If rock music is a serious business then no one told Mike Vennart. The former Oceansize frontman has not only named his debut album after the humour that kept him going after the influential post-rockers’ sad demise, but he’s also dedicated the work to the late Rik Mayall.
But this album is no laugh riot. The demon is all too real, as Vennart battled personal ones – losing his much-loved band, chronic writer’s block, bereavement. He hit the road for two years as a fourth wheel to Biffy Clyro, and late nights spent in the world’s hotel rooms cocooned his next phase.
Thanks to an enthusiastically received Pledge campaign, Vennart can smile again. Teamed with old Oceansizers Steve Durose (guitar) and Gambler (keys), plus Ginger Wildheart’s drummer Denzel Pearson, The Demon Joke sits well next to Oceansize’s past glories.
Joy Division’s atmosphere and Faith No More’s anger are obvious influences, with Vennart’s distinctive vocal moving from grace to grit in a snap, soaring on Infatuate, soulful and confessional on Don’t Forget The Joker.
For instant grats, you can’t beat Retaliate’s hooky urgency, or the Biffy-powered Operate, which is the song that reignited Vennart’s mojo.
The wait’s been worth it – it’s a pleasure to have him back./o:p