A Near Decade with Villain of the Story
A Near Decade with Villain of the Story
Formed in 2014, Minneapolis Minnesota’s Villain of the Story can be described as a modern spin on 2010’s metalcore fused with 2000’s radio rock. To date the band has released 3 studio albums and an EP amassing 20+ million plays across all platforms. With their new single “Better“, Villain of the Story now start an exciting new chapter in their musical career and certainly have some more aces (aka great tracks) up their sleeves. Highwire Daze recently interviewed vocalist Christian Grey to find out more about the latest happenings from Villain of the Story, who are on the verge of celebrating their 10-year anniversary as a band. Read on…
We’re here with Christian Grey from Villain of the Story. First of all, where’s the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We are based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and currently our music scene, I feel it’s kind of unfortunate because I feel like 10 years ago when I was in high school, it was so cool. Like, there were so many bands. The shows were great. I don’t know, there was just like this atmosphere of local scene support. But these days I feel like it’s definitely died down. I feel like there’s still bands, but there’s just not like the same atmosphere and energy. I think it’s mainly due to social media kind of taking over. And I was kind of noticing that it really came down to who can get more views, who can get more likes and stuff like that instead of just playing shows for fun. Became too much of a contest. So, I think that definitely kind of killed our scene.
You have a brand new song called Better. I just watched the video. Very powerful. Give me a little background on the song and the inspiration behind the song and the video.
So yeah, that was like a song that totally was not originally planned to be something we would write. [laugh] We actually flew Logan, he’s my stepbrother, who’s the singer. We flew him out so we could actually do writing sessions in person, because he lives out in Virginia. So he’s in a different state and we’re like, let’s write together. I missed that when we were kids writing together. So we started writing and then we were taking a break and I just pulled up like some random session that had a piano pack that I was testing out. He’s like, ‘‘I actually really like how this piano sounds.” So then just in like an afternoon we just went back and forth. I would write a section of a song. He’d write lyrics. He had no idea what the song was supposed to be about, it just totally came naturally.
But as we were writing it and he was telling me like, what the topic is and everything, we both agreed that we didn’t want to write something that was overly optimistic or like inspiring, I guess. We really wanted it to be just like a literal, like you are talking to your friend, going through something and you’ve gone through stuff in the past. They were there for you. So you’re there for them. You’re just a shoulder for them to cry on and you’re just literally being there for someone. It’s not like trying to, ”Oh, but you can get through it, man.” Like, you know, you can do this. And trying to be like inspiring or optimistic. It’s just, ”Hey man, I’m here. I’m listening. Just let me know what you’re feeling and I’m here.”
So the guy in the music video, he is one of our friends and he played the character that was in our music video for Peace of Mind from a few years ago. And it’s kind of about a similar topic, but that one Peace of Mind is a little bit more hopeful of a message to where we were kind of trying to make it a thing where just because you’ve been down, I’m going to pick myself back up and I’m going to follow my dreams. I’m going to do it. Even though that’s a positive mentality to have, the reality is life can still beat you down. Because that’s just life and that’s depression. So, we were kind of trying to show how, it’s not like an official like part two to Peace of Mind or anything like that, but we’re just kind of like trying to connect him a little bit. Even though this guy picked himself back up and left on a positive note the last time, well, here he is all these years later and he’s really not feeling that great again. So, he needs support, and he needs friends and stuff like that.
Well, it happens, it’s real life, so, yeah, definitely effective. Burn It To The Ground, the Nickelback cover. And I don’t think it’s your first Nickelback cover either.
[laugh] What made you decide to cover that particular song?
So at that point in time, we had already done Someday and Animals. Burn It To The Ground is one of our favorite Nickelback songs. Me and Logan are massive Nickelback fans, so are Page and Cody. It wasn’t intentional at first, but we’re like, well, we have already covered two Nickelback songs. How about every album we cover one just for fun? Because we love doing it and we think it’s kind of silly. But we’re like, well, out of all the other songs that are like kind of their hits, I feel like the obvious one is How You Remind Me. And even though we both love that song, we’re like, we want something that maybe we can add a little bit more of our personality into, because we feel on our first cover with Someday, it didn’t turn out the exact way that we were originally hoping. So, then I think with Animals, we dialed it back and it was kind of just a one-to-one cover. We didn’t really add too much or anything like that, so with Burn It To The Ground, this is actually the perfect song for us to cover by them because it has that Nickelback radio rock energy, but there’s enough with the guitar riff because even though it’s a rock song, it’s pretty heavy for a Nickelback rock song. So, it was like the perfect song for us to add some of our metalcore roots and our personality into it. It’s like a blend of both for our original music, our heavy stuff, and our rock stuff. So, it just felt like the perfect song to do.
Your previous album, Divided, tell me the story behind that title.
So if I remember correctly, going into it, we didn’t have like a concept or a vision or anything. We’re just writing our songs, which is kind of what we usually do [laugh], and we think of titles and everything as we’re wrapping up the process. But then I just got on a call with Logan and we were discussing album titles and just all that stuff. And I ended up throwing together just like a rough image of like what the artwork could be. Like I took like a picture of Kratos from God of War and threw him on one side and I took like a zombie and threw him on the other side and split it down the middle. And then when we were looking at it Logan was like, ”Well, why don’t we just call it Divided?” Because we already had the song Divided.
If I remember correctly, I think that name was already solidified and we’re like, why don’t we make that one the title track because if this is going to be the artwork? Because we were just trying to find like some cool artwork but the fact that that kind of happened to be the idea and the initial concept was like one side of the battlefield or whatever was these characters. And then the other side was these characters, like a war’s about to start. It literally is showing division. That was just kind of perfect and I sent the concept out to somebody, and they drew up the artwork.
How close to is Villain the story to writing and recording even more songs or maybe even a new album?
We actually already have a new album recorded. And it will have nine songs this time. Usually, we’ve been sticking to about eight but on this album, we were like it has to be at least 30 minutes runtime. And we were at like 29 minutes and we really didn’t want to do an interlude on this one. It just wouldn’t fit the vibe that we’re going for. So, we decided to write just a whole other track. We have nine songs that are recorded. Technically I got to redo some stuff, but actually in a month we’re scheduled to send off everything to get mixed and mastered. So yeah, we’ll have like a fully completed packaged album by the end of September, I believe.
One question from the past, when you look back on working with Fronz of Attila and Stay Sick Recordings, what do you think of that time of your career now in retrospect?
In retrospect, I think it was a necessary phase in our career for us being a band. The opportunities that came out of it were great and I don’t regret anything, but just knowing what I know now about stuff, I definitely would not have signed the contract. So, it’s weird because I look back at everything as it was happening. I look back at it fondly. The biggest thing to come out of that was us opening some I Prevail tour dates. That connection there really helped out. But as far as like the financials and just typical label stuff with masters and all that, when it comes to the money [laugh], it’s just, not the best, but there’s no like hard feelings or anything with anyone. If anything I want to give props to Stay Sick because technically we were under contract for another album and since things on the backend financially weren’t really working out for either of us, like no one was really getting what they wanted, they let us go if we wanted to leave, so we left and went independent again. So at least they didn’t force us into something else that we didn’t want to do.
How much do you miss Warped Tour?
Oh my God. [laugh] Yeah, man, see I was late to the game with Warped Tour. Like my first Warped Tour I believe was 2013. and then I feel it was kind of starting to get played out like 2015 or 2016, so like right before it actually died out. But man, just the overall atmosphere and just looking forward to a whole day of seeing a bunch of bands and it’s out in the sun. I know there’s like festivals and stuff, but there’s just something very specific about the energy and the overall atmosphere of Warped Tour. I absolutely loved going to Warped Tour and the fact that we got to play it two times in our home state, like that was absolutely dream come true because I’d be the kid that would in high school watching Warped Tour full sets videos on YouTube and everything and being like, damn, I really wish [laugh] someday I could do that. So the fact that we got to do it once was incredible, but I miss it.
Next year marks the 10-year anniversary for Villain of The Story? What goes through your mind knowing that you’ve been doing anything for 10 years?
I’m really proud of us for sticking it through because definitely being a band that basically started from nothing. But to think like, dang man, 10 years. That’s absolutely wild. But at the same time, so many bands have come and gone in our local scene because it gets really hard, and I understand why people throw in the towel and we’ve been so close to doing that a million times. But to sit here and think like, man, we’re approaching 10 years and we’ve just been pushing through, pushing through, and I feel like we’re finally, like, the last year or so we’ve been feeling like, hey, maybe this is actually worth it. Like, we haven’t exploded or anything, but we definitely feel like we’re onto something and you know, sometimes things take time. So, we have some stuff planned for the 10-year anniversary. But yeah, it’s very exciting for us and very rewarding.
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Villain Of The Story?
Not like officially. I have some side stuff that I occasionally release just for fun on my own, and I’ve been working on some acoustic stuff that I want to start writing and recording and releasing with my wife. Logan and I have been for years talking about working on like being a duo brother pop project. We have like some songs that we’re slowly working on. It’s just the band takes so much that those have been on the back burner for a couple years at this point. But yeah, we’re dabbling in other stuff, just not officially releasing.
do you have any messages for your fans who are reading this now?
The cliché, thank you so much. We wouldn’t be here without you. But to expand on that, sometimes I’ll see comments from people, like when we post like the new song or something, they’re like, ‘‘Oh, I love it.” And then I recognize the username because that’s someone that’s literally been commenting and supporting our stuff for 10 years. When I’m able to start recognizing usernames, even if it’s been like a year or so, I think that’s cool you came across their stuff and you like the music. But then to go beyond that, to keep up with what the band is even doing in the future because you just want to hear more music and stay connected. It’s really cool that people connect with what we’re doing to that degree.
Villain of the Story are:
Christian Grey (vocals)
Logan Bartholomew (vocals)
Cody Pauly (Guitar)
Page Brownie (Bass)
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Villain of the Story Official Home Page