Live ‘N Loud contributor Karen Van Hoff sat down with Bryan Crouch of Hail the Villain for a little interview in Detroit on January 21, 2011.
LNL: Hi, I’m Karen and this is Bryan from Hail the Villain. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me.
Bryan: Thank you very much for doing the same.
LNL: One of the things that I love about your band is how you’re presenting it like a “Hail the Villain Experience,” like everything from the album cover to the website to the videos. I wanted to know if that came from one idea that turned into this big universe. How did that come about?
Bryan: Yeah, totally. It came from doing the CD artwork and then getting to the point where everything we were doing was kind of generic. Just like the same logo, the same cover art. Everything was kind of like barbed wire or whatever it was. It was just kind of generic. So Joe said, “Let’s do a comic book.” And we thought that’s a cool idea to do, but let’s make a comic book. And that spawned another stupid idea – Let’s make a movie. So everything just kind of snowballed into what it has become.
LNL: The first time that I saw you guys perform live, your stage presence very much reminded me of Ben from Billy Talent. You’ve probably heard that before.
Bryan: Couple times.
LNL: But your music obviously is much heavier. It’s more raw than I think a lot of what’s coming out of that southern Ontario music scene. So I was wondering what your inspirations were that’s maybe making your music more visceral.
Bryan: For me, it’s always been about being entertainers, like Axl or Steven Tyler, just people that are extremely over the top and want to have fun with the crowd, want to abuse the crowd, and kind of want to put on a show. Musically, we’re all over the map. I’ve always been into punk rock. I like dirty dirty punk rock, a lot of it from the 90’s, a lot of it from the late 80’s. And then Joe is more of a metal guy. And he really liked Megadeth and bands like that. So that’s where we got our kind of influences from, and that’s what you can see on stage.
LNL: I want to say congratulations on “Runaway” being used for the WWE Pay-Per-View event. That was pretty cool.
Bryan: Mind boggling. Yeah I don’t know how that happened but it was definitely a treat.
LNL: Well, it seems a lot like bands today are getting discovered through more unconventional methods, like sports events or video games or viral videos and stuff, than they are from the radio. Does that change the way you think about how you’re putting your music out?
Bryan: A little bit, I mean radio is still, like if our song’s not on the radio in a city, we definitely notice a drought. We notice people don’t know everything. They don’t know “Take Back the Fear” or “Runaway” or whatever. So, I think radio is still a major player, especially in satellite radio, with Octane and Sirius. And that’s helped us out a lot. But at the same time, you can’t just promote your band one way. You’ve got to get out there and show that you’re as creative as you can possibly get. It’s not enough to just make those twelve songs or fourteen or whatever it is. You’ve really got to sell yourself. We just have fun doing it, so that’s why we do it. We want fans to not so much find us from all the other things we do. We want them to find us from the music. But once they find the music, they want to see a plethora of stuff. And they get really involved in our universe.
LNL: Which is great. That’s why it’s so great that it’s built up into this community. It seems… Back when I was growing up, we didn’t have contact with rock bands. It just didn’t happen. Nowadays, with social networking and everything, people think, “I can just type a little message and it’s going to go to my favorite rock band.” So it’s really kind of changed the dynamic between fans and bands.
Bryan: And it does actually get to the [bands]. We read everything. I know the biggest of the big read everything. I know… we’ve played with enough bands that you’d never even imagine that are reading their YouTube comments and are actually disturbed by the things that people are saying about them. To me, that changes the way that we look at our profession. It’s no longer about rock stars. It’s about being a good band, being good people. And we might be evil, dark inside, but we want to meet our fans and make friends, and really kind of get this whole universe off the ground to a point where people just need to be there and want to hang out with us.
LNL: It’s great. What kind of impact did it have on your fan base to be part of the Uproar Festival last year?
Bryan: I think it changed the entire way that America looked at us. I mean, before we had done a Sevendust tour, a little bit with CKY. But…(noise from stage equipment)… I think when you met us in Columbus it was a smaller show than we had played. I think the whole thing got screwed up that day. That was really bad.
LNL: That was a really weird day. (At that show, the venue got split up at the last minute and there was a lot of confusion, resulting in a small crowd for the first bands.)
Bryan: That was an off one. We still had a good show. We made a lot of fans and friends that day. So that was a game changer for us. Can’t wait and see what we get this year.
LNL: So aside from the bands you’ve already been out with, who would you like to tour with?
Bryan: Errrr. You know, we’ve always been wary about who we’d fit with. Obviously I’d like to do a run with Metallica. I think that would be a huge, huge deal for us. But other than that I just like to let it land where it lands. We meet bands that we never thought we’d be friends with, but we play a show with them and there’s a huge connection. Hellyeah’s a perfect example of that. I didn’t think I had the balls to say hi to them. And then by the end of the tour, we’re hanging out with Vinnie Paul. And I mean, that’s a true honor.
LNL: That’s pretty cool. I wanted to know if you have like a “dream instrument.” If there’s something – a guitar, a piano or something either vintage or new that you wish you had in your collection.
Bryan: I need a Fender Telly (Telecaster). I don’t have one. Joe, our guitar player, he’s got baritone guitars, a lot of Yamaha stuff, some SG Gibsons and stuff. But we don’t have a Telly and I love the sound of a Telly, especially for punk rock.
LNL: Is there a band out there that you think could do a good cover of a Hail the Villain song?
Bryan: Oh that’s a fantastic question. No. (laughs) No, I don’t know if anyone would want to do a Hail the Villain cover. I think that’s the big question. Does anybody want to do one? You know, I’d rather see the kids trying to play along with it than a band and see what they bring table. With a lot more originality and no rules applied… Or Elton John.
LNL: Well yeah. I think one way or the other. Either fans or Elton John. You gotta go… go big or go home.
Bryan: Swing whatever way, like Elton. (laughs) I didn’t say that.
LNL: (laughs) Am I supposed to edit that out?
LNL: So here’s my big hypothetical question. Let’s say you’re going to be headlining Madison Square Garden. You have an unlimited budget. You can ask for anything you want. Tell me what your show would be like.
Bryan: Holograms. Our characters would come on stage with us via hologram and act out scenes while we’re playing songs. I think we’re getting closer to an idea like that. We’re working with the Singapore government and some people over in Asia to make some of those things happen. So, someday you might see that.
LNL: That sounds totally awesome. I wasn’t expecting that. I was looking forward to what I heard from you because you’re so visual.
Bryan: I think a lot of people want pyro. A lot of bands get off on their light shows and the pyro and their smoke machines. But for us, it would be that element that people haven’t seen.
LNL: That’s pretty cool.
Bryan: Always searching for that, the impossible.
LNL: Not impossible…
Bryan: Oh it is impossible.
LNL: Just not possible yet.
Bryan: You just make it possible.
LNL: Right, you make it happen. So, what’s next for Hail the Villain?
Bryan: Lots of touring. I mean, we’re jacked to get in the studio and record a new record but we still have a lot of people in the states who have not heard our band. We have a lot of places that we… we haven’t even played Detroit and we live within four hours. So this is a first for us tonight. And we just need to keep going around the country. Still haven’t gotten to Europe. I guess we’re going to be doing that some too. Lots of touring.
LNL: Thank you so much for talking to me.
Bryan: Thank you.
LNL: Check out Hail the Villain on the internet. Their website is awesome. This was great, thanks!
Bryan: Thank you very much, my pleasure.
Click on the following links to check out more about Hail The Villain:
Review of their performance in Detroit, MI