A band who have been on the State radar ever since we saw them dancing gleefully and charmingly to their own debut single after the Northern Irish Music Awards three years ago, the Wonder Villains have finally arrived at the release of their debut album Rocky. It features that dancefloor friendly tune ‘Zola’ plus a string of past singles and a selection of new songs and is absolutely splendid. We’re delighted to have them as our guests at next Friday’s Faces of 2014 show and equally pleased to ask the band’s Ryan McGroarty whether the record felt like a long time coming or had arrived in a blur….
“A bit of both! A lot has changed along the way, the initial album recordings were a lot more programmed and electronic. We started playing lots more shows and it felt like the album should be more representative of how we sound in a room. There was a bit of discovery throughout the process and we were writing new songs, we’re so happy with how it’s ended up”.
The record features all of your past singles, was that always the plan?
“Along the way we put out songs whenever we thought it was right for people to hear them. We were always writing but we felt those earlier releases had a place on the album. They still feel important to us but they don’t rate them any more favourably from having been singles”.
Was it important to show a different side to your music as well?
“It felt natural, I think you need a breather. It was exciting too as our singles and EPs have generally opted for the most ‘in-yo-face’, immediate songs – an album can be a different beast”.
How important was prodcuer Rocky O’Reilly’s input?
“We have a great relationship with him, he championed us early on and became one of our managers and is one of our best friends. We really trust him and it made things so relaxed”.
Does he bring an extra dimension to the band?
“He has a great sense of us, that was really important in shaping the record sonically. He’s been with us from so early on that he knows where we’ve started from, and he knows where we’d like to go from here. He’s always very encouraging, and likes craziness, that made everything we recorded with him really easy”.
The work he did on Malibu Shark Attack was amazing….
“We’re the biggest fans of it, Eimear even features on a track! We met Niles (Tribe One) at SXSW this year. Feeling pretty chuffed that we met Malibu Shark Attack before they had even met each other! He’s a lovely guy and his style and lyrics are incredible”.
Is it something like to do more of – is the Belfast scene one that encourages collaboration?
“Absolutely. It’s a great size, all of our friends are in bands. Everyone does their own thing but we’re all very close. I think that’s what makes it the coolest. People are always eager to help one another. Also, initiatives through the like of Generator N.I have encouraged artists to co-write and collaborate. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see where that will go in future”.
The city’s on a musical roll at the moment. Who are your favourite acts?
What do you hope for from Rocky?
“Having an album was our goal for so long and we’re really proud of it. We’re really excited for people to be able to finally hear what we’ve been working on for the past few years! That’s making us really happy at the moment. And we’re excited to get started on album number two…”
Wonder Villains play State’s Faces of July at the Mercantile on 11th, along with The Statics and Handsome Handsome.