Charlie Dawe: interview by Roisin Kelleher
Louder Than War’s Roisin Kelleher interviews Charlie Dawe of one-man electronic industrial noise outfit Ventenner.
Louder Than War: Hi Charlie! It’s been a while since we last spoke. How has life been going? Any major changes?
Charlie Dawe: Hey Roisin. Always a pleasure to talk with you. Things are good here, thanks, been moving through some changes over the last 6 months or so, on all fronts. Feels like a slow change or evolution was on the go, kind of had to crawl through to reach this point. Things are good now though. Focused.
Louder Than War: I hear you have a new album coming out soon. How is it shaping up?
Charlie Dawe: Indeed, the new record is in the works. In fact I’m listening through to some of the demo tracks as we speak. I did something rather bold with this record: I asked other people to write with me. Which is totally out of my comfort zone. Before, I just concentrated on getting the noise I was after to come out of the speakers and write exactly what I wanted to. But to be honest, despite making the records I wanted to, it really took a lot out of me. Not just energy wise, but creatively. Being locked into one piece of work for over a year completely by yourself is intense. It’s rewarding sure, but it kinda kills the fun of it. In a nutshell, ‘This Is The Reason’ felt like something I had to do. This next album is something I want to do. We’ll be recording on a weird little private island around mid June. And there’s three of us now.
Louder Than War: How would you say it will differ from the last album? Or will it be more of the same great stuff for those who loved the last one?
Charlie Dawe: I had actually seen a kind of narrative appear out of the last two albums. Purely by the natural order of things and the elements in my life I’ve been reflecting on recently, I think I was attempting to write a kind of third part to that, a conclusion almost. I sat down and started writing, but nothing I was coming up with musically was fitting the theme I had in my head. I then realised that trying to write an album to fit a template or concept is fucking nuts. I need to write what I’m coming up with now. And everything that’s coming out now is way too heavy and aggressive. So I’m letting whatever happens happen. Maybe that other album idea will surface in the future, but for now this is shaping up to be an altogether different kind of beast. A very, very angry one.
Musically it’s a lot more guitar driven, and more melodic, but much heavier as a whole and less electronic. Vocally I’ll be covering a wider range and there’s live drums on this one. Plus there are three of us now, and it’s making a big difference. It’s swaying between tight and clinical to absolute sonic chaos. There’s interesting themes on it. It definitely sounds different, but it’s definitely still Ventenner. Everything that people like about us is right there.
Louder Than War: Who are you listening to at the moment?
Charlie Dawe: Last time we spoke I was on a real blues kick, and listening to a lot of garage rock, grunge and Seattle and LA bands. I seem to have swung to the two polar opposites since then. One day I’ll have dark droney stuff like Nadja on repeat and then switch to full on hardcore like Dillinger Escape Plan and Every Time I Die. I saw Deftones the other day which was a tremendous show, and some of their new material is just mind bending how good it is. 90’s Bowie too, particularly the album ‘Outside’. I think my tastes have been going to extremes, in all things. This seems to be a recurring theme. It’s been a while since a new band has come along and blown me away, but I have discovered a few local bands that are astounding. I saw Shirley Said the other day, they’re truly wonderful.
Louder Than War: What is influencing you?
Charlie Dawe: I have to say I try my best to avoid getting influenced by other music. It’s an awful habit, especially when you’re writing, but so hard to avoid. Almost impossible. But at the same time, it’s why most of us start! We all grew up listening to Bowie or Marilyn Manson or Metallica and thought “hey, I wanna do that!”. I try to drag influence from other things if I can. I’ll often sit down with a film on mute and my guitar and play a soundtrack to whatever I’m seeing. I suppose Ventenner tends to inhabit quite an atmospheric realm, and a lot of what happens on an album is trying to make an emotion or situation have a sound.
Louder Than War: Do you reckon the music industry is on the way up or down?
Charlie Dawe: I think it’s on the way up. I think it’s taken a beating over the last 10 years in one way or another. Whether you want to blame the internet, over saturation of bands and the exploitation of scenes to make it “cool”, there’s a number of reasons. But festival numbers are down, small gig numbers are up, people are buying vinyl again. The time of it being trendy to go to gigs has passed, the music tourists are dwindling, and the underground is buzzing a little again. And with some of the bands coming out of London and the UK at the moment I’m not suprised, there are some awesome acts out there. It’s getting better, trust me.
Louder Than War: Where is your favourite place in the world right now?
Charlie Dawe: My favourite place will always be LA. I can’t describe why, it’s just special to me. I’ve always been fascinated by the magic of Hollywood. The kind of person that it attracted to it, and the stories behind it. The fame, the fortune, the tragedy. Especially the golden age of Hollywood. The whole place is like something out of a story. I can walk around for hours just soaking it up, doing nothing in particular. You sit in the Whiskey A Go Go and just think “Fuck. Motley Crue played here. The Doors played here.” Although I feel more at home in New York than anywhere. Again I have no idea why. First time I went there I just thought I was home. I also spent some time in Berlin with The Unkindness Of Ravens last summer which was an eye opener.
Louder Than War: What main things would you like to achieve in the coming year, musical or otherwise?
Charlie Dawe: Obviously get this record finished and out, that goes without saying. We’re also gonna be playing some shows with the new line up, UK and Europe if all goes to plan. I’m also going to be working on two EPs on my own that will be out about the same time as the album. A kind of extension if you will of the album. One soft, one hard, where I’m going to be pushing the music as far as I want to in either direction. The two extremes I couldn’t go to on the album, or would want to go to on an album. I’d like to do some more remix work if it comes about and the timing is right, and there was talk with the guys at Sonic Fire Records of remastering the original ‘Dead Reflections’ from 2009 and giving that some new life.
Louder Than War: Is there anything in particular you would like to share with us? A secret or a random piece of information perhaps?
Charlie Dawe: Espresso martinis are chaos in a glass and I’m in love with a ballerina.
Louder Than War: Cheers Charlie!
You can find more here on Facebook.
Words by Roisin Kelleher. You can find more by Roisin on Louder Than War.