Hear Michael Bohn return to the mic with new band the Villa
Following WildHeart’s disbandment a little over a year after they formed, vocalist Michael Bohn (Issues, Woe, Is Me) along with guitarists Kevin Hanson (Woe, Is Me) and Turner Wood (Nightmares) brought bassist Michael Owens (Secrets) into the fold for a brand-new musical venture.
WildHeart saw these musicians stepping away from heavy music for a lighter sound spanning many genres, but now they're returning to making abrasive noise.
The Atlanta-based band are premiering their first-ever song and music video exclusively through AltPress before its official arrival June 5. “Turning Point” drifts between dreamy melodies and dirty drop-tuned metalcore grooves for a tight, punchy sound.
We caught up with Bohn to discuss how the Villa came together, the creation of the “Turning Point” video and what people can expect from them in the future.
I noticed the Twitter account for the Villa seems to be taken over from WildHeart. Is this considered a continuation or a completely fresh start?
It’s a completely fresh start. I’ve talked about it a bit before, but when I parted ways with Issues, I wanted to do something completely different with WildHeart—just to play some feel-good stuff—and I also wanted to get back on drums because I’ve always loved playing drums. Obviously, the whole WildHeart thing didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to. It was fairly short-lived. Turner [Wood, guitar] and Kevin [Hanson, guitar] were also in WildHeart, and basically afterward, Turner and Kevin were like, “Why don’t you just go back to vocals?” and sat me down to say they think I should just be a frontman. They talked me into it and thought it was best if I just fronted the band, so we went back to me doing vocals. Obviously, it’s going to be something heavy, so it’s very different from WildHeart.
How does it feel to go back to the microphone with the Villa?
It was a little scary at first. It was hard to get back into it because I haven’t done it since my last show in Issues. I haven’t done any vocals or anything. I didn’t really have a reason to, so I was just focusing on drums. It was hard to get back into because I had to remember how to get back into screaming because it was probably a year-and-a-half, two years until I [returned to] the studio as a vocalist. It was hard for a bit, but I’ve finally got it back.
The list of members in the Villa doesn't include a drummer. Who's handling drum duties for the band right now?
We’re just having a hire-on. We don’t have a specific single drummer, and when we tour, we’ll probably just have somebody hired to tour with us. I think we just had a really good thing going and have known each other for years, all four of us. We didn’t want to mess anything up and bring another person in or throw things off because we feel really confident about this project, and we all have known each other for so long.
The new song is far heavier than the tracks released with WildHeart. What made you decide to work on heavier-sounding music again?
I just think that might be what we’re best at. We’ve done it for 10 years, which is part of the reason I wanted to step away from it after Issues because I had been doing it for so long. I wanted to do something different and at least try something different. Now, we’ve come to the realization that it’s what we’re best at. Maybe there’s a reason why we were successful in writing heavy music for 10-plus years. It’s what we know and what we’re best at. I didn’t listen to a lot of heavy stuff, and I still feel out of the loop sometimes. When I was in WildHeart, I wasn’t listening to a lot of metal. Now coming back into it, [I'm] discovering newer artists and bands that are in the heavy scene, so it’s cool.
How did you decide on the name of the band?
The name actually came up because Michael pitched it, and we thought, "That’s cool. Maybe we can do something with that." It basically comes from this super-old cult in Italy called The Villa Of The Mysteries. It was this secret cult, and I guess it’s a tourist attraction now, but a lot of people don’t know about it. We built our whole band based on that. I think the cult may have done some weird shit, but we don’t really back all of that. It was just cool to get the name from it, and we made the band’s whole vibe around that.
The video for the track is really captivating. What was the story you wanted to be told in the video?
First of all, a little bit of a backstory is we shot that video during the coronavirus pandemic. We had to be sneaky about it, so we did it at my house. It’s not the craziest video, but it was cool that we were just able to pull it off. We want to do a follow-up video to it too to explain more about it, but it’s basically me starting the Villa and the coming together of everyone.
Hopefully, that’s in the follow-up video to make it make a little more sense. It’s about being obsessed with this thing and this project and this band and me going to start my journey. In the lyrics, this is the start of a revolution, and it’s me starting this new journey and the coming together of the Villa. I’m trying to refrain from saying cult because I don’t want it to come across like that, but it has that vibe. In the follow-up video, we’re hoping to show more people coming together in this whole group.
What can people expect from you going forward?
I want to build a strong foundation with fans. We’re planning a lot of cool stuff and really thinking about every little detail with this project and have an actual concept and vibe people can latch on to and be a part of. I know a lot of bands say stuff like that, but we’re really trying to create a cool community together.
There’s definitely going to be some heavy songs, and we’re continuously writing. We’re sitting on roughly five songs right now, and we have two more that are being written at the moment. Once everything opens back up, we definitely want to tour, and we hope to hit the road and meet people and see old faces.
One last thing that I want to say is that we did this whole thing where we set up the website for the Villa, and it gave people the chance to sign up with their names and addresses. I know a lot of people are weird about giving their address, but what we did was send them an actual letter and an invitation to be a part of the Villa. We’re really stoked on that and want to do things a little differently and reach out and do as many things as possible to have fans feel a part of a community.
What do you think of the Villa’s debut song and music video? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.