Since their inception, Northampton’s Venus Fly Trap have been a band in constant flux evolving from their post-punk beginnings to their current incarnation as darkwave duo. Their latest release, Time Lapse, collects tracks from three early albums and presents them for your re-evaluation. Peter Dennis speaks to vocalist Alex Novak to get the lockdown low down…
What was your reasoning for releasing a selection of tracks from three albums (1989’s Totem, 1991’s Pandora’s Box and 1994’s Luna Tide)?
The logistics of putting three albums out, both financially and logistically, you’re looking at five years so I decided to take tracks from each album and put them together. Not like a compilation but I thought if I picked certain tracks and put them in a certain order I could make another album. If nobody knew of Venus Fly Trap before they’d think it was a new album. I picked tracks that’d flow together and link to the next set of albums.
Fans have a special relationship with songs so obviously you’re going to upset someone with your selection.
People will always like a track you haven’t picked but then I’d be in the same position I was in the first place, putting each album out individually. If someone else would like to reissue the individual albums that’s fine but I don’t have the time. Personally I like the idea of reassessing the work and reassembling it in a different way; when you put a song against another one it changes the context.
Each Venus Fly Trap album has a unique sound so I was surprised that Time Lapse flowed so smoothly.
Those albums were released within a short time frame plus the line up was fairly consistent. Obviously we shift from one area to another but it’s a flow, it’s not a sudden shift.
Time Lapse’s first four tracks come from Totem. What influences did you draw upon for that album?
I listen to lots of different music plus all the other band members bring their own influences and when you put all that into the melting pot hopefully we come up with something unique.
Fast forward two years and you released Pandora’s Box. It was recorded in France and you were very well received on the Continent.
Both Totem and Pandora’s Box were released on the Danceteria label who were based in France. We were welcomed in France quite quickly.
What is it about your sound that struck a chord with the Europeans and does it bother you that you weren’t so well received in the UK?
I guess I’ve always had a European outlook, I tried to get press abroad and not just in the UK. I think it doesn’t matter where you become popular as long as you become popular somewhere. It’s a big world out there, the UK is important musically but there’s a lot of other places as well. I think it’s a lot harder in the UK, there’s a lot more competition and it’s dominated by the big record labels whereas abroad there seems to be a lot more independent radio and magazines.
1994 found you releasing Luna Tide which moved towards a more organic sound.
That was a transitional album and that’s where we reached the limit of our alternative rock experimentation.
Luna Tide was a very dark album that explored themes of urban decay.
Luna Tide drew its title from the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth and its control of people. But the whole album is set in an urban environment; at that time there was a lot of urban decay and city centres were being abandoned.
How would you like people to approach Time Lapse?
As an individual album but if it sparks their interest to listen to the other albums in order of release, then great. I like the idea of taking things apart and putting them together in a different way to alter the musical DNA.