Venus (The Belgian Pop & Rock Archives, 1999)

Theatrical and acoustic rockband with a powerful live-act.

The band Vénus came about from a pool of actors and musicians in Brussels. Mark Huygens (guitar/vocals) en Christian Schreurs (violin) made music for a theater production and went looking for other people to form a group that "is a little bit theatrical, yet acoustic, that gets the inspiration for the expression that music for theater has to have, but that would do that in the form of a rock-band. The goal was simply to have a band to rehearse and make nice music together", explained Walter Janssens (the actor that was recruited as bass-player, he would leave the band in 1999). Other members were actor Patric Carpentier (who doesn't play an instrument, but does the live-setup) and Thomas van Cottem (ex-Juniper Boots) on drums. The name that was chosen was Venus, the godess of love and the planet (that was visited by the sattelite Cassini/Huygens) "because we wanted to reference the planet and we create a planet of our own with our music, a particular atmosphere, bot scenic and musical. We have certain punk-emotions, live, but also very melancholic, lyrical parts"

The intention of the group was "to create a sound of our own : although most of us have gone to music academy and our violinist even has all the award you are supposed to have in that world, it certainly wasn't our goal to be technically as good as possible. During our gigs, we leave that technical background behind us : in some parts, the bass and the violin play melodies that are supported by the vocals, at other times we torture the instruments and use them in a percussive way. Our drummer plays without a hi-hat, which probably makes him a one-of-a-kind worldwide", as said Walter Janssens again (in De Morgen, August 1998). In 1998 the band got the chance to record a mini-cd Royalsucker for the BMG-label, in a production of Mike Butcher (known from his work with the likes of Arno and Pieter-Jan Desmet), which opened them quite a few doors and allowed the band to perform a number of gigs in France with the organisation Court Circuit.

During that tour, singer Marc Huygens met Georgia Poli, female bass-player for the italian group Cisma, and from their relationship came the idea to do a tour in Italy. This tour went very well and earned the band a record deal with the alternative Italian label Sonica Factory from Florence. In the mean time, Venus also came in the press by doing fifteen performances in the "Halles de Schaerbeek" with the programme "Kiss from the Ghost", in which dance, theater and music were mixed in a play about "the hour of the dogs", the changing of day into night.

In 1999 Venus got the opportunity of recording their debut album in the Florentine studio's of their new label. "Welcome to the Modern Dance Hall" was waited for with quite some expectations, as word about the succesful tour in Italy had reached their home-turf. Moreover, the band had won a prize as the best debut at the French festival "Printemps de Bourges". But, contrary to their live show and despite their original approach to music, the album didn't receive all positive reviews or the attention it deserved.

Preceded by the somewhat untypical single "She's so Disco", the cd first conquered France ("Vénus, c'est the Velvet Underground qui rencontre The Waterboys") and Italy ("L'arte dei Venus si contrappone con straordinaria efficacia allo strapotere del rock anglosassone, eludendone i cliché ed i luoghi comuni. Raramente accade di confrontarsi con musicisti così creativi e talentuosi"), which earned the group something of a cult following in those countries. In Belgium (and especially in Flanders) the recognizition wasn't there yet, but in the summer of 2000 the band certainly will get the chance of proving their worth with a number of good placings in the summer festivals (Werchter, Dour, Lokerse Feesten and Dranouter).

Members :
- Marc Huyghens (vocals / guitar)
- Christian Schreurs (violin)
- Walter Janssens / Pierre Jacqmin (bass)
- Thomas Van Cottom (drums)
- Patric Carpentier (scenography)

Dirk Houbrechts

Read the full article at the Belgian Pop & Rock Archives.
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