Venice instrumental rock duo Movie Club sing, shout and growl with drums and guitar

Jessamyn Violet and Vince Cuneo are inspired by the beats of Venice
Photo by Dustin Downing

In one of those “only in L.A.” twists of fate, last October guitarist Vince Cuneo and drummer Jessamyn Violet were asked to put a set together by Foo Fighters keyboardist Rami Jaffee for a pre-Cal Jam bash at his Fonogenic Studios. The two had played together in different configurations with various lineups around Venice, though they’d never considered starting a band. But at Jaffee’s Van Nuys studio, with Dave Grohl barbecuing on the outside patio, they backed venerated Doors guitarist Robby Krieger and received such positive response that they began “writing like crazy.” In February they released their first instrumental EP as Movie Club, “Kraken.”

This June the surf-garage-rock duo dropped their second EP, the Matt Wignall-produced “Hammerhead,” on which Cuneo and Violet are joined by funky Lettuce bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes. It kicks off with the psychedelic “Navy Seal,” their pounding salute to late surf guitar king Dick Dale. Cuneo acknowledges the musical influence of Dale as well as Houston trio Khruangbin, and the local community.

“We’re making music that is trying to channel the sounds of Venice Beach,” says Cuneo, a Pittsburgh transplant. (Violet is originally from Boston.) “This city has been a huge influence on us.”

Instrumental bands typically showcase the guitar or another lead instrument, but in Movie Club’s case, Violet’s drumming and stage presence are as fierce as Cuneo’s moody swamp-creature leads. Both can sing, according to Cuneo, but the choice to be instrumental has been freeing.

“We speak with our instruments more,” he explains. “At first we were worried, but then we’ve been playing shows and I think it’s kind of a breath of fresh air for people to just be able to tune into the music. We weren’t really sure what style of music we wanted to play, and we just started playing songs with different elements of everything we like — hip-hop, surf rock, garage rock — and we grew up in the ’90s, so that’s gonna be ingrained in us no matter what. We can go in different directions.”

— Bliss Bowen

Listen to “Hammerhead” and check for gig info at movieclubtheband.com

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