Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
LV: We’re a hard rock band that like to have fun with music. We kind of fit in with being described as heavy metal and classic rock too, but I think hard rock probably fits best.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
LV: We’re all from England, UK, but Little Villains started out in the US. The band was originally formed by our guitarist, James Childs, and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor from the classic Motörhead line up. They met by random in an electronics store in LA – Frys, which is now closed, I think. It was an iconic store. It had a massive spaceship crashing into the building out front. James was returning a faulty DVD player and was chewing out the cashier, trying to get a refund. Phil was in the queue, laughing at him. They got chatting and decided to form a band. They recorded a lot of material together, but sadly Phil became ill and died before any of it was released. James got in touch with Phil’s family and they gave him their blessing to release the material. The Philthy Lies album was released in 2019 and received good reviews. James decided to tour, and I came in on drums and Owen (James’s nephew) took over guitar duty. We did two European tours supporting the record, and the live performances were well received. Then the second album, Taylor Made, was released in 2020. Covid stopped us touring, but we recorded two albums worth of material just before the world locked down. Achtung Minen was released later in 2020, and Battle of Britain is being released this September, on Battle of Britain Day. We thought that was appropriate, given the title of the record.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
LV: Motörhead are a big influence, obviously. We also love AC/DC, Iron Maiden, The Stranglers and a lot of other bands from the 70s / 80s. A lot of the influences are rock and metal, but we’re also influenced by other music we listened to when we were young, like The Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys etc. Because Owen is about 15 years younger than James and I, he brings in other influences. Gives it a bit of variety. We also love film music, so there is some influence there too. James and I love John Carpenter. His live show, performing music from his films, was awesome.
A lot of the Little Villains songs are written about being in a band, touring, and things that interest us. James writes most of the lyrics and he’s very down to earth in his approach – he writes about real things that matter to him, often with a wry sense of humour.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
LV: To keep on making music, and hope people like what we do. We enjoy touring and do that as often as we can. We’re getting our head around all the online stuff too – that’s a continual learning curve, because it changes so rapidly – and hope to start making that work better for us in the future. I quite enjoy that side of things. It means we can continually promote the band and the music when we’re not on tour. It gave me something to do during lockdown too LOL.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
LV: James and I have played in bands together since 1987. We formed Airbus with our school friends Nick and Simon when we were around the age of 16 or 17. We played Glastonbury in 1999. That was a proud moment. We also did a lot of TV in the 90s, and toured in Europe and the US. We played on the Radio 2 Road Show in the 90s, hosted by Ed Stewart and Tony Blackburn. Mr Blobby was on after us, with Noel Edmunds. So we supported Mr Blobby. Not sure I’m overly proud of that, but it makes an amusing story. It’s hard to pick just one moment… let’s go with Glastonbury.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
LV: We’re doing OK, I think, because we’re prepared to learn and try things out to see what works. Marketing seems to work like flinging shit at a wall and seeing what sticks, so we’re doing a bit of that. We’re old school, so used to a more traditional approach because it’s what we grew up with. Write a record, get in the studio and record it, then do a tour to promote the music. We still do that, but the music industry has changed a lot since the birth of the internet. We’ve had to evolve and do more promo online – videos, social media and that kind of thing. So we do a mix of everything now. I enjoy the videos because they’re fun to make. We don’t take them too seriously, which helps, I think. Makes them more entertaining. But we find it quite challenging to manage. We’re an indie band on an indie label, so it’s hard to know where to focus because we’re a small team and there are only so many hours in the day. That’s why we work with promo people, like Zach at MDPR. He helps us a lot, especially with radio play and reviews. And interviews, like this one. That helps gain interest all over the world. That’s what’s good about the internet I guess – it means there’s more opportunity for everyone.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
LV: We do the vast majority of it ourselves but do work with promotors sometimes. James has built up a good network across Europe doing tours with various bands, so we use his relationships quite often. We did a short Little Villains UK tour in April this year, and we’re planning a longer one in December – probably the first two weeks. We might take a trip over to Europe too. That tour will support the new album release.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
LV: I have mixed feelings about it. In some ways it’s great, because you have access to huge audiences and can target listeners you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. It has pros, but there are cons too. The main one is paying artists fairly for their music. Most of the big platforms don’t pay fairly. Well… I don’t think they do. And many other musicians agree with me. You used to be able to sell a CD for tenner. Nowadays, you earn a few pennies from people listening to your music online. Pennies… literally. It’s very hard to afford to live when you’re essentially being paid a fraction of minimum wage for what you do.
There is more information about the more well known streaming sites here, which helps you understand the different revenue models and what works best for music creators: https://www.pastemagazine.com/music/soundcloud/where-to-share-the-costs-and-royalties-of-having-m/
For us, Bandcamp works best financially. We get more money from them than we do any other streaming site, because users seem more open to buying our music on there. But love it or hate it, Spotify is still very important because so many people use it. You have to have a presence on there – and the other big platforms, like iTunes, TikTok, YouTube etc. – for music industry people, and fans, to take you seriously.
Overall, I think streaming sites help bands gain exposure and create opportunities, but I think more legislation is needed to make the payments to artists fairer. There are good things happening, like The MLC starting up. But there’s still a long way to go.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
LV: My favourite album is AC/DC’s Powerage. OK, that’s not a song… It’s the greatest rhythm section ever to take the stage performing at their very best. But I don’t wish I’d written it, or any other song for that matter. If I’d written it and performed Powerage, it would be different and I’d have deprived myself (and every other listener) of the original. So, I don’t tend to look at songs or albums in that way. If I hear a song I really like, I listen to it to understand the structure, and how it’s been put together. If there’s anything I can learn from it, I then apply that to any songs I’m involved in writing. Little Villains write as a team – everyone has their influence on the songs. It’s a really nice way of working. We all feel part of the music, and proud of it. That’s important, I think. I’m going off on a tangent… sorry 🙂
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
LV: Fair payment for music – I think I’ve already ranted about that enough LOL.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
LV: We’re working on promoting our new album, Battle of Britain, which comes out on Spira Records on 15th September – sorry, shameless plug. We’re also booking the tour for the end of the year, which will support the album’s release. And we’re working on songs for a new album. We have a lot demoed up already, so I’m hoping we can do a recording session early in 2023 and get that out sometime next year. I’m really excited about that. Some of the new tunes are great fun – monster riffs, amusing lyrics. I feel like an excited kid. I guess that’s important. You have to believe in what you do, or you wouldn’t do it.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
LV: You can learn more about us on our website – https://www.thelittlevillains.com/ – and on my website – https://www.christopherfielden.com/music/little-villains.php. There are links to all our pages (Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, YouTube etc.) on there.
Little Villains links:
Band/Artist location – Los Angeles USA and Portishead UK
Website – Facebook – You Tube – Bandcamp –
Twitter – Instagram – Apple – Spotify – Amazon – Deezer –
Check our page for Little Villains