Interview with Villainy

Interview with James Dylan (Bass), Dave Johnston (Drums & Backing Vocals) and Thom Watts (Lead Guitar). Missing: Neil Fraser (Lead Vocals)


WHAT DOES VILLAINY MEAN AND WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

DAVE JOHNSTON
We thought it up. Genius. It’s a good, straight up name. In some ways it’s a side of our twisted senses of humour. We enjoy a good plot twist.

JAMES DYLAN
Its a noun. It means “Wicked or ciminal behaviour”. And it means we can do what we want.

 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU ALL KNOWN EACH OTHER? HOW DID YOU MEET?

DAVE JOHNSTON
Villainy has been going for 5-6 years now. We were all previously playing in different bands so had all built up experience as composers, writers and performers. Neill, Thom and James had played together in a previous band and I had filled in as a session drummer for some shows as their previous drummer had moved overseas. When we started jamming together on some new music, it all really clicked and had a new sound to it, so we decided to start fresh as a new band, and Villainy was born.

 

FAVORITE SONG YOU’VE RECORDED AND WHAT DOES THAT SONG MEAN TO YOU?

DAVE JOHNSTON
I enjoy the energy and pulse in Tantalus from our second album, Dead Sight. It’s an explosive live track, and also has some great vocal melodies that I really enjoy listening to.

THOM WATTS
I’m really proud of The National Guard and The Great Unknown from Dead Sight – for me both of those songs do an excellent job of conveying the juxtaposition of tour life vs. real life.

JAMES DYLAN
Great Unknown. Because it feels like a rocket ship slowly taking off over 3 minutes

 

WHO HAS BEEN THE BEST BAND TO OPEN FOR AND WHY?

DAVE JOHNSTON
I think the sheer scale of the two shows we played supporting AC/DC would have to take the cake. It was a bit of a whirlwind couple of gigs, but playing in stadiums and looking out into a sea of people is something else.

THOM WATTS
AC/DC was insane.

JAMES DYLAN
Vanilla Ice. He taught us the secret ninja handshake


WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WIN AT THE NZ MUSIC AWARDS?

DAVE JOHNSTON
Pretty surreal! Both the other bands in our category had released great albums so wecertainly weren’t expecting we’d win it. To get that kind of recognition from our first record meant a lot.

THOM WATTS
Really surreal! Genuinely surprised and very humbled.

 

WHERE IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO PLAY?

DAVE JOHNSTON
I’d love to get onto a tour with a well known band and play in some non-English speaking countries. It’d be a sweet adventure.

THOM WATTS
I’m mad keen to play in Japan – their live music culture is something else!

JAMES DYLAN
Everywhere that NOFX played on their Backstage Passport show

 

WHAT ARE THE BANDS (AND PERSONAL) MUSICAL INFLUENCE?

DAVE JOHNSTON
Lots of stuff. We’re lucky in that each of us has a bit of crossover with the music we like, but also each have a handful of other things that we like, so we’re able to bring a pretty wide variety of influences to the table when we’re making music together. I’m a bit more partial to melodic post hardcore styles of alternative rock than some of the other guys (Circa Survive, Saosin, Tides of Man, etc).

THOM WATTS
Heaps. At the moment I’m listening to Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah, Shania Twain, the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack and the new Frank Ocean. That pretty much sums things up.

JAMES DYLAN
Dillinger Escape Plan, Portugal the man, Leonard Cohen, that one 12 Foot Ninja song, The All Seeing Hand, Health, Kendrick Lamar, Leisure, Aesop Rock, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Kanye, Asa, Pearls, Dead Prez, The Weekend, The National and of course The Dead Kennedys

 

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A BIG FOLLOWING?

DAVE JOHNSTON
We make music that people seem to like. We work hard, we’re driven and we seem to be doing something a little differently to other bands. We’re still really working on building that following though; to do that we’ll have to keep making better and better music. I’m definitely excited to see how our next album develops. I think our best work is definitely still to come.

THOM WATTS
Because we trying really hard not to compromise anything – when we play and record, we’re not holding anything back.

JAMES DYLAN
Do we? I feel like we’re only just getting started.

 

WHAT IS THE CRAZIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED ON TOUR?

DAVE JOHNSTON
Sending dick pics to Blacklistt on Snapchat was pretty funny.

THOM WATTS
Stage sex in Wellington? Neill flying off the stage and cracking his head? Neill vomiting 5 times over the course of a set and still playing an encore?

JAMES DYLAN
We got to play with AC/DC

 

ANY PRACTICAL JOKERS IN VILLAINY?

DAVE JOHNSTON
There are some pretty messed up senses of humour in the band, that’s for sure.

THOM WATTS
Yes. There are some longitudinal practical jokes which are ongoing which we won’t talk about.

JAMES DYLAN
We’re called “Villainy” for a reason

 

FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME?

DAVE JOHNSTON
Too hard.

THOM WATTS
‘Overture’ from the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack.

JAMES DYLAN
Favourite album is “News of the world” by Queen for sentimental reasons

 

BAND MOST WANT TO PLAY WITH?

DAVE JOHNSTON
Deftones would be fucking sweet, but I think the ideal band for me would be if Led Zep decided to do a world tour and we got to play with them.

THOM WATTS
I’d be keen to go on tour with The Beatles if that were logistically workable?

JAMES DYLAN
We played two shows with AC/DC, the second highest earning touring band of all time. So the next logical step is to tour with The Rolling Stones. The highest earning touring band of all time. The size of their tours would be ridiculous

 

MUSIC EDUCATION?

DAVE JOHNSTON
I come from a musical family so learnt various instruments growing up, the drums was the one that really stuck. I played in several musical groups in high school so learnt to read music and perform with other musicians in a range of musical genres.

THOM WATTS
I got a guitar age 6, and got taught the cello around that age. I had a year of lessons aged 16 – but mostly, I learnt by trying, then getting better over time.

JAMES DYLAN
Mom was a music teacher. Learned everything.

 

HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED WITH ANY BANDS PRE-VILLAINY?

DAVE JOHNSTON
I’ve played in a band called The Zoup over the years, it’s a bit more of a hobby these days compared to Villainy but we used to play quite a few local gigs. That’s the band I was playing in when I met the other Villainy boys. The Zoup has just released an album called Symbiotic, check it out on the interwebz.

THOM WATTS
I was the frontman of a Nu-ish-metal band called Treva when I was younger. We were most well known for our track about ‘Peter’ the pedophile.

JAMES DYLAN
Yea bunch of random school bands as drummer, bassist or trumpet player

 

FAVORITE KIWI BAND?

DAVE JOHNSTON
In terms of a band I’ve grown up with, it’d be Shihad, mainly from the General Electric and Love Is The New Hate eras. However there have been some great releases from emerging kiwi bands over the last few years so it’s a hard pick.

THOM WATTS
I love Jakob a lot.

JAMES DYLAN
Leisure. I’d conceive my first child to their album

 

WHAT DID YOU DREAM ABOUT BECOMING WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?

DAVE JOHNSTON
I’ve always enjoyed making music. I never had a really specific thing I wanted to do, but am lucky that I have family and friends that have been supportive enough to let me figure out what I wanted to do in my own time. The main thing I always wanted was to put my time into work that I believed in and was passionate about.

THOM WATTS
I wanted to work at Fletcher Wood Panels because that’s where my dad worked. When I was 16 I got my wish and did a week of data entry for them – that was when I learned that not every dream is good.

JAMES DYLAN
I wanted to be a rock star by day, aeronautical engineer by night. Or the other way around.

 

WHAT’S THE FUTURE PLANS FOR VILLAINY?

DAVE JOHNSTON
Keep making music, make sure it gets better and that we keep pushing ourselves.

THOM WATTS
Basically get better and do better things!

JAMES DYLAN
Write great songs, play really good shows, dont break up.

 

LASTLY, FAVORITE THING ABOUT A KIWI SUMMER?

DAVE JOHNSTON
The beach, the sun, the water and the kiwi bush.

THOM WATTS
Getting to wear Jeans on the beach.

JAMES DYLAN
Taking our dogs on adventures


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