Doris (Doz) Brendel is an extremely well accomplished artist from the U.K. that has been enjoying a glorious musical career for more than two decades now. Doris is the talented daughter of world acclaimed pianist Alfred Brendel, who is now retiring, and Iris Brendel, another artist with international acclaim who, sadly, passed away a couple of years ago.
Way back in 1988/89, Doris joined a group called Telefunken U47, which was, at that time, entirely instrumental. I have a strong recollection of being introduced to this band through a free CD from a British music magazine. I can say that it was a great piece of experimental progressive rock that made its mark on me at a stage in my life when I was regularly blowing amps and speakers with my passion for loud rock music.
Telefunken U47 then changed their drummer, removed the saxophonist and added Doz on vocals to become The Violet Hour. The band recorded five demos and got signed to Sony in 1990 and released “The Fire Sermon,” produced by Pete Brown, in ‘91. Now,The Violet Hour are regaining a lot of well-deserved interest and the album is scheduled to be reissued in March 2010.
Doz is now working on her latest album, “The Last Adventure,” which is sure to once again spotlight her immensely rich and husky vocal style and endless innovation and creativity. The Rock and Roll Report recently spoke with Doz.
Q: Could you tell us a little about the progression between your various projects and name any influences that you my wish to mention?
A: I am one of these odd musicians who value silence as much as music. It allows me time to think and makes me feel less inclined to copy someone else’s style when song writing. Consequently, my influences – and it’s impossible not to be influenced – are exceedingly varied and have inevitably been added to over time.
Having been brought up with classical music initially, it was the discovery of The Beatles which first ignited my enthusiasm for ‘alternative’ music. My consequent eclectic tastes have always been reflected in my compositions. At school I enthused about Pink Floyd and Led Zep and generally shunned mainstream trends.
The Violet Hour was unique for me in the sense that I wasn’t the only songwriter. Mark Waite became very accomplished and brought his own influences to the music. At that time I was still writing far more traditional rock music and the progressive elements must be attributed to the rest of the band rather then myself. This is fairly clearly reflected in my following recordings “If” and the “Acoustic Album”: the songs are generally traditional in structure and hold many influences and genres. The onus has been very much on melody and vocal arrangements.
“Holy Cow,” on the other hand, stands out from the rest. Russ Conway from Polygram approached me to form a rock band and had a great deal of fun writing guitar riffs. “DB,” which was recorded several years later, lacked any pressure or direction, making it more multi-genre than ever and became a vehicle for some experimentation. “Jack in the box,” for example, was me having a go at writing a girly pop song. Though it did also produce some of the best songs I’d written to date.
“The Last Adventure,” which is the forthcoming album, has built on that even further. The songs are far more cohesive than ever and for the first time I feel that every song on the album has substance. The style is varied as usual, covering rock, progressive rock, pop, funk and Celtic influences, often in the same song. The lyrics are similarly varied, covering some very contentious subjects down to the tongue in cheek ridiculous. Though much of the album has a retro feel about it, notably with hints of The Beatles, Cranberries and even The Violet Hour, more modern influences are evident too, such as Muse and Radiohead, who to me are two of the most innovative bands on the circuit.
A: Too many to mention really. Signing to Sony with The Violet Hour was definitely a high. Not getting on with the band on tour was a low. Generally speaking, any long-term musical career has inevitable ups and downs; good and bad gigs; good and bad reviews and so on.
Q: You have a vast amount of experience in live gigging, do you have any advice for aspiring bands and artists?
A: Oooh! Endless advice! I should run a seminar. I’ve gigged everything – original bands, solo, cover bands, show bands, dance PAs – from huge venues to small pubs; different advice for different projects.
Best quote I’ve read this year: “Music is sound and silence, the rest is marketing.” Very true when it comes to most bands. To stand out amongst the morass of available music is not an easy task. First, you need a very good product. Then, you need very good presentation and marketing in order to step from amateur to professional. Unless you’re Dream Theatre you have to assume that most of your audience are not musicians, or even particularly musical, so being self-indulgent with big solos and long intros is rarely a good idea. An audience wants to be entertained, so give them something to look at, or sing along to, or jump up and down to, or laugh at. It doesn’t matter how it’s done, as long as it works. A band of non-communicating shoe gazers with big gaps between songs will likely remain on the local pub circuit.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams and how do you hope to achieve them?
A: Having been in this industry for many years, I don’t dream about being a big “star” or have any unrealistic expectations. I’m already extremely lucky to have made a living out of music. Of course I hope that the new album will be well received, that it will get a share of good reviews and that there will be enough interest from the public to finance a European tour. CD sales are very poor across the board right now, but hopefully I’ll sell enough to pay the musicians who played on it!
Some additional financial backing would be welcomed too, but it will either materialize or it won’t. Regardless, we’re in the process of putting together a launch video and have a rather splendid album cover courtesy of Greg Bartley, thank you Greg!, and Sky-Rocket who have worked their socks off on the marketing side.
Q: Are you members of any professional music organizations?
A: Most of them: PRS, MCPS, PPL, MU, International Guild of Songwriters and have my eye on at least one more.
Q: Who would you be your favorite band to share a stage with and where?
A: That’s easy, Radiohead. Anywhere.