Civil Villains have a style of rock that’s hard to pin down. Branding their music as “Alt-Math Desert Rock”, the London trio of vocalist and guitarist James King, bassist Mark Hudson, and drummer Toby Warren offer an abstract take while keeping the intensity at a high level. Think of Civil Villains’ sound as a mix of Queens of the Stone Age and Fugazi, but with more of a British flair.
The band is releasing a double single featuring the tracks “Heathens & Cream” and “Haunted Hokum” via Milky Bomb Records, and we here at Vanyaland have the distinct pleasure of premiering it today. Listen to it below via Soundcloud.
The lead track “started life as a slow dirge-like track that I penned a few years back,” King tells Vanyaland. “It was this dark, mournful drawl of a song. I rediscovered it after digging through old Logic projects on my computer. I brought it to practice and as we kept on jamming it out it acquired more and more of a groove, which seems to happen with every one of our songs. We sped it up and it started morphing into this jaunty, mangled pop song, like a musical equivalent to Sid’s playthings in Toy Story. The vocals and lyrics only really came together about an hour or two before we recorded it. After I’d finished singing the first take of the song, having not explained the vocal direction I was taking, the talk-back came on and all I could hear was the guys and our producer pissing themselves laughing and it felt pretty good.”
“Haunted Hokum,” however, came about much faster than Civil Villains’ prior material.
“I usually write the lyrics after we feel we’ve got a basic song structure down, but in this case the verse parts and vocal melodies came simultaneously,” King adds. “Hence the song became very much vocal-led which allowed the music to sort of fall into place underneath them. It was also the first time we’d really played with the production on a track and it was nice hearing how a bit of extra percussion and some harmonies gave it a whole new vibe.”
With the best yet to come, King admits Civil Villains are in a pretty good spot, creatively. “Having spent a few pre-Civil Villains years playing pensive, sombre, acoustic solo gigs,” he says, “I’m really happy that what essentially started out as mates having fun with time signatures has continued and built on a notion of trying to produce something that’s kinetic and fun with it’s own sense of rhythm and pace. We’re serious about our music but don’t take ourselves too seriously and I think that’s contributed to the form of our tracks in a lot of ways.”
Civil Villains will be throwing a Christmas Party at the Miller Pub in London on December 13 and be sure that the trio will be doing a little bit of touring stateside next year, following up their debut tour of North America this past summer. Until when either the upcoming show or the inevitable tour happens, check out the double single below and bask in the interesting rhythms.