Tuesday, August 6, 2019
A Ripple Conversation With Kevin Jennings From MNRVA
When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?
I think my first full-on musical epiphany was when I heard the sleek, raw, cigarette stained, and sexual energy laden guitars by Jamie Hince of The Kills. The first time I saw them live, I just stared at how he was playing and how smooth and cool he was. There’s been a couple more epiphanies after that haha. Such as really honing in on and tuning into the sound of Motörhead; just how nasty Lemmy’s bass was. The rabbit hole got deeper after that of course into heavier music. I really started digging the bass sound of the band Witchthroat Serpent, which is really low and growly. That kind of shaped what became my bass sound.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?
It’s kind a different each time. Sometimes I’ll think of a riff and other times I’ll just think of a lyric phrase. It’s kind of different for this band than the other bands I’ve been in as far as writing. My writing for this band kind of goes into a darker place but sometimes I just am just re-interpreting an old story whether it be some type of legend or something I read or heard somewhere.
Who has influenced you the most?
As far as musically, I’d probably say Lemmy. His approach on everything inside and outside of playing was always awesome. He did it his way until the end.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
I’m constantly open to listening to anything that teaches me something that I wish I thought of. There’s always someone better than you, so there’s always a chance to get better. A prime example is we go to shows and festivals and really soak in how good everyone is. It definitely makes you want to go home and practice.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
There’s actually a lot musically going on in South Carolina. There are plenty of different bands from different backgrounds that play different types of music. Sometimes you can feel a southern rock vibe out of half the music and the other half is everything else. It’s really no different than any other place but it’s definitely got its own scene. There’s a few deep roots type outlaw country music popping up now, not that radio pop shit. E Z Shakes is a great example of that. Those guys tell a story with their music.
Where'd the band name come from?
In Roman mythology, Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, arts, and warfare. There are a few bands with the name, so we made it stand out with the spelling MNRVA. We have 2 English professors in the band haha.
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
If they ever made a movie based off the paintings of Zdzisław Beksiński, I’d be super stoked for that.
You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?
I’d probably say Stone’s Gone Out by David Lynch. He always has a way of describing things whether it’s in film or music. This song is described in a total David Lynch way but there’s a certain sadness in the way it’s presented. You can imagine yourself on the highway and feeling the way the character feels in the song.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
Usually it’s either driving in circles over and over to find parking to unload the van, or one of the better ones is when we have all our equipment set up and Byron‘s guitar amp picks up the country station in his speaker so all this country music is playing through if you’re not playing any music, which I kind of think is funny.
There’s nothing like playing live. Once the growl of the bass amp starts, there’s nothing like it. Once you really get into a set and you’re feeding off the crowd and the crowd is feeding off of you, it creates more of an experience that everyone really delves into.
What makes a great song?
A great song is something that can reach into you and make you feel a certain way, even if you were feeling something completely different before you heard it. Sometimes, songs can transport you to a place of experience so you can relate and some songs can just straight up transport you into another dimension depending on how high you are.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
The first song I ever wrote seriously was for my first band Turbo Gatto. It’s called Katnip. It’s basically a song about a cat looking to score some catnip in the streets.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
I’d say the song called Third Eye. It’s a pretty wicked song about the dangers of going down the wrong path and trying to open a portal to another dimension to reach a darker plane of existence and experience.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
I’d have to say this band I recently started listening to called R.I.P. Their last album was called Street Reaper and it just makes you feel like you’re going to get into a knife fight. I’ve also been listening to Monolord’s Vaenir. Man that is some heavy shit.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
I’m always down for vinyl. In the LP format you get the full scope of the artwork on the albums like I’m unboxing a present or a package. Digital is great when you’re on the go but if you have time to actually just listen to a record, then vinyl is the way to go.
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
Whiskey. It’s the one drink I’ve gotten sick off of that I can still drink. Other than beer haha. Plus you can mix it with anything.
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?
My home town is Columbia, SC and Papa Jazz is the go-to record store there. My brother Tim works there and I’ve been trying for years to get him to put me on the customer of the year list.
What's next for the band?
To keep making kick ass music for kick ass people to kick your ass.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Don’t ever sit around wondering if you can do something. Just go out and do it. I’ve had plenty of people trying to tell me I can’t do something and I just fucking did it anyways. If I can get up on stage and play music, then anybody can. You just have to find your own way to present it.