Aug 18, 2023
Ventruss creates a sound that defies categorization
In the heart of Louisiana’s music scene, an orchestration of dedication, creativity, and unwavering passion resounds through the ranks of the alternative metal band known as Ventruss. Behind the electrifying riffs and soul-stirring vocals lies a band that has honed is musical prowess and perfected the art of collaboration and resilience. Formed in 2012, Ventruss has seen numerous line-up changes over the years, but that doesn’t stop them from releasing new music and touring. A recent phone interview with BJ Davidson, Ventruss’ drummer and driving force, provided an insightful glimpse into the band’s journey, challenges, and aspirations.
Ventruss is taking the stage on August 19, 2023 to perform at Rad Fest 2023 at Parc International in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, and is the sixth band in our installment of interviews with all acts on the bill.
Navigating the intricate tapestry of metal music, these veteran musicians have crafted a distinctive sound that defies easy categorization. The band has gracefully melded these elements with alternative metal, creating a sonic landscape that captivates and enthralls listeners. The band’s dedication to musical excellence remains unwavering and BJ Davidson shared insights into their evolution over the past decade. From their early days in Louisiana’s local scene to their emergence as a regional force to be reckoned with, Ventruss continues to forge ahead with no signs of slowing down.
One of Ventruss’ defining attributes is their ability to seamlessly navigate the challenges that often plague many bands: finding and maintaining the right line-up. BJ candidly discussed the uphill battle of locating committed, like-minded musicians and how their continuous pursuit of synergy has shaped the group’s identity. With a keen emphasis on respecting one another’s artistic input and maintaining strong interpersonal bonds, Ventruss exemplifies the delicate balance between artistic collaboration and personal relationships.
Read on to learn more!
MaM: So, let's have a conversation about the group to give fans and maybe some of those who don't know Ventruss some background info.
BJ: The band was formed in 2012. I'm the drummer in the band and on lead vocals, we have Ben Jewell, who's one of the founders of the band. Shawn Saizan is our lead guitar player. Jake "Big Chug" Chenevert-he's our bass player, and we've got Jesse Newman on rhythm guitar and backup vocals.
MaM: I know you said you weren't in the band for the first three years, but in the past seven years, tell me how it has evolved, and has y'all's vision for this group changed in any way?
BJ: Oh yeah, definitely. I'll say you can hear the band's prgression if you listen from our first album to our second album and then to our newest album that we put out a few years ago. We're also about to go record a new song next month. So, you can steadily hear our progression as a band and a lot of that stems from, I think, the different people we've had in and out of the band over the years. Just us growing up, getting better at our instruments and as individuals, and everybody in the band, I think, has different influences. So, I feel like we're a band that you really can't put in just one block or one category or genre of metal because there are all kinds of different types of metal. One thing about us that I've always loved is the fact that some of our earlier work wasn't quite heavy metal. It was more on the alternative rock/metal side of music.
But then as we've progressed over the years, we've gotten a lot more technical and heavier. We've started tuning our guitars lower and trying different things like that. So, it's like we always evolve in different ways-and the sounds and influence also. Every member's input is always welcome. Our approach to songwriting might be a little different, which is also another reason why I think it takes us longer to write material. In 10 years, we put out three albums and we only have about 17 original songs in our entire catalog, but all of our songs are of excellent quality from start to finish. We really focus on the music and the parts; we really try to build the parts up to get as much out of them as we can. So, our approach to writing is a little different than the other bands in that way, I think.
I joined the band seven years ago; the band hadn't had a steady drummer for a while. So as soon as I joined the band we [rehearsed], we started playing shows...left and right. Then we were really, really getting noticed, and any time a big national touring metal band or act came through the big music venues, like the House of Blues in New Orleans or the Varsity Theater in Baton Rouge, Southport Hall in New Orleans, they were calling us. So that really helped us out a lot with our notoriety and getting discovered. We've since stopped playing locally so much and started focusing on traveling and touring after we released our second album.
MaM: Well, it sounds like you guys got it going on. What are some of the biggest obstacles you've had to overcome as a group?
BJ: The biggest obstacle I would say we've had to face, and I'm sure that many bands if not all bands, have had to face this: finding the right people to join your band and stay dedicated. That's one of the hardest things to do.
MaM: I totally agree with that righ there. You know, to me that is the biggest thing. It's finding not only incredible musicians but also ones who are willing to put in the work.
BJ: Exactly. It's a financial thing. It's a mentality. It's a commitment. It's musical equipment. It's all these things that go into this to make this work and you really got to have that special blend of people that, when they perform together, have that good chemistry.
I'll never forget this: One time, Sevendust ... said in an interview ... that picking your bandmates is a very crucial part because you're going to be, if you get to that level, traveling and touring, spending all this time with these guys in very close quarters. So, you know, if you've got an asshole type of personality in your band, it's only going to amplify and get worse when you're traveling and touring around, so you got to keep that in mind. It doesn't matter how good you are or who you are if you're not personable and polite and you don't respect people's time.
MaM: So, we've been through the good, we've been through some of the trials and tribulations of trying to find musicians, keep musicians, and get the right caliber of guys in your group. Now you're looking at your big picture, which is what for this group? What's your endgame? Where do you see this thing in the five years or so?
BJ: I feel like now our plan is to just keep writing good music that we love and just keep continuously on the grind. We've been on the grind for 10 years now. It's a big cycle that comes in waves. You've got the creative waves where you're creating your albums.
In the next five years, we plan to grow, but like I said, every member's voice is always heard in this band. We all run the show and we all have different areas that we specialize in. We all kind of have different roles and responsibilities that help us keep everything moving along.
MaM: Well, let me ask you this: I know with three albums and 17 songs, it's probably tough to pick a favorite, but if you had to, which would you say is Ventruss' best song - your signature song?
BJ: If I had to pick one song from our whole catalog, I would probably say our song "Talladega" is it. That's also our best-performing song on Spotify and Apple Music. It's been out a couple of years and if somebody wants to hear what we are as a band of interest, I always point to that song because it showcases the best of all of us and what we can do. It's aggressive and fast and in your face, but there there are some parts that are not so in your face. And then vocally, you've got good vocal melodies, clean singing and those nasty gut-wrenching screams. So, there's a good contrast there from start to finish.
MaM: So, I watched the video for "Talladega" and that's a cool video. I mean, you've got the fast cars on the track. I like that; I'm a NASCAR fan. Is that the kind of direction you all were trying to go with this video?
BJ: Yes and no. I'll say that the music video shoot was fun. That was the first time our bands got to do a high-budget type of film. We've done music videos prior to that one, but it wasn't quite on the budget and the production if was at that level. [For "Talladega"], we had a whole film crew. We filmed it at the New Orleans Speedway.
Our old bass player, Steven, was a huge NASCAR fan and we were just trying to think of a name to call this song and he said, 'Let's just call it 'Talladega' because Talladega was coming up in NASCAR and he was looking forward to watching the race. It was a fast, aggressive song, so it kind of was fitting in that way. And then we wanted to do this fun racing video to go with it.
MaM: Is there anything upcoming you guys want to share? Big show announcements, song releases? Just some tidbits you can throw to the fans?
BJ: Yeah, we've been writing new material. We hopefully will have one to two new songs, maybe, released by the end of the year, and if not released, then we're definitely trying to have two to three recorded by the end of the year. So, people can be on the lookout for some new music from us in the upcoming months. You might hear us trying some new stuff that might change our sound up, too.
MaM: There you go, man. Well then, the last question I've got for you is what can we expect from you at Rad Fest 2023?
BJ: We've been around, and our live shows have alwasy been something that has made us stand out. So, you know, any time you see us perform, we're gonna be high energy, in-your-face aggressive. Ben is a hell of a frontman. He's one of the best crowd controllers I've ever seen, especially in the local scene. He's just got something about him when he's up there; he can really draw your attention. And then you've got all of us in the band behind him. Every time I play, and I sit behind my drums, I put on a show myself just on my drum set. You know, I want people at any time in the show when they look at me, if they happen to look at me playing, I want them to feel what I'm playing and be entertained. If you see us at Rad Fest 2023, you will be entertained.
As Ventruss stands on the brink of new horizons, the band's future promises continued growth and musical exploration. Guided by a meticulous work ethic and a profound respect for their craft, they are gearing up to release fresh material that embodies their ever-evolving sound. In the face of adversity and industry challenges, Ventruss remains an embodiment of dedication and a testament to the unbreakable sprirt of music.
Be sure to catch them at Rad Fest 2023 or check them out via one of their links below.
Twitter: Profile / X (twitter.com)
Spotify: Ventruss | Spotify
*Cover photo - www.ventrussmusic.com
Christopher Pryor is a multi-talented Renaissance man who currently fronts the Louisiana-based band Chris Pryor & The Main Event. He loves to listen to new music and give his opinions. Got something you'd like him to listen to? Hit us up at email@example.com.