Ex-Oceansize man Mike Vennart on making laptop music with British Theatre
They tour with one of the UK’s biggest rock bands, but behind the scenes, ex-Oceansize duo British Theatre are making huge sonic leaps with their new take on electronic music.
They do say opposites attract. As people, Mike Vennart and Richard ‘Gambler’ Ingram make chalk and cheese look like peas in a pod. The gregarious Vennart is a dyed in the wool chatterbox, a man for whom swearing is so central to conversation it’s almost used as punctuation, a rock guy who cut his teeth on Adam Ant (“The first record I ever bought was Antmusic. If you listen to that today it’s still barmy”), Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, a born frontman with a cheeky streak a mile wide. By contrast, Gambler is quiet, studious, happier to observe things around him than make idle conversation, a brilliant, classically-trained pianist who recently moved to the sleepy Peak District town, Hadfield, in which The League Of Gentlemen was filmed and who had his musical epiphany when he unearthed his dad’s copy of Oxygène by Jean-Michel Jarre as a child. And yet, as a unit, they share a creative chemistry that predates their celebrated old band Oceansize by seven years, and which has consistently proven itself a fertile ground for music that consistently manages to be challenging and instantly arresting all at the same time.
“It’s a weird one because me and Mike are just polar opposites,” says Gambler. “He’s the extrovert that won’t shut up and I’m the introvert that doesn’t really talk all that much. But that kind of thing works. I think gradually as we’ve known each other our musical tastes have kind of weaved in and out a bit.”
“I have a strange sort of, not fear of Gambler, but respect for him,” adds Vennart. “There’s a certain look that he gives me sometimes when I’ve said something fucking stupid. And he doesn’t even have to tell me, he’ll just raise his fucking eyebrows at me and I’m like, alright, I’d better shut my mouth for a minute. So in that respect he’s quite
a minimalist kind of guy in his personality, he doesn’t give very much away. But he just knows what he wants to do. It’s not that he’s uncompromising or set in his ways, there’s just absolutely no bullshit with him.”