Pleasure Venom talks punk, politics, and “Death”

Jennifer Martinez

Wooden floorboards squeaked under worn biker boots as Austin punk band, Pleasure Venom, worked the set of their newest music video: “Death.”

In anticipation of their upcoming EP, frontwoman Audrey Campbell sat down to chat with The Daily Texan about Pleasure Venom’s artistic journey.

The Daily Texan : How did Pleasure Venom get started?

Audrey Campbell: My journey started when I moved here and joined a band called Danny Price & The Heist. I wasn’t at the helm of that band and wasn’t doing what I wanted to do, so I decided, “I’m going to do a solo project. I’ll make sure shit gets done,” so I started the band. It started as wanting to make videos and music, and people picked it up. It’s weird kismet s***.

DT: Do you think Pleasure Venom is following a punk tradition rooted in delivering political statements?

AC: I can’t help but feel like we have a responsibility. I’m a woman, I’m black, I’m in a punk band that can be seen as scary and aggressive already and I’m not the skinniest girl. There are so many things across the board I represent. I have a responsibility to show that women — particularly black women — can be multifaceted and not just a stereotype. That’s the point of today’s shoot. We have women, we have non-binary people, we have women of color, people of color and they can all be whoever they want to be without being put in a box. And there’s a lot of fucked up stuff going on. I need to say something.

DT: “Seize” and “These Days” are music videos full of protest imagery. What spurred their themes?

AC: With “Seize,” I decided we were going to wear suits and splice protest footage. There’s KKK footage. There’s alt-right footage. There’s “Black Panther” footage. There’s Black Lives Matter footage. It’s showing how not that much has changed. There are still a lot of racial and inequality issues we need to address. It’s very much about the times. That’s where “These Days” comes from too. It’s like, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. There’s imagery of explosions because it seems like that’s where the world is right now, but people are still walking around as if everything is fine.

DT: Has Austin been welcoming of a punk band fronted by a black woman?

AC: It’s been a struggle. I’ve literally apologized to my band for being black because I think if I were white and doing the exact same thing, they would go further. There are different opportunities. You see bands that have been around for a year playing big shows. We’re going on four years. It finally feels like we’re there, but I have to do certain things where I can’t care about being a b****. I just try to be more upfront about what I want to serve as my music.

DT: What message will the “Death” music video portray?

AC: It’s a celebration. It should be okay for women, people of color and queer people to have frivolous fun without fear of something really bad happening. There are certain shots we filmed that show how bad it can get. It doesn’t have to go that far. People should be able to have fun. It’s not a big deal.