difference between the two. Politics aside, “Sell the Lie” is a rocker with roots in the ’70s with an infectious hook that drives home its message.

Infectious hooks are a hallmark of the album’s songs in general, most of which were written by Venrez and Jason Womack (guitar, keys and backing vocals), and some with credit to Tommy “Joho” Johnson and bassist Mike Bradford. The one cover on the album is the Blind Faith/Steve Winwood classic “Can’t Find My Way Home.” In addition to Womack and Bradford, Venrez includes guitarist Alex Kane and Ed Davis on drums.

They like to take a key phrase, tie it to the hook, and let it rip. Take the album’s opening song, “Karma,” a very personal diatribe about betrayal: “Got no heart and still [?] no soul/What did you get from what you stole/Some things never go away.” The repetition is riveting. “Yesterday Has Gone” and “Melting,” which follow, do the same thing. “Don’t get caught up in the sorrow/Because yesterday has gone tomorrow,” in the former, while the chorus that begins “Got to be a better way to go” is featured in the latter. These are hooks that stay with you.

Asked for a phrase to describe the band’s musical style, Venrez always, it seems, a good interview, says “big rockalicious,” probably as good a descriptor as any. Put together some nice vocal harmonies with some dynamic guitar and if you want something stronger than rock, why not “rockalicious.” There are some softer moments, the beginning of the Blind Faith cover for example, and on “My Only Light,” the song that closes the album. Venrez explains that this song was based on a Civil War letter from Joshua Chamberlain. But other than a few changes of pace, this is a band that rocks. It’s a debut album that ought to get them quite a bit of attention.

By – Jack Goodstein
Blog Critics

INTERVIEW FROM HARDROCK HAVEN

Venrez recently performed to over 35,000 fans at the Super bowl Village in Indiana. Their infectious sound is garnering new fans from Coast to Coast. – Deb Rao Hardrock Haven

California-based rock band Venrez is currently making waves in the music industry opening for Fuel this month. Hardrock Haven caught up with lead singer Steven Berez, who is currently known just as Venrez these days.

Venrez has distinctive ’70s influenced sound that can be compared to Alice In Chains. Venrez recently performed to over 35,000 fans at the Super bowl Village in Indiana. Their infectious sound is garnering new fans from Coast to Coast. Venrez has also toured Europe twice, and lead singer Venrez admits that there isn’t much difference from U.S. fans to European. The response has been overwhelming. Venrez debut album Sell The Lie will be released on February 28th. In this exclusive interview for Hardrock Haven. Venrez discusses the birth of the band, Sell The Lie debut, and touring with Fuel.

Hardrock Haven: Steven, Thank you for checking in with Hardrock Haven. Venrez is currently in tour opening for Fuel. How are all the Fuelie fans enjoying your show? I know you have had some great gigs so far.

Venrez: Yes, It has been really positive. We have been playing to packed houses. Fuel is drawing tremendously well. When we go on stage, the venue is pretty packed. The response has been overwhelming. I think it is clear that they like us. Lot of photo opportunities. The crowd seems to be really into the show. We are something a little different. But I think us going on then Fuel is a pretty good rock show for the fans. They seem to be digging it.

HRH: Tell us a little but about your set. I know you have a new album coming out February 28 entitled Sell The Lie. Are you performing a lot of songs off of it?

Venrez: Yes, it just depends. Each show is different. Sometimes we are doing 30-minute sets. Sometimes we are doing 40-minute sets. At the Super bowl Village show we did Tuesday night, there were over 35,000 people. We played for an hour. Most of the songs we are doing are off the Sell The Lie album. There are actually two songs that we are doing that will be on the next album that we are doing at the shows. Depending on the set length it is how much we can deliver.

HRH: Are you rooting for the Patriots or The Giants or neither?

Venrez: I am a Raiders fan. So ultimately, it doesn’t matter. I just love the Manning family. I am rooting for the Giants.

HRH: Tell us a little bit about the upcoming release of Sell The Lie on February 28th. What does the title denote to you?

Venrez: Sell The Lie is one song on the album. We were talking what to name the album. Davis our drummer came up with the idea of using that name so we all decided to go with that. The album is not all about the song. There are ten tracks on the album. We did a cover of Stevie Winwood’s,”Can’t Find My Way Home from Blind Faith 1969. It is going to be on a soundtrack of a film that comes out in August. I kind of feel responsibility to kind of write about personal experiences and to send messages. I try to write lyrics that have meaning to them. There are different messages and stories on the album. Sell The Lie is pretty much directed towards oil for blood and money. I am opposed to violence. I support all law enforcement. I support all the boys and girls in the armed forces. I am not happy about collateral damage and the loss of our troops.

HRH: I saw a picture of you on face book at the Super bowl Village with police enforcement.

Venrez: Yes, that was at the Press center. I had some interviews. I wanted to get my picture taken with the Indiana State Troopers but they said they couldn’t do it. They had some pretty cool hats and uniforms. Those were actually Indiana police officers in the picture.

HRH: What inspired you to get the band together?

Venrez: It is kind of like the movie The Natural with Robert Redford. At 18 or 19 he is this huge prospect. His life turns and he walks away from it. Then he comes back much later on. That is pretty much what happened with me. At 18 years old, we put a band together that lasted 90 days. It just kind of fell apart. I walked away from it thinking it was a waste of time. Many years later one of my friends who is singer songwriter had an idea to build a Tiki Bar on this big patio I had. He enlisted on of his musician friends. One of the guys was Jason Womack who writes all the music for Venrez. I write the lyrics. These building sessions turned into jam sessions. Before we knew it we put a band together. That was November of 2009. We already did two tours of Europe. We were there November and December of 2010. We went back and toured Europe again June and July of 2011. This is our first U.S. Tour.

HRH: How would you compare European audiences to the U.S.?

Venrez: You know what? That was something I was really curious about. I am going to tell you there is absolutely no difference. The Europeans love Rock and Roll. My fellow USA people seem to love us too. I am not noticing any difference at all. If anybody said there is a difference. I am going to have to disagree doing this tour. The fans in this country are great. The fans in Europe. Are great. They all appreciate Rock and Roll. The only difference might be that in Europe they will go out any night. You could go on at midnight on a Sunday and it would be packed. Where as in The States you would probably have to go on earlier. Other than that I notice no difference.

HRH: How would you describe the sound of Venrez? I know the band has a distinctive ’70s vibe.

Venrez: It is kind of an interesting thing. Jason Womack writes the music. He grew up in the ’70s listening to the rock of that time period. His parents were playing it. He was influenced a lot by Jesus and Mary Chain and bands influences by them. A very kind of dark and in your face bigger rock kind of sound combined with serious lyrics. It wasn’t a sound we tried to come up with on purpose. That is what Jason is writing. It appears to be this kind of big ’70s rock beat that is 2012 fresh. People appear to really like it. It seems like there is an appetite for that kind of music. Lot of fans are telling me a lot of what they are hearing these days sounds the same. There is variation if you listen to the album. There are stops involved where. Just as someone is turning their head to talk to their friend, it pulls you right back in. People seem to like it. Lucky for us. People even compare us to Alice In Chains. I don’t think we sound like them but the two part harmonies between Jason and I people are digging it. Obviously, Alice and Chains have that.

HRH: What are your future touring plans after the Fuel tour?

Venrez: I would love to play Vegas. The plans that our management has for us are our last show is at the Hard Rock in Biloxi, MS on February 18th. All the members will be back in LA by February 24th. We will probably go into the studio and start recording songs that will be on the next album after Sell The Lie. Our plans to go back out again in mid-April. We are talking to several really big bands about going on tour with them. We are definitely going back out again on another USA tour. Probably a lot of festivals this summer.

HRH: That is awesome. Thank you for discussing Sell The Lie with us. I hope you make it to Vegas soon!

By – Deb Rao

Hardrock Haven

VENREZ BRING A ‘BIG ROCKALICIOUS’ SOUND TO HARD ROCK

L.A. band Venrez is a pleasant surprise for 2012. They have all the right elements of classic hard rock with the proper mix of alternative and grunge — what vocalist Steven Berez describes as a “big rockalicious.” And with the combination of Berez’ dark mood and intelligent swagger and the big guitar approach of Jason Womack (ex-Juliette Lewis and the Licks) and Alex Kane (ex-Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg), the big rockalicious sound is certainly appetizing. Their new album Sell the Lie (available February 28) also has the sleeze rock playfulness of any legit L.A. band but also a sharp social commentary that propels them higher.
The following is a recent interview with vocalist Steven Berez:

What is the meaning behind the title Sell the Lie? The lyrics of the song state: “allows me to release my pain of senseless killing.” Can you elaborate?

Steven Berez: The meaning of using the words Sell The Lie as the album title was to send a message that the corporate monsters are no longer fooling the masses, they (the masses) are getting smarter. As to the lyrics of “Sell The Lie” — I detest violence, war and senseless killing. So, I wrote the song about blood for oil money. The loss of our boys and girls in the armed forces as well as the collateral damage to innocent people.

You also state the phrase: “Freedom is just a state of mind” …

Berez: “Freedom is just a state of mind” means that we control how we think and feel. No one can make us feel anything. We have the choice to be the cause or the reaction.

Interesting cover art on Sell the Lie. How did the art come about and how does it tie in to the title of the album?

Berez: The album art concept was my idea. A wolf and a hot woman. Our manager hooked me up with the well known artist Michael Kaluta. Michael came up with the design and really just nailed it.

There is a very Aerosmith/GNR feel throughout, especially in a song like “Karma,” and a song like “Sell the Lie” has an Alice in Chains feel to it. Does the band like comparisons to past artists?

Berez: Well, we always smile when compared to past artists. We are certainly influenced by several past bands musically, and myself by a few frontmen of past bands, some still performing some not. It’s complimentary, but of course, we are doing our own thing and prefer to be appreciated for what we do and compared to no one.

Do you like being called a L.A. band, or having a L.A. sound?

Berez: Being called a L.A. band …? Well, we all live in L.A., and I was born in L.A. So, we are for all intents and purposes a L.A. band. Whether there is a L.A. sound, and if we have a L.A. sound, I really don’t identify with that. We are a rock band and I think we get more comparisons to bands who came out of Seattle than to bands that came out of L.A. Some of the lower vocal notes I hit, I am told by many fans, are similar to Morrison of the Doors. The Doors are one of my all time favorite bands and they were a L..A band, so if people wanna call us a L.A. band that is fine with me.

Great to have influences as varied as ’70s rock to Jesus and Mary Chain …

Berez: My writing partner, Jason Womack, writes all the music. So, clearly his influences have a large part to do with our sound. Jason grew up listening to the ’70s period rock his parents were playing. He also was heavily influenced by Jesus and Mary Chain as well as all the bands who were influenced by them as well. I do think it’s great. We have people from 13 to 54 years old joining our fan club daily. So it appears our music is appreciated by a large crossover audience in age.

Got a good guitar sound on the album — for instance, what a powerful riff on a song called “Insanity.” That song never lets up. Do you think a lot of this bite has to do with the way the album was recorded live?

Berez: I think the great guitar work on “Insanity,” and the album as a whole, does have a lot to do with the fact it was recorded live, but more so to the fact that my two guitar players, Jason Womack and Alex Kane are amazing players. Whether there is a L.A. sound, and if we have a L.A. sound, I really don’t identify with that.

An ‘onstage sound’ in the studio, is not done enough these days. Agreed?

Berez: Yes, an onstage sound in the studio sadly is not done much these days, but we are not concerned with that. We want to give our fans the absolute best music we can create both in the studio and live on tour. With the album “Sell The Lie” we wanted to make a statement, and I believe we have no matter how successful or not the album turns out to be.

If you were a marketer and you had to sell your band, what would be your catchphrase for the band’s sound? And what makes the band so unique?

Berez: The catch phrase would be “big rockalicious.” I think the main things that make the band unique are clearly the two part harmonies between myself and Jason Womack and the way we have brought a ’70s big rock beat to 2012 fresh.

You just started your US tour. What are some anxieties, expectations?

Berez: There are no anxieties nor expectations. We go out and do our thing period. The band records well together, rehearses well together, and tours well together. We love to play and we have so much fun on stage performing live shows. I think the fact that we truly have no anxieties or expectations makes the band what it is, REAL. And, if you are real, chances are good the fans will like what you are doing.

You’ve toured Europe already. What were your observations about different cultures (especially with the way they treat music)?

Berez: We have toured Europe twice. The fans over there love rock music and we were well received on both tours. They really come out to shows and are a very responsive audience. This is our first USA tour, and after 10 shows on this tour, I can tell you that the fans in the USA are exactly the same. Rock fans are rock fans, regardless if they live in the USA, Europe, South America, Asia or any other country in the world.

And you are already in pre-production on the next record. What should fans expect?

Berez: We are well into pre-production for the next album. Fans should expect more of the Venrez signature sound with lyrics that say something. I am very excited about the next album we will deliver to our fans after Sell The Lie.

By – Patrick Prince

Powerline

Venrez to Support Debut Album as Opening Act for Fuel

The band Venrez has just secured a month’s worth of dates that will undoubtedly help introduce them to the masses – opening for Fuel on a US tour that runs from January 21st to February 18th. With Venrez’s debut full-length, Sell the Lie, set for release on February 28th, 2012, audiences will be able to get a sneak preview of the album before it hits the streets. Comprised of singer Steven Berez (whose last syllables of his first and last name serve as the group’s nom de plum), guitarists Jason Womack and Alex Kane, bassist Michael Bradford, and drummer Ed Davis, the Los Angeles-based group cites such wide-ranging outfits as Tool, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Alice In Chains as their influences. “We are really looking forward to opening these dates for Fuel, as they have scored many rock radio hits over the years,” explains Berez. “We also feel that their fans will relate to the music/vibe that Venrez puts across – it’s going to be a hell of a way to kick off the New Year!” The Venrez/Fuel tour will visit such cities/states as Daytona Beach (Florida), Huntington (New York), Baltimore (Maryland), Dallas (Texas), and Biloxi (Mississippi), among other rock n’ roll hotspots. “Venrez live is a very special rock show,” adds Berez. “All the members are amazing players and showmen. We go on feel a lot, and every live show is slightly different than the other – much like a Rolling Stones or Aerosmith concert. It’s big, in your face, captivating, and sexy as fuck!” Throughout January and February, rock fans will be able to experience an extremely potent double bill, blazing its way across the States.

CONFIRMED VENREZ/FUEL TOUR DATES:

Saturday, January 21, 2012 Daytona Beach, FL

Bad Habit Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jacksonville, FL Brewster’s Pit Live Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Columbus, GA Spicoli’s Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winston-Salem, NC Ziggy’s Friday, January 27, 2012

Huntington, NY The Paramount Saturday, January 28, 2012

Annapolis, MD Sandy Point State Park Sunday, January 29, 2012

Allentown, PA Crocodile Rock Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Indianapolis, IN Superbowl Village Thursday, February 02, 2012

Bloomington, IL Castle Theatre Friday, February 03, 2012

Flint, MI Machine Shop Saturday, February 04, 2012

Lincolnshire, IL Viper Alley Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Minneapolis, MN First Avenue Friday, February 10, 2012

Vinton, LA Texas Longhorn Club Saturday, February 11, 2012

Miami, OK Buffalo Run Casinot Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ardmore, OK Heritage Hall Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lewisville, TX Hat Tricks Friday, February 17, 2012

Charenton, LA Rox Night Club at Cypress Bayou Saturday, February 18, 2012

Biloxi, MS Hard Rock Casino Powerline Article Here

VENREZ Prepares to Release New Album ‘Sell The Lie’

With more and more modern rock music sounding processed and over-produced, it’s refreshing to come across a new band that doesn’t forget the glorious sounds of raw rock music. And that band is Venrez, who are preparing to unleash their debut full-length, ‘Sell The Lie,’ on February 28th, 2012.

Comprised of singer Steven Berez (whose last syllables of his first and last name serve as the group’s nom de plum), guitarists Jason Womack and Alex Kane, bassist Michael Bradford, and drummer Ed Davis, the Los Angeles-based group cites such wide-ranging outfits as Alice In Chains, Jesus And Mary Chain, and The Doors as their influences. And Berez certainly approves of his group’s high-octane sonic cocktail. “I consider our music to be a 70’s beat that has been made 2012 fresh. It sounds like something you have heard
but then it’s clear you have not.”

As Berez explained, it wasn’t by accident how the debut album turned out, sound-wise. “The album was recorded live, as we wanted to give that live sound. I sang the vocals to the music, as if performing live. Therefore, we accomplished that live sound and feeling, which was exactly what we intended and wanted to do.”

And as evidenced by such standout tracks as “Karma” (a tune Berez describes as “written about a former partner who tried to hurt me”), “Insanity” (described as “my tribute to the goddesses of this world”) and the title track (which “speaks to the heart of corporate greed” and other wrong doings in the modern world), ‘Sell The Lie’ balances thought-provoking lyrics with raucous rock.

The group has already set aside much of 2012 to support their debut album the good old fashioned way – with heavy duty touring. “Venrez live is a very special rock show,” explains Berez. “All the members are amazing players and showmen. We go on feel a lot, and every live show is slightly different than the other – much like a Rolling Stones or Aerosmith concert. It’s big, in your face, captivating, and sexy as fuck!”

Soon, rock fans get a chance to sink their teeth into Venrez’s rough and rocking ‘Sell The Lie.’

By – Chee Kam
Pure Grain Audio