From New Jersey to Los Angeles, the gripping rock band Handsome Karnivore gives us "The Kiss from Venus" in a scorching single off their 3rd studio album, Entities from the Fog.
Formed in 2012, Handsome Karnivore initially began as a 3-piece unit, but after it came down to the "disaster dudes" Franco and Ray, they set out to reform the band and work off of its vast success. Handsome Karnivore recently released their third album, Entities from the Fog, with a blazing 5-piece lineup and a successful release show at The Mint.
Their latest album marks a new start for the band as they shift into a more direct songwriting format alongside standard rock setups, piano, organ, and keys. They never fail to swoon us with surreal lyrical themes that blend seamlessly into our realities, especially in their killer hit, "The Kiss from Venus."
This mystical and dynamic song kicks off with scorching hot guitar riffs and heavy drum breaks alongside squealing sci-fi synths that shift into a mysterious, downtempo first verse. The vocalist's raw and airy vocals haunt our speakers with intimate lyricism, taking us over to the blistering yet ethereal hook that prepares us for "The Kiss from Venus."
Handsome Karnivore then blasts us into a thrilling and lively instrumental with our heads banging with every beat. The band's transitions are seamless, and their dynamic energy truly keeps us locked in with every move. The song's outro is a whole other aspect featuring wailing guitars, choir background vocals haunting the way out, and an overall bang-up instrumental that's like a whiff of smelling salts.
If the album Entities From The Fog is anything like "The Kiss from Venus," we know we're in for a treat. Find this thriller of a single and the entire album on all digital streaming platforms.
We're so pleased to have you with us, we love your work on your latest project and especially "The Kiss from Venus." What inspired this electrifying record, and could you explain a bit more to us about the journey creating it? We are so pleased that you love our new record "Entities From The Fog"! Yes, "The Kiss from Venus" is a great song; we will dive into it in this interview! Hopefully, I can shed some light on your questions. The album was recorded through the entire covid 19 pandemic, which made this a unique process of recording in a way we have never experienced. Due to covid, we had to record in various locations all across Los Angeles in various forms. We recorded in bedrooms, studios, rehearsal spaces, living rooms, etc., making this record the most places we have ever recorded an album. Thankfully, with the technology of today's environment, we can afford to do this rather inexpensively!
Outside of music, the album was heavily influenced by nature, the amazing people in our lives, the world's events, along with various occult subjects, especially by Jack Parsons (a rocket scientist that invented the fuel to get the first rockets to the moon) and Aleister Crowley.
The Devil's Gate Dam in Pasadena, a place where Jack Parsons apparently opened a portal for the UFO incidents in the '40s and '50s, also right next to JPL (which Jack Parsons started, which became NASA), was a place we frequently visited during the making of the record. The songs were written over a period of several years, some reaching back to 2017. The newest being finished in 2022.
Half of the songs were written by Ray and the other half by Franco, along with Shane ( of Vigil of War), who wrote the last track, "The Abyss," with Franco. The bulk of instruments played on the record is played by Franco, Ray, and Shane. This is the first record produced by Shane Taylor as a producer and with the band.
When the trio needed outside help, there was bassist Zander (from Missouri's Moodring on tracks In The Name of Love, Fight For Yourself, She Sets The World on Fire) and live guitarist Jonathan (from Nebulaen on Invocation of The Entities as well as artwork) to answer the call. This group of guys also make up the new lineup of Handsome Karnivore.
This is the first time there wasn't a stable lineup in the band while recording the record. Dug Pinnick from King's X also played bass and produced (Be Careful) on the record as well, which added his process to the mix, which was really cool to be a part of! The amalgamation of all of these influences made this an extremely unique experience. Which, in turn, made this the shortest record we have made to date! The record is under 30min with 10 songs, but it sets you into such an atmosphere that you are ready to go back in once it's over... Hopefully! "The Kiss from Venus" has many poetic aspects. What would you say your favorite line is, and why? Thank you so much for the compliments on "The Kiss From Venus"! That song came a long way and is a band favorite. The poetic aspects come from me trying to write a spooky love song but in a surreal astrological metaphor. The middle section with the spoken word is my favorite line which goes -"With this mass, I cast into this fire, my desire, from trees, blood, bone, and booze, I choose to sacrifice, myself, In the name of you."
The reason this is my favorite line is that it is an all-or-nothing type of saying that builds with the atmosphere so well. The song kinda slows down and drops with the music while the lines set the scene. The scene starts to build and hits the climax of the song and sends you into another world when the solo hits! I tried to basically create a vibe of the dark night of the soul, the crossing of the abyss, and it comes across in a visual way.
The inspiration for this part of the song comes from Type O Negative's "Haunted" from the October Rust record. The main guitar riff is a nod to HIM from a song called "Katherine Wheel" off the Screamworks record. The main theremin sound from the keyboard is also a homage to HIM from the song "Buried Alive by Love" off the Love Metal album. We always try to tip our hats to our influences because we wouldn't be here without them! We're so intrigued by the production, how did you choose which instruments to involve and what's the production decision-making like in a band like yours? The production and what instruments for each song are extremely crucial to what you hear. We really wanted a fuller sound on all the songs this time around. We have Shane Taylor as the main producer of the record, he is also a very talented musician, especially in the realm of keyboard instruments. Shane added so many magickal touches to the songs through his playing and creative production techniques.
We believe that we are transmitters for the current of songs that surround us. We channel the song and harvest them during the writing period. Then when it comes to the productions, it's a free for all. The song will tell you what it needs, you just have to listen and add those elements that make the difference.
All the songs for the first time have keyboards, organs, mellotron, and pianos all the way through the songs or some with a combination of them. In the past, we would just use a keyboard, piano, or synth for a specific part. This new approach has shaped the sound of the record to a more dynamic outcome. Also, there are some constant elements that we are known for from previous records like spoken-word vocals, samples from movies, guitar solos, intros, and having outside musicians on tracks. We wanted to keep those elements while showcasing something new. The track "Be Careful" is produced by a friend of the band, bassist, and vocalist of King's X Dug Pinnick, whom also played bass on the track. Dug expressed to me that the track reminded him of Derek and the Dominos "Layla." To my ears, he invoked that late 60s early 70s feel, so we went for that type of arrangement. At the end of "Be Careful," there is a good example of studio magick; the instruments fade to a point where you just hear an acoustic 12-string guitar and Rays vocals. It's very Led Zeppelin!
Studio magick is also a great part of the production process. Sometimes you don't plan for a certain layer to be in there, or you get inspired on the spot to put something down you haven't done before. Recognizing these moments creates studio magick and ends up in the record in a way you can't recall. When you listen back, it's almost a mystery to how it got there, but you're glad it made it onto the song.
All this and more is a good example of how we chose and adapted to the production of this record. You have a lot of creative brains thinking outside of the box, so the scope is broad when it comes to adding instruments.
For example, "Snow In Monrovia" needed sleigh bells because we heard it on "God Only Knows" off the Pet Sounds record from The Beach Boys. So, of course, we put it in the song. Ray, having never played sleigh bells before, learned how to do it on the spot while recording. I also knew that song needed organ and piano specifically together. Shane had never played the organ before this recording session and learned on the spot when we started tracking "Be Careful." We just believe in serving the song. It's the only way to write the music.
It's about trusting your instinct, going for it, and not giving a fuck. If you listen to a lot of great music, you start getting ideas for your own songs. If we could just be a glimmer of a shimmer on the shoulders of the legends that have inspired us, then mission accomplished. As a rock band, what's been the highlight of your career so far? Explain why and what it meant for your career. We have had serval highlights throughout our ten years as Handsome Karnivore. The first thing that comes to mind is a band coming from New Jersey. After releasing our first record and playing shows as a band, Our next goal was to play the Sunset Strip clubs (Whisky A Go-Go, Viper, Roxy). So when we moved here back in 2014, we started on that dream. We accomplished 2/3 of that dream. (one day, we will play the Roxy) Having our second album release show at The Whisky in 2018 to a sold-out show was amazing! We actually had Dug join us on stage for a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," which was also a highlight and ended the night with a bang!
Another example has been the longevity and commitment we have put in over the years to continue to play shows and grow as a band in sound and song. To continue to grow as songwriters and a live band in new ways is inspiring for us. It's not easy, but we believe in what we are doing, and it only takes one song, one show to change things around. We have opened many doors while forging our way through, and we have met many incredible people along the way! To be honest, this lineup as a five-piece is a highlight! It's the best we have ever sounded! There are many check marks to go on that highlight list, but we aren't going anywhere! It's all about how you measure success, and we ain't no overnight success. We will achieve what we have set out with this band! What's next for you? Up next is us playing more shows in places we haven't played before, possibly the east coast, and hopefully getting on a festival show. It has always been a dream for us to play at a festival! At the moment, we are in the process of editing a documentary about the recording process and the album release show at The Mint this past Feb. At the same time, we are recording demos for our 4th record ( yes, we write a lot) and preparing for some live shows.
The next show coming up is at The Continental Room in Fullerton, Ca. It will be our first Orange county show, and it's on the 7th of July with our good friends Desert of Talking Shadows! Ticket info is on our social media, as well as updates on what we are up to. Thank you for this moment in time, and yes, the sun always shines in Southern California! May the moon be bright for your night!