In 2013 VENTS interviewed a pair of bands that had just collaborated on an album. The bands were Oklahoma City’s LESS LOVE and Wondernaut. The project was the unprecedented Paradigms in the Design.
Today bands come and go with little to no staying power. Then again, a band’s failure to survive their sophomore effort is a problem as old as rock n roll itself. Seven years after that interview LESS LOVE is still going strong. Judging from the ferociousness of their new single Snow White Trash they might be even stronger than ever.
On the heels of the single’s release, celebrating a recent Los Angeles Music Video Awards nomination for Best Rock Video 2020, and anticipating the band’s new LP titled Everybody’s Somebody’s Satan, VENTS reconnected with the sole surviving members of LESS LOVE.
The last time we talked was in 2016 regarding your video for the song Horse Race. Going further back to the first time we interviewed you, what has changed in the music industry since 2013?
Sky: There are still only 12 notes (except in Asia). Other than that everything has changed.
Billy: People stopped buying music. Consequently, the albums stopped going platinum. Billboard, Nielsen, et. al. had to invent album-equivalent units, counting streams and downloads in a particular way, in order to continue certifying platinum albums.
Bands all jumped on the bandwagon of giving their music away for free (HA! Bands on the bandwagon!) People stopped listening to rock. Top 40 has gotten worse. We are in another Dark Ages with respect to many aspects of art.
You were a five-piece before. Now you are the only two left. What happened?
Billy: Certain band members moved on to aspects of life divorced from music. I sort of lost my mojo for a while and wasn’t much help when it came to anything beyond studio work. I think the state of the industry became a bit discouraging for several of us. Not that being a musician is solely contingent upon fans, sales, and recognition, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
Sky: Billy and I are the Lost Boys. All the other kids grew up. The money is not there like it once was. It cost a lot to make music and to travel from town to town. People more reasonable than us chose to quit the struggle. Rebecca is working to be a nurse right now. I think that is fantastic. She will never have to sleep on another stranger’s couch. I mean, unless she wants to.
What effect did that have on the recording of the new single Snow White Trash?
Billy: It upended the dynamic, for sure. We branched out and used several studio musicians, which was not something we often did before. Sky also met some pretty talented and prominent producers and sound engineers and brought them in. Which I approve of. It was nice to bring in some fresh blood, even if they weren’t band members, per se.
How did the two of you begin making music together?
Sky: My brother Paul Baustert was the original bass player for Billy’s band Wondernaut. Billy and I had started a friendship from that connection.
Billy: I had been somewhat prolific in the early Aughts in regards to songwriting and recording. I was on a small label out of NYC for a time and had been working on my first album. Sky approached me about helping him arrange and record some of his songs. It started out slow but snowballed after a couple of years into a full band and studio project.
The video for the song has been nominated for Best Rock Video of 2020. I am sure that is an honor. Were you surprised?
Billy: Yes and no. We’ve had a few songs and videos nominated for awards. While I absolutely love the video, I thought it would piss people off. I didn’t think anyone would nominate it for an award!
Sky: The video is hit and miss. Some people get it and say they love it. Then some people see it as just filler.
We promote the video on Rolling Stone.com and Billboard.com. The average view time per advertisement click is only 3 seconds. That is hilarious because the video starts with 2 seconds of silence. Could you imagine those poor souls sitting through 4 minutes of watching a chameleon watching them?
The award nomination is a great honor. I was also very honored that metalvideo.com added us to their roster. They specifically showcase what they decide are great videos. The fact that they added us right next to the Body Count video for “No Lives Matter” made me proud. Clearly they got what we were saying. Little things like that get me through the day.
I admit I am a bit surprised at the love the video has received. Like Billy said we were convinced everybody would hate it.
This single is our first peek at the new album Everybody’s Somebody’s Satan. Can we expect more heavy-handed gems like this from the album?
Billy: Oh yeah! This is the direction that Sky had wanted all along. I guess it is good to do things backward sometimes.
Sky: Haha we have recorded more tracks similar to SWT, but none of them are on Everybody’s Somebody’s Satan. This album is an anthology. It is our farewell to the old band. It consists of everything we ever recorded including a song Billy sang called A Thousand Sweat Soaked Silent Sorries. It was one of the first songs we recorded ten years ago. It was intended to be on our first album but we never were able to get it to sound exactly right. I gave the original tracks to producer Mike Rodriguez. The first thing he said was he wanted us to re-record it. After I convinced him I was committed to the original recordings he mixed it for us. I love what he was able to do with it.
Will we be hearing more from Wondernaut in the future?
Billy: (Shakes Magic 8 Ball) “Signs point to yes.” I had to grieve the death of the music industry for a while. But I haven’t stopped writing. In March, I moved to Moscow, Russia. I am still waiting for my music gear to arrive. Once it does, I intend to start working on new material. I have already made several local musician contacts, so I hope to have Wondernaut revived once Covid releases its grip on us all.
Well as always it has been great catching up with you guys. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us again.
Sky: It is a pleasure. Thank you for your consideration.
Billy: Thank you for having us. Always remember, if the past comes calling, don’t answer. It has nothing new to say. Say “Hi” to your Mom for me.