Jessamyn Violet began playing piano when she was little, and while she was in grad school, she became interested in drumming. It intimidated her that the drums seemed to be a “man’s world,” but her first drum teacher told her, “just play with your soul,” and she ended up joining several bands including Bambi + Felix and Picturas. Vince Cuneo started off playing drums, but later switched to guitar and played in the project Violet Rose. They met at the Hollywood pub Cat & Fiddle in April, 2017 and created what is now the Venice, CA-based band Movie Club.
Movie Club is known for its minimalist sound, usually only consisting of Violet’s drumming, Cuneo’s guitar, and sometimes another guest musician. Such guests have included bassist Erick ”Jesus” Coomes (Dr. Dre, Lettuce, Kanye) and, on their next EP Man o’ War, bassist Tim Lefebvre (David Bowie, Black Crowes).
Man o’ War comes out on March 31, and they’ve just released the cinematic music video for the EP’s lead single, “Bones.” We talked to the band about the concept behind the song and video, their minimalist style, and the musicians who have influenced and collaborated with them.
AF: What’s the concept behind the video?
JV: We were interested in making music videos that are almost like mini action movies. Obviously, our name makes this relevant, but also we wanted to develop some entertaining proof-of-concept for our songs because a goal of ours is to get our music into films and TV.
AF: What’s with the wolves?
JV: In order to make any action movie good, you need captivating bad guys. We live on a street in Venice with a surprisingly high number of huskies, so we joked about asking the neighbors to lend us their wolves for some cool music video shots. Then, miraculously, these two white wolf masks were just sitting there at our local costume shop, waiting to be put into action. To get into character, we watched old cartoons featuring the “big bad wolf.”
VC: We shot “Moonbow,” the first of our interchangeable white wolves mini features, on our home turf in Venice. “Bones” was filmed at an abandoned water park called Dolores Lake out in Barstow. Dustin Downing, our talented Director of Photography for both these videos, discovered the spot driving back and forth from Vegas. Both music videos include fun references to some of our favorite films and music videos, including Mad Max and Indiana Jones, among others.
AF: What’s behind the title of the song?
JV: Since we don’t have lyrics, we usually pick a name based on the vibe of the song.
VC: “Bones” is a badass yet simple song, and has a desert rock kind of feel.
AF: Why do you tend to keep your music to three instruments?
JV: Movie Club was formed on the principal of doing what we can with what we have. We embrace the minimalist union because it makes us different from other instrumental bands. Our songs have strong cores. We perform live as a high-energy duo but have always believed in putting great bass on the recordings.
VC: Sometimes, we have special sit-ins for our sets, and that’s really fun. But overall, we’ve gotten positive feedback on the duo performances, so we’re gonna keep riding that wave.
AF: What else would you say is unique to your style?
JV: We think the most unique part of our package is how our songs are short and to-the-point.
VC: We’re basically making no-frills rock songs without lyrics.
AF: Who are your biggest influences on this EP, and in general?
JV: Man o’ War is definitely a heavier album than the first two because of certain artists we’ve been listening to lately.
VC: Bands like Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and The Budos Band are certainly rubbing off on us.
JV: Overall influences include ’90s grunge as well as Khruangbin, who showed us that the world is warming to instrumental bands with a strongly developed sound.
AF: Who are your favorite musicians you’ve collaborated with?
The bass players who have played on our albums are both extraordinary people and musicians. Erick “Jesus” Coomes is a funk/hip hop legend and writes the grooviest bass lines on the spot. It’s incredible to watch him work. We discovered Tim when he was playing with Vince’s favorite guitarist, Derek Trucks. Tim’s work on the last David Bowie album made us think, well, any band would be lucky to have him in the mix, but having him on our newest tracks would be a great fit. He was amazing to work with, so professional, and he added a cool sonic element to the tracks on Man o’ War.
AF: What are you working on now?
VC: We’re using the quarantine time to work on writing and recording demos for our first full-length album, which we hope to lay down whenever the world is in a safer place.
Follow Movie Club on Instagram for ongoing updates.