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VilleBillies
Appetite for Dysfunction
Island Earth Music
Produced by: VilleBillies

If there ever were a need to record an album that glorifies the art of southern-urban-suburban living in good ole’ Louisville, Kentucky coupled with mass consumption of various chemical substances, then this would be that album.

On their 3rd album (the first being Universal Motown Records), the VilleBillies continue perfecting their original sound of recording boozy, beat-laden, twangy, honest hip-hop music straight from their heart and minds. And they definitely didn’t forget to work on elevating their other nostalgic trait: Louisville-celebrity-living-ness. Or something to that effect.

Appetite for Dysfunction’s first single and track No. 4 “Talk to Me,” a dark, yet catchy tune was released on Youtube in November 2010. Yep, 2010.

Other killer tracks is the twangy-wangy guitar rock n’ roll jam “Pure to the Grain,” and the smooth beats and groove laid on “Rear View.” There’s also the eerie piano & guitar playing on “Pride Aside,” which is candidly humble lyrically speaking. The harmonica and banjo makes its first appearance on “O’Death,” a song that has a backwoods, porch-stomping, celtic feel to it. “Just Yesterday” is something that resembles a ballad, something that hasn’t been a VB regularity, but you’d never know it after listening to it.

Closing out in style, they end with a Weird Al-like parody of “Talk To Me,” dubbed “Tuck to Me” where the lyrics are virtually dumb, sometimes redundant and non-fitting to the rhythm. The VilleBillies. Essentially fucking around while still recording their album and making fun of their own antics. Imagine that. Surprising, I know. 

Track Listing:

1. Midnight
2. Pure to the Grain
3. Worth the Fight
4. Talk to Me
5. Rear View
6. Rocket Queen
7. Alive
8. Side Show
9. Pride Aside
10. The Biz
11. Same Ol’ People
12. O’Death
13. So Goes the Scarecrow
14. Movin On
15. Just Yesterday
16. Tuck to Me

** This review will also soon be published on LouisvilleKY.com


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In what could’ve been a pretty laid back night for all concert-goers this past Sunday at Iroquois Amphitheater, actually turned ugly for a few unlucky fans at the hands of an overtly domineering security staff. More on that later. Onto the music first.

Louisville’s Elephant Room and VilleBillies received the opening nods for Sublime with Rome in one of the biggest summer concerts the city has hosted this year. Iroquois Amphitheater was packed to near capacity and swarming with teenagers to the 40 something year-old crowd. This seemed to be a pretty typical demographic for these artists collectively. Not to mention plenty of Sublime-heads, if you will, with their Sublime T-shirts, and their other random attributes they adorned proudly. Overall, the atmosphere was chilled and relaxed.


Elephant Room – Photo by Jason Ashcraft

Elephant Room, who lead off, gave one stellar stage show in terms of personal performance by each member of the group. Lead vocalists Chase Myers & Josh Bennett marched from one side of the stage to the next and wasn’t shy to keep the crowd involved either. Although no one song they played really stood out, they definitely carried their weight in performance and showmanship. Now all they have to do is craft a few memorable songs and they should be on their way. Keep an eye out on these guys.


VilleBillies – Photo by Staci Core

The VilleBillies. So what can be said about them that’s not already been published before? Nothing. They’re solid. Period. It’s like going and seeing a My Morning Jacket concert. It’s always going to be awesome, and somewhat unlike the one before it. Both their songs and performance are perfect for their style of music.


Justin Reed & Demi Demaree of VilleBillies – Photo by Staci Core

It’s literally a living act of stupidity on behalf of the national recording industry that the VilleBillies don’t have a MMJ-like record deal by now. Actually, I do have one complaint on their stage show. Where the f**k was Big Bird?

So now we have Sublime with Rome coming up and the crowd inside the amphitheater was brewing with anticipation moments before they took the stage.


Sublime with Rome – Photo by Staci Core

Chants of “Sublime, Sublime, Sublime” were screamed in unison by the crowd. About ten seconds later the Long Beach trio appeared from backstage rushing to their instruments. They quickly opened with canny version of “Panic,” the first single off their new album Yours Truly.

They quickly turned to playing old-school Sublime songs like ”Crazy Fool,” “Wrong Way” “Smoke Two Joints” and “Santeria,” amongst others. If your eyes were closed, at times, you could have easily believed that it was Nowell up there playing those authentic Sublime jams, but obviously it’s not. Rome held his own to say the least.

Even newer songs written with Ramirez did not necessarily reinvent Sublime’s signature reggae/ska style of sound that fans have come to both appreciate and anticipate.


Rome Ramirez – Photo by Staci Core

Replacing a lead singer and keeping the band’s name in tact is a hard thing to pull off. Think about it. Gary Cherone for Sammy Hagar for David Lee Roth in Van Halen. John Corabi for Vince Neil in Motley Crue. Brian Johnson for Bon Scott in AC/DC. Both success and failures have came from change-outs like this over the years.

But, Rome Ramirez, although uniquely different from Nowell, was impressive all around. If the measure by which a singer’s replacement is an ability to carry on the signature sound of the replaced singer, Ramirez is hitting the nail on the head with a sledge hammer.

Stop reading here if your only interest was the actual concert review. That part is over. Let’s get back to the “overtly domineering security staff” statement I made earlier.  Let me first point out that I am the second person in the local media to mention something about the security and incident which took place onstage with a fan. Thank you Mudd from 93.1 The Fox for opening the door on this subject on your radio show Monday morning.

Now, I will proceed with kicking it in and blowing the whistle on event security.

At mid-set during Sublime’s performance this skinny young guy attempts to dance his way onto the stage. It’s obvious that not just anyone can be permitted to go onstage while a band is performing. I get that. But this 200+ pound security guard elects to get this kid in some type of headlock or choke-hold, and then viciously dragged him offstage like he was in some kind of wrestling match with a wild animal. The kid was dancing. Not fighting. Dancing.

This guy didn’t appear to be charging the band with any type of intent or endangering anyones safety in the course of his actions. He was dancing, having his moment. Yes, in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it’s not an excuse to take him out in the violent manner which the security guard elected to.

Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be an isolated incident, rather just the tip of an iceberg. There were actually security guards who were overly obsessive about trying to bust pot smoking teenagers (because they are just jeopardizing everyone’s safety). And then there were a couple security guys at the gate who felt it was necessary confiscate a photographer’s camera (who had media credentials) and then copping attitude about the incident instead of apologizing for their mistake.

What is it with concert security guards these days where they feel they are entitled to be raging assholes to everyone they encounter?

To those security guards: Please remember what your real job is to do. To ensure the safety of everyone attending the concert. That’s it. Ensure their “safety.”

Ensuring safety DOES NOT include beating up dancing hippie kids half your weight who are living in the moment and having a good time. It’s NOT preventing the media from doing our job by confiscating our cameras when we have proper media credentials. It’s NOT chasing around high-school pot smokers like they are some kind of terrorist. Nobody’s safety was at stake in these situations. If you want to continue to act like a COP, then quit your security job and go apply with LMPD.

Never forget why all of us have our jobs in the music business to begin with: Because of the fans. Yep, those 150-pound evil teenage pot-smoking dancing kids with funny clothes and long hair are the enablers of all our jobs in this business. If fans didn’t purchase concert tickets or buy albums, then the promoters wouldn’t have a reason to organize the concerts, and bands wouldn’t have a concert to get hired to play at, and us members of the media wouldn’t have a show to write or broadcast about. And, yes, you mister security guard would also be less employed if it weren’t for these fans too. So quit beating up those who enable you to earn an income, okay? It’s not cool and nobody else does that. Capish?

** This review is also posted at Louisville.com

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What do you get when you take a couple of bands from the 502 and have them play with one the biggest bands from the LBC? Well, you have Louisville’s VilleBillies and Elephant Room opening for Long Beach, California’s Sublime with Rome. For those of you unaware, this is the new edition of the original Sublime from the 90’s. That show takes place this Sunday, July 10th at Iroquois Amphitheater on Louisville’s south side.

Sublime with Rome is set to release their highly anticipated debut album with new frontman and  guitarist Rome Ramirez. The new album is called Yours Truly and hits stores on Tuesday, July 12th via Fueled by Ramen records.

Rome, a 22-year-old northern California native, was introduced to the surviving members of Sublime, drummer Bud Gaugh and bass player Eric Wilson in 2008. Then jam sessions ensued, then a few impromptu shows, then an invite to a festival, then a Christmas gig for an LA radio station, then another big show – fittingly- on 4/20/10, and now here we are, a little over a year later and welcoming them to Louisville just before their new album release. Hunky-dory, right?

So, this new solution is now officially known as Sublime with Rome. The music seems to emphasize a little more of the band’s affinity for the hip-hop style of alt-rock, more so than the original Sublime did back in the 90’s. They even have a collaboration song called “Can You Feel It” with hip-hopper Wiz Khalifa. They also still offer plenty of that signature Sublime-style of ska and reggae instrumentation and way of playing.

Old school Sublime fans from the 90‘s; not to worry. You’ll be satisfied too. I’m sure they’ll break out “What I Got,” “Wrong Way,” or my personal favorite “Doin Time.” Hopefully, right?

“Our shows are full of surprises,” said Gaugh. “Sublime has never used a set list. We are performing songs off every album and mix it up from show to show, never delivering the same set twice. We’ve also been working on some new material and have put together a couple of songs with Rome. We want to celebrate the music and share the experience with our fans.”

Sublime with Rome / VilleBillies / Elephant Room
Sunday, July 10.
Iroquois Amphitheater
5216 New Cut Rd.
$35 advance purchase
$40 day of show
8:00 pm
All Ages
 Tickets at Ticketmaster.com.com and select Kroger stores
 or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

** This preview also posted at Louisville.com

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Ahh, the Kentucky Derby season in Louisville. That time of year where for two weeks most the city’s population negates work, drink the days and nights away all in the name of horse racing’s classiest two-minute affair. As exemplified below by my little drunken buddy who I found all snuggled up in a concrete nook near the corner of 3rd Street and Muhammad Ali at about 11:30 pm.


At least he wasn’t driving, right?

So, I too wandered about my hometown on its most glorious weekend – a little more coherently than the average Joe, I might add – but nonetheless to see a few random Derby party-spots.

Thursday, May 5th: Kroger’s Festaville at Waterfront Park

Waterfront park took on a new meaning to its name as receding flood waters left much of the ground oozing with river-aroma’d black mud. Now add an inability to get your favorite beverage/cocktail of choice in 20 minutes or less, and you get a disgruntled crowd. Although many were patient enough to bear the wait time, I decided standing in a line for 20 minutes or more for a drink was not something I can do if I’m going to properly review the event. Maybe someday these large waterfront concert organizers will figure out the service staff to guest ratio, because this night they clearly hadn’t. If you wanted a beer or cocktail you had better be patient and be willing to watch the concert from the line. Bummer.


The drink ticket line


One of three stage-area watering holes

Luck-fully the entertainment for the night were a pair of Kentucky’s most popular bands, Louisville’s The Pass, and Bowling Green’s Cage The Elephant. Event organizers hit the nail on the head by booking these two rising musical stars from Kentucky, otherwise I’m not sure people would have braved the mud and long lines.

The Pass initiated the first true crowd roar upon walking out on stage and seemed a little surprised at the audiences gesture. They opened with “Treatment of the Sun” and somewhat initiated a dance party that would carry out for the remainder of their 45 minute set. An 80’s style dance party in mud I might add. The only bummer was they didn’t play, what I think is one of their best songs, “Criminal.”

Cage The Elephant almost didn’t go on. At least that is what I started to think when I saw an ambulance with its lights on drive backstage 30 minutes after The Pass had completely vacated the stage. All of the sudden I started thinking about my phone interview with lead-singer Matt Schultz last March, which I thought he was comatose’d during. There is no way this ambulance is here for any CTE member I thought to myself.

Then, finally, at about 9:45, a whole 45 minutes late, the Bowling Green, Kentucky-boys finally emerged from backstage to a shrieking and impatient audience. They quickly grabbed their instruments and belted out one of their hits “In One Ear.” The opening words to this song; “They say we ain’t got the style, we ain’t got the class…” proved to be oh-so-appropriate at this particular moment. But, musically, they do, and those lyrics really hit home for a home-state audience.

All of the sudden the wait seemed worth it as they opened with a bit of a bang, and then treated the audience to songs like “Back Against The Wall,” “Shake Me Down,” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” amongst others. 

The enitre band had quite a rambunctious stage presence the entire night and lead-singer Matt Schultz became reminiscent of how Jim Morrison of The Doors used to drunkenly stagger around stage, dodging his fellow band members. He was crowd surfing by the second song I might add.

One thing was for sure; CTE didn’t have to wait 20 minutes or more for drinks.

Part 2 of 3 coming soon….

Photos & Videos by Jason Ashcraft

** This review also posted at Louisville.com

Friday, May 6th: The Vernon Club

Ok, so let’s recap from part 1 of this review. There were zero beers realistically available for me at the Cage The Elephant & The Pass show the night before on Thursday. That being said, Friday night is going to be different. It’s Derby-eve, and I’ve got the VilleBillies penciled in on my schedule for the night’s festivities. And these damn VilleBillies have built a reputation for having plenty of booze flowing at their shows, their rehearsals, their backstage gatherings, and their post-show parties. Pretty much anywhere they go they throw down so to speak. And given that I’m reviewing their show on this night, there is no way they’re going to allow me to not drink with them.

To no surprise, they packed in the Vernon Club to near capacity. And once they to the stage, the VilleBillies seized their audience from the first song, and had the entire room chanting their lyrics during their entire set.


VilleBillies – Photo by Jason Ashcraft

Celebrating nearly 10 years of being together as a band, the VilleBillies continue to prove they haven’t lost their energy, their onstage swagger, or their ability to keep writing heartfelt, Louisville-loving, country-rock-hip-hop anthems that you can’t help to find yourself chanting, even if only in your head.

Most VilleBillie fans are hardcore fans and know the song lyrics as good as the band does, so it’s interesting to hear the constant echo of a nearby fan trying to keep the vicious lyrical pace of the song being performed. Not surprisingly, VilleBillie fans also drink about as much as the band does, so it made for quite a loud and somewhat hectic environment. But not a dramatic one. Everyone behaved on this night and the security staff didn’t even break a sweat.

Post-show a few people headed upstairs to the bowling alley for a few drunken ball tosses down the lanes…including myself. But after managing to only knock down one pin on one try, I called it a night and drank beer with Tuck and some of his cousins. All’s well that ends well.

Photo & videos by Jason Ashcraft

Saturday, May 7th: The Seelbach Bar, MTV’s “Hottest Derby Party” at Frazier Museum.

The Seelbach Bar inside the Seelbach Hotel hosted its house jazz band The Dick Sisto Trio, with of course, Dick Sisto on piano and vibraphone, Tyrone Wheeler on bass and Jason Tiemann on percussion. Jazz is a good music to sit and space out to when, perhaps, you don’t want to hear or listen to anything else. You can get lost in its composure and random bursts of energy, and the Dick Sisto Trio delivers the total live jazz experience.


Dick Sisto. Photo by John Nation

On this particular night, the Seelbach Bar was brimming with seemingly partied-out derby out-of-towners, along with a few locals here and there, most all still in their Derby attire. The mint julep’s were flowing although I settled for an Espresso Martini. And while the Seelbach has a history of attracting a few celebrities during Derby, this time they were no where to be found. I was fine with that. The last thing I want to be thought of is the paparazzi.

MTV’s “Hottest Derby Party” actually rivaled being the “Coldest Derby Party” if you ask me. Either this event was thrown together way to quickly, or it lacked sufficient Derby-caliber entertainment, or Derby party-goers have zero interest in becoming MTV’s next Snooki, or a combination of all three. There was also no sign of MTV’s Tyrus, no indication of a casting call for a reality show taking place, nor did it even look like any live-performance by breakout artist Jim Phebe was in store.


The main ballroom at 11:30 pm. Photo by Jason Ashcraft

But, on the flip side, at least the event service staff had no issues serving the very few guests (or themselves) a drink in less than 20 seconds. That’s because they far outnumbered any party-goers. 

Given the expensive admission cost of $45+ to get in, an average cost of $15 dollars per drink, and the lack of a high-profile guest list or musician performing, this party never really had a chance. Back to drawing board on how to properly plan a Derby party for MTV I suppose.

**This review also posted at Louisville.com

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The VilleBillies 2011

To say the eight-member hip-hop-alt-country-rock band the VilleBillies are busy these days would be a drastic understatement, especially for two of the band’s most prolific members, Demi Demaree and Dustin “Tuck” Tucker, who are also in the midst of debuting and promoting their new hip-hop project called BassDrumAliens.

As for their self-proclaimed mothership of all projects, the VilleBillies are heating up once again after a two-year stint with a new album titled Appetite For Dysfunction (due out this summer) along with a few high-profile shows recently announced. The first will come Derby-eve on Friday, May 6th at The Vernon Club , and also the following Friday, May 13th, where they’ll be kicking off the Paddock Concert Series at Churchill Downs. At the Derby, on Saturday, May 7th, the VilleBillies will have a booth in the infield where they’ll be passing out free tickets to the May 13th show in the Paddock inside Churchill Downs.  No plans yet confirmed on whether they’ll be hitting the road for a tour to celebrate the release for Appetite for Dysfunction.

VilleBillies on the red carpet at Churchill Downs' opening night

‘Talk To Me’ is the album’s first single, and was debuted during their HullabaLou performance last summer, along with a video that followed shortly thereafter. If you haven’t yet seen the song’s video, it will more than likely leave you scratching your head once you do.

“The song is a dark song. It’s not happy like it sounds,” Tuck commented on the subject of ‘Talk To Me.’

Demi also added, “It goes through the emotions of love, from the most beautiful purest piece of it, to the darker side of it.”

Aside from the VilleBillies, other members of the band are also involved with a number of side projects like BassDrumAliens, Plan of Man, Gentlemen Hounds, Million Dollar Records, and Melted Clock Studios. Melted Clock Studios is a video production company that shoots and produces music videos for artists – including all the VilleBillies’ own music videos – along with a number of comedy skits that both Demi and Tuck are sometimes featured in. Just google “Melted Clock Studios” and let yourself be entertained.

As for what’s next for the VilleBillies, the focus right now is for the band to concentrate on finishing and releasing Appetite for Dysfunction this summer.

“We just have a lot of fun with this stuff, you know? Anyway we can be creative is what we’re going to do. We’re not stuck to one thing,” Demi commented on the band’s various side projects. “There is just so much creativity in us, and so many goals, and so many things we want to accomplish that if we weren’t working on new stuff, then we’d be depressed.

Tuck went on to say, “I’m happy where I’m at right now because I can make, record, and listen to my own music. If I couldn’t do that, then I’d be really depressed. All the other stuff is just bonuses. But I’m not going to lie. I’d really like to take it to that next level.”

**Please note this video was recorded prior to a recent venue change announced for the Derby-eve show on Friday, May 6th.

Churchill Downs Paddock Concert Series
The VilleBillies  


Friday, May 13th 

Churchill Downs

700 Central Ave.

8 pm 

All Ages

FREE

** This story is also published at Louisville.com

Photos: Courtesy of the VilleBillies

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The Villebillies recently debuted the video for “Talk to Me,” the new single off their upcoming studio album Appetite for Dysfunction, which is due out in Spring of 2011.

You’ll have to watch the video a few times to understand what it is that is happening to the girl reporter, which is still unclear, by the way. I think this is planned intent though by the Villebillies. And it’s ironic that total play time is exactly 4:20 minutes long. Ponder that one…..

You decide and figure it out:

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