When you’re a band that has earned a reputation as a funk and hip-hop inspired party rock outfit over the course of a decade and a half of touring and recording, what do you do to reinvent yourself and move forward?
For Villa*Nova, the answer is to crank up the volume, and the intensity, while keeping the groove intact. “Vipers,” the band’s recent single, recalls the glory days of 90’s alt-rock with a hard-hitting wall of guitar sounds accompanied by stacked vocal harmonies and an undercurrent of old school hip-hop grooves. The core band is a stripped-down musical machine featuring longtime members Bobby Dredd on bass and Able One on the turntables, with frontman and band founder Brian Conner (who also goes by the pseudonym BC Villanova) providing the dramatic flair that’s become a hallmark of the Villa*Nova sound. Where their peers bogged down in grunge excess or tipped over into the slickness of pop music, Conner and company kept true to the styles they grew up with and incorporated into the band’s sound from the start. “Vipers” takes those influences and turns them upside down, into the kind of head-bobbing, fist-pumping anthem that only Villa*Nova could create. Lyrically, the song addresses more mature themes than the band’s party-centric reputation might suggest, though Conner has been writing on serious subjects throughout the band’s tenure. The refrain of “Vipers,” “Oh, how I long for yesterday,” is a plea for a return to more innocent times, before the near-biblical plague of vipers that is the modern world pointed things in the wrong direction.
Villa*Nova has been through the major label wringer and came out intact, even improved by the experience. They recorded an EP under the name Weaving the Fate for Universal Republic in 2012 with producer Howard Benson (Papa Roach, Hoobastank, Seether) and played shows with Korn, Shinedown, Evanescence, Staind, Chevelle, and more, and tracks such as their remake of Tyga’s hip-hop rant “Rack City” gained the band fans for their cross-genre appeal. In 2015, “Thread Of Life” saw the band return to the indie ranks and their melodic, hard partying, funk-rock roots.
It’s that culmination of their various experiences and influences that Conner and the current streamlined lineup is aiming for these days; just as in the band’s early days it’s all about the music now, and the fans who still follow them from gig to gig. They’re equally at home in the confines of a tiny beach town bar as they are on the main stage of a festival in front of a crowd of thousands; wherever they can play their music, that’s where they want to be from here on out.