That his Oklahoma City band is sharing a bill with Them Hounds and Dirty Evil People was not lost on Bona Fide Villains co-founder and front man Ryan Taylor.
“They’re the three best band names in the city,” he said with a laugh.
Kidding aside, the Villains’ coupling of corroded, antique guitar tones and Taylor’s natural baritone seem tailored to soundtrack a scary movie. Not your run-of-the-kill slasher flick or jarring, in-your-face gore-fest, but more like a subtle, haunting thriller that ends with a big, frightening psychological reveal.
Creepy, airy backing vocals provide a certain pristine, finishing touch to the group’s classic, rocking sound that chugs along on creepy-crunchy six-strings.
“It gets that spooky vibe we’re going for,” Taylor said. “It’s a contrast with my voice being so deep.”
He and fellow guitarist Nathan Kress paired up in April 2010, after never quite mustering the courage to strike out with others as a full-fledged band.
“We were both at our wit’s end when we met,” Taylor said.
The duo picked up another guitarist, Kevin Oberlag, then drummer Jack Waters, who’d moved to Oklahoma from Arizona, where he’d played in a few mildly successful heavy-rock and metal bands. Bassist Luke Fekete rounded out the band’s proper incarnation, but a few months after recording the “Modern Living” EP, active duty called him off to Afghanistan, where Taylor said he’s “in some sort of special forces elite commando training” for the Air Force. Whether Fekete will rejoin remains a question mark, but the Villains have soldiered on without him.
“Modern Living” is a mid-tempo effort longing for a time before status updates on handheld devices, a time when “things were clear and men were men.” Lyrics are awfully important to this young act.
Also important is with whom it works. Living in Stillwater for a spell, Taylor built friendships with the city’s two best indie bands. Colourmusic’s Colin Fleishacker contributed his dexterous bass-playing, while Other Lives’ Josh Onstott produced, mixed and supplied backing vocals and organ. Jonathon Mooney, also in Other Lives, mixed two tracks and mastered the entire EP.
“Jon actually did it while they were out on the road,” Taylor said. “We finished recording it about two days before they left on their latest tour. It’s taken a little while because they’ve been off on the road, getting famous.”