by Deb Rao
– Senior Columnist —
LA rock band Venrez are gearing up for their release of American Illusion on July 30. The band has released a video directed by Natalie Bible called “Unforeseen.” Lead singer Steven Berez better known, as Ven is huge on writing lyrics that make you stop, think. and feel. Venrez has a great rock sound with a lot of guitar solos deeply rooted from the ’70s rock vein. Steven tells Hardrock Haven the band comes full circle on their upcoming release. Venrez will be opening for Slash on the band last three shows of the tour in July. In this in-depth interview Steven gives Hardrock Haven readers the inside scoop on the of making of American Illusion, the music industry today, and the upcoming Slash tour shows.
HRH: The band has a new album coming out on July 30 entitled American Illusion. Tell us about the writing process for the new release.
Steven: American Illusion is coming full circle for the band. The first album with this group of players was Sell The Lie. We recorded that actually in May 2011 although it didn’t release to February 2012. At the time, we were all very new together except for Jason Womack who is my song-writing partner and backing vocalist. He writes the music and produces Venrez music and I write the lyrics. So Alex Kane on second guitar, Michael Bradford on bass and Eddie Davis on drums were very new to the band. So it was a lot of talented great players making a record. American Illusion is the first album as a band. Although Sell The Lie is a great album I think our fans will hear the difference.
HRH: Are you staying true to your ’70s kind of rock roots on this release?
Steven: I think American Illusion is heavier. Track One through Eight is relentless. Then just when you think you know who we are we throw you a big curveball, which is our cover on Track Nine Sonny Bono’s “The Beat Goes On.” It is a very alternative track for us.
HRH: That will be cool. It is great when bands branch out and play something different.
Steven: I think it is going to be a great tune for strip bars. (Laughter) We’ll see. We are all very proud of this record. In fact, we just got the first shipment of units this past Saturday. Jason is in the studio behind me and he just saw the album literally for the first time ten minutes ago.
HRH: Now the band has made the first video and single called “Unforeseen.” Tell us about this.
Steven: That released June 18. So the single is available on itunes. The video released the same day. It is on you tube also. If you go on our www.facebook.com/venrez and our website http://www.venrezthe/ band.com.
HRH: Tell us about the making for the video “Unforeseen.”
Steven: That was really interesting. It was shoot for four days. My wife is the very talented beautiful actress Anna Gurji. She had shot a film called Windsor Drive with director Natalie Bible. Natalie came over to the house when they screening the movie and I was just blown away with her editing and vision as a director. So I immediately asked her to direct the video. She came up with a tremendous concept. The first day we shot all the bands performance shots in the backyard of the Venrez compound in Los Angeles. Then some it was shot in downtown LA. Then the last day was shot in a car garage by the pool area. But it did take four days to film the entire video.
HRH: Venrez has some exciting news. The band will be opening on a few dates with Slash. You will be coming to Las Vegas opening for Slash July 25 at the House of Blues. This is going to be an amazing show. Tell us what the fans can expect.
Steven: They are going to get a mixture of the current album American Illusion and Sell The Lie. We are really excited about sharing the stage with Slash. We were really lucky to get those shows. I didn’t know if you knew? But we were supposed to do 25 shows with Steve Adler. Unfortunately he had to cancel those shows. We all give him our love and prayers in getting better. Tours are booked months in advance. That could have eliminated us from going on the road at all really. Until September or October. But we were able to pick up the last three shows with the Slash tour. Which we are really grateful for. We are going to bring our A game. So if you are in Las Vegas come out and see us and Slash. It is going to be one heck of a rock show.
HRH: That will be awesome. I heard about the buzz of the band. I am looking forward to seeing the band perform. It is going to see what LA has to offer these days for promising bands on the rise.
Steven: We are really excited about doing that. We have primarily toured Europe. Midwest, and East Coast of the country. We did get the tour with Alice Cooper last summer. We had not really done much out West of the Mississippi except our hometown of Hollywood. Vegas is one of my favorite towns. I have been dying since we started the band almost four years ago to play Vegas. Now I am going to get to do it in style.
HRH: It is a dream come true opening for Slash. He is such a musical icon.
Steven: He is an amazing guitar player, individual and member of rock and roll. I deeply admire and respect him. As it was to tour with Alice Cooper it is an honor to tour with Slash.
HRH: Would you say the title of the album American Illusion reflects your political beliefs?
Steven: Well, I like to take a shot at government and control and war and killing people. I am so against war. I really support our armed Men and Women in our Armed Forces and Police forces of our country but I am so against war. We need to live and love in peace. Hopefully that will come about before we are extinct. Like with Sell The Lie, which is the title track, I really took a shot at corporate greed and oil for blood. American Illusion is the truth. I think we are the greatest country in the world. I think we have a tremendous responsibility to the world to operate and act in a responsible manner. And I don’t think we are doing it, and therefore the album is titled American Illusion. Every song is not about that. The song that really takes a shot at it is “Intellectual Drool.”
HRH: Now you have been in the music industry a while. How do you think the industry has changed since back in the heyday of metal? How do you think the marketing strategy has changed?
Steven: Here are the greatest changes that I see. The bad thing is that the industry has changed that people don’t really buy CDs as much. Music is pretty much ripped off and stolen you have to give it away. If you sell a thousands albums you are in the top 2 percent. That is the reality of it. It has made it very difficult for good bands to get anywhere. Unless you blow up on YouTube or get a major recording or have your own money, you probably have no shot. Your chances are limited. Publishing, touring and merchandise is really where we make our money. There is a huge Mount Everest to climb. To reach the level of a Foo Fighter or Nickelback. There is no real popular band that has broke in the last 15 years on radio. I think it is sad for a lot of real talented artists will never be heard as a result of it. The good thing is that there are no rules today. The days where all the girl and guys singers had to lie and say they were 28 are over. I am proof of that. Don’t ever give up your dream. The good thing is there are no rules today no matter how old you are. It is all about making the song. The bottom line is find out whom your music is for and take it to them. So far we have been able to accomplish that.
HRH: Yes, and I think this tour with Slash will open up a lot of doors and be the turning point of your career.
Steven: It could be. We made and awful lot of fans with Alice Cooper. Slash is a legend to rock and roll as a whole. He is without a question one of the top guitar players to breathe air on earth. I think we will make some fans. Hopefully, he will like us and ask us to go out with him again on the road.
HRH: Thank you for the great interview. See you in Vegas.
Venrez on Facebook: www.facebook.com/venrez
Officials website: http://www.venreztheband.com