In many ways, there’s an argument that can be had that a film composition can be all that solidifies a regular movie into an all-timer. Sure the storyline and the actions need to be the driving force but what really makes the hairs spike up on our arms is the stunning score that is implanted within the background. Composers such as John Williams, and Hans Zimmer have perfected the craft while Gustavo Santaolalla has made millions (including myself) feel absolutely gutted yet grateful to be witness to such beauty.
California’s own duo Movie Club has been affected by the likes of what has been mentioned above. With Jessamyn Violet on drums and Vince Cuneo on guitar, Movie Club are an instrumental psych-rock outfit that has earned international acclaim for its original sound. On March 7th, the duo released their double single which will be on their upcoming sophomore full-length Great White, “Requiem/Spinner/” The tracks offer up sublime Cali-rock vibes with driving guitars and punchy drums.
Movie Club is also set to venture off on their “Reading Rocking Rainbow Tour.” Along with band performances, each stop will feature readings from Violet’s debut book Secret Rules to Being a Rockstar (slated for release in April), interactive discussions, and book signings.
Having the title of your project being what it is, I’m guessing there are some movie scores that you are passionate about. What are some that come to mind?
Vince: I was raised on the work of John Williams in Star Wars and JAWS. The band Son Lux did an incredible job on the recent movie Everything Everywhere All at Once. All of David Lynch’s work always has iconic scores that fit the mood on the screen.
Jessamyn: Agreed. A few more of the soundtracks that really stood out to me in the past were the film Drive and HBO’s Big Little Lies.
Having a passion for film scores, have you pursued imprinting your work into that world?
Vince: Given the fact our project was named after our love for film, scoring a movie is a dream of ours. Also, we are instrumental! It is inspiring to see how many rock musicians such as Jonny Greenwood and Trent Reznor are working on scoring films. Music supervisors have also been placing unique tracks in TV and film. For example, Liza Richardson used several Khruangbin tracks on Netfelix’s Outerbanks and Nora Felder revamped Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” in the last season of Stranger Things.
Jessamyn: We are also constantly developing our sound and our visual content to be even more cinematic. We work hard to get out there so we’re undeniably positioned to score film/TV since we are so obsessed with it. We also make all of our music videos with that in mind.
Reading about you two, I learned that you were playing different instruments from what you do now. Did it feel like it was necessary to do so in order to make Movie Club happen?
Vince: I played drums for ten years before picking up a guitar. I started playing guitar out of necessity for previous projects. I always say I play guitar like a drummer. Since we are simply guitar and drums, Movie Club has forced me to grow and challenge myself.
Jessamyn: I think it really does help make our sound more specific. People tell me I play drums “melodically” so I guess the piano is bleeding through there as well.
When you first started performing together, what were some of the biggest takeaways?
Vince: The band was created out of the necessity to “keep playing.” Once we were offered our first show, we forced ourselves to get a set together and play the show. We didn’t overthink it, and that has translated through the past four years as a band.
Jessamyn: Yes, I’d never built a band strategically after paying a lot of attention to how the person operated before joining forces. We had a lot of momentum from the start because we’re both the types of people who are down to say “yes” and then figure it out as we go.
What has being in Venice done for you two musically?
Vince: The energy of this place is undeniable. I take a lot of inspiration from my surroundings. In Venice Beach, we have the beach, the diverse culture, and just stepping outside you can feel the magic.
Jessamyn: Venice has a certain reputation for being surf-y, sandy, salty, gritty, gorgeous, and cool. We try to infuse its essence into our sound as much as possible. A lot of jams are born in our bedroom, so that helps.
Going into the recording and writing for the second album, has there been any pressure to follow up on your debut’s success?
Vince: Sometimes that pressure of outdoing yourself creeps in but that rarely services the music. We write and record music because we are artists. Usually, me and Jessamyn just look at each other and say “Time to make another record.” As Rick Reuben says “It is time to participate.” With this band, we only try to keep pushing our music in new and fun directions.
Jessamyn: Yeah, it’s truly a gift to work with someone who isn’t fear-driven, so we can just be like, “let’s do this again,” and know this is just another record in what will ideally be a long and prosperous chain of record releases. Just the fact that we’ve got five out in the first five years of existing takes the pressure off. The less you put out, the more pressure there is on each release.
It feels like the 90s were a heavy influence on your sound. What was it about that timespan that really speaks to you?
Vince: The 90s were a pivotal time in music for me. Me and my friends were obsessed with listening to tapes and watching music videos. We were listening to records like Green Day Dookie before school started and then created fake radio shows with all our favorite tracks at night.
Jessamyn: The 90s were the most formative time in music for me. My room was covered in band posters. I had stacks of CDs and would rush home from school just to listen to the radio – of course, always keeping a blank tape in the boom box to hit “record” should an unreleased hit come on the air. God, it was an exciting time. I just feel lucky to have lived it, at this point. A lot shifted in the music scene after the digitization of music and proved how very special a time it was beforehand.
What was harder: writing a book or writing an album?
Jessamyn: Oh my goodness, writing a book! It is a grueling marathon of time, energy, effort, editing, re-editing, overthinking, humility, and rejection – and now, finally, twelve years after starting to try to sell this novel, I am seeing the results. I only recommend it if you have a LOT of patience and can lower your expectations enough to keep on grinding down the brutal path. I think the efficiency of writing, recording, and releasing music has literally kept me going through this process. If not for that excitement and fuel, I don’t even know!
How did the idea of the upcoming tour which will be readings and signings along with performing come about?
Jessamyn: The Reading Rocking Rainbow Tour is a lifetime dream turned reality. Fusing reading/discussion events with live band performances has forever been a dream of mine. As someone who has always been equal parts musician and writer, of course, I have always wanted this to exist and now am thrilled to be finally finding myself with a reason and the resources to make it happen. I love the idea of getting people who attend readings to also go to an indie music show, and vice versa! I think both the book and indie music scene are in particular need of support right now. I am so very grateful to have this chance to even do this and hope to get people excited about connecting at these events with like-minded awesome people who support books and bands. The best people, really.