The Villains Dan Call Talks “Velocity” - Interview

Recently I got the chance to chat with The Villains Dan Call. We talked about their new album “Velocity” which is a great no bull shit southern rock/country/rock album. If you’re into real country music or real southern rock then you’ll definitely love their new album “Velocity” out now. Check out my interview with Dan here. You can listen along as well.

Zoiks!: Your new album “Velocity” is out now. For someone who hasn’t heard the record yet, what can they expect?

Dan Call: Well they can expect to hear a lot of different styles. They can expect to hear really strong tunes because we definitely mean every note of it. But it all ties together, so it’s definitely not anything foreign, and anybody in any age bracket is gonna be able to connect with this record, and that’s the way we wanted it. It’s no bullshit. It’s no, we weren’t trying to appeal to any certain, we just do what we do, and that’s what came of this, and we couldn’t be more happy with it.

Z!: Velocity is the follow up to the acclaimed ‘Just Another Saturday Night.’ Did the writing process change at all between albums?

DC: Well I wouldn’t say the approach changed, I would say there was just more involvement once we had Stan Lynch aboard as producer. After his tenure with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was over, he started working with Don Henley a lot and writing songs and doing the whole Nashville thing so he has a lot of ideas as well. The process just sort of broadened, but in that sense the broadening actually made a more focused record than “Just Another Saturday Night.” “Just Another Saturday Night” was basically just song demos that I was doing for publishing stuff, and then about halfway through the process of demoing the songs out, everybody was like this is starting to sound like a record, and since I was using the guys that I’d been playing with for years it was like yeah I guess you’re right, and so it was kind of like a Frankenstein thing. We had fifteen tunes, and we cut it down to nine just to make it all fit, and with different singers it’s tough to do, and that was really the biggest thing about going in to Velocity was let’s make this a definitive this is what The Villains do.

Z!: With any band, there’s several different influences within the members, how do you satisfy everybody’s influence?

DC: Oh that’s a good question. If you go in to try to make everybody in the band happy, you’re not gonna have a band for very long. The good news about this band is that the five of us are all very different as far as our approach to what we like. For example, Magno is like super 80’ss guy. Jimmy James Schmitt loves Texas country, the all country, that’s his main thing. Mike Wilkes, big rock guy, and Sean is just like, that guy will listen to literally anything, big on beats, hip hop, and of course I’m stuck in the 70’s. I can’t get out of it, and so with this you just let everybody kind of do their thing. I trust the people that I play with or I wouldn’t play with them, and just them being themselves and bringing it to a really strong tune, A. makes for a really really honest sound, and B. you’re not formatting it to okay we want to appeal to the sixteen year olds, no we don’t do that shit. Every note you hear, we mean, and it’s because everybody does their thing and brings their influence to it, and that’s what makes the band, so that’s how to satisfy them. But yet we’ve had some knockdown drag outs. It wouldn’t be a band without that though.

Z!: When you were working on “Velocity,” were you concerned at all with how well it was going to do? How do you separate the business from the creating?

DC: That’s another really good question because going in to do “Velocity,” when we came out of “Just Another Saturday Night,” we basically finished the promotion on that and everybody at the label was like okay man we’ve made a lot of ground with radio and all this kind of stuff, we need to get something back in there quick, how soon can you have a new record? And that’s a tough question to answer, but I knew going in to it, and I think we all did, that considering that we’d gained so much ground and all this kind of stuff, that if we went in and just made a record as fast as we could, that would have been a disaster. And so I just went back to the label and said look we were lucky enough to get Stan Lynch, he was on a break from doing this new Don Henley record, and we’re gonna do it the way we want to do it and the way Stan wants to do it, and there was no time limit set, it was when we’re ready to record it, we’re gonna record it, when it’s recorded, whenever it’s mixed, in other words you’re gonna get it when we say it’s done, and of course everybody was like oh man people, they may forget you and all this stuff, but you know at the end of the day I feel like this, if you rush something you can put as much whipped cream on top of that sucker if you want to, but sooner or later you’re gonna bite into the tart, and I just refuse to do that and everybody else did to, and so it took longer, but we needed to define our sound from the first record. We definitely this is sort of like the band, and Fleetwood Mac, you have different singers, you know, or the Eagles, it’s hard to coalesce the whole thing together for it to make sense, but the really good ones can do that and we were determined, and the bottom line is, Stan Lynch was, it was either we’re gonna make a great record or go home that’s it. There was no inbetweens, and so that basically was the process and we’re super happy with it. Sorry it took so long.

Z!: So you have multiple singers, and you always hear about lead singer disease, does having multiple singers get rid of that or does it make it harder to deal with?

DC: You know, we’re lucky enough, where I know this may be hard to believe, but this is a really good group of guys. I mean we toured as a backup band with country artists for two or three years, and we’ve all known each other from around Atlanta forever, so everybody has already been through their certain diseases, and believe me drummers and guitar players have them just as much as singers do, you just don’t hear about it as much, but I think really what it came down to is once “Just Another Saturday Night” was in viewpoint of being done, I think everyone realized, wow this is really something cool so whoever’s singing the tune, it’s designed that way. They’re going in because they’re the best person to represent that song. And no one would ever try to step in, because at the end of the day, it’s all about the song and the fan or person listening to it. If that doesn’t work then the rest of it is bullshit, and everybody understands that. Of course, if somebody wants to sing a particular song cuz they’re feeling it, but their voice it’s just not the right character, it’s like you have to get over that hump, but it’s like that with anything. So yeah nobody’s got the lead singer disease too bad, if they do, they got four guys that are gonna smack them down so I don’t think they want to do that anytime soon. Let’s put it this way, you better have a strong constitution if you’re gonna play in this band, that is for sure.
 Z!: What are your touring plans?

DC: Well we went out, let’s see the record came out on Valentine’s Day, generally, it was sort of a general list, and we’ve done two or three weeks with Little Feat, opening for them. We’re gonna do some more of that with them in August, we’ll see. We’ve got a couple of festivals in September, the one in Pensicola, Deluna Fest, and Music Midtown, and we’re looking at some different things for the end of June and July right now, but we’re not quite sure which run it’s gonna be, but it’ll be cool. So yeah we’re gonna be supporting this record for as long as anybody wants to hear it and listen to it.

Z!: Cool. How are the songs translating live?

DC: Surprisingly good. Stan Lynch is quite a task master and that was the biggest thing is once we started hearing the final mixes it was like holy moly we’re gonna have to pull this off live. But that’s what we do. We’ve always done that, and so they’re coming off great man. Nobody’s saying, it’s not like ‘oh that didn’t sound anything like the record.’ And all this kind of stuff, it’s you know, I think we just go up there and go fuck it, let’s have fun with it. The live shows, I describe it as, it’s not like it’s us and then the audience, we want it to feel like the fans and the audience are kind of sitting in on a rehearsal, and they see the good parts, and they hear the plans, and they you know what I mean? That’s the way we want it to be. They’re translating great, and if anybody has an issue, we’re more than willing to address it.

Z!: The music industry is rapidly changing. What’s your take on the social media and the internet’s affects on the industry in general?

DC: Oh man. You know you can either embrace it or it will destroy you. It’s tough, you know look, I’m not gonna be a Debbie Downer and like the Pete Townshend this thing and call it the devil and all this kind of stuff, god bless Pete Townshend, but the reality is that’s the way that people receive music, and you either learn to like it or don’t partake. So as it pertains to Social Media, I think it’s great, I think people can get a lot closer than they ever have, and it’s a cool thing. I think probably about four years, remember that thing called MySpace? Everybody was, there was a lot of people that were like, that’s the end of the music industry, now anybody can put up whatever they want. Well unfortunately that was true, and the problem is 99.9% of the stuff that people were putting up was shit, and all it did was really kind of crowd everything even more, but at the end of the day it’s always gonna be about the cream rising to the top, and major labels even when they consolidate though they’re losing money, they’re still spending the most so they’re able to get the visibility up. But now on the other hand, if you really get in there with social media and go in and try to look for fans and let fans find you, it’s a great thing. God man, even fifteen years ago everybody looked in a magazine to find out what David Lee Roth was doing the next day, and now it’s instant. So I think it’s cool, you can either hate it or love it, and I’ve kind of accepted it, we all have, and some of us like it more than others, but man as long as people are happy and we’re getting music to them it’s fine.

Z!: What advice would you have for a young musician trying to make a career out of playing music?

DC: Stay in school. Run for your life. Listen to your mother. No I would say look, the biggest thing that I would say is start writing now. Don’t wait and hope that your friend’s buddy comes up with a couple of good tunes. That’s usually what it comes down to, but at the end of the day man if you don’t have the tunes it’s not gonna work. That can be in medal that can be in polka, it doesn’t matter. And even bands come and go, but if you can write there is no age limit to it. There’s always a market for it, and if you’re willing to get in there and have your writing chops there, you will always have a place in the business, and so my biggest advice would be you have no excuse, stay in school, you can always play in bands while you’re in college unless you get a monster tour and you’re making 20 million dollars then go for it, but just write, keep writing, don’t stop writing, even if everybody tells you every song you have is just a big piece of shit, just don’t stop.

Z!: Cool. That’s all I had. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this with us.

BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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