The dark side of pop

On a mission to rise above today’s faceless sea of pop-punk artists, female-fronted Venice Joyride vows to separate itself by pushing the limits of the genre. Such a band is sure to be compared with the likes of Paramore, but guitarist Alex Pavlov says, “It’s Paramore with Balls. We have a little bit of edge that we don’t see with other female-fronted bands.” Venice Joyride has an experimental approach, encompassing the darker elements of its metal-core influences, “as opposed to the bands that are sticking to the poppier or dancy feel,” Pavlov explains. With three guitars intricately riffing over heavy drums and thumping bass, Venice Joyride incorporates that poppy feel at times, but manages to bring a unique brand of melodic mosh to the table. Frontwoman Malin Bray belts out the clean vocals backed up by bassist Ned Gardner, while rhythm guitarist Brian Wagner provides brutal screams. Pavlov and Jesse Resk duel lead guitars, and Rocco Paolone beats the drums. It’s a full house with a complex, yet tight sound. On stage, the ensemble explodes with energy under the tutelage of the fierce and sexy Bray.

Bi-coastal union

Venice Joyride was conceived when Pavlov left his native land of Canada to attend the Los Angeles Recording School and met fellow student Brian Wagner. They quickly went to work at Wagner’s home studio in Camarillo, writing and recording the album Breaking Through the Silence. These two completed the project with the help of Jesse Resk and Wagner’s cousin Max Stark (percussion/strings/keys). The only thing missing was vocals. Searching on a national scale for more than a year, Wagner and Pavlov contacted hundreds of singers and tried out seven, with no winner. One day the cosmos aligned, and Brooklyn-based Malin Bray responded to one of Wagner’s ads. He followed the link to her old band’s music video and “fell in business love,” he says. “Her voice was absolutely spectacular, and I knew that she was a perfect fit.” Bray flew to California in October 2011, and the deal was sealed after four days of writing lyrics and laying down vocal tracks.


Highway Star

 Upon her first pilgrimage to California, Bray booked her stay at a Venice Beach hotel. Each morning, Wagner would drive to Venice, pick her up, come back to Camarillo for recording, then drop her off again at night. The tiresome commute was a blessing in disguise for Wagner, since the car rides proved to be inspirational for Bray. She spent her time as passenger listening to the instrumental tracks, formulating lyrics and fine-tuning melodies. “Essentially, most of my contributions were written back and forth in the car,” she says, explaining how this led to her proposal of a band name, “What about Venice Joyride?” The name was a joke at first, but after the laughs died down everyone agreed it was a keeper.


On the fly

Venice Joyride recruited the rest of the band with just enough time to tighten the set before unveiling its debut live performance in May at the Whisky-a-Go-Go, followed by a show at the House of Blues. The East Coast and international members have since returned to their respective homes until the next string of gigs. With a business-minded work ethic and intentions set on blowing the roof off the music industry, Venice Joyride expects to storm the West Coast, and the rest of the nation, very soon. 

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