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Interview

Venomous Concept Vocalist Kevin Sharp Discusses New Album, Joining Lock Up And Seth Putnam

Grindcore is a sub genre which has produced so many excellent bands over the years. From legends like Napalm Death in the UK and Brutal Truth from the USA, to up and comers, there's a lot to find. One of the most interesting things about the area though is how many musicians from different acclaimed bands got together to create even more bands and projects. So it was in 2004 when the aforementioned legends joined forces to create a hardcore punk style akin to the Japanese and Swedish bands they'd grown up listening to, as Brutal Truth's Kevin Sharp and Danny Lilker, along with Napalm Death's Shane Embury and Danny Herrera, along with Buzz Osborn of Melvins, forged Venomous Concept.

Releasing their debut album, "Retroactive Abortion" that same year, with a sophomore, "Poisoned Apple" following in 2008, the band took a break for a while before returning with "Kick Me Silly VCIII" in 2016 and are now working on completing their fourth full length. At their stop in London with Brujeria and Aggression, I caught up with Mr. Sharp to discuss all things Venomous, as well as his recruitment to Lock Up, the legacy of Brutal Truth, bandmate Danny Lilker, fallen friend Seth Putnam and much more. You can watch the whole interview below.

Diamond Oz: Well straight into it, I believe Venomous Concept are currently working on a new album...

Kevin Sharp: Yes. We're gonna call it "Fuck The Facts" and it's about sleeping on floors and paying dues... I'm just kidding man! I was just saying that to make Shane (Embury) laugh. Right now it's politics versus the erection. It's recorded. We've got some sounds lined up so when Shane gets back he's going to start slotting things where they go. It's a continuation of the same sort of thing but it's expanding. It's all generic answers. It's a little different but it's still like the same hardcore punk and two fingers fuck off, that kind of shit.

Oz: Well obviously you're still promoting "Kick Me Silly VCIII" at the moment. It's a very good album and "Anthem" for example is kind of like the go to Venomous Concept album for me.

Kevin: It's kind of a hilarious concept though. Writing an anthem to sell a war. That's sort of my sense of humour, I laugh at everything because it's better to laugh than cry.

Oz: Yeah and there's so much to be pissed off about...

Kevin: I don't want to live that way. I'm fifty years old and with the internet now, everyone's already there. It's a twenty four hate fest and life is fucking complicated, politics or whatever you want to make of it. Everyone has an opinion and the whole thing is nowadays everyone's lost respect for the other person's opinion. Everyone has their ideas on politics or social issues due to their lives and their experiences in life and because of that, when people fuck off their opinions they get weakened because it's like a loss of respect or whatever, so I don't wanna live in that world. Everyone's entitled to their own lives and their own opinions and that's sort of where this sense of humour is, I laugh at everything, even if it's worth crying about.

Oz: Absolutely. Obviously you did the video for "Anthem" too which is a lot of fun and makes use of the Ook character, which is a cool little character.

Kevin: I've got some fantastic ideas coming involving Ook, but I'm not really willing to talk about it yet because it's such a fucking great idea that I don't wany anyone to take it. It's gonna be my life's work, my opus. On my tombstone it'll say, "I fucking ruled because of that" but Ook's involved. He's always in there.

Oz: Sweet. One of things I really like from Venomous Concept is the "Suffragette City" cover, which I haven't found on any of the records or anything.

Kevin: We never released it. David Bowie was one of the most important artists, one of only a few that touched so many levels of greatness like Freddie Mercury. Whether it was soul or new wave or glam, Bowie did everything perfect, so I adored him and I wanted to do the song. I know a lot of punk bands have done it but I wanted to do it, it's a fun rocker and then he fucking dies. I didn't wanna seem like I was taking the piss because it was right around the same time so we didn't release it.

Oz: Yeah, probably best not to otherwise people would accuse you of cashing in...

Kevin: Or whatever. It's like we did the "Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom" cover and on the back of that record is a crosshair over the World Trade Centre and then a few years later it got knocked down so... Yeeeeaaah....

Oz: You came to prominence with Brutal Truth, which I think a lot of people would hold up as the greatest American grindcore band that there ever was...

Kevin: Well, that would only be their opinion!

Oz: It's certainly my opinion. But obviously, Brutal Truth had their first run, went on hiatus for a while, came back and did a couple more albums and then Danny (Lilker, bassist) retired, though I've always read that he still records and does shows...

Kevin: I don't know if he's recording. I mean, it's like, I don't really know what's going on. I talk to him here and there. He was obviously in VC for a period but I do know that he's just over touring. He plays with Nick (Barker.) Nick plays with him in Nuclear Assault. But like the whole thing of crawling in a coffin (bunks,) he's fifty something years old now and it doesn't work for him so I'm thinking that's kind of just the way it is and with VC I think Shane just really wanted to play bass again. He likes playing guitar, Shane does, he used to play guitar with Brujeria as well...

Oz: Oh, is he playing bass for them now? Last time I saw Brujeria, Jeff Walker was on bass.

Kevin: Yeah, Jeff's no longer doing that, although he filled in over in Paris. See, here's the thing we're all friends and we're all in each other's bands, whether it be Lock Up or Brujeria or this, that or the other. You know, you have a job, you wanna work with your friends man, so that's why everyone's in everyone's band if you want to know the God's honest truth.

Oz: Well, like you said you're in Lock Up now as well. You did the "Demonization" album, so what's different in the approach to writing Lock Up material?

Kevin: Well that record was tough because I was going through one of those life crushing times around then. Everyone's lives are relative. You know, people die, overdosing, this, that, life happens, that sorta shit. I'd say about six years of continual hard... And I didn't get that message. When I was a young man I didn't really get the plot of aging. You don't really get it, you don't understand what fifty is, it's just this idea that may happen and I never even thought about fifty, I didn't think I was going to make it, due to lifestyle and whatever you do just to exist. I thought life would completely crush me before then but now I'm here I'm completely fucking confused because I never really knew it would be complicated and it is complicated.

That record ("Demonization") was written with the weight of everything crushing. I quit drinking during that time frame to focus on getting my shit in order. My brain was a fucking mess. My dad died, my roommate's cousin overdosed and died between my legs as I was trying to save him. Just shit like that repeatedly, over and over. That's life. It accumulates and it snowballs. The older you get, people close to you die, move on, overdose, divorces, brutality. Life gets to a point where it becomes choking and that was that record.

Oz: It shows!

Kevin: It shows and I don't think any record is worth listening to unless it's an honest thought. I guess that's what I take from outlaw country or whatever. A song has to have a story behind it, you can't just write words. If you listen to "Sunk" on that record, it was about making a choice. I was either gonna drink it all up and finish it off or I was going to dry out. So sometimes songs are subjective but sometimes they're more direct and I was very direct.

Oz: It's the way to be. On a happier note, you were in the grindcore documentary, Slave To The Grind...

Kevin: Oh yeah, that's what we were talking about and why Fuck The Facts think we make money or something. Shane told me they were cracking on about "rich bands" being on there and it's like, the last VC tour we were sleeping on floors in people's apartments. If you look at our page there's a picture of me and Shane laying in bed with the backdrop over us, so it's fucking hilarious that they think we're sitting on piles of cash.

Oz: Yeah, you and Discordance Axis and bands like that are obviously millionaires...

Kevin: Everyone has their ideas and they're entitled to them but here's a newsflash, I have my own company back home where I build things and that's where I make my money. I'm not rich. We were saying the funny thing about that is back in the day when the shit took off in the States back in '92, we did the tour with Carcass, Napalm and Cathedral and it was the grand reaping. All the promoters just took advantage of bands and we made fifty bucks a night and shared a van with Cathedral, thirteen people in a van...

Oz: I bet it stunk in there.

Kevin: Holy shit, Lee Dorrian's feet are amazing man. The king of doom, it starts in the feet! It was brutal but you know we rolled around the States sleeping on people's floors for years and I still haven't made like a really good pay day but if I did, fuck it, that's called back pay. I lived the life and for bands like Fuck The Facts or whatever kind of shit talkers that come around and talk whatever... There wouldn't be that. They wouldn't have anything to play if we weren't there. In the beginning, the first tours Brutal Truth did with bands like Incantation and Pungent Stench, we were booking ourselves because there weren't any booking agents that would do this stuff and so you'd show up and play and they would either pay you or give you some food. So there would be this world, The Underworld putting on shows like this if it weren't for us taking a chance and not giving a shit. So fuck off to the nay sayers!

Oz: Well speaking of nay sayers, my only real problem with the documentary...

Kevin: I haven't seen it by the way. Shane said it was bollocks.

Oz: I thought it was alright, but my only real problem with it was that it seemed to go out of its way to put down Seth Putnam (founder of Anal Cunt)

Kevin: Well he (Shane) said it was the editing and stuff. They way they worded the interviews apparently made it look like me and Dan were against each other. I don't know because I haven't seen it.

Oz: Well, I was curious because obviously Brutal Truth and Anal Cunt did the "BT/AC" track together so I was wondering what your impressions were of Seth.

Kevin: Well, I knew Seth, OK? The rest of the world, all the video stuff that you probably heard in the whatever was really not indicative of who he was as a person. As a matter of fact, the last conversation I had with him was in L.A. We were playing a festival out there and he'd just gotten back to touring, he'd gotten out of that coma and I'd seen this shit before where people will encourage you into the grave. We had this deep conversation and I told him, "Don't let these people that pretend to be your friends convince you into being this character. It'll take you fucking life." and unfortunately it did.

You know, everyone has these ideas and Brutal Truth lived hard, I ain't gonna lie, but you get these kids that'll try and live up to the myth, the legacy of stupidity and it's a dangerous world, I've seen a lot of people die. I will say that people have their ideas of him but that doesn't necessarily mean that was him and one other thing that I'll say about it, is that there's only one Seth. He was hilarious to me. Everyone else that does his shtick is not Seth, so they are not funny. El Duce - Hilarious. Everyone else trying to be El Duce - Not even close to funny. So all those people that say "You're gay" or whatever shtick that Seth crapped on about, they sound stupid. He was an encyclopedia of music. You could ask him any question and he would know volumes, where it was recorded. He was brilliant in that way.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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