Sidelined for about a month, Villains return to the Knoxville circuit with renewed zeal. After taking time off following the birth of vocalist Ben Miller's son and auditioning new drummers, the act plans to hit the town hard before releasing an EP and taking it on the road this fall.
Previously teetering between metal and pop punk, the act says its style has matured. Together less than two years, Villains' sound is still evolving, and as the group continues to experiment, more influences are being incorporated while hope and positivity remain the band's distinguishing lyrical anchors. While its new drummer Mat Harmon accounts for some change in direction, the group attributes a larger part to increased collaboration in its writing.
"We have a ton of new material," Miller says. "Since (former drummer) Patrick (Haynes) left, we've been writing a lot more as a band. We have five totally different views of music and writing styles coming together. It's really cool stuff. The new material is very ambient with a lot more intensity. The riffs, rhythms and melodies have matured for sure."
"The music itself has taken a different direction, a little more experimental and open to new suggestions and ideas," adds bassist Matt Isaac. "Not saying it has completely changed; there's still the upbeat solid rock 'n' roll music that we all love, but there's just more space involved now, not a constant barrage of riffs. There's more creativity involved and the ability to explore various ideas and influences. We still haven't written our best songs yet, and the direction our writing is going is constantly full of surprises."
Helping to shape this sound will be new recruit Harmon, replacing Haynes, who departed the act to pursue his own writing and producing projects. Harmon's resume includes a number of bands, including Redwinterdying and Chelsea Horror, but nothing in the past five years. A longtime follower of Villains, the opening was enough to coax Harmon out of retirement. Despite some rust, Harmon hasn't missed a beat, so to speak, and it didn't take long for him to pick up the catalog. This week will mark his premiere show with the band.
"Me and all these guys have been friends for a while and have all been playing in bands for years now and have shared the stage numerous times," Harmon says, "so it's a really cool opportunity to finally be jamming with them in such a great band and creative atmosphere. We did take most of August off so I could learn the material, but Ben was having his child so we weren't that busy. Before Villains I hadn't played drums in almost five years, but I learned everything in a couple of weeks. Most of the drum parts on the newer songs, Ben and Chris Potocik wrote, and I came in and learned those parts with my own little twist and influence."
To showcase the band's new material and format, a five-song EP is in its final stages and its release appears to be imminent. With recording completed, Villains have shifted priorities to the live show. The act looks to up the rock ante with its performances and also to increase the frequency and magnitude of said performances, both locally and beyond.
"We want to bring a whole rock show," asserts Miller, "instead of just being a rock band that plays their songs and packs up and leaves. We have some big shows in the works. We want to keep playing and build a fan base, but also grow as musicians and a band. The second we become content and think we're 'there,' we will fall."
"We are planning on doing a lot of out-of-town shows this fall and winter," Harmon says. "If it were up to me, I'd pack up for tour and not look back. Playing shows, writing music and helping people realize their self worth through an artistic medium — man it just doesn't get any better."
Villains are set to debut their new member and new material tonight at The Longbranch Saloon with Porcelain Child and Ralley. The gig starts at 9 p.m., and admission is $5.
Shake, rattle and roll: Earthquaker shakes things up at The Well tonight (Friday). Caleb Caudle is also on the bill. The show is $5 and starts at 9 p.m.
Just the pits: Tuesday night Passion Pit returns to Knoxville, playing The Valarium with Pacific Air and The Neighborhood. Tickets are $28 in advance or $31 at show time. The concert admits ages 18 and up with a $3 surcharge for show-goers under 21. Doors open at 8 p.m.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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