The music of Richmond, Virginia’s Sensual World is post punk at its finest - energetic, dark, a little chorus-y, and angular. There’s a fair amount of goth rock in there for good measure, too. They’re an appealing band for all the right reasons, and they’ve managed to go the independent, DIY route in a way that feels wholly authentic and with the songs as their priority.
The band, who just released a new promo recording online ahead of a multi-city run, lands in Savannah on June 15 for a gig at The Jinx with a multi-genre lineup of artists that include Dope KNife, Monsoon, and Faucet Talk. Ahead of the show, we spoke with band members Julie Karr and Kris DiBenedetto.
How did you guys get started?
DiBenedetto: When I moved to Richmond a few years ago, Marina—who plays bass—and I were good friends and had been talking about starting a Wipers type of band. Other Chris [Marshall], who had played drums in bands with Marina for a few years, started working on it with me for a few years until Julie and Marina came together.
So you always pretty much knew what kind of band you wanted to be?
DiBenedetto: Yeah, I pretty much have blinders on for anything that isn’t Masshysteri or Wipers, for the most part [laughs].
Karr: And then I came in and kind of ruined the vocal [laughs]. I do get a little Wipers-y on the songs.
Is the writing process pretty collaborative? How does it typically work?
DiBenedetto: Generally I bring in a skeleton and then we flesh it out.
Karr: Kris brings in the guitar parts, and we work through that. We mix in odds and ends, and then I work on the lyrics. Based on what fits lyrically, or if there’s a melody that sticks out, we might adjust from there. But typically that’s how it works.
Are there any lyrical themes or subjects that you’re most interested in writing about under the umbrella of this band?
Karr: I don’t know if there’s necessarily any thematic intention. I definitely, in the last year, have listened to a lot of cult podcasts and thought about a lot of that stuff [laughs].
How would you characterize the scene in Richmond? Are there other bands in your wheelhouse?
DiBenedetto: I like Richmond because I feel like there’s a lot of different stuff going on, and it all sort of blends together. We play shows with death metal bands, indie rock bands, pop punk bands, other goth rock bands, hardcore bands, and noise rock bands.
Karr: Yeah. Richmond is cool because it still has that college town vibe in a lot of ways. It’s a small but very densely populated city, so that leads to kind of a hustle-bustle feeling but also a tightness. So there’s a lot of diversity in the music that’s out there, and I think that’s a huge strong point of [the scene]. It lends itself to some cool shows. There are always some cool things happening - sometimes too many cool things [laughs].
DiBenedetto: I’m from Chicago and I used to live in Philly, and you’d very rarely see a death metal band on a show with a hardcore band or a post punk band or anything like that. Just because the city is so big that the scenes get more separated. When it’s bigger and there’s so much more going on and the places are more spread apart, it’s harder to keep an eye on everything.
As Julie said, Richmond is densely populated but it’s a small city with a lot going on. So things just kind of get thrown together more. It’s cool.
Does it feel like everyone is in each other’s corner despite the musical differences? Do the bands seem to support each other?
DiBenedetto: Yeah! Like any city, there’s still some separation of scenes somewhat.
Karr: There’s always going to be some groups that are insular, but I think by and large a lot of folks playing music are very supportive of each other. A lot of folks help other folks get gigs. I think there’s a lot of community and a lot of tight knit folks here. I’ve lived in Richmond off and on for 11 years, and it’s always been great to see folks helping each other out. Having each other’s back, putting each other on fun shows - when someone puts out something cool they let their friends know about it. It’s rad.