In Harmony

An Exclusive AFG Interview With Michael & Kipp Lennon

Kipp, Mark, Michael and Pat Lennon. ( photo courtesy of Venice Central)

Kipp, Mark, Michael and Pat Lennon.
( photo courtesy of Venice Central)

AFG Wishes to thank Julie Skaggs for facilitating & conducting this interview.

A special occasion calls for special participants.

When selecting musicians for the band performing the music of The Wall for the 30th Anniversary tour, Roger Waters chose players both familiar to fans and brand-new – and one of those new additions was recommended to him by singer Jon Joyce, who himself performed on the original recording as well as the 1980-81 tour and the 1990 restaging at the Berlin Wall. At Roger’s request to Jon to suggest “the new you,” in regards to finding singers who could best reproduce the angelic harmonies which are an integral part of the show, the other recommended Venice: a band first formed in 1977 featuring two sets of brothers who are cousins, members of one of the most talented extended families of the Southern California entertainment community.

In actuality, you’ve likely heard at least one of the Lennons (Michael and Mark, Kipp and Pat) on albums, in commercials, television shows and movie soundtracks and not even known it. Between the four they’ve participated in hundreds of sessions, very much in demand in the industry for their musical abilities. But their first love is their band, named after the Los Angeles district where they were born and raised (and that phrase is the title of their 1997 album).

The older siblings of Kipp and Pat were renowned jazz musicians, and in the case of their four oldest sisters – the vocal group known as The Lennon Sisters – were serenading television audiences weekly on The Lawrence Welk Show. It was only natural that the four progeny would find themselves in a rock band featuring the vocal abilities which were literally a family legacy.

With a passion for and a commitment to artistic expression as a whole, the Lennons have also created the Artists For The Arts Foundation, which seeks to assist public schools with funding for arts programs, as essential an extra-curricular activity for developing minds as any other.

Over the course of its 33-year history, Venice has released ten studio albums of melodic rock featuring gorgeous harmonies and engaging, emotional songwriting and playing. Long a cult favorite in Southern California and best-kept secret in the music industry – but also possessing a loyal legion of fans in Holland – the exposure for the band via Roger’s tour is certain to garner the Lennons a broader audience worldwide ready to learn what their devoted fans already know: these guys are excellent.

I had the opportunity to interview Michael and Kipp Lennon, Venice’s co-founders, who kindly took time out of their busy schedules to endure my interrogation on behalf of AFG. I offer my thanks and appreciation for their candor and humor in regards to sharing their experiences as a part of this monumental undertaking as well as their own fascinating personal and professional history.


Performing "Outside The Wall"  (photo by Simon Wimpenny)

Performing “Outside The Wall”
(photo by Simon Wimpenny)

Michael Lennon is Venice’s producer/engineer, chief instrumentalist, and all-around Go-To Guy (Seriously, the man does everything behind the scenes!), and his is a unique perspective in regards to the history of the band and of the Lennon families.

Congratulations to the band on this opportunity, as Venice has now entered a very special club: that of the Floydian Associate. Growing up in Southern California, long a Pink Floyd stronghold (and a second home to the Floyd at various times in their history), Kipp related anecdotally that you all were familiar with their music, but as you were performing musicians yourself during The Wall era and beyond, you never got the opportunity to see the original shows. Did you feel you had to play catch-up rather quickly when you were first approached by Jon Joyce on behalf of Roger?

It was actually quite exiting to dive into the history of the band. With the technology of today I was able to go to YouTube and find vintage black and white interviews, old live concert footage and a wealth of articles and bio information, all just a mouse click away. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played Dark Side of the Moon more than any other album in my collection and I even have the DVD of the making of the album but The Wall was released after my high school days so it didn’t play the role that Dark Side played in the soundtrack of my life…and although I was a fan of David Gilmour’s I wasn’t as familiar with Roger and the other members of Pink Floyd or their other releases. Of course I knew some of the songs on The Wall but there were many that I didn’t know and had to get familiar with fairly fast. It’s kind of funny that although I was the biggest fan within the Venice band going in to this gig, I ended up staying home for the tour and the other three guys are now The Wall experts.

Your loyal fans are, of course, wholly familiar with your pedigree and musical history; but for those who are just getting to know you, could you please expound a bit on the role music has played both in your family as a whole and also in terms of your chosen path in regards to the band?

Well it started with our fathers, who sang together in the 1940s and ‘50s. They were called the “Lennon Brothers”. I actually have a bitchin’ red 78 vinyl record with a blue label of their recording of “Chocolate Choo-Choo”…a fan found it and sent it to me as a gift…pretty awesome. They sang on radio and a little on TV but at some point the size of their families forced them to find more stable jobs. There were four Lennon brothers from the family of six boys and one girl who were in the group, of which Kipp and Pat’s dad, Bill, was one and Mark and my dad, Ted, was one.

They ended up having eleven and thirteen children, respectively. The families would often get together during the holidays and music was always part of these celebrations.

The next wave of Lennon singers was when Bill’s four eldest daughters, (Kipp and Pat’s sisters and our cousins) were taught to sing harmony at a very young age and followed in the footsteps of the Lennon Brothers after auditioning and landed a gig to be national TV stars on The Lawrence Welk Show. They were called “The Lennon Sisters.” This started when most of them were still in their teens and lasted a good thirteen years, after which they went on to have their own TV show. Two of the original four sisters still perform today in Branson, Missouri…joined by a younger sister.

The third wave of music within the Lennons came from my older brother, Tom Lennon, who formed a rock band in the ‘60s and they opened for the Doors and other popular groups at that time. Tom was later drafted and his band, “The Other Half,” broke up. Tom’s band used to rehearse in our converted garage and I would sit through all the rehearsals, studying every drum beat, guitar riff and bass line…I would sneak out to Tom’s room after their rehearsals and try to play the different instruments. By age six I decided I wanted to be a drummer and I got my first drum set. A couple years after Tom started his group, Kipp’s brother, Pat, was playing a lot of acoustic guitar and singing with his brothers…this was more in the Joni Mitchell/CSN style.
By the time I was 14, I was getting bored playing drums by myself, so I picked up guitar and learned to play. By 17 years old I decided to start a band. I asked Kipp to join and that’s when the fourth wave of Lennon performers was born…later to be joined by Mark and then Pat.
Although the extended Lennon family is way too big to get together every holiday, music and singing is still a huge part of each of our gatherings…I guess it’s truly in our blood.

The music of Venice is a legacy which spans decades. If a new listener could choose only five of your songs to acquaint his/herself with, what would be your official recommendation?

I’d rather have a tooth pulled than have to choose five songs out of the hundreds. It always depends on the listener and their musical taste. I’ll pick one list of five for the mellow listener and then one list of five for the rock listener…and this is still torture for me!

Mellow:
The Road to Where you are
The Family Tree
Always
Circle of Life
Starting Here Again

Rock:
Think Again
One Quiet Day
The Water
If I were you
Baby’s calling

The four of you are quite famous in industry circles as consummate professionals and perfect for any singing gig which might come along. Therefore it’s truly no surprise that Jon Joyce recommended the band for Roger’s tour. Given the breadth of your experience in terms of these types of opportunities, did this one strike you as a special challenge from the outset?

Well, at first we weren’t that familiar with the entire Wall album so we didn’t have a preconceived notion of what to expect or what we were up against.
Once we started diving into the material we saw how we could really shine with this stuff.
If the original concept for the original recordings was to add kind of a “Beach Boys” backing vocals to Pink Floyd songs, we knew we could emulate that sound and blend and recreate the sound that’s on the album.
The biggest challenge was memorizing the lengths of the solos so we’d know when the vocals enter again and also memorizing all the words in songs like “What Shall We Do Now?”

You had the opportunity to spend a day with producer/engineer James Guthrie listening to the original multitrack recordings of The Wall and I believe you likened it to being an “archeologist.” What kind of insight did the experience lend you in terms of understanding the work and having him there to share his perspective? As a producer and engineer yourself, did the opportunity to spend time with James (a fellow perfectionist) give you a view as to how the album was crafted, an understanding of the textures of the vocals and how they merged with the music?

Well first of all James was a true professional and a very kind man. I had a few moments where I could pick his brain about how they did this or that but most of the day was focused on getting our vocals on as many tracks as possible so he could mix them and send them to Roger in New York.
I was surprised at how many of the backing tracks included David Gilmour. Jon Joyce had said that David and Roger were very hands on with the vocal arrangements and hearing David singing these high falsetto parts was surprising and very cool. We didn’t get a lot of insight as to how they recorded the album but it was said to be Roger’s album with David contributing on some key songs, arrangements and of course solos. The coolest part was hearing their lead vocals solo’d. To be in the studio, hearing an actual song from “The Wall” with David or Roger’s vocals as real as they could be, in your face…that was amazing!
My most proud moment was in New Jersey at the final rehearsals before the start of the tour in the iZod Center where James and I were individually moving around the huge empty arena, checking the live mix from all the different seats in the house. At one point we came together in the same area and he asked me, “What do you think?” Well, the fact that James Guthrie thought enough of my opinion to ask for it was pretty cool for me. I was also proud that I gave him my honest opinion, when I could have just kissed !@# and played it safe.

(If you really want to know what I said….read on) “Roger’s acoustic guitar sounds terrible…thin, nasally…there’s no bottom end on it.” With the opportunity to have any guitar in the world, I was amazed that this was the final choice that he or his tech made. I’ll be curious to see if they fix this by the time they come to LA…We’ll see!

You have related Roger came to visit the band at your home and showed you rare film footage of the original performances of The Wall. Beyond how surreal it was for you to have Roger Waters sitting in your living room, would you be willing to share with us what it was like to spend time with him, getting to know him?

Well he was quite a bit taller than I had imagined…and when you add his persona he’s almost giant-like.
I asked if he wanted something to drink…”A beer, coffee?” He said, “I’d love a coffee…and then a beer.”
We started by him telling us how he wakes up in the middle of the night thinking he’s crazy for taking on this task of re-presenting The Wall then he’d go to work and once he got there and everyone is working on their respective jobs, he’d get excited and dive into it. It was nice to know that even the icons at the highest level of success have self-doubt and fears…pretty cool.
From there we asked if we could sing him “Goodbye Blue Sky” so that we could stop stressing and get it over with. He had a laugh and we proceeded to perform for him. I believe he enjoyed the performance but he did mention to Pat to lose the “vib,” which we later came to learn meant, “vibrato” or the pulse in a person’s voice. After that he walked to his shoulder bag where he pulled out DVDs of footage from the original tour. He said some of the footage had been lost for a while but was found recently and he was excited to get it back. There was no mention of release but it was an honor to get the private viewing and what was really cool was his love for David’s vocals and solos…sometimes fast-forwarding to show us David’s solo, etc. But the most amazing thing was watching him sing along at times, like a fan himself of the music…that was great to see. I always thought that people at that level of success were all business and not always living the music, but he truly was enjoying watching, listening and even singing along. That was inspiring.

As you know from Roger, he desired the male chorus to sing harmonies in the style of The Beach Boys (and had originally arranged to work with the group though the scheduling didn’t work out). There is a doo-wop influence in the arrangements as well. Did you immediately see the potential to create a good fit in terms of your own abilities?

Being raised around all styles and genres of music, we can fall in to just about any style. In big families like ours, surrounded by humor, music and lots of competition, there were lots of mimics. We would always make fun of singers or imitate famous people and how they sang so hearing these parts were not far off from what we normally do so it wasn’t much of a stretch. The only different thing was losing the vibrato. Venice has a bit of a soul or R&B side of it that makes us different than The Beach Boys. We usually have a vibrato on our notes where as they would hold out their notes without the wavering pitch at the end. That was a bit weird for me to get used to because it vibrato can also help support the pitch of the note….especially when you’re used to singing that way. In the end we got used to it but that was the only challenge we really faced.

Jon Joyce has described Kipp as a “chameleon” in terms of his vocal abilities, i.e. he can reprise just about any style requested. Was this a consideration in terms of the vocal duties suggested for the tour?

First, I’ll say that Mark, too, can imitate many singers’ voices. Even when Kipp and Mark don’t sound exactly like the person, they’re able to hear and repeat the nuances in a voice…the way the singer falls off notes or the way they pronounce words, etc. In the beginning, Roger hadn’t chosen a replacement for David so Kipp and Mark were submitting demos of themselves singing David’s parts and Kipp even did some of Roger’s higher vocals, just in case that was an issue. In the end, Roger decided to hire Robbie Wyckoff as David’s replacement and keep the backing vocals as a group, instead of having them step out of the group to sing lead, then back again. I think he made the right choice in Robbie…he’s a great singer and he’s a great guy, too.

I find it fascinating that you all and Jon come from similar backgrounds in terms of your musical upbringing and career path. What have you learned from him in regards to this experience but also perhaps in a larger sense?

The one thing I’ll take from this experience is that business is business and it’s nothing personal. For Jon to have to be the one to say to me, “It’s not working the way it is and we need to try other options,” took a lot for him to do. He and I worked together since the beginning to land this gig so for him to have to tell me it wasn’t working, after hitting it off so well together in the months of building this beast must have killed him. I told him afterwards that I felt bad that I didn’t bring it up first…I could have said, “These high vocal parts you’ve given me are out of my range and I’m not sure I can consistently pull it off,” but being the fighter I am and not one to give up, I chose to battle it out, and in a weird way I kind of regret that I didn’t make the change with Pat, instead of him having to make it. All said, Jon graciously accepted my email and my professionalism in handling this huge change of plans. It’s almost as though his way of handling the change inspired me to rise to that level and make the best of what could be interpreted as a bad situation.

Regarding learning from Jon in a larger sense, I think Kipp could speak to that more, since Jon was somewhat of a mentor to Kipp over the years of jingles and sessions.

You personally had to make a very difficult decision in regards to your role in this venture, as Pat has now taken your place in the chorus. You wrote a very heartfelt explanation for the band’s website, and your fans were admiring of your professionalism and dedication to family. What was the best part of the experience entire for you?

Well in my last two weeks of “vocal only” rehearsals which was with just the four of us, I was concerned with my lack of consistency in hitting all the high notes. I was losing sleep, I was having diarrhea and I was not enjoying going to rehearsals which was the opposite of my prior experience with anything dealing with music.
My guitar, which is my main instrument, was not around my neck, I was not involved in the decision making of who will sing what and I was basically a session singer, expected to deliver every time. Over the years, I was never the lead vocalist and I rarely did sessions unless people called for the “Venice” sound and then three or four of us would show up and deliver. But my time was spent managing, producing and engineering Venice over the years and now I was put in a situation where everything was unfamiliar and in hindsight uncomfortable for me. These other three guys made a living just singing and I was an all-around musician, composer and singer but my voice wasn’t my thing unless it was a song I wrote, etc.
A week or so prior to the switch, I even wrote an email to the other three guys, (that I never sent), stating that I wasn’t comfortable in this role and that once I was assigned all the high parts, I felt less confident and less excited about this whole thing. If Jon had not come on board and the original idea of the Venice four being the vocalists would have remained, we probably would have switched around the vocal parts on any given song in order to put the best guy in the best range for his voice….like we’ve done for 30 plus years in Venice. When Roger decided he needed Jon for the Bass vocal parts, Jon became the leader and his preference was to keep everyone in one range for the entire show. This took us out of Venice land and put us into guns for hire and I’m not normally a “vocal” gun for hire.
I guess the big lesson for me was that I was already realizing my uneasiness and feeling my way out of this opportunity before Jon made the call. I was taken out of my comfort zone and my element and I knew it but I didn’t want to lose the gig or be a quitter. Bottom line: Follow your gut…it’s usually right.

Your long-time fans have expressed some concern in terms of Venice being put on hold for the next year while Kipp, Mark and Pat tour with Roger; I wondered if you – as the man who does everything behind the scenes – could comment to assuage the fears of those who have followed the band for years but also encourage those who are just hearing of Venice for the first time with the announcement of this event, in regards to the future.

After 30 years of Venice, it should be OK to take a break for less than a year to live other experiences. Our songs come from our personal lives and this is an opportunity to feed the creative reservoir inside of all of us. This is an opportunity to work with one of the greatest rock legends of all time, to see the world and get paid for it. Also, there is an opportunity to expose our own music to thousands of new people. Being tied to one of the most respected artists in the business on one of the biggest tours in rock history doesn’t suck. Opportunities like this one, talking to you guys and other Pink Floyd fans wouldn’t be happening right now.
All this said, we all can’t wait to get together and do a Venice show again. We can’t wait to play and sing together. To play our own songs about our lives to our fans, old and new. At some point, the guys are standing where they’re told to and singing what they’re told to sing…there is little or no input coming from them and I know these guys…Mark and Kipp could each direct their own show. They have ideas, they have vision, they have lots of talent and only a small percentage is being tapped on this tour. They are capable of so much more than what they are being asked to give and that’s why the existing fans need not worry about the future of Venice and future fans should have a lot to look forward to. A new chapter in the life of a band called Venice.

The band has founded a great charity in Artists For The Arts Foundation, which lends its efforts to funding arts programs for public schools, badly needed in this era of educational cutbacks. Every year you stage a benefit which brings both famous and budding musicians together in performance. How can we as fans assist in this worthy cause?

The best way to assist in a cause like this is to make a donation by attending the show or sending money…or if you know an established artist that can put people in seats and they want to support the arts, ask them to check us out. As you say, the educational funding is being cut left and right and the first thing to go is “The Arts”…it’s a shame and we’re trying to do our part to make a difference.
Our dream is that we become great buddies with Roger and he offers to show up one year….all we ask is they bring an acoustic guitar and give us four songs…..we’ll prepare the student musicians and be the backing band.

Pat, Mark and Kipp Lennon performing "Outside The Wall"  (photo by Simon Wimpenny)

Pat, Mark and Kipp Lennon performing “Outside The Wall”
(photo by Simon Wimpenny)

In addition to his distinctly melodic vocals and songwriting for Venice, Kipp Lennon is one of the most in-demand session singers in the industry and has achieved pop culture immortality via the animated series The Simpsons, having provided many of the singing voices for the show; including that of Michael Jackson (at Jackson’s request) for the episode “Stark Raving Dad.”

The tour is a massive undertaking strictly for the North American leg: with 56 dates, playing typically in a two days on/two off, or every other day, configuration. How are you looking after both your voice and your stamina in the face of such a demanding schedule?

Well, as far as my voice goes, even though this is a two hour plus show, I really am not singing as much as if I were doing a regular Venice show. There are a few parts that are pretty high, like the high harmony in “Comfortably Numb” and “Outside The Wall”, but they are still well within my range fortunately. They are actually my favorite songs to sing all night. Along with “Goodbye Blue Sky”. The rest of the night is a lot of oooohs and aaaahs and stuff. So, really, it’s more fun than anything. The only potential drag is if you catch a cold. That’s a quick way to get hoarse if you don’t get rid of it right away. As far as my physical stamina, I have always been the type of person who enjoys working out, eating right and getting a lot of sleep, I’m just like that anyway so I keep it up on the road as much as possible. Sometimes with these late hours and sleeping late etc. it’s harder to make yourself go workout but ultimately, it feels great. And luckily these nicer hotels always have a pretty good gym.

You have been friends with Jon Joyce for many years now, and I believe you have commented he has also been a mentor to you over the course of your career. Given he was a part of the original tour – as well as many other rock n’roll tours in his career – what particular insights has he given to you and Pat and Marky in regards to his own experiences?

Yeah, Jon was already one of the biggest session singers in Los Angeles when I first started working and really showed me the ropes and introduced me to a lot of people. I think we met around ’83 or so. Right after he did the Wall tour. He has a lot of great stories. He also toured with Elton John during his Rock Of The Westies tour when he played his famous Dodger Stadium show. I’ll tell you one of the amazing things about having Jon around while we were learning all of this stuff for The Wall was that he could literally say things like “Well, on the day we recorded it we…” or he could tell us about the original tour and how they did things then. He’s not just some guy guessing how parts of it were done. Crazy. In fact, when we went to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame on our day off in Cleveland, Jon’s legacy with this project was especially evident. There was a whole separate area devoted to The Wall with original footage and puppets and things. We were all just marveling at how he has been a part of every version so far. The album, the original tour, the Berlin show in 1990 and now this. Very surreal to stand there looking at the display smiling and quietly knowing that we were in the middle of the next phase of the legacy as all these music fans were milling about the display.

I have it on good authority you can do a “pretty close” approximation of Roger, so I wondered if you could sing any track from The Wall every night in the show, which would it be?

Oh, man. Who said that? I don’t honestly claim to do a great Roger imitation really. When we originally auditioned for Roger by sending him demos of a few songs, I did Roger’s lead on “The Thin Ice” and a couple of others so we would know where we were while doing backgrounds, and I got kind of close here and there but I would never claim to do him really well. Especially now that I hear him every night.

The Male Chorus for the 30th Anniversary Tour at rehearsals in Long Island, NY (Kipp, Mark & Pat Lennon, Jon Joyce, photo courtesy of Venice Central)

The Male Chorus for the 30th Anniversary Tour at rehearsals in Long Island, NY
(Kipp, Mark & Pat Lennon, Jon Joyce, photo courtesy of Venice Central)

Can you give us an insight as to how the rehearsals were run? I know James Guthrie was there in an advisory capacity, with Roger as director, but as you had rehearsed ahead of time with Jon Joyce, and much of the band has played together for years prior, did it go fairly smoothly from the outset in terms of the ensemble as a whole?

Yeah, very. Everybody in the band/crew is an easy hang which makes things so much easier in general. As they say, a good band is not just about the two hours you spend on stage together. It’s more about the other 22 you spend together offstage. The hang. Plus, they are all fantastic musicians who care and bring a lot of positive energy to every rehearsal and soundcheck and show. There were a lot of changes that Roger made right away. But thanks to Jon, we sort of knew going in that Roger likes to change things along the way so we were prepared for that. Sometimes he’d change stuff and we’d try it for awhile and eventually go back to the original way. Other times the new stuff stayed in. It’s great to watch Roger get little inspirations while we’re rehearsing because he’s thinking of so many things at once and suddenly he’ll just turn towards us with something he thought of for us to try that’s from a song two days before or something. He’s constantly working on things to improve them or take them somewhere different while still preserving the integrity of the songs the fans have grown to love so much. Plus, he welcomes suggestions occasionally which is more than a lot of artists would do in his position. I mean, ultimately these are all his decisions and vision really but it’s nice to feel like we had a part in a few things here and there. Helping him flesh out some inspiration. Like, for instance, there’s an extra droning kind of chant thing at the end of “Goodbye Blue Sky” that we were helping him create that’s a perfect example of how collaborative and open he can be. It was his idea and we were there to figure it out with him. It’s a beautiful part of this new show and we feel pretty damn privileged to have contributed to it in our own way. He’s that way with all the musicians and crew on the whole project. In fact, we have done around 18 shows now and he is constantly re-thinking and improving things. We add something new nearly every night. Just check YouTube. You can see which background singer moves were added that day. Actually, YouTube is quite the tool for improving and honing a show because it’s constantly updated . We can go back and notice we need to improve an entrance or a blend or pitch. Really helpful. It’s amazing how fast people get those videos posted. Even three-camera edited ones by the next morning!

Do you find the production to be distracting in any way, as your own previous experiences onstage are with decidedly less pyrotechnics?

No, no, not at all. The opposite, actually. I mean, we always have considered this more like incredible theater than a mere concert and we are just happy to be a part of this circus. So bring on the three rings and the lions and the clowns and the trapeze, you know? It’s all beautiful. It’s all such a departure from what we usually do that we welcome the differences. We love touring with our own band and always will, but we’ve had that experience for decades the way we do it and this is obviously like nothing else. To be a part of this spectacle on such a grand scale. We feel like we are getting to be a part of one of the great tours of the last 30 years and from the audience and critics response so far, it is true. Every night you can really feel how emotionally attached the crowds are to the material and to Roger.

In your travels thus far are you encountering people who have expressed interest in Venice as potential fans, or have become fans as a result of learning of your involvement?

There has been a lot of that already and it’s still very early on in the tour. The power of the internet. And a good mention in the souvenir program. I wouldn’t say the Venice sound is similar to Pink Floyd, but our influences certainly come from the same classic rock era where they were kings. Many Floyd fans also like bands like CSNY, The Eagles, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac or Beach Boys. Those artists all influenced us so you gotta figure there is a good crossover of fans where our music would fit right in with their iPods. I’m looking forward to people discovering us and coming onboard the Venice train too. We definitely put on a great live show of our own and would love people to check us out. I know some PF sites have been running portions of my tour blog so that’s a cool feeling.

Is there one moment you can name which has been entirely unique to this particular experience as a whole?

How about the whole thing? Seriously. Crazy. Here’s just one example. On the way to the show in Buffalo on the jet, our pilot got special clearance so we could circle over Niagara Falls a couple of times. I mean, come on…


(The author humbly submits…)
My Top Five Venice tracks:
“If I Were You”
A quintessential expression of those amazing Lennon harmonies wedded to sheer musical happiness.
“Think Again”
One of the most melodic and upbeat expressions of the naked truth of existence you’ll ever hear, with a great sing-along chorus (plus there’s cowbell from Kipp, how can you possibly go wrong with that?).
“Circus In Town”
A simmering yet propulsive song full of mysterious seduction, and Mark quotes a couple lines from Leon Russell’s “Superstar” towards the end.
“The Family Tree”
One of the best-loved songs in Venice’s oeuvre, a song which could only be composed and performed by those with the deepest family ties, a truly beautiful sentiment both lyrically and musically.
“High So High”
A playful ode to co-dependency (of any kind) with a great funky riff and soulful guitar solo from Michael.

(All of these tracks – save “The Family Tree” – can be heard on Venice’s live album Electric – Live and Amplified which I highly recommend; the guys have a great backing band and their energy is infectious…these songs are Love At First Listen.)


Be sure to visit the band’s website and check out their latest release Electric – Live and Amplified available on CD and digital download, as well as everything Venice-related; also please stop by the AFTA Foundation website to learn how Venice and other musicians have devoted themselves to a most worthy (and needed) cause.

Kipp Lennon is keeping a journal, chronicling the experience of joining one of the biggest tours in rock n’roll history, titled “Behind the Wall.” Entries (including behind-the-scenes photos) can be found HERE

Venice Central: www.venicecentral.com
Venice on Facebook: www.facebook.com/venicetheband
Artists For The Arts Foundation: www.aftafoundation.org

My enduring gratitude to Col Turner of A Fleeting Glimpse, Matt Levitz of Venice Central, Graham Blatnik, and of course, Michael and Kipp Lennon!

AFG Wishes to thank Julie Skaggs for facilitating & conducting this interview.

The Male Chorus with Robbie Wyckoff  (photo by Ken Murphy)

The Male Chorus with Robbie Wyckoff
(photo by Ken Murphy)

Be sure to also read the other exclusive interviews in this series with Robbie Wyckoff & Jon Joyce