From its impeccable vocal harmonies, to its origins in Southern California, to its membership comprising of brothers and cousins, it is somewhat hard to not compare pop quartet Venice to legendary band The Beach Boys.
The constant comparisons don’t seem to matter too much to vocalist Kipp Lennon, however, as the musical bond he shares with his bandmates, brother Pat Lennon, their cousin Mark Lennon, and Mark’s brother Michael Lennon, is “that family sound,” one that is unique and unachievable with other singers. It is that special sound Venice will bring to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on September 8 during an intimate acoustic show, consisting of storytelling and stripped-down versions of the songs the band has created over its four-decade history.
Formed in 1977 in the Southern California town after which the band was named, Venice carries on what Kipp Lennon called “a family heritage kind of thing.” Mr. Lennon grew up in a family with eleven kids in which singing was ever-present. His older sisters were in a vocal pop group called The Lennon Sisters and he grew up listening to The Lennon Brothers, a group that consisted of his father and uncles.
While many bands consisting of brothers such as Oasis, The Kinks, and The Everly Brothers were known for volatile, sometimes hateful relationships between the familial members, this is not the case with Venice. In Mr. Lennon’s estimation, his upbringing is a huge part of what has allowed Venice to stay together all these years.
“It’s a testament to our mother,” he said.
Growing up in a big family, he was taught to laugh at difficult moments of life, which readied him and his brother for the ups and downs of show business. Mark and Michael Lennon grew up in an even larger family, consisting of thirteen siblings. While he, Pat, Mark, and Michael don’t agree on absolutely everything, all four members are on the same page as far as the band is concerned.
“We do agree on what’s the best for Venice and we always work toward that,” he said.
The band’s September 8 SOhO concert is part of its promotion for new album “Jacaranda Street,” which was released in April. Recording the new album was different from the band’s past efforts, as this time the group tried to capture the vibe of the place in which the new material was written. That place turned out to be Mark Lennon’s living room. There, the band set up a small drum kit, keyboards, guitars, a few microphones, and let it roll, capturing the environment’s sounds like wind chimes and cars driving by.
Like all bands, Venice faces the challenge of introducing new songs into its live sets when it’s clear the audience paid to hear the older, more established numbers.
“It’s hard to come out with new stuff when people want to hear the classics,” Mr. Lennon said.
That said, he is more than pleased with how the “Jacaranda Street” songs have gone over in a live setting. Of the news tracks, Mr. Lennon’s personal favorite is “Middle Age Lullaby,” a song on which he sings lead vocals and one that serves as a “lullaby for older people,” meant to ease the stress that comes with getting older. Just as the song hits home for him, it has struck a chord with Venice’s baby boomer fans, who have expressed to him how much they identify with the song.
Once the band departs the stage at SOhO, it will play many more shows in California before heading to Europe next spring. Mr. Lennon said the band has a particularly dedicated fan base in the Netherlands, where it has traveled a few times a year for two decades. More than forty years onward, Mr. Lennon still encounters fans that go way back to the band’s earliest days, fans that first saw Venice when the band played their high school dance in the late 70s.
Despite beginning in 1977, Venice didn’t cut its first album until 1990, but persisted all those years ago and is still going strong because of its dedicated following. Mr. Lennon described the band’s fanbase as “always enough of a following to keep us going.” For him, the appreciation from the audience is the greatest thing about being in Venice.
“The money can come and go… But the gratification of people loving what we do, that’s the greatest gift of doing all this,” he said.Tickets for Venice’s performance at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club can be purchased online at www.sohosb.com and range from $25 to $66. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:30 p.m. SOhO Restaurant & Music Club is located at 1221 State St #205 in Santa Barbara.