XR Volume Exclusive Interview with Message to Venus!
XR Volume Exclusive Interview with
Message to Venus
1. Why did you name your band Message to Venus? What is the origin of that name?
Jandre: When people hear the band’s name they think were sending a message to women, NOT at all, although some songs can have this love/hate meaning like “Cold & Grey” but for the most part Message to Venus was originally a song I wrote. The song was a science fiction story but it didn’t work out, but the title I always liked, then when I was trying to get a name for the project I said “Message to Venus”. Our lyrics are like short stories, we just felt this band name fits us well.
John: It’s a name that gives us the flexibility to explore different dimensions with the music we make.
Edgar: Imagine this only message to this wonderful living thing a message with a lot of mix feelings and emotions, a message that can be powerful or maybe an imaginary story…. I’m sorry for going in a poetic trip… hahaha…
JuanMa: It’s been said that our music represents the message that we’re trying to get across. Now, what Venus represents should be left open for discussion…
2. Who are the members of your band and what instruments do they play?
Jandre: Hey I’m Jandre and I’m the vocalist and one of the guitarists.
John: I’m John, and I play guitar.
Edgar: Edgar, I’m the Sonic Boom (Bass guitar).
JuanMa: JuanMa here. I usually hit the drums.
3. What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major musical influences/heroes?
Jandre: Alternative Rock/Hard Rock, my dad is a musician as well, I’ve been going to his rock band gigs my whole life and concerts, so the classic rock is my main influence, but I’m a huge fan of bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Deftones, Soundgarden, Incubus, Pantera and I love the blues. Dimebag is my guitar hero, God bless him.
John: Rock with Metal and Alternative influences. One of my biggest influences would definitely be Tool. I also like playing classical guitar and I play the violin with a traditional Spanish group, I’m sure that influences in one way or another as well…
Edgar: Alternative Metal, I think… My influences are music from the 80’s, 90’s, progressive metal; never forgetting who I am and from where I come from. Heroes: my parents, band mates and everyone who is willing to sacrifice everything to reach their dreams.
JuanMa: I’d like to think that we’re kind of a Hard Alternative Rock with a pop-ish edge (that’s a mouthful!). The truth is that we like to keep them short and sweet, but with an aggressive layer. There are few things that I can say I “Love”. I usually like a ton of stuff and can’t really decide on which one to like the most. I can surely admit that the so called “grunge” from the 90’s inspired me to pick up a guitar, eventually moving on to more technical stuff like progressive rock/metal. Sharing the stage with local acts inspired me to keep playing. There are great bands, many of them unknown, which have been doing this for more than a decade with no recognition or glory. They just really love to do what they do. Those are the guys that motivate me to keep doing this.
4. Tell us how the musicians from “De’fekt” decided to become the musical entity know as Message to Venus and has that affected the musicality of the band?
Jandre: I’ll let the boys answer this one but I just want to add that they gave this band much more EDGE and attitude.
John: Our singer at the time decided to pursue other interests. Jandre was the first and only person that came to mind to call, so we did. At the time he shared with us the project he was developing, Message to Venus. We liked it so much that we decided to evolve and start from a fresh foundation. This is a different band now, with intensity and technique on the instrumentation and lots of melody and depth on the vocals.
Edgar: In the mid part of the recording process the lead singer from De’fekt decided that he just wanted to pursue his professional career and finish his studies, that’s a decision we respect a lot, he is a great musician and friend. At that time Jandre was already doing some shows with new songs, we gave him a call to meet and share our new stuff. From then on it has been a great experience; this guy (Jandre) brings up a fresh new voice to our sound, with a lot of power, melody and emotion that for us it’s just more freedom to write and produce new sounds, ideas and cool stories to tell.
JuanMa: In the middle of recording our 2nd album as De’fekt we found ourselves without a singer. At around the same time on the other side of the island (Puerto Rico) Jandre found himself without a band. Our producer, Leo Alvarez, suggested we called him and so we did. We all had to take a different approach to the songs already recorded. The most challenging part is looking at the same music with a different lyrical approach. As a result, most of the songs sound completely different while others changed very little. In any way, Jandre’s voice gives it a wholly different feel. He also helped develop new parts on guitar for some of the songs, being an accomplished guitar player himself.
5. What is a typical day of rehearsals like?
Jandre: It’s really hard for us to rehearse because we live so separated, I live 2 hours away from Edgar and JuanMa’s house, and John lives in Miami, but when we do rehearse we have a blast, we live the gig in that moment, we have such a great time!!!
John: Like Jandre said, I currently live in Miami so I periodically travel to Puerto Rico to rehearse with the guys. We typically drive to Edgar’s house or the rehearsal studio, plug in the instruments and rock it hard!
JuanMa: The fact that we live far apart from each other, we have to practice individually a lot. We all have base/click tracks of the songs to practice over. I usually practice with Edgar using these tracks sounding through a PA. There is a local studio (Monopolio Records) where we rent its rehearsal room when all of us get together. It’s not a big room, and we like it like that. Closed spaces give us the chance to feed off each other’s energies and this also gets translated to live settings.
6. How do you handle stress and pressure as a band?
Jandre: I’ll tell you one thing man, if you have a band you have to be very proud of what you’re doing, be confident on who you are and what you’re doing, this is a job! This is not easy because we all have “real” jobs and were full time on this (having a band) as well. It can be so frustrating at times for me because I’m a bartender at a well known hotel in Puerto Rico and my job is long hours and no weekends off, so I need to be extra organized with my schedule for gigs, studio time, rehearsals and time for being with the guys. Being in a band is like having 3 girlfriends at the same time, it requires dedication and time or they get all bitchy with you. LOL!
John: We have great communication among each other; I think that really helps avoid a lot of situations. Like any other band we stress about getting the best sound quality and performance out of every recording, meeting deadlines, planning our next move, among other things. But we keep a very positive attitude towards adversity and like I said, constant communication helps to keep all of us on the same page and working towards a common goal. When you feel that you are giving everything you got, stress level go down because working hard on what you are really passionate about by its self can be a stress reliever. Even if you don’t make it, you will have the satisfaction that you gave it your all.
Edgar: This is more than a business or a band, this is a family. Yes, we have problems at some point, the stress is everywhere, but we take decisions as a group and no one never ever gets left behind…
JuanMa: Honestly, for me, the band is the thing that generates the least amount of stress compared to other things in life. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t generate any stress. For example, the administrative/business aspect of it is kind of crazy. I really don’t know of a proper way to handle it. I do admit that when banging the drums it goes away… for awhile!
7. Is there an artist or band you would like to work with that you have not yet?
Jandre: I’d love to work with The Mars Volta, or with Rick Ruben.
John: I would like to have the opportunity to work with producer Howard Benson.
Edgar: Well, one of my bass idols is Sting. It would be really cool to work with a music genius like him.
JuanMa: As a band, I’m honestly not sure. Individually though, I would love to work with some local acts: Neuttro, Ophelia, Tavú, Tapiz, and Sol D’ Menta just to name a few…
8. Where would you like to be in your music career five years from now?
Jandre: Definitely be a well known respected band, great live shows, and to own a studio so we can call Leo Alvarez (producer/sound engineer) and tell him “Hey get your ass over here man!”
John: Touring as much as we can, with several albums under our belt and with an ever-growing loyal fan base. I would also like to branch out into other aspects of the music business…
Edgar: Touring wherever our fans lead us.
JuanMa: Doing music of course!
9. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make as a band?
Jandre: Anything that will affect our “real life” jobs which will affect our pockets, were not 18 anymore so we have to be very careful, but we are willing to risk it all!! If that’s what it takes!
John: I agree a 100% with what Jandre just said.
Edgar: To leave your homeland and family behind to do what you love most, just play music…
JuanMa: Anything money related. A decision we can all agree to can be quickly changed when there is some cost attached to it.
10. What do you know about the Music Industry today versus music 45 years ago (circa 1965)? How do you believe it has changed?
John: I’m sure the music industry have changed a lot, some argue that for worse others say that for better. Regardless of who has the truth, we concentrate on working hard with the current reality of the business and taking advantage of all the promotional tools available today like social networking sites, digital music stores, etc.
JuanMa: Digital music has changed everything. It’s just a matter of time when the music business as we know it will have changed dramatically. It has already started. Look at these music streaming sites, they change the way you reach your fans, the way fans reach the music, and the value a song has is also changed. I believe the listener today has a much, much broader music spectrum to choose from. The modern listener has very little or no chance of being ignorant as to listening to music and to me, that is a power that was not available before.
11. How do you want to improve yourself as a band in the next year?
Jandre: It would be great if we bought a house together with a huge basement/studio for rehearsals and recordings and to have a great live show, add some theatrics, fire, and explosions.
John: Personally, I want to improve everyday as a musician/song writer. In regards to the band I just think we have to continue working hard and not be content with mediocrity.
Edgar: Practice and live playing makes perfect but the best improvement of all is to satisfy our fans.
JuanMa: I hope to have more time to create music together. It’s really that simple.
12. What are you passionate about and what do you do in your free time when you are not playing music?
Jandre: I live on the beach, I love surfing, snorkeling, exercising, I love sushi and taking my acoustic on the beach and just jam with the sounds of the earth.
John: It may sound cliché, but I’m really passionate about music and the business aspect of it. In my free time I enjoy dinning out, going to museums, traveling, going to the movies and spending quality time with family and friends.
Edgar: I’m a gamer so yeah, playing online is my thing. Also I work at a tattoo shop where I am an apprentice and manager of one of the shops.
JuanMa: I love comics. Once in a while I do these “binge reading” days where I read (or reread) a whole story arc, which can be lengthy.
13. What techniques and tools do you use when creating and writing music?
Jandre: A completely stress free environment, sometimes I like to write songs while watching a movie, that’s how I wrote “The Unknown”.
John: I use the program Garageband to record my ideas; I have a really simple setup that allows me to lay down my ideas as quickly as possible. Don’t want to lose my inspiration because of having to setup the equipment.
Edgar: Acoustic guitar and bass.
JuanMa: Even though I play drums, I started out as a guitar player, and I still have that first guitar/amp setup. I have a classical guitar that I love and most of the time it’s the starting point for me. When approaching the drums, I tend to focus on the guitar, and I go from there. Edgar probably hates me for that!
14. Do you have an interesting story behind your new single Cold & Grey?
Jandre: Besides the fact that it’s been a pain in the ass? LOL! I have learned so much recording with Leo Alvarez; he’s like my sound Guru.
John: The album will be called “Victims and Villains” which we hope to release sometime before the end of 2010. “Cold & Grey” is the first single. Recording with Leo Alvarez from Sound Junkies Recording Studio is like a boot camp for bands, he expects only the best from every musician and from himself as well. I’ve learned a lot from this experience and I feel that it has helped me become a better musician. This album has been painful to record but the results will be well worth it!
Edgar: The album’s name is “Victims and Villains”. The album is almost like little short stories that could be a reality for some and fiction for others
JuanMa: Many crazy things happened at Sound Junkies Recording Studio. On top of all I can think of is this time Leo’s (he’s our producer, engineer, and studio owner) girlfriend accidentally left the keys in her car. For some reason we took it upon ourselves to open it by using some wire hanger. Eventually Edgar accomplished this task and we felt we had to steal her car for awhile so we did just that. We ran amok the neighborhood streets and we recorded that craziness. We used that as a background story for the video of “Over and Done”, which you can all see!
15. In your opinion, what is the one thing that our world needs most?
Jandre: Peace and love, no guns, no weapons of mass destruction, and more education.
John: Tolerance! The world needs to be tolerant and not be afraid of our cultural differences. Humanity needs to start seeing itself as a whole, embracing and appreciating our differences.
Edgar: People that could think straight and leaders that could make decisions for the best of the entire human race.
JuanMa: The world needs more 21st Century Rock…! Also, it needs empathy, patience, and tolerance.
16. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Jandre: We do this because of you and for all of you. We love you.
John: Thanks, you guys are the fuel that keeps this engine running.
Edgar: I want say thank you SOOOOO much for the support, for your letters and for making us feel that we have a purpose in this life…
JuanMa: People… have you ever been to Puerto Rico this time of the year? It’s lovely!!!
XR Volume would like to thank Message to Venus for their fantastic participation in this interview!
Now, enjoy the acoustic version of Cold and Gray exclusively from Message to Venus, released right here on XR Volume!
Please visit Message to Venus at the following sites!
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