Venus Invictus rises and shines bright
About a year ago, veteran local rockers Tattermask called it quits. It was a pretty harsh blow to fans of the local hard rock/metal movement as Amanda Tattermask and Josh Wright fronted one of the best local hard rock groups the Carolinas had ever seen. Over the course of one full length album and one incredible EP (Carpe Noctem), Tattermask solidified themselves as not only as local rock heroes, but also talented musicians. The Tattermask leaders still had the fire within them though, and if you followed either Amanda or Josh on Facebook over the past year, you definitely would have picked up hints that something was happening between the two as far as new music was concerned. Finally, the announcement came, and on October 8 at 11:11pm the band debuted their first ever single, and video, “Let’s Not Lose Our Heads…” Venus Invictus, comprised of Amanda Tattermask (vocals), Josh Wright (guitar), Jim Saj (drums), “Tim” (cello), and Harlynn Spectra (bass) not only managed to capture the essence of what Tattermask was, but conquered new horizons with “Let’s Not Lose Our Heads…”
I was lucky enough to talk with Amanda and Josh about their new band, their plans, and a little bit about the video and the band’s unique name. Venus Invictus might have much in common with Tattermask, but the new band, based upon their early offering, promises to break new ground musically with Amanda and Josh incorporating new sounds into their music. The future looks bright for this talented group of local musicians, and Venus Invictus is definitely on the rise and shining bright.
Shutter 16: How’s it feel to be back?
Josh: To me, it feels like we never left. Sure, we haven’t been out performing live, but we have worked on VI since January of this year, and Tattermask’s last performance was less than a month prior. The music never really had time to stop flowing. Seeing everyone’s reaction to the new song is very affirming and makes me think we may be onto something.
Shutter 16: Tell us a little bit about the writing process for the new song.
Josh: One of the things we wanted to cultivate is an atmosphere where everyone in the band is welcome to write. We opened the door for Harley to submit riffs which is one thing we never worked up to in Tattermask, regretfully. She is actually responsible for the main part of the song. Once we got the part, we jammed around with different ideas until we had a solid foundation to base vocals off of. From there, Amanda worked on the vocals for her and Morgan.
Amanda: The chorus is a piece of something that we reworked from a song-let in Tattermask. The lyrics are totally different from what the part originally was. The rest of the song, like Josh said, developed within the VI band room with contributions from everyone.
Shutter 16: How does Venus Invictus differ from Tattermask as far as sound or artistic vision?
Josh: Sound wise, we aren’t limiting ourselves to what we think the band should sound like. We are letting the feeling and emotion of what we are writing guide the process as much as we are focusing on riffs, scales, modal choices, and melodies. We can pop out with some acoustic stuff, a reworked cover, thrash metal, or simple hard rock. The lack of limits can pretty much guarantee that we won’t have any lack in options and to me, it means the sky is the limit.
Amanda: For me, the sound hasn’t changed much, but the lyrical content is more abstract and unlimited by what could be played on the radio. We did not make a radio edit for “Let’s Not Lose Our Heads…” despite the inclusion of a couple of the most offensive words in the English lexicon. It’s also almost six minutes long — well past the three and a half minutes that commercial radio stations say is “ideal.” We frankly don’t give a shit if censor-happy radio will play it or not. If we believe in the music we make and the fans connect with it, who cares about conventional radio standards? We’re getting a lot of spins from independent stations that appreciate the song in all its lengthy and vulgar glory, and we are very grateful for their support. Thanks a bunch to Vanesa Bell of Rock Rage for giving us our first official radio spin!
Shutter 16: There’s a guest vocal on the track. How did that come about?
Josh: I don’t know if I am letting a cat out of a bag or revealing info that was meant to be kept secret, but it wasn’t written as a guest spot. Morgan’s vocal track has always belonged to her. When the band initially formed, she was included along with Amanda as a vocalist in VI. Painting our sound around dual vocalists. After her schedule became strained trying to divide her time between VI and Blackwater Drowning, she decided that she needed to step away once their shows started flowing in regularly. With the song being centered around the argumentative tension between the two characters, we felt it best to have her guest on it once we got it recorded professionally.
Josh: The video starts with an image we decided to implement since before the band was officially formed; robed figures and very ritualistic. We accomplished the video with my brother Bryan from Be Wrighteous Productions taking the Director of Photography helm and me taking over the Director’s chair and the editing duties, with this, we were able to maintain a mostly DIY approach. We wanted to focus on this heated argument that takes place mid-way through the song. Creating this chaotic, spastic atmosphere with quick flashes of the confrontation. Leaving you to wonder if it is all real or all in your head. Most of the time, the worst thoughts anyone thinks about you come from within yourself.
We did have a few issues getting the fire to spontaneously ignite and wound up having it almost ignite our robes and singe a few of the stationary cameras.
Shutter 16: Venus Invictus roughly translates as “Love Victorious”? How’d the band arrive at that name?
Josh: I will leave this one to Amanda.
Amanda: Well, I guess I’m the one who ultimately came up with the name. A lot of it is intensely personal and I’m not quite ready to share yet… Venus is the Roman goddess of love, sex, beauty, and feminine charm. It is also our neighboring planet, similar in size, but much harsher an environment than our own. “Invictus” translates most literally to “unconquered” from Latin to English. So the idea that “love, beauty, and femininity” remain “unconquered” is something I wanted to convey. That’s one layer of the onion of meaning encompassing our name.
Shutter 16: Are there any other songs completed or about to drop?
Josh: Let’s say that there are enough songs written for a medium length concert, but as for recordings, not quite yet. It is pricey to get the best quality available. We always focus on quality rather than quantity. Each song takes three to four days to get all of the parts down properly and countless hours in the mixing stage. We hope to have another song recorded and released as soon as we get the funds secured.
Shutter 16: What is Venus Invictus’ long term plans? An LP? Tour? Regional Tour? Take it as it comes?
Josh: Take the world by storm and retire with millions! Ha! Seriously, we’d like to see where it takes us. Nothing is off the table. We would like to drop an EP and perhaps have a week or two tour in fall 2017. Mostly though, just make sure we have fun writing and performing music.
Josh: At our next show!