Musician to Musician: Venomous Maximus
I had been hearing about Venomous Maximus for a couple years. From the name, I’d expected an all-out blitz of Slayer-type metal, a type of music that I have no interest in whatsoever. However, when they shared the Bryan/College Station Loudfest bill with my band, Alkari, what I discovered instead was a classic rock/metal group in the vein of Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio, and The Scorpions. Sometimes reality is way better than what you expect!
After that show, I found myself wanting to learn more about the band, so I wrote them for an interview, and singer/guitarist Gregg Higgins and drummer Bongo granted me some insight into the band (which also includes Christian Larson on guitar and Trevi Biles on bass). Here it is!
SCR: First, how about a short bio on the band? Anything about how you met and what drew you to each other would be cool…
Gregg Higgins: We were brought together by tattoos, whiskey, and Black Sabbath. So far we have a 7-inch, Give Up the Witch, and a EP, The Mission, out on vinyl from Cutthroat Records. New album is coming soon. Label is TBA. East coast tour in July.
Tell me about your instruments and what amps you use. Have you been using this equipment long? Is it your ultimate set up or do you have a fantasy guitar or amp? Was there a particular reason you picked what you did?
Gregg: When it comes to amps, you can’t go wrong with Marshall. The Gibson/Marshall combo is reasonable for rock ‘n roll. I use Marshall on our record, and I use a Laney live. Bongo plays Vestalite drums. Long live John Bonham. We are in the process of getting some custom gear, too. Gear is nice and everything, but what’s most important is the brain that drops the sword. I could slay any of these sons of bitches on a Squier.
I am especially interested in hearing about that monstrous bass drum. What is that, a 24-inch?! It sounded amazing in Bryan…
Bongo: 26-inch! I like to be a part of a long tradition of Vestalite users, and no double bass pedal ever!
Where do your song ideas come from? A single person or as a group? What’s it like for you writing music, whether together or alone?
Gregg: I come up with titles, lyrics — “The Skeleton” — but in the writing process, I always keep every band member in mind, giving them room to create. I believe that our process is reasonable for how we sound. Truly a band together, writing music. Ideas come from a combo of life experience and learning to explain it through an artistic filter, but I consciously try to keep my inspiration from other things besides music.
Do you have a favorite place in Houston to play?
Gregg: Rudz and Fitz. I love Fitz because I can be, “Say, girl you wanna come hang out backstage?” [laughs]
What is your favorite part of being on stage?
Gregg: Being able to take a break from who I am in reality, being able to feel the crowds energy and throw it back. It’s almost like a psychic hot potato, if you will.
Other favorite Houston bands and national bands?
Gregg: My favorite Houston band is Arthur Bates. Anything that weirdo does is genius. We are really into European music.
Any great albums you’re listening to, of any era?
Gregg: Yeah! Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii! And lots of ’70s psych.
What got you most excited about playing Free Press Summerfest?
Gregg: The Flaming Lips doing Dark Side of the Moon. END
(Photos: Gregg Higgins & Trevi Biles; Bongo; Christian Larson. All photos by Jason Smith.)