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"We're all go-to guys in Atlanta. Studio work, live stuff – you name it. If someone needs someone to come in and lay down keys, guitars, drums, we're there. We actually came together after we met backing a country singer named Keni Thomas," The Villains bassist/vocalist Dan Call tells The Boot.
"But wait a second! Let's be clear – it was Keni Thomas and not Kenny Chesney. They are very different," drummer Sean McNally interjects with a laugh.
"After Keni got his deal, he didn't want to go out on the road with a band made up of session guys he didn't know," Call continues. "So he took us out on tour since we already worked so well with him. Once we came back from touring with him, we started playing gigs and demoing our own stuff in Atlanta and it started sounding like a record. So it all happened organically."
The positive energy flowed directly into Just Another Saturday Night, The Villains' 2010 debut album. After it was released, the group all of a sudden found itself with a national following and good press behind them. It's no surprise they went back into the studio to work on another record. Released earlier this year, Velocity is anything but a sophomore slump. Working with producers Stan Lynch (formerly the drummer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and Billy Chapin (Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain), Velocity features an irresistible blend of melodic rock, power pop and Americana.
Watch 'Cadillac' Video
With hooks as huge as the one found in album single "Cadillac," it's obvious The Villains know a thing or two about the art of songwriting. Call says he's not against working with outside writers, if it falls in line with the group's vibe and stylistic sensibility. "On the first album, we wrote some stuff with a guy we're friends with named Peter Stroud who is also the leader of Sheryl Crow's band. On Velocity, Stan [Lynch] kept on asking us to show him songs, but we were like, 'Wait a second, man. You wrote all of these great songs with Tom Petty and The Mavericks. Do you have any tunes?'
"So he starts playing us all of these songs he'd written that were mostly 'Nashville country' --in the vein of Keith Urban, Sugarland, Kenny Chesney, and that kind of stuff -- which is cool, but it doesn't work for what we do. So we picked a few out that we really loved and then we find out that Stan had written the original demos with people like Tom Douglas, James House and Richard Feldman. We found that out after we had changed the songs around to fit us better. But they've since said they are happy that we ended up recording them. They were all really cool about it."
When Call asked Lynch why he didn't try and get Tom Petty to record one of the aforementioned songs, the veteran drummer/producer was quick with a reply: "Stan said, 'He's Tom Petty. Would you ask him?'
The Villains' latest album, Velocity, is out now via Toucan Cove/Universal. Pick up a copy on iTunes or Amazon today!
The Villains tour dates with Little Feat:
Oct. 30 - Pittsburgh, Pa. @ JRG Live
Oct. 31 - Kent, Ohio @ Kent Stage
Nov. 2 - Bethlehem, Pa. @ Musikfest Cafe