INTERVIEW: Bond Villain, Two in One

The name Bond Villain evokes a specific track of thought. The moniker is dark and mysterious. Is it dangerous or is it a safe haven? It’s a concept that encourages risks, but also makes you want to run. It has two identities. Inquiry and answers are demanded, but complete understanding is not an option.

 

Take this idea and hand it to music. It makes an interesting stage name in the least, yet it also creates a concept that is imperative. In the end are villains born or do they acquire their mindset. Do they have two identities? What exactly is Bond Villain?

To understand Bond Villain, we must start with Robert Roche. Rob is a musician located in Connecticut. He’s a pretty friendly guy and generally has a pretty optimistic outlook on life. Boston University is his alma mater, which is where he began to really get involved with music. He began to perform in different grunge and hardcore bands. In Boston, he had many musical projects, eventually scoring music for video games, but one of his biggest musical ventures was being the lead vocalist for the band, Courage and Collapse. He composed a large portion of the band’s material.

Now, Rob’s newest musical venture is Bond Villain. Last year he released three new songs coupled with a collaboration with Kimberley Locke. The first word that popped into my mind while listening was “innovative” (read more here). These songs have that slice of musicianship that a lot of the new music today is missing.

Recently, I had the chance to speak to Rob about the identity of Bond Villain, his current music, and his future plans. First, I needed to clear the air. Who is Bond Villain? What I discovered is that Bond Villain is much more than a stage name; it is a persona and alternative identity. It is two in one.

Bond Villain is the other side of the coin. I do have a very positive outlook. I’m not saying that Bond Villain is a negative outlook, but I allow myself to focus on traversing some of the darker parts of life, that you don’t always bring out in your every day interactions.

Bond Villain is a concept in the form of a musical artist that takes on two identities. These two identities are ones we all possess. Rob went on to explain his vision for Bond Villain’s orchestral arrangements, which include cinematic elements. His songs translate to audio movies that play out with characters we all relate to.

Next, we went into each of his songs in greater detail. We discussed their meaning and purpose. I quickly discovered how the songs represent two identities lyrically. It is an inescapable correlation and one that we had to discuss in more detail. We started off with “Dying Star.”

“Dying Star” has some of my favorite lyrics. You are watching someone you love go through something terrible…If you know someone who is going through an addiction or really difficult relationship, but think they are doing fine, that’s an incredibly powerful emotion…You burn like a dying star, you are burning so bright, everybody can see you, but we all know you are going down.

The song questions your role within these relationships. Although you are conflicted over their happiness and stability, you have to be worried about your own personal health. These two concerns combined for a conflicted reality.

Next, we discussed “Body Like a Knife.” This song takes on a much lighter tone lyrically, but the same musical standards are in place. “Knife” is a prime example of the “cinematic” song we had discussed earlier. This song puts imagery to instinct, yet there are still conscious lines. Again, the song as two identities in one body.

“Body Like a Knife” is meeting someone you know is bad for you, but you just need that person in that moment. This is about a passionate, carnal situation…The words are simple and powerful because a knife is a dangerous object, it can cut you and it can cut other people. It can cut up your life, but just for one night that is something that you need.

Lastly, we went over the final song from his EP, “Let Me Go.” This song is a power ballad of heartache, forgiveness, and self-discovery. On one side the song is about “home” and where you feel most comfortable, yet on the flip side, it shows how you must let go of these conveniences for your own good. This idea travels into toxic relationships that were once flourishing, but have served their time. It’s a concept full of conflict, but one that results in inner peace.

The composition of this song also correlates to this idea. The song’s foundation is a crescendo. As the lyrics escalate in emotion, the song escalates musically. The song ends in a gospel choir style ending, a deep departure from the beginning.

“Let Me Go” is sad in the beginning and at the very end there is a transformation for the beholder of the song, because in the end this request, for the person you love to let you go, is something to be celebrated.

It is astonishing how these emotional highs and lows coupled with such multi-level composition is in a three-song EP. Its content makes this EP nearly a complete album in theory.

So what is the future of Bond Villain? Like everything else about this concept, Rob has planned out exactly what level he would like to see his music at, both long-term and short-term.

The first place I’m aiming for is what you are watching. When you are sitting down for the new Netflix show, the credits come on for the first episode and you hear Bond Villain. That’s the first thing you hear at the beginning of those episodes for their entire season. That is the goal and where we are aiming with this music: television, video games, movies, etc.

But that is not where the aspirations end. This cinematic pop demands the stage. With Rob’s past grunge rock background, he is ready to take to take on some new venues. He explained to me how grunge and hardcore shows are 100% passion and how you leave everything on stage. Rob is planning on bringing this same concept to his new material. Bond Villain is currently booking shows for the upcoming year.

As our conversation wound down, we began to focus on what makes an artist tick. It’s always interesting to see why an artist keeps going. This drive demands creativity, but it seems satisfaction is not the end, nor does it exist. Artistry takes on many identities.

I’m never complete. I’ve never achieved my goal. There are all these roads to success, but to me there is just a road. You never achieve your dream. The dream itself is being able to get up everyday and say today I am going to work on some amazing new things that no one has ever done before.

With this ambition, Rob is already working on new music and he is promising it will equate or even eclipse his previous work.

We have so much amazing music down the pipe…They are the coolest songs I have ever been a part of in terms of songwriting and a new fresh sound. They’re bad ass, they’re dark, they’re fun, a lot of amazing imagery. It’s an all new look and sound for Bond Villain, while keeping the amazing themes we’ve built the image and music off of.

As Rob continues to grow Bond Villain, I only imagine continued emotional discoveries mixed with complex musical architecture, all in two identities.

Which makes me think about how we all have multiple identities. Both sides of the coin are mixed with their own successes, failures, heartaches, and achievements. Sometimes these identities are completely polarized, while at other times they are mixed. Bond Villain joins these two ideas into one piece of music.

The question is…when you sit down to listen to Bond Villain…which side of you is listening?


Top Music Takeaways of 2017

For me, 2017 has been a great year. Not only was it my first full year living in New York, but I made some amazing music discoveries and had life-altering musical experiences.  From being completely blown away by Paula Cole to seeing Kris Kristofferson in concert, it has been a good year for a music addict.

Below I have ranked my top music takeaways of 2017. So many sites are making “best of 2017” music countdowns, but this year has been full of experiences for me. Normally I don’t put my list in a ranking, but this one is in a particular order from least to most prolific.

5. Discovering St. Vincent

I know that I am late to the game on Annie Clark’s, i.e. St. Vincent’s, work. Her album MASSEDUCTION was hard to miss this year from its colorful cover to its raving reviews. I hope this is the “pop” of the future. This album is constantly spinning on my turntable and I am currently raking in her previous releases. Read my full review over MASSEDUCTION here.

Favorite Tracks: “Pills,” “Happy Birthday, Johnny,” and “New York”

4. Kris Kristofferson Concert

Small venues and legendary artists when put together, are amongst my favorite things. When I got word that Kris Kristofferson was going to be at City Winery in New York City, I knew I had to grab a ticket. Then, I found out I was eligible for a “meet and greet” ticket (Thanks MasterCard!). Seeing Kristofferson was one thing, but to stand by the legend himself was another. The show itself was the true highlight. His raw talent, sincerity, and gratefulness to all his fans was profound. It’s the only word I can use to describe the show. I wrote a full review over the concert here and come to find out the article was also featured on Kristofferson’s site  as well!

3. Discovering Griffin Anthony

As I was browsing Twitter one day I found Griffin Anthony. I looked up his material on Spotify and I was instantly hooked. There are two full-length albums and multiple EPs of Anthony’s on Spotify, but my favorite was his album The Making of A Man. Between Anthony’s songwriting and vocals and the record’s orchestration, this album should rank among Chris Stapleton’s Traveler and Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Anthony has a deep reverence for country music, yet he finds a way to move it forward.

Favorite Tracks: “Lady Blue,” “What a Lie Looks Like,” “Alive”

2. Meeting Darlene Love

Darlene love is a musical masterpiece. She has one of the most vibrant and interesting careers in music, and she’s an amazing person! I was able to go back and meet Ms. Love after one of her Christmas shows at B.B. Kings in NYC. The show was absolutely stunning. Although many of the songs Love sings are from the 1960’s, she makes them sound brand new. I cannot say enough nice things about Love. She is beautiful inside and out. I am truly grateful for this experience. I even bought a new Christmas sweater for the occasion.

1. Listening to Paula Cole’s Ballads, Interviewing Paula Cole, Meeting Paula Cole

We all know Paula Cole from her smash hits “I Don’t Want to Wait” and “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone,” but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Cole’s music. As I was browsing new releases on Spotify back in August I found Cole’s newest album Ballads. This album literally changed how I listen to music. Cole’s voice completely overtakes every track, resulting in a jazz masterpiece. She intertwines classic jazz songs with songs you would never include on a standard jazz album (“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” “Ode to Billy Joe”). After bingeing this album for weeks I wrote a review with my rawest thoughts, but I knew there was no way I did the album justice.

To my surprise, Cole enjoyed my article and even retweeted it. Weeks later, her team sent out an email over her upcoming tour dates with praises for the album and there was a quote from Vinyl Culture. I was ecstatic! Then I had an idea. I decided I would take a chance and send her management an email and ask for an interview. I knew there was no way a Grammy Award-winning, Lilith Fair legend would ever answer my request. Again, to my surprise, Ms. Cole obliged. Although I wouldn’t call it an interview, it was a conversation. Read our conversation here

Then it came time for her show at City Winery in NYC. Again I had a meet and greet pass. I was nervous to meet Cole. By this time I had listened to every album she had released and had an even deeper understanding of her music. I was last in line and as I walked around the corner and said “Hi! I’m Gabe Crawford,” she instantly knew who I was. We chatted like old friends, but I can’t tell you anything we talked about. I was completely in awe. I had never met anybody as talented as Cole. We all have those moments in our lives, the ones we can’t describe, and this was one of those. This whole experience was divine and one I will cherish for the rest of my life.


Well with that being said, there isn’t much more to be said. I was truly blessed with amazing discoveries and experiences in 2017. Thank you to everybody who had a hand in making this list happen.


Honorable Mentions:

Music Review: A New Kimberley Locke Christmas Playlist

Live Music: Diana Ross- It’s Her House

New Music Review: Bond Villain – Simply Innovative