New solo album by former Oceansize singer, and long-time Biffy Clyro tour guitarist Mike Vennart. Features Steve Durose and Richard ‘Gambler’ Ingram (both ex-Oceansize). Available as a special edition CD, and gatefold black LP + CD. Inspired and driven by a lifelong obsession with music in all its myriad and miraculous forms, the man best known for steering the good ship Oceansize through waters both calm and choppy between 1998 and 2011 has taken the plunge and released his grip on restraint and reason… the results are The Demon Joke, a debut album by that rarest of beasts; a solo artist with no safety net and no conformist formula to follow. For those who were dazzled and delighted by Mike’s years in Oceansize – lest we forget, one of the most revered and respected psychedelic rock bands the UK has produced since the genre’s 70s heyday – there are countless wonders to unearth and embrace on this versatile maverick’s first one-man mission. “Comedy is a kind of lifeline to everyone. But in most good jokes there’s an element of danger. Saying the wrong thing at the right time, or vice versa, can be either enlightening or threatening. I love that sort of dichotomy between creating fun and ruining everything. So comedy is a common thread in the lyrics. There’s a lot of humour in these songs, but also a lot of joy in being able to do whatever I want. There’s moments of beauty but also lots of weird noises and things that are designed to irritate people. I’m very happy with the way it’s turned out.” Temporarily liberated from his role as touring guitarist with alt-arena rock behemoths Biffy Clyro, Mike Vennart has allowed his newfound madness to focus his compositional gaze and sharpen the artful tools at his disposal. From dizzying bursts of six-string opulence through to pop songs that shimmer and twinkle with joyous effervescence, The Demon Joke is the sound of a unique talent succumbing to the wildest dreams his imagination can conjure, performing virtually every note himself in the process, albeit with a little help from percussive powerhouse and Ginger Wildheart alumnus Denzel on drums. Oceansize colleague Gambler (who contributed lashings of sizzling synths), songwriting henchman Steve Durose (who kindly added backing vocals and penned several of the album’s strongest melodies) and a guest vocal turn from Cardiacs associate Jo Spratley complete the picture. Recorded at Mike’s own home studio, The Demon Joke is an exercise in liberation and obsessive tinkering: a singular vision rendered in glorious technicolour. “All the initial ideas were recorded/thought up in posh hotel rooms whilst on tour all over the world with Biffy,” says Mike. “Either that or they’d be snatched in private onto an iPhone memo. I accumulated thousands of these and finished none of them. Eventually I sent my favourite ones to Steve, as he used to help me out with vocal melodies in Oceansize when I couldn’t think of anything. Sure enough, he’d return them with a piano playing the tunes I would then put weird words onto. Et voila… a demo! I have to say the act of completing an album’s worth of demos was cause for more celebration than the completing of the album itself. The composition process was always gonna be the most challenging, whilst also being the most invigorating and rewarding.” Mixed by Mark Williams, with whom Mike Vennart previously worked on the heaviest moment in the Oceansize catalogue – the 2004 EP Music For Nurses – and born into a world that is far more inclined to welcome a progressive flight of fancy than the one that thwarted Oceansize’s intermittently skyward trajectory, The Demon Joke is what happened when a man with a head full of brilliant ideas dived into the darkness and saw the light.
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