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Sunday, July 15, 2012


NewVillager really knows how to put on a show. On July 7, 2012 at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn, the band performed songs from their self-titled debut album. Some bands simple just perform live just to perform live, like “We are (insert name of band here) and this song is called (insert name of the song here)". NewVillager is different. They prepared the stage with blue and red clothes painted with hints of greens and yellows. They hung a mask on the drums and took of their shoes, making the stage like a piece of art for the audience to dissect and discuss after the show. True artists. Just look at these picture:

Photo by Lailaa

Photo by Lailaa
Photo by Lailaa
Their sound is futuristic and peaceful. Their song “Lighthouse” is introduced by a soft sound that is gently interrupted by plucks on a violin. Chants follow: Keep it up / Don’t stop / Don’t lose your place. Then the first verse comes in, which will spark an image of David Bowie in the 1986 movie Labyrinth singing his trance-inducing songs (if you haven’t seen this movie, you can borrow my copy). The song turns into a tune that makes your brain shutdown like a computer and focus on displaying the colorful spiraled screensaver that dances across the screen. As you can see, I enjoyed watching NewVillager at Cameo Gallery, and I highly recommend that you go see them perform. If you had the pleasure of seeing them perform already, leave a comment below.

An Interview with NewVillager
Answers by Ross Simonini (guitar and vocals) and Collin Palmer (drummer)

- Can you give me a brief history of how you guys came together as a group?

Ross: We were both going through a period of being very sick. We all met through a support group at the clinic and started playing music together.

Collin: I met Ben and Ross in the forest a little over a year and a half ago. I used to set up my drum kit out in the forest to play in a ambient outdoor space. I would hear guitars, vocals and rhythmic fragments coming from the distance.(it would really catch my ear) Then I turned around (after playing for what seemed to be 2 days) I wandered off in a daze toward the sounds and found myself circling back at my drum kit. When I arrived back, two guys were sitting facing one another playing music in front of my drum kit. It seemed like the only thing to do was join in. we have been touring and playing ever since.

- How did you come up with the group’s name?

Ross: Our friend's dad told us a story about this group of soldiers fighting in Vietnam who came across an empty village. I think it had been burned down the year before. Two of the soldiers decided to stay and start a new community in the village. They had all these ideas about making some kind of utopia out there. One of those late 19th century kind of deals. My friend 's dad came back and had to report the two soldiers as dead. They were burned alive, he said. As far as he knows they're still there. Some of the vets have this whole mythology about that village.

- How long have you been together as a group?

Ross: It's hard to say. Technically Newvillager began five years ago but we were making music together before. We just called it something else.

- Can you describe how you came up with the song “Lighthouse" (lyrics/beats)?

Ross: We came up with the verse first with the lyrics, and then recorded that and then came up with the vocal part in the chorus and then wrote a chord progression around that. The bridge took a while because of all those words. The whole song was pretty easy and natural but we went through four or five different arrangements and styles and sounds and drumbeats. We played it live with an entirely different drumbeat for about a year. That version was pretty mellow. There are still two versions - one is the radio/video version and then the album version which is quite a bit longer.

- Is your family musically inclined?

Ross: Not really. My grandfather played a little harmonica and I hear I have a cousin once removed who is a priest and plays the piano and sings at his church. My dad recently had all the satellite music radio stations taken out of his car so he could just listen to talk radio.

Collin: My Mom was a classical piano player and a painter. I would sit and watch her at an early age. I have two older brothers who were also musicians who had bands throughout my life in our house. They are currently working artists and directors in NYC.

- What motivates you to write a song?

Ross: Drugs and failure and success and embarrassment. Other people's music and art .

- How long have you been playing your instruments?

Ross: We play all sorts of instruments on the record. We've been playing music most of our lives. I think we both really got into music when we were about 10 and then started getting serious about organized music in high school.

Collin: I was into music and art at an extremely early age. I played my first drum kit at age of 5, and it grew from that to other instruments

- Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Ross: I often picture myself dead. That's the only thing that seems likely. Everything else I picture is less likely. Mostly I want to be doing all the same things I'm doing now, like reading and writing and making art and music. I hope some strange things will happen between now and then.

Collin: I can’t see that far, but I will say I hope I can be doing what I feel is right for the moment, just like I do now: art, music, traveling, surfing, yoga… etc etc…

- If you could perform with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

Ross: I'd conduct an orchestra of 100 people who are on their deathbed. All of them would be very close to death, like in a limbo state where they can see both sides of reality. I bet that would be a concert worth going to.

Collin: I would love to play with Tony Williams, Josef Zawinul, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Squarepusher, The Boards of Canada, Robert Glasper, Prince, Dave Holland, Brian Blade, and all my friends.

- Can you describe how it feels to perform live?

Ross: To me it's the same as walking down the street. It can feel like any number of things. Sometimes I think it sounds perfect on stage and sometimes I can't hear anything but noise.

Collin: I have to agree with Ross, and add I think with NewVillager, we have a lot of opportunity and freedom that allows expansion of the songs in a live setting. That is one of the best feelings thing about it for me diversity.

- Do you have a particular routine before performing live?

Ross: The Three Times. It's a game we play before we go on stage. We do the first two times offstage and the third time on stage. It's simple and involves clapping, snapping, breathing, looking.

- What does the picture on the cover of the NewVillager album represent (the one with the blue and red rectangles and shapes)?

Ross: It's the 10th symbol in our mythology. The colors and shapes represent all the basic elements of the world to us. Red/blue is past/future. White/black is creation/destruction. Green is the present into forms, the seed and the cup. If you look at all the symbols you can follow a story. It's the same story in our music and in all of our art and performances.

- NewVillager (2011)

Website: NewVillager.com

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