Andy talks with Wylie of VENONA


Hi Wylie, thanks for taking time out to talk to me. Can you tell us a little about Venona?

Sure, Venona is an espionage themed internet metal band comprised of two members, Myself from New York, and The vocalist Allen from Texas. We do songs about famous people, operations, or projects from espionage history. We try not to get super political and we more so try to act as musical historians.

That’s an interesting concept. How did this idea come about?

I have been a political junkie and espionage has been a huge part of our politics for a while now. I started reading about the history of espionage and found that it was super fascinating. and that’s when I decided to combine my two interests, metal and espionage. I wrote the first song and I wrote part of the lyrics for it, posted it up on the Metal Musicians Subreddit, and I said I needed two vocalists one for clean vocals, and one for screaming. Allen gave it a shot and sent me a rough draft and it was killer. I think my initial response was something like “This is your ROUGH DRAFT?!”. He sent me the final version and it was somehow even better, so I asked him if he wanted to do a full-blown project and he agreed. We’ve been making music ever since. He covers both clean and screamed vocals

Is it complicated to create songs via the Internet or something that works well for you?

It actually works really well, I record the instrumental part and then send him a mixed bounced track and he records his vocals. He lets me know if he needs me to mix any other parts down or up and I just share the file over google drive.

It certainly works well, as I heard on your tracks. Your music has a touch of Swedish melodic Death Metal to it. Was this intended?

Yeah, I’m a huge fan of bands like Mercenary, Wintersun, Scar Symmetry, and Such. I am a huge Meshuggah fan so I try to throw in some oddish timed rhythm parts like in the second half of the solo section in Bourbon and the bridge breakdown of Operation Neptune Spear. Other stuff I’m a fan of is stuff like Killswitch Engage, Threat Signal, Epica, and Eluveitie.

This style of music certainly lends a new dimension of heaviness to tie it all together. Your sound is fresh and yet still has old school values.

Thanks, I wanted to create something unique, obviously, everyone has influenced and you can here it in their music, but a lot of bands just have that sound where you hear it and instantly know who it is. I wanted to do that with Venona. I also wanted to write songs that don’t have parts that aren’t inspiring. A lot of bands have riffs that while they fit the song are just there to kill time and they don’t keep me pumped when I listen. I like my music to not only flow but for each part to make you have that “dude that’s sick” moment.

You’re right there, the riffs are quite unique. Do you find that most bands try too hard to cram everything into their music?

Sometimes, a lot of bands focus on putting riffs into songs without asking if those riffs should be in the songs. Sometimes they don’t flow and sometimes they do. Some bands do some really hard switches. That’s fine that’s their style but it’s not my preference. I prefer my songs to have a solid flow. I try to make my riffs and transitions as logical as possible. Most if not all of my music you could bob your head or tap your foot through at the same tempo from start to finish. It probably comes from my mom. She’s an old-time fiddler and when she plays music with her friends they all tap their feet to keep rhythm and my music is the same way, you can feel that rhythmic pulse all the way through.

That’s true enough. Venona does have its own distinctive vibe/groove. Will Venona continue as a two-piece or do you have plans to expand and play shows etc?

If we got enough attention and support to play live shows that would be great. The logistics would be a bit complicated because either Allen would have to come up to NY for practice or I would have to go to Texas. I would have to fill out the lineup but I know some people who I would go to for that first, then just put out a call and audition people. My dream is that that would be possible and we would do full-fledged tours around the country and the world but right now we’re just an internet band, at least for the near future.

There are a few bands that start off being an Internet collaboration and then turn into a band with various line ups in different countries and make it work. The U.K. Subs have been doing it for decades, different line ups in various countries.

Oh absolutely, I think one of the advantages of doing it that way is you can make the music you want to make and then bring on people that are already on board with that vision. That’s what I did With Venona, I had a sound and a subject matter and I was clear about what the project was. That way you don’t form a band and THEN decide on a sound and a vision because that could take forever, you may have to compromise what you are personally aiming for, and a ton of bands break up or never go anywhere. This way everyone is on the same page from day one and it makes the whole process way easier.

Makes a lot of sense to me. Lay the foundations and then expand from there. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. I hope to hear more great tunes from Venona in the near future.

Thanks! We’re actually working on a full album right now. It’s a bit more melodic than what we’ve done in the past, more geared toward the sound of Agent, but all the classic heavy stuff is there. Thanks for you’re time man, it’s been a blast!