Interview: Meet Movie Club, a Venice Beach Duo Chomping Down Hard with New LP ‘Great White’

Movie Club © Bobby Rivero
Movie Club © Bobby Rivero
Three key music-making rules – keep it wordless, invite plenty of guests, and don’t be afraid to branch out in any creative direction – have guided Venice Beach’s Movie Club to another sensational project with ‘Great White.’
Stream: ‘Great White’ – Movie Club

It doesn’t take a word for the shark in Jaws to make its presence known – some memorable and effective music gets the job done just fine.

Similarly, with their new album Great White – the cover of which features the most famous jaws skeleton in the entire animal kingdom – California duo Movie Club keep their music as wordless as it’s been throughout most of their five-year existence. Some remarkable instrumentation and seamless collaboration with their musical peers are more than enough to make this new project a compelling listening experience.

Great White - Movie Club
Great White – Movie Club

“This album was born of a mad desire to produce more content and get another full-length album out there,” says drummer Jessamyn Violet, one half of the duo otherwise represented by guitarist Vince Cuneo. “We realize that in this insanely over-saturated world, consistency, quantity and quality are all important factors of being an active artist.”

Movie Club first formed in Venice Beach in 2018 and has remained primarily based in Southern California ever since, although they did score a residency at the LGBT-friendly venue C’Mon Everybody in Brooklyn.

Having divided their time between the two most populous urban regions and frenetic creative landscapes in the United States, it makes sense that the NYC/LA-centered duo would have crossed paths with plenty of artistic talents over time. They have funneled an impressive number of them into their own projects, having hitherto collaborated with a variety of instrumentalists, dancers, MCs, spoken word artists and other performers.

Movie Club © E.J. Hermitt
Movie Club © E.J. Hermitt

“Every time we record, we have special guests on our recordings as well,” said Cuneo. “We’re just kind of all about the conversation and getting as many different talents involved and seeing what happens. Collaboration is our favorite part [of making music].”

 “As a two-piece, we feel very confident in what we built, but it’s also fun to call a saxophonist and say, ‘Hey, would you play your instrument with us?’ for instance,” Violet agrees. “It’s really exciting to bring in artists from all different genres to join this project. It’s just been a wild ride for five years.”

That whole ride gained considerable momentum in 2020 when Movie Club released their first full-length album, Black Flamingo. Their open-mindedness to collaboration paid off, as they managed to attract some impressive pedigrees to this project. Rami Jaffee of the Foo Fighters can be heard playing the keys; Jessy Greene, who’s played with P!nk a few times, performed violin on a track; and Tim Lefebvre, the primary bass guitarist on the last David Bowie record, kept the strings raging hard throughout Black Flamingo.

Movie Club © Bobby Rivero
Movie Club © Bobby Rivero

With a baker’s dozen batch of new songs to perform live, the duo switched their focus to touring and various side projects, including Violet’s debut novel, Secret Rules to Being a Rock Star. Then, earlier this year, Movie Club landed some recording slots at Los Angeles’ Station House Studio, operated by sound engineer Mark Rains (“who is absolutely killing it on the current psych rock scene,” Violet notes). When the proverbial dust had settled, the duo had emerged with enough material to produce the full-length follow-up to Black Flamingo.

“Usually when we approach a recording, we’re not sure whether it’s going to be just one song or a full record, but we just had that jolt of inspiration and we came up with ten songs,” Cuneo explains. “Every record we do, we try to push ourselves musically and try to take different approaches to our music.”

They decided to put out the most traditional-sounding of the ten new tracks, “Thresher,” as the project’s lead single. “This one is the classic Movie Club track,” says Cuneo. “[It’s] a very good standalone, because when I hear it, I’m like, ‘This is a culmination of all our other records.'” Elsewhere, the goal was to make the new album sound more “psychedelic and spacey”— and by all accounts, that is just what resulted on Great White, which is designed to dominate fans’ minds as much as the great white shark (“I don’t know if there’s a more unique, badass animal in the wild,” Cuneo observes) dominates the ocean.

Great White stays true to the collaborative nature of the band’s back catalogue. Rains contributed a good amount of sound mixing to his guests at the studio; the duo’s friend David Ralicke layered flute, sax, glockenspiel and more on multiple songs; and Tim Lefebvre was brought back for another healthy round of bass-playing. All of that laced with Movie Club’s ever-masterful guitar and drum-playing (not to mention a bit of piano on album closer “Goblin”) amounts to a seriously captivating tour de force of a new record.

Great White takes after its named creature with a big, robust theme of unpredictability, awe, and danger,” Violet notes. “You never know what the next track will sound like. It gets darker than ever before, and lighter than ever before, and cruises everywhere in between. There are waves of sonic psychedelia we have not had the luxury of building before this album. The album goes into uncharted territory, seizes its prey, and celebrates.”

Movie Club © Bobby Rivero
Movie Club © Bobby Rivero

Movie Club premiered much of Great White on a summer residency called Psychedelic Circus — complete with clowns, magicians, burlesque dancers and contortionists — and have since continued to promote the album throughout what they describe as the busiest touring schedule of their career thus far. All the while, they hope to continue establishing their connections in the music world, both onstage and at the studio, and swim off into more creative waters than ever before.

“We’ve been playing more live shows than we ever have this year, and it’s really cool to see all over the country what people like about us and attach to about our band,” says Cuneo. “And it’s different everywhere. We just hope to keep building on that.”

“We want to show that we have seen and heard everything all our well-wishers have shared with us and it has given us the juice to keep going, no matter what,” Violet adds. “So thank you all, and hope you enjoy the Great White ride.”

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:: stream/purchase Great White here ::
:: connect with Movie Club here ::

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Great White - Movie Club

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