One of the very first events Hmoodle attended was the Project Muunoo Event at Moonlight Magic Lounge in Saint Paul. It was there we had our very first glimpse of Major 5th. I was very impressed before they even ended their first song. The crowd was having a good time prior to Major 5th taking the stage, but it was only then did the party start.
Since then the band has gone through some changes. They lost their bass guitarist Washy Lee who was an original member, which forced the band to change their style and their sound. Although Washy is sorely missed these changes seem to be a good thing. With the change in style also came a new name, Venus on Fire.
Although there has been a name change, as well as a change in sound, Venus on Fire still has their core members which allow them to have continued success. They are made up of Daniel “Jak” McNellis, Leng Moua, Andrew Pen, David Yang, and Victoria Vang. The guys make up the awesome instrumentals while Victoria leads the way with her stunning vocals—a winning combination.
Watching Venus on Fire perform live is drinking a whole bunch of energy drinks. You just can’t sit still because whether you know the lyrics or not, you can still feel and enjoy the music. The crowds must agree with me because the seats empty faster then last bell before summer vacation. Venus on Fire is a must see live band.
The group has also put together a demo, with four songs. Not only that, but they were recently booked to perform on the Hot Topic Tour, which has them performing at thirteen different Hot Topic locations in the greater Minnesota and Wisconsin area. They’ve gone from impressing me and the rest of the Twin Cities, to sharing their music with fans that make their way into the Hot Topic stores clamoring for their CD’s. This is just the beginning for this young band.
After finding out about the name change, I had to see what was going on with the band. We recently met up and had great conversations about the band’s past, the changes that were made, and what they expect of themselves in the future.
Ryan: I’m here with Venus on Fire formerly known as Major 5th. Last time we saw each other was at the PSA Rock Band Event. At that event you were starting your transition from having six members to five, since you lost Washy. How has that transition been?
Victoria: It really sucks to lose someone, especially an original member and good friend. I tried the guitar and singing in the beginning, but I wasn’t able to do it, but I gave it a try.
Jak: I think in the end, it helped evolve our sound more. It went from two guitars to one guitar. We all had to adapt and change our style.
Ryan: How long do you think the transition took?
Leng: It’s hard to define when we fully developed as a group, but you could say that for us to come to the point where we play this type of music, it took about a year. When he (Washy) left we were still playing our old style of music.
Ryan: So, you are saying your music has changed since then?
Victoria: We finally found our sound. Before we were experimenting and we were playing really dark music. Now we’re much more fun with different melodies.
Ryan: More upbeat?
Jak: Yeah much brighter.
Victoria: If you listen to No Doubt, it’s like that, but we sound like Venus on Fire.
Ryan: I know when we last saw each other at the PSA Event; you guys were just starting to get into the studio. Is that right?
Leng: Wow, that was so long ago. I think we were about to get into the studio.
Ryan: How was the studio experience compared to playing live?
Andrew: It’s hard. A lot harder than we all thought it would be. We’d have to do the same series of the song over and over again trying to make it perfect.
Victoria: In the studio you don’t get to play together. You all have to do your separate parts and fit it all together.
Jak: David would have to come in with his drums and try to sync with us, which is very difficult to do, so it took a few times. In the end though, it was fun.
Ryan: Was the studio experience different then you thought it would be?
Leng: I loved being in the studio. The whole atmosphere with five people having a common goal was great. It was fun, but you can only listen to your song so many times, but when you have the finished product you learn to appreciate what you’ve done.
Ryan: So how long did it take to put this demo together?
Victoria: We recorded that at two different studios. The demo music is split between the two studios. The first studio we recorded at was when we were shopping cheap, so the sound isn’t quite as good. It was hard because had to find the right studio that could truly present our sound the way we wanted it to be heard.
Ryan: I know you guys are from different parts of Minnesota and going to school at the same time, so was the demo difficult to put together?
Victora: I was in Duluth when they recorded their parts.
Jak: Yeah, we recorded all the instrumental parts of the songs and then she (Victoria) had to come back and do the vocals.
Leng: So it took about 2-3 days for the old songs, but the newer stuff was a bit longer, because we wanted to make it cleaner and the studio took their time with us to ensure we had a good result.
Ryan: Alright, so what was the reason behind the name change?
Victoria: After Washy left who was the one that actually named the group Major 5th, we felt with the new change of music we needed a name more fitting to our group. Plus we wanted something with a catchier name.
Ryan: Sort of like rebirth of sorts?
Victoria: Yeah. I’m not sure how we came up with the name though.
Ryan: I watched a video on your Myspace page that shows you guys on the Hot Topic Tour. How did that come about?
Leng: We met Tonya, who is the Hot Topic store manager in Blaine. She wanted to listen to our music, because we were there promoting a show, so we gave a CD to play and she played it over the speakers at the store. She was blown away.
Victoria: Yeah, so she contacted her district manager and so he agreed to give us a tryout at the regional Hot Topic stores. If we do well then we hope something more will happen.
Ryan: Are there decent size crowds coming to the events?
Victoria: It’s different because not a lot of people know us, but that’s what this tour is about. It really helps to get our name out there. We’ve had a lot of good feedback after our shows.
Ryan: How many more dates do you have left?
Victoria: After this week we’ll headed to Wisconsin. We have some local shows. On Thursday, August 13th we will be at the Hot Topic in Maplewood.
Ryan: Are you selling your album?
Victoria: We sell the album on the tour, but we are selling our singles digitally. You can check our Myspace for further details.
Ryan: You’ve done a lot so far as a group. What are you further plans for the upcoming year?
Victoria: We are trying to become apart of NACA.
Ryan: I’m very familiar with NACA. For our readers, NACA is the National Association for College Activities. Wow, if you guys get into a NACA that will open lots of doors for you.
Victoria: Yeah, we are excited.
Ryan: How did you guys get hooked up with that?
Victoria: They found is through Myspace and contracted Vlad, our manager.
Vlad: Yeah, they contacted us and right now we are in the preliminary stages. We are in the first pool of performers and now we wait to see if you make it into the second pool. Right now it’s a waiting game.
Ryan: It seems like things are falling in to place for you guys. What do you guys expect from yourselves in the following year?
Leng: We just want to keep making music and playing in front of people. Sometime along the way we will produce full album, but we’ll do that when the time is right.
Ryan: I want to thank you guys once again for being apart of Hmoodle. We are your biggest fans!
Venus on Fire: And thank you Hmoodle.
I have to admit I’m sort of bias when it comes to this band. I feel like I’ve known them forever, because I’ve gotten to see them perform on many occasions, and yet it never gets old. They are a young band, but they act and perform like veterans. Every time we’ve set something up with them, they’ve been on time and been very professional.
In a previous article I compared them to No Doubt, so it was funny to make that same comparison. Enough can’t be said about their live performances. I’ve seen them perform in front of small and large crowds, but nothing changes. They still rock out and electrify the crowd like they are headlining a world tour. Everyone in attendance gets their money’s worth.
Time will only tell what’s up next for this group, but with the continued hard work and dedication, I can’t see how they can fail. They are friends first and band mates second and as close as family. I hope that this is something that continues because that bind can keep them together, focused, and successful.
Here are some of their future tour dates, if you’d like to catch them live:
Aug 12 2009 7:00P HOT TOPIC Blaine, Minnesota
Aug 13 2009 5:00P HOT TOPIC Maplewood, Minnesota
Aug 14 2009 4:00P HOT TOPIC Burnsville, Minnesota
Aug 16 2009 4:00P HOT TOPIC Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Aug 17 2009 7:00P HOT TOPIC La Crosse, Wisconsin
Aug 18 2009 4:00P HOT TOPIC Wasau, Wisconsin
Aug 19 2009 6:00P HOT TOPIC Appleton, Wisconsin
Aug 21 2009 6:00P The Garage Burnsville, Minnesota
For further details and information go to: http://www.myspace.com/venusonfire
Once again, I need to thank Venus on Fire, as well as their manager Vladimir Xiong for putting together the meeting for our interview. I had a great time and hope to see you guys perform soon. We at Hmoodle want to wish you continued success as you chase your dreams in the music industry.
If you have questions, comments, or know of a group or artist that should be featured on Hmoodle, then you can contact me at [email protected]