INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
PHOTO by GREIG CLIFFORD
Having formed late last year, Brighton four-piece Villainous are already making waves with a heavy progressive rock sound full of groove-driven guitar riffs, expansive choruses, and compelling vocals.
The emerging outfit recently unveiled a self-titled debut EP, and here is what they had to say about that, as well as a host of other band-related topics.
How did the band form?
This band was really the product of a previous band that Neil MacCallum (guitar/vocals) and Callum Armitage (drums) had been in that had never really reached its potential, but had formed a close friendship and comradeship in those two.
When that band ended, they decided to keep playing together, working on a darker, heavier, and much more progressive sound. They then filled out the line-up, bringing in Sean Stakim on vocals and Nick Read on bass, at which point, we began writing and rehearsing in earnest to fully realise this vision we had for where this band could go.
How did the name Villainous come about?
Choosing the name was by no means easy, and we went through several different iterations before settling on this one.
We wanted something straightforward and easily recognisable, but also something that sounded unique among the crowded British progressive scene, and with a touch of drama and theatricality that would set us apart from the pack.
Above all others, Villainous embodied all of that perfectly.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
Our approach to writing has always been based in creating musical journeys for our listeners. We’re not really ones for the standard verse/chorus approach. We would rather take you to new places, each exciting and different, and leaving you at the end wondering “how did we get here?“.
We want to make music that grooves, that you can feel in your body and makes you want to move with it, but we also want to write in a way that satisfies the mind as well.
What inspires the band lyrically?
Sean takes the lead on our lyric writing, and his inspiration draws heavily from themes of desolation and of survival and endurance through terrible pain and suffering.
From personal experience to stories from the news or urban legends and even some more fantastical ideas, Sean paints these dark, dystopic, and disturbed pictures for our music to live in.
We also take a lot of time in writing, and the result is lyrics and music that are crafted together, with one feeding on the other to create something greater than either part by itself.
You’ve just brought out a self-titled debut EP. How was the recording process for that?
The writing and rehearsal process for it was intense. We went from being a couple of guys jamming, to a tight and together band recording an EP to the highest standard in less than a year.
We rehearsed in six-hour slots and beat the ever-living shit out of those songs, so that when we went into the studio, we had the tracks down solid and cranked tight.
Even so, we were also lucky enough to find a producer in Win (Paul Winstanley), who was able to pick out those subtle changes or add some effects to the right parts in the right places to really take the tracks to a level above what we could have done on our own, and we’re all really pleased with the end result.
And how has the reaction been to the EP so far?
The reaction has been fantastic, and we’ve had some really great reviews from some of our friends and peers in the metal reviewer community, as well as some great comments from our fans on social media.
We think we’re surprising a lot of people with this release, because we’re not really doing anything like what most of the metal scene is focused on right now, but the reactions and comments have all been pretty universally positive in their surprise, and we honestly wouldn’t want it any other way.
We want to create something new, and that means being something unexpected.
How is the overall experience, for the band, of playing live?
A machine. We rehearse hard, so that when we get up on stage, we can hold nothing back and still deliver. I think for all of us, while working in the studio is an amazing experience, playing live for an audience who are having a good time and are into the music is what we live for.
And finally, now that the EP has been released, what are your future plans?
Our future plans have a number of different parts, some of which we can talk about now, some we think will have to wait. We will have a video release at some point next spring, and we have some great shows lined up with more in the pipeline later this year and into the next.
Beyond that, we’ve got something special cooking, but that’s gonna need a little longer before it’s ready to serve.
THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT EP FROM VILLAINOUS IS AVAILABLE NOW.
FURTHER INFO ON THIS, AND THE BAND, CAN BE FOUND HERE.