Sometimes I'll go to record a song. How long is the song? Three minutes and thirty seconds. And it takes, like, eighteen hours to record it. The process is so grinding, because the vocals are so un-natural for me. The best part is when it is done. It will be like "wow, I can do that!" - Jandre Nadal
What series of events unites a few strangers to make music together? Is it a cosmic anomaly or destiny? Jandre Nadal, John Feliciano, Edgar Ramos and JuanMa Font gravitated towards each other because of a shared desire to create intoxicating and sublime music. Message to Venus has unyielding, blistering tracks with great depth, melding dreamlike sounds with unheard-of guitar strength, tight bass, high-energy drums and powerful melodic vocals since 2009.
With their well-received EP, "The Envelope," Message to Venus is hard at work on their first full-length album, titled "Victims & Villains". Here to give us the 411 is band member Jandre Nadal.
JN: What's going on, man?
MS: Not much, what's going on with you?
JN: Everything's cool, just got done running a few errands.
MS: I really like your guys' music, by the way.
JN: Thanks a lot, man. I appreciate it.
MS: I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it. How did you guys meet?
JN: Puerto Rico is a pretty small island, you can cross it in about two hours. There's a lot of people here, though, about 320 something million. Rock in Puerto Rico is a scene, so everybody in the rock scene basically knows each other.
I used to play in this band called Slimy Nuggetz from 1999 to about 2004. We were a pretty big band. We were like Rage Against the Machine meets Pantera meets 311. I started doing Message to Venus as my own project. There was this band named De'fekt which I played a lot with my previous band. They were hustling around for about ten years on the local scene, which was John, Edgar and JuanMa. They had more-or-less done a "new album," I say that because it more-or-less became an album by Message to Venus.
The musicians with Slimy Nuggetz were older; they had kids, families and they just wanted to have fun, and I was trying to take things a little more seriously. So the vocalist for De'fekt left the band. He walked off the stage during a gig and said "I can't do this anymore." So he left the band with this whole record recorded and no vocals. Leo Alvarez, who was the producer, and someone I had worked with, called me and said "Hey, I know you are looking for musicians and I got this band looking for a vocalist. I think you guys are on the same page, and you can work something out." We've been hitting it off ever since then and trying to finish off this record we're doing with Leo.
MS: Is that the "Victims & Villains" album?
JN: That's how that record is being done, all that music was intended for another vocalist. The sound is a little heavier than I wanted Message to Venus to go, but it's also pretty interesting because we are opening other territory and it has been a huge challenge to me vocally. Leo has been pushing my limits to a level that is even frustrating to me. I feel sometimes I would have done some of the things differently or in another key musically, but that is the greatness of the challenge.
MS: I completely understand, challenges can be frustrating, but they can yield something great.
JN: Leo is a very tense guy, a perfectionist, but very patient. Sometimes I'll go to record a song. How long is the song? Three minutes and thirty seconds. And it takes, like, eighteen hours to record it. The process is so grinding, because the vocals are so un-natural for me. The best part is when it is done. It will be like "wow, I can do that!"
MS: You will feel like you have accomplished something when you have done it.
JN: Definitely. It's something I didn't think I could do. It really brings me out of my comfort zone, which is a cool thing.
Message to Venus - "Universal You" (Official Video)
MS: So, why the band name Message to Venus? There's got to be a story behind that.
JN: When I was working on the Message to Venus project initially, it was going to be a side gig. I just wanted to do music I really enjoyed playing. I was looking to do something a little more '90's-style rock, ya know? I was really into Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains. I grew up with bands like that. I listened a lot to the early albums of Bush. I wanted to play rock music that had an edge and was aggressive, but that my girlfriend at the time could appreciate it as well.
What I had in mind was something heavy, but very melodic. I didn't want to go for the "I hate you, I'm gonna rip your head off," ya know? "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!" type of thing. (laughs) I love that music, I still listen to it, but it's not what I want to do.
MS: Very cool.
JN: Message to Venus is actually a song. It was the first song I ever wrote. The song wasn't working, but the lyrics I loved and I always liked the title. Contrary to popular belief, Message to Venus does not refer to a woman. It describes the vibe of the music I wanted to make. Very spacey, a lot of guitar and vocals. I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd. I wanted to mix a lot of that '60's and '70's rock with the modern, early Y2K music.
MS: There is a great vibe to your music. That's probably why I am drawn to your single, "Universal You." There's a dreamy quality to it. It blends a lot of types music that I like. I'm not sure how anyone does that, but you guys have.
JN: That's exactly what I was going for. Pushing the envelope and the envelope was basically that type of vibe. I do most of the writing of the songs in those styles of music. The guys come in and they put their little touches on them, which is always necessary. The new record, "Victims & Villains," vibe is a lot more aggressive. Three of the tracks have that heavy spacey, dream-like thing going on. The rest is heavy, but it's always melodic. I'm going to be really proud of this record, because it was so much work.
MS: You guys are going to get to where you want to go. Trust me, I can tell.
Michael Shinafelt has covered pop & dance music since he first burst on to the writing scene, interviewing everyone from pop icon Olivia Newton-John to pop artist E.G. Daily. Not to mention the many dance divas (male and female) who he has crossed paths with. Other interviews of note are Pamela Anderson, Heidi Fleiss, as well as cover stories on Margaret Cho and Kathy Griffin. Peace.