Interview: Hail the Villain — "People say we're doing something like Pink Floyd's The Wall. I'm like, "No, this actually makes some sense…"
Mon, 17 May 2010 08:07:37
Hail the Villain sound like the bastard sons of Metallica and My Chemical Romance.
Fueling a dark theatricality with violently vicious thrash riffs, Hail the Villain have made one of the most interesting and intriguing hard rock debuts in recent memory—Population: Declining [Due Out June 8th, 2010 via Roadrunner Records]. Tracks like "Take Back the Fear" and "Swan Dive Suicide" poetically pummel exploding on impact; in fact, the album is full of so many twists and turns that it often feels more like The Dark Knight than just another rock record. Refreshing, raw and raucous, Population: Declining is dangerously powerful. Not to mention the badass Sin City style artwork adorning the cover, which kicks just as much ass…
Hail the Villain frontman Bryan Crouch spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about how Population: Declining is similar to Spawn, the movie his band's making and why sometimes you just have to let it all out…
If this album were a movie, what would it be?
I had Spawn in the back of my mind the whole time. Watching Todd McFarlane's Spawn back when I was a teenager was a big inspiration. I got into that and The Crow. I think Population: Declining visually came from those places, and the whole record emerged from that evilness. I actually don't read a lot of comic books though; I'm a big video game geek and I'm really into movies. The few comics I've read include Batman and Watchmen, obviously. I never really got into comics as much as people would think though.
Your take on the comic book aesthetic is very stunning though.
We came out of nowhere with it. We initially thought, "We're just in this to write music," but the opportunity came in our heads to maybe be something more and write a movie. So we wrote the movie with what's on the record. The album was first, and we noticed how dark and mysterious the record was getting and how evil the lyrical content was becoming and we shifted gears to say, "This is a whole new thing now." That gave birth to the idea of creating characters to go through the songs. If you look at it closely, the lyrical content will match up with each segment of the movie we've created. The movie isn't finished. We started with "Take Back the Fear" and we're going episode by episode. The next one will be "My Reward" or "Runaway" and we'll tell the story by episodes. It's definitely a different take on it. A lot of people are saying, "You're doing something like Pink Floyd's The Wall." I'm like, "No, this actually makes some fucking sense, you know?" [Laughs] You don't need to be on acid to watch ours and get it. The label actually fell for it and here we are creating our movie and our whole Hail the Villain universe.
Even though you're telling a larger story, do you feel like these songs are still very personal?
It's way more personal than I was actually prepared to go. All of the lyrics that I'd come up with in the past had typically reached out to blame other people and other things, but this record really close to home. The producer truly got it all out of me, and I just started going. I wasn't afraid to open up. That's the reason "Take Back the Fear" was written. It was one of the later songs to be done, and it says, "I'm not scared anymore. I'm coming out with this and doing it."
Are you constantly writing?
Lately, I've been doing a lot of blogging on our web site. I'm not one of those writers who sits down with a poem book and writes parts. I usually wait until a song's created and go from there. With the blogging, I've been reaching out and touching on topics I wouldn't usually touch in songs. It's the same way with the movie. That led to creating the whole idea.
What's the story behind "Social Graces?"
It's a party I was at where I had way too much to drink. I ran to the washroom and fucking let it all out. The next thing I know, I'm sitting around with all of these people having fun and I'm wondering to myself, "I just wasted 15 bucks on this booze. I'd better get back out there and start having a good time." It's a humorous song in that way but, at the same time, it's me grabbing myself and saying, "I'm going to rip this town up." When I go out and do something, I never do it lightly. It's always got to be the extreme, and it seems like I never learn my lesson.
Why should you? You're having a good time. Fuck it…
That's it! [Laughs] That's how I feel. We really didn't set out to write a record that would be a lasting deal. We were going to kind of call it quits after this. We didn't try to write "hits;" this was a last ditch effort for us. We were going to pack it in because of all of the bullshit we had gone through. When we started writing these songs, we were like, "Let's just go for it. Whatever we want to do it, let's do it and not be afraid of what we're putting down." I think the record really benefited from that. The hard thing about writing another record after this one will be grabbing that same emotion and not being afraid of what people are going to think about it because we never thought it would see the light of day. Now, I'm just ecstatic we're here.
It must totally come to life on stage…
It's extremely animated. The four of us are our own characters on stage aside from the ones that we've created. It's about entertaining people. Fans need to say, "This guy's fucking retarded, and I can be retarded too."
Have you heard Hail the Villain yet?