December 4, 2007

B-Sides: MUSIC & OTHER EPHEMERA

Been out of commission for a bit. Last week, LEO teleported the staff to Halloween. We’ve since fixed our time machine, removed our face paint, and everyone is back in December safe and sound. Straight back from Slaughterhouse 5.This Saturday at Headliners, Villebillies play their first hometown show since they were dropped from Universal/Motown.“We just got cut down,” emcee Demi Demaree says as he explains the quick divorce from the label that released the outfit’s self-titled debut last September.The circumstances were beyond their control. “When we got signed … we had a team of people ready to work our record,” he says. Universal then split into Universal Republic and Universal Motown, which the band ended up working for. It was a complete mismatch. “If you’re not Li’l Wayne or Chris Brown,” Demaree says, “they don’t know what to do with you.”Finally, the band jumped on a three-month package tour with rap-metal monsters hed (PE), Mower, punk rockers Authority Zero and Danny Diablo.When the tour stopped here in May, it was apparent the group had been mismatched again, with acts that didn’t share their fanbase, but national exposure served them well in terms of — pardon the pun — grassroots marketing. “Our MySpace gets hit up from Florida all the way to Seattle,” Demaree says. “We constantly get asked to come back; we’ve got this buzz, which is great.”But Universal decided it had spent enough money, and dropped the band, as did their booking agent and management company.The group is down to seven — beatmaker BJ, and emcees Dylan and 2B have left — and the remaining members have holed up in an undisclosed woodshed writing a follow-up album, which Demaree describes as “Hank III meets Outkast.”“It’s still Villebillies, but in a way it’s not,” he says. “We’re not even thinking about trying to make money or have radio hits. We’re getting older, and we want to enjoy every minute of it.”“Stranger” and “One Shot” are two of the five new songs the band has incorporated into its set. The latter Demaree calls “intense … from the minute that we started, we knew it was hot.”The arrangements are basically live, and that might sit well with fans who have told Demaree they think the group lost its grit. “We don’t really know what’s good and what’s not; we know what we like and what feels right.”Mat Herron is LEO’s Music Editor. You can reach him most days at mherron@leoweekly.com