I’ve tried to think of an opener that helps give an idea of who Mike Vennart is, but I’ve got nothing that can do justice. The easiest thing to say is that he is a musician whose career has attracted a dedicated fanbase, and his career has seen many strong and moving releases.

In January I was fortunate enough to speak with Mike about some of his work, including his (currently) new album Forgiveness & The Grain, which is available here and here.

Ez: You’re Mike Vennart.

Mike: Yes. I’m still Mike Vennart.

Ez: Okay *laughs*

I wanted to start by asking about In The Dead, Dead Wood. I know it came out at not the most opportune moment. You decided not to tour behind it, or do any media for it.

On your Patreon, you talked a lot about writing the music, but under what circumstances was it that got you moving on making an album, or at least a collection of songs that formed into an album?

Mike: Well, that particular record happened at quite a breakneck pace because I had – like everybody had – an entire year of touring just put in the bin overnight. So it was quite a novelty initially, but I quickly sort of scrambled to get…

I went through my archives and there’s an awful lot of complete junk. [I started] bouncing things out of Logic and I found “Mourning On The Range”, “Elemental” and a few other bits such as what became “Super Sleuth”. I was like “Fuck, these thing’s are nearly over the line, I’ve got some stuff here”.

It was quite a fertile period. There had been a monumental change in my life, and that was – and remains – an incredibly traumatic element to my ongoing existence. And it’s a strange thing to be honest because I think trauma, when you’re midst of it; when you’re in the very eye of it, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to great art, I don’t think, because you’re too fucking pulverised by it.

At that particular time I’d moved somewhere else and was kind of living a new life and trying very desperately to bury the heavy feelings of loss, or any of that horrible fucking grievance, and so there is an air of optimism to some parts of In The Dead, Dead Wood, but really it’s a break up album, and this next album is very much the sequel.

On a sort of more pragmatic and boring note, I didn’t choose to not do any press for In The Dead, Dead Wood. It’s just nobody asked me. Ultimately – present company accepted – nobody wants to speak to me, which is fine. I understand. I don’t have a whole lot to say. I’m not very good for interviews because, except for what I’ve just told you, which is the most I’ve ever divulged about that record. I don’t really want to talk about stuff like that.

I think that going into this next record I feel like I can’t not talk about it, and I hate that we’re in a climate of sad, white indie boy crying about fuck-all, and I didn’t expect to be sitting here at forty-seven years old, having the same feelings as what I had twenty years ago. I’ve just been hand-writing lyrics for fans and there’s a song called “Ornament / The Last Wrongs” from the Oceansize days and that’s a very popular song from my catalogue. I’ve been writing that for a lot of people, and sort of going through it and remembering who I was when I wrote that twenty years ago, and realising that I’m back to being that person entirely. Just uncertain, afraid, and terrified not knowing where any of this is going.

And just you know, financially; I think we all recognise that being skint is not good for the human condition, but at the same time there’s no way out of this because the system is set up to make you fail. Over here it is fucked up right now and it is absolutely pulverising us. You’re just getting a squeeze in every direction. The rent goes up, the food goes up, the energy goes up. The fucking taxes’ still the fucking same, and you’re like “No wonder I feel like I just wanna drink all the time”, you know?

Anyway, that’s a very long answer to that question. I’m sorry.

Ez: It’s fine. It’s absolutely fine. I prefer it when the person I’m talking to talks. It gives me time to actually set things up.

Mike: There you go, but I’ll end that there *laughs*

Ez: In saying that you weren’t expecting to feel the same way that you did twenty years ago, is it that you feel the exact same way, or that you feel it but from the perspective of your current age, that makes it difficult to parse?

Mike: I don’t know.

I think there’s a line in the song “Catalyst” which is the first set of words on record that I’ve done really; first album. And it says “I am fearful of the future” and I still am. It’s an inherent terror prevalent in, I think most people’s lives. I didn’t expect to feel this way at this age, but it is terrifying, um… yeah I’ve said all that, haven’t I? *laughs* I just said all that.

I said I’m not very good at interviews, but these things are good for enabling me to work out what I think. You can ask me any question at any point in the day and I don’t necessarily know what the I think about anything, and indeed there’s songs on the last album [and] this album (Forgiveness & The Grain) about that. There’s a lot of songs over the course of what I can just about call a career, where much of the lyrical content is just about not knowing what to think about anything anymore.

I think it’s important to always wonder about “On the other hand” or “The flip-side” of anything. I think being too comfortable in your own opinion can be a bit boring, but it would be nice sometimes to be certain of something, and I’m very rarely certain of anything.

Ez: With In The Dead, Dead Wood, it has a bit more of a variable sound, in a sense, to To Cure a Blizzard…, in that …Blizzard… was more of a “rock” album.

What with it being a very fertile period for you, how much massaging do you think you had to do, or did […Wood‘s songs] click just like that?

Mike: Whenever I make a record I’m always worried that the songs don’t really know each other very well, and so on To Cure a Blizzard…, it was “Into The Wave” being in bed with “Binary” or “Diamond Ball Gag”, all these things where it’s like “What is this? A psychedelic fucking stoner album, or is it a pop album?” And then I look back on Everyone Into Position – the second Oceansize album and realise how scattered that is, stylistically. I look at things like Opposites by Biffy and how incredibly eclectic that is and I always just cry fucking White Album. Whose to say what works together and what doesn’t?

I listened to To Cure a Blizzard… recently and I think it is a little scattered. Contrary to what you just said I think …Blizzard… is sort of a little more colourful and a little more varied. There’s something where with In The Dead, Dead Wood there’s variation in there, but the songs seem to hang together better. I don’t really know why. When I made it and I had it in the bag, I didn’t know if it worked at all. I was like “Do these songs relate to each other?” and then it turned out to be most people’s favourite record that I’d done, maybe even ever. So I have to respect my own inability to recognise what the fuck is good and what isn’t.

And similarly the new album, Forgiveness & The Grain, is only just starting to click. It’s a strange trip, this whole thing. If you’re 100% sure of your greatness 100% of the time, you’re probably making shit records and, I don’t know man. I don’t know. It’s a confusing time.

I have to remind myself that this is why I do it. It’s like before you walk on stage in front of a fucking hundred thousand people which I’ve been known to do; you’re supposed to be fucking petrified! You’re supposed to have every fibre of your being screaming at you “What the fuck are you doing?! You can’t do this! You can’t do it!” That’s what’s supposed to happen and that’s why it’s so much fucking fun. And I actually need to remind myself of that sometimes.

Ez: Funny you say that because, at least in text form you do certainly have – at least what I perceive – is a sense of confidence in your work, and there’s been times where releases after …Dead, Dead… where I’ve thought “There’s no point in me writing about this because he already knows this is good. What’s the point in me saying anything? ‘Cause he could easily respond to this saying “Yeah I know””. *laughs*

Mike: *laughs* Do I crave attention? Do I need all the people to tell me that they like it? I do, but I make it for me.

Once you’ve mastered an album you listen to it. I’m already quite saturated with Forgiveness & The Grain because it’s incrementally been a lot slower in the making. I’ve just had a lot more fulfillments, not only as an artist but as a parent. I’ve just not had a lot of time which is fine, but yeah. Like In The Dead, Dead Wood, Forgiveness & The Grain has had to come out sooner rather than later because I’m about to go bust *laughs*

Ez: Obviously that puts a lot more pressure on trying to get things moving.

Mike: Yeah.

Ez: With In The Dead, Dead Wood, when I say variable I mean more in terms of sound, palette-wise, than …Blizzard…, although it does have more singularity in some songs, but it also has a fairly angry and direct tone, in a sense. Does that come from what you were going through at the time?

Mike: I don’t know. It’s hard for me to determine what’s angry, what’s sadness, what’s jubilant. There’s a certain spring in the step of …Blizzard…. That’s kind of a domestic bliss record in a lot of ways, but still knowing there’s this sort of foreboding energy to it. It’s just sort of being able to cope with stuff. I was a parent of only a couple of years by that point, so with anything, when you become a parent it’s at once the most joyous and magical thing but it’s also absolutely petrifying. You suddenly have a real…

When I got to like thirty-five I went “Okay I’m halfway there now and the next half is gonna go a lot faster, so… cool” and that’s basically because I spend a lot of time worrying about “Are you gonna have enough money? What are you – How are you – What about if you’ve not got enough fucking money and you get thrown out on the street?” Everyone’s just two months away from being absolutely out on their arse.

Then when I had a kid I was suddenly terrified of my mortality, just wanting to be there for him. I don’t know. That’s just weird; Trying to be strong for someone else. It makes you wonder how people did it during the war. My grandparents just got on with it and here I am worrying about shit all the time.

Ez: Let’s start drifting away. Let’s talk about the Mike Vennart solo E.P.

Mike: Oh Christ, okay.

Ez: This is going somewhere, I promise.

Mike: Okay *laughs*

Ez: I don’t think I’ve heard anyone sound so nervous before.

It’s possibly a bit more sketcherly, in a sense.

Mike: Yeah. Backseat Hards.

Ez: It leans a lot more toward ambience.

Mike: Yeah, it’s more abstract and more avant-garde for want of a better phrase. I just love music like that; especially the stuff Gambler’s made, under his Richard A Ingram records.

Everybody dreams about making a record on the tour bus because the odds of it being any good are quite tough, but that record happened on a US tour. I was on with Biffy Clyro and it was quite a tumultuous endeavour. The tour was sort of stopping and starting. Everybody was terrified of getting Covid, and then halfway through we had to cancel a show so the band flew from… I can’t remember where. I want to say [from] Philadelphia to Las Vegas where they were basically gonna skip a gig, but I stayed on the bus with the crew, and so that was it.

I had free reign of the back lounge to just make stuff, and as a matter of fact I’d just got a new guitar. It was a Fender Acoustasonic. Neil, the tour manager got me it because basically it felt like an electric. It was like a Telecaster, acoustic-type thing.

I’ve always wanted to make a record that was voice and guitar ’cause that’s all I can really play anyway, so I just took that guitar everywhere I went for a couple of day, and made field recordings, so there’s some stuff where it’s recorded in my bunk while we’re going through Route 66, and it’s an incredibly bumpy ride. The whole bus is rattling, we’re getting thrown around in our bunks. I recorded some of that.

And little trips to places in the middle of absolutely nowhere. I just took the guitar and recorded stuff on my phone and sort of decorated it on the computer.

I thought of it as just kind of a big musical postcard, but it was quite a fraught time. A lot of mental health issues because it was our first tour since the pandemic, and I think we bit off more than we could chew, and sure enough Covid got us in the end.

It’s a record that I had to make. It was just a bit fun, that’s all. I’ll probably do more stuff like that at some point.

Ez: Do you feel that in a sense it progresses from something like “Into The Wave” or …Dead Wood‘s title track? Because there is one piece on there that’s especially lengthy and it goes into that kind of peaceful ambience.

Mike: I look at it as a completely separate thing which is why it’s not under the Vennart band thing, though Vennart’s not a band anymore.

Ez: I mean in terms of the sounds that it’s exploring.

Mike: I think you’re talking about the title track from In The Dead, Dead Wood, which is an instrumental piece.

Ez: Yeah. It certainly is more active, but it does have more elements of ambience.

Mike: Ultimately that was made in the box. There’s no microphones on that song, whereas what I was trying to get behind on Backseat Hards was the sound of the wind hitting the microphone on my phone, so you hear a lot of this rumbling and PFFFFFFFFFFFF, and things just getting in the way. Sort of distorting and distracting you from what you’re trying to listen to which is maybe a voice or a guitar, but you can hear somebody swimming in the background. You can hear the bus. You can hear people snoring.

It was meant to be a far more atmospheric, in a very real, true-to-life sense, whereas that track on …Dead, Dead Wood is a real synthetic approach. The new place that I moved to was very much in the countryside so I was surrounded by all these incredible meadows, and so just the sort of daunting and humbling surroundings that I was in kind of inspired the whole album. But that tune being called “In The Dead, Dead Wood” is supposed to have the rustling of the leaves, the grandiosity of the trees, and just the stark feeling of being alone in that kind of setting. It’s quite a cold kind of track and it sort of creeps up on you, and just makes you a little more anxious. That’s what that one was all about really.

Ez: How much is Backseat Hards a counter to the emotional experience [around the tour it was recorded on], if any?

Mike: How do you mean, counter?

Ez: It does sound like a very peaceful and pleasant E.P.

Mike: Not to me *laughs*. I hear what you’re saying. There’s one song called “The Blue Hole” which is kind of a dusty, almost spaghetti western kind of thing. That was a little natural spa out in the open and the boys were all swimming. I’m not a great swimmer so I just sat about playing my guitar so that was me just doing that, so yeah; That was just a moment of tranquility.

One of the songs – if you can call it a song – “Grand Canyon”; sure enough we went to The Grand Canyon, so that’s just thirteen minutes of a monolithic drone. That’s what it felt like. Within that drone there are many changing intervals, different shades of harmony poking through, and that was kind of to signify just gazing into this chasm, and seeing all this unfathomable detail that seemed to go on forever and ever and ever, and that’s just what it felt like to me. Just “I can’t fixate on anything because it’s just all-encompassing”. You could take a million pictures of the grand canyon – and I did – but you can’t explain it, and no picture will show you what it’s like.

Some of it was quite oppressive. I think the one called “Sleep on Route 66” where it’s just a recording of me in bed, and then I overdubbed some guitar on it. It’s sort of eerie. It was meant to be…

It was just quite a sort of fragile experience. Everybody was so happy to be out on tour. More than a few of us, crew included had a few issues. We just had to be there for each other and recognise that we’re all back out for the first time in forever. We’ve all be locked in the fucking house for two years. It was strange. It was very strange.

Ez: I’ll need to go back and listen to it, but it is interesting in that at least one of your audience has perceived it as being quite a pleasant, peaceful thing.

Mike: It was meant to be quite oppressive and sinister *laughs* for the most part.

Ez: Maybe you’re starting to get a bit like Thom Yorke then, ’cause he said that he’s tried to sound sinister and menacing but he can’t because of his voice.

Mike: *laughs* Yeah. Ah shit man. Try harder *laughs*

Ez: And that’s your problem. You need to get more experimental with your stuff and more arty.

Mike: Oh god, imagine. I look forward to being cool. Twenty years in this fucking game. Still not cool man *laughs*

Ez: It would be great to be cool right? But then you probably wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things you’ve done.

Mike: I’ve embraced it a long time ago. I still get bummed out that I don’t get invited to the cool parties. When I was in Oceansize we never got invited to play All Tomorrow’s Parties, and now Empire State Bastard didn’t get invited to play Roadburn festival. All the cool stuff; it’s just not gonna happen.

But I always say I’ll have my own party, and I will. There’s some more stuff coming I expect towards the end of this year that is far beyond anything I could’ve possibly dreamed. I can’t tell you what it is, unfortunately, but I keep forgetting about it, and whenever it comes back to me I’m like “Fuck, can you believe that?” So we’ll see.

Like I was saying, I have my own little miracles, and they definitely keep me going. So whilst I am perpetually on the edge of a panic attack, I do absolutely recognise that I’ve an awful lot of good shit going on, and you know… the people that care about what I do, they really give a fuck about it. I can’t believe that.

I just feel tremendously lucky that anybody would give a fuck, and that, you know, hopefully this album will resonate to the same degree that the last one does. If that happens then I’ll be happy. I’ll be more than happy.

Ez: In relation to actually recording stuff, when you finish a record or a release, obviously aside from – not necessarily the need but maybe a want to tour it, how done are you with the record once it’s in the can and it’s released?

Mike: I tend to spend a lot of time with it upon release because I have to talk about it. When I say that I’m parroting something I used to say when I was in Oceansize. I used to have to do a lot of interviews. It’s not really the case very much, but I did with Empire State Bastard. [We] did a lot of press for that record, and that record in particular had been in the bag for two years at least by the time it came out so I had to go back to it and re-equip myself with it, but there is something about…

So literally today I sent my friend a track from [Forgiveness & The Grain] and then when I pressed send on it I put it on so that I listened to it and imagined myself listening to it for the first time. It’s a fucking stupid game that you play with yourself but it kinda works and it’s kinda fun.

By the time you’re making the next album, you’re probably a little bit embarrassed by the last thing you did, and rightfully so. I’m not embarrassed by In The Dead, Dead Wood. That’s the first album I’ve ever made where I’ve done the follow up and I’m not embarrassed by the previous. I don’t know why that is; it’s just a thing, and I think that a lot of people feel like that, about their own work.

Ez: It’s probably because even if you’re done with it all, or not done with it, you still have to live with it to some point, right? You have to live with a certain amount of “How much of my privacy have I just put out there? Was that the right thing to do?”

Mike: Exactly, yeah.

I think that, you know, ten years ago I might have been a little bit embarrassed by certain things that I said in “Catalyst”. Here I am, twenty years later thinking “I still am that worried about everything”.

I don’t know. You feel a certain sort of infantile… you feel that perhaps what you’ve done in the past is a little infantile – or juvenile rather – and so it’s quite fucking sad when it comes back around again and you realise you’re the same dude.

On the one hand I feel like it’s taken me until… I don’t know when I started feeling comfortable with it. Writing lyrics is always a chore and I put it off as much as I can. Having to handwrite a lot of the old stuff out, I don’t remember writing it and I don’t remember writing the words for In The Dead, Dead Wood. A lot of these things really do just write themselves, and a lot of these things, I’ll know if something sucks.

There’s definitely the odd line from the past where I’m like “Oh you should’ve spent more fucking time doing that. You should’ve put a bit more effort in. It’s the last 5% that makes something go from being good to being great.” But now I know that I’m capable of doing things that I’m not gonna regret, and I know how to make things sing well, and I do surprise myself when I read things back and go “I can’t believe that I wrote that” ’cause I don’t consider myself to be a clever person, but I know that from a literary standpoint some of that shit reads really fucking well *laughs* I don’t know whose done it!

Ez: Well, let’s talk about the new record now.

Mike: Okay.

Ez: We’ve finally gotten there.

So leading up to this – at least on the Patreon – you expressed a fair bit of struggle about putting this one together. You also implied that you’d want to do an album of more ambient or drone work.

Mike: There’s a song on the new record called “Fractal” which I put on the Patreon page, and that’s just guitar and voice. There’s actually bass guitar in there as well, and baritone, just sort of doing free-form drones, chords, and the vocal going over the top of that that’s quite melodic in a way, and I just really fancy doing a whole album like that, and also as a challenge to myself, making that into a show. There’s certain venues in Manchester where I can imagine myself doing a show where it’s me, two fucking Matamp stacks – a bass amp, and an amp that’s taking loops – and just building up songs using impossibly loud guitars, and singing over them, but it’s just me on my own.

Nobody needs another cunt with a guitar and a loop pedal, but I just fancied making a sort of… because I love metal and I love fucken’ sad boy indie. I’ve just been listening to Bill Ryder-Jones; it’s about as fucken’ twee and sad and indie as it can get. I love that shit.

I think in the past I’ve always struggled to marry those two passions, spectacularly on To Cure a Blizzard…. That’s the problem: You can’t serve both masters. You’re either metal, or you’re not. So I’m like “Well maybe I can just do it in a much more abstract manner, that’s just a wall of fucking noise. No drums and it’s just me wailing like a banshee over my guitar through a load of fucking cranked amps in a very small environment”. I’d certainly like to see something like that. It’s the kind of music that I like, so I’m looking forward to trying that out.

Ez: So how much does Forgiveness & The Grain lean toward that?

Mike: It’s just the one song. Everything else has got drums in it. I don’t know how to explain it. There’s a couple of stompin’ rockers early on in the record, and then for the most part it’s quite dreamy. It can be quite harsh. It’s got that sort of – I don’t want to say shoegazey, but it’s certainly very noisy in a very lush kind of way. It’s not a post-rock album; it’s not a shoegaze album. It’s very stoned; it’s very slow. It’s probably the most emotional record I’ve done and that’s fucking saying something.

One of the singles will be “3 Syllables” and the outro riff to that and the groove throughout is something I’ve never quite done before. That kind of thing of hemiola which is a lovely trick that I’ve employed since “Catalyst”; of just having two completely different grooves going at the same time. I just love that shit. It’s almost like a signature trick, but [the song’s] working new ways of doing it and I love it.

Ez: Regarding the difficulty of getting the songs to fit and work together and even writing them, I know you said that Rivers of Heresy had been in the can for a few years by the time you were able to tour it, but do you feel like going from such an extreme to something perhaps less so – at least in terms of sound and feel – played a part?

Mike: Yeah, definitely. I’m actually currently chipping away at the second ESB record, just diving back into the sort of really fucking aggro hardcore, grindcore, thrash metal thing. But at the moment I’m so involved with the sound of [Forgiveness & The Grain] even though it’s all but done – it’s gonna be mastered in a couple of weeks. I feel like it’s the most I’ve ever felt a record be a true representation of my spirit and my soul. It’s the very very best I can do without spelling it out on a piece of paper “This is literally the sound of what’s going on with me at the moment”.

The difficulty with making this record basically came from the fact that it was my tenth album and I’m like “Well what the fuck are you gonna do now? Who the fuck needs a tenth album from anybody?” So it took me a while to just…

I wrote a bunch of stuff and I put all of it on Patreon. It was about three hours of bits and pieces that I was working on, going “Here’s a sketch that I did today. I don’t know what it means or what I’m gonna do with it”. but I love having that outlet. But I never got any further with so much of it. The only things that got finished are the things that… Well no; there’s a few other things that got finished that just didn’t make the record.

It was difficult to make purely because I was so proud of In The Dead, Dead Wood and I knew it was ultimately… I’m gonna say the perfect record for me. You make records that you wanna hear and that’s the perfect record, and so from there you go “Well what now?” Little by little I found a few things, just throwing shit at the wall every single day.

There’s a song called “R U The Future??”. I was walking down Oldham Street in Manchester with my kid and the chorus just came to my head just like that. So my kid now, he’s quite accustomed to me just saying “Hold on one moment” and then I just start singing into my phone or beat-boxing or some shit like that. And then it was a matter of writing the song around the chorus.

Then there’s the first song, called “Whereupon I Immediately Did Nothing” where I just plugged the guitar in [and] I had some software that Line 6 gave me, so I just started playing guitar through a clean sound and played the weirdest chords I’ve ever played. As soon as I recorded that, it was like “That’s gonna be the first song on the album”. I tend to shape things like that.

I don’t think I’ve ever started an album really quietly, really. This album; it kind of invites you and then it just unfolds into this quite lush, ugly, foreboding thing. But yeah; I was really proud…

I’ve always been like that. It used to cause a lot of shit in Oceansize. I remember doing the second album and I was like “Right; let’s write the first song on the album. I’ve got an idea. Here’s the bits that I’ve got. This is how I want the first song to sound” And, you know, people in the band were like “You can’t say that this is gonna be the first.” “Well, why not? Let’s have fun. Let’s design an opening song” and I did it for the next album as well and the one after.

It was like “This is the opening track. This is fucking great, [and let’s] take things from there and have a fucking intent”, because a lot of things you can’t have intent. You do have to just go “I don’t know what this is. Let’s just keep throwing shit at it and see what happens” whereas sometimes you go “I know exactly what to do here” and you’ve got to embrace that because it’s not very often you get any kind of clues.

You’re just like a rat just sniffing out the cheese. It’s like solving a murder. You’re like “Just give me a clue [for] what to do” and then sometimes the path is very very clear and it’s magic when that happens.

Ez: So I imagine when this album started revealing itself to you there was a fair bit of relief, especially after doing what you felt was your perfect album.

Mike: Yeah definitely. It wasn’t until recently I started feeling it was a good match for In The Dead, Dead Wood. I just decided it was never gonna be as good as that ’cause nothing is as good as that *laughs* Fucking Dark Side of The Moon ain’t as good as that!

Ez: *laughs*

Mike: I realised “Well no; it’s not the same as In The Dead, Dead Wood. It’s a different trip altogether, but it’s got the same heart; it’s got the same longing; it’s got the same issues. I’m very happy with it now but I was starting to get really angry with it ’cause I could only incrementally chip away with it and now that I’ve got it over the line I can see it for what it really is, and it’s a gem. It’s a beauty.

Ez: When you say there were concerns, do you think that they’re more concerns about your ability as a musician and a songwriter rather than concerns about getting another good album out?

Mike: No artist wants to feel like they’re done and said everything there is to say. The other day, on YouTube… you know how the algorithm sends you things it thinks you might wanna watch?

Ez: Yes.

Mike: It sent me Rollins Band from the mid-nineties.

I quite liked Henry Rollins in 1994. I saw him live. Thought it was fucking great. Shortly after that he just cut it. He said “It’s over. I don’t do this anymore” and he just stopped performing and it was like “Weird”. And then I watched it the other day; him performing in the mid-nineties.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.

I guess what I mean is there just comes a point where you’re like “Am I done? Have I completed Mike Vennart music? Is that it?” And I think that it’s just always about putting one foot in front of the other and seeing what else you can do. Every artist likes to think that they can turn their hand at doing an acoustic album with The London Philharmonic, to quote David St. Hubbins. But really you can only do what you do, and I think that…

I’ve always had an absolute love for The Flaming Lips, or Bowie; all that kind of thing of like “Let’s just try and change it”. Whenever I try and change it stills comes out sounding like the same thing, so it was only when I did that British Theatre record that…

I’d write a song and give it to Gambler he’d absolutely rip it to fucking shreds and turn it into something completely different. Empire State Bastard obviously was a desire to just conceptually do THIS: “We’re gonna make an album that sounds like Siege and Napalm Death. Any deviation from anything like that is vetoed. It’s heavy.” So in that respect you can compartmentalise and have a direction. With what I do, it all kind of ends up sounding like me, even when it’s something… I don’t know. What am I talking about? I don’t know about it. You tell me. *laughs*

Ez: *laughs* The way that I see your “solo” material is kind of analogous to Oceansize in that the Oceansize albums all sound different, but they all sound like Oceansize, right? In a similar sense, from what I’ve heard thus far, the Vennart records all sound different, but they sound like Vennart? Obviously the way that you hear it being the creator is gonna be different to the way that I hear it, the listener. And you’re gonna hear things much more similar between albums than I would. But there’s a certain feel to it that is the feel that you… it’s that very difficult to quantify thing. It’s the vibe. They all feel very much like Vennart.

Mike: I’m glad you can say that man because sometimes you don’t know if… “Is that me? Is that what I sound like?” When I left Oceansize it was like “Wow, you know. I will make a fucking mad album” and I started doing that with that “Dick Privilege” thing. That didn’t go down very well. I probably will do more of that shit just for my own amusement at some point.

All of it’s for my own amusement, but at the same time I do worry about “Have I said it all?” But you know. What else am I going to do? Go back to working in a call centre? No fucking chance.