Guitarist Vince Cuneo and drummer Jessamyn Violet were already connected and played together in various lineups in Venice’s eclectic music community. So when Foo Fighters keyboardist Rami Jaffee asked them to put together a set for a splashy pre-Cal Jam party at his Fonogenic Studios in Van Nuys last October, it seemed like a cool idea — high fun factor, low hassle. Who wouldn’t want to rock out with Dave Grohl barbecuing on the patio?
As things turned out, Cuneo and Violet found themselves backing up Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. And they received enough compliments that their creative wheels spun into overdrive.
“It was pretty wild,” Cuneo recently recalled. “Things took off from there. We had never considered being in a band together, and then this opportunity came up and both our schedules freed up from our old bands. We got a good reception so we just started writing and have been writing like crazy ever since. That’s how we were able to put two EPs out in just a few months.”
Calling themselves Movie Club, the stylish instrumental duo issued their first EP, “Kraken,” in February. That was followed by June’s “Hammerhead,” on which Lettuce bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes brings some funk to boost their surf-garage-rock tunes. Influenced by “the sounds of Venice Beach” and surf guitar king Dick Dale, they shot a free-spirited video for psychedelic opening track “Navy Seal” — a tribute to Dale — with videographer Seannie Bryan and live painter Jules Muck (plus one seriously deadpan hound).
Initial concerns about how they would fare playing only instrumentals were brushed aside as they took a cue from one of their favorite bands, Houston trio Khruangbin.
“We had been following them for a while and kind of the same thing happened: they didn’t have a singer and they were playing small clubs, and now they’re kind of a big religion in instrumental bands. They were a huge influence on us,” Cuneo said. “Both of us can sing but we speak with our instruments more.”
This month he and Violet are letting people “tune into the music” during a residency at House of Machines in downtown LA’s Arts District. Every Thursday the spacious venue, which also houses a motorcycle collection, will host Movie Club and friends; this Thursday, Aug. 8, they’ll be joined by Wargirl, Bone Acre, and Latumba. Future guests include the Haunts and Family of Light (Aug. 15); the Gnars, the Oil Barons, and Red Soul X (Aug. 22); and Los Shadows and Los Fauna (Aug. 29).
“Our music has definitely taken more shape into the rock scene,” Cuneo said, by way of explaining their amalgam of garage rock, hip-hop, surf rock, and ’90s alt-rock. “It makes for a unique sound, so when people see us it’s awesome to hear what their take is. It also frees us up, because we can make any kind of record we want from here.”
Movie Club at House of Machines, 2028 E. Seventh St., DTLA, tonight and every Thursday in August; free admission. Doors open 8 p.m. Info: movieclubtheband.com la.thehouseofmachines.com