Reviews Zone

Mark Vennis & Different Place: Small Town Vampire (Gravel Track Music) Out Now


3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)



Punk had it. Singer, guitarist and songwriter Mark Vennis and his band Different Place have it. What is it? P.A.E. = Power, Attitude & Energy…

Their seven-track “mini album” as they call it, is unashamed retro stuff that could well be a long lost gem from the vaults of any British punk label back in the 70s.

But it is not…This is brand new and sees Mister V park his day job as a film producer, to join his mates for some musical exploits across this seven track offering.

Bit of background: Mark’s day job is in film as a successful producer, with credits such as a film I loved when I saw it some time ago: “Funny Cow”, starring the brilliant Maxine Peake. It is based on the late comedienne Marti Caine I think. Richard Hawley did the music.

Mark is also behind the biog’ on female punk band The Slits, “Hear To Be Heard” [I saw/met The Slits with The Clash circa ’78 or ’79],  and the Don Letts profile, “Rebel Dread”. Mark has just supplied the incidental music to anti-racism / fascism documentary “On Resistance Street”.

With his other hat on, that of an artist and band leader, Mark Vennis has a decent back catalogue of three albums before this new one, plus an EP and a bunch of singles, since 2012.

There was the album, “Uncharted Water – Faded Glory And Other Stories” in 2012, “Ain’t No Choice” EP in 2017, the albums, “A Beautiful Lie Or The Ugly Truth” in 2018 and “Fighting On All Fronts” in 2020.

Mark and the band are from Hampshire in the UK. Their songs are penned by Mark, soaking up influences such as The Clash, Paul Weller and ‘The Man In Black’, Johnny Cash.

Mark Vennis plays guitar and takes lead vocals, Sean Quinn is on guitar and percussion, Dave Sweetenham is on bass and Brian Gee is drummer.

Seven tracks on this so-called “mini album”, opening with the title cut, “Small Town Vampire” and offering 24 minutes of their originals, in total. Mark’s vocals are raw and unpolished, and that is a snug fit for the style of stuff this band showcase on this release.

Title track “Small Town Vampire” reminded me of The Stranglers’ style of punchy rock and roll with a punk attitude. “Same Old Story” nods to The Clash/The Stranglers again. “Wild Suburban Boy” starts off with the main vocal too low in the mix, but that is remedied later in the track.

“Slip These Chains” and “World Stops Turning” features guitar solos. “Hiding In Plain Sight” is a track that could make a decent single. The set closes with “Familiar Feeling Of Falling”.

Mark and his band are not reinventing the wheel, and nor would they claim to be. They are having fun and expressing themselves with a bunch of retro style, punky original songs with what sounds like ‘on the down lo’ production, to mirror the authentic punk recording values of that era. Check ’em out – if you like Marmite!


Words: Christopher Weston



1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’





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