Interviewed: Victor Villarreal Talks “Invisible Cinema,” Cap’n Jazz, And More

If Victor Villarreal‘s name strikes you as familiar, chances are good that you’re familiar with his work as guitarist of Cap’n Jazz or Owls. He’s also played with Joan of Arc; more recently, he’s begun making music as a solo artist. Villarreal’s album Invisible Cinema, which follows 2009’s Alive, abounds with both deftly played instrumental passages and more pastoral songcraft. In its stylistic range, it’s more than a little reminiscent of the solo work of David Grubbs, another musician whose work encompasses the full range of the bliss/aggro scale. I caught up with Villarreal via email last week partway through his tour of the East Coast.

You’ve written that this is your first tour as a solo artist; how has it gone so far?
Yep. This is the first tour I’ve taken on solo and so far it’s been going pretty good with that taken into consideration. We are a little over half way in and still have some very cool shows coming up (Philly, New York, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, etc..)

Over how long a period of time were these songs written? Did any of them predate Alive?
Oh man, three of these songs originally started out as riffs dating all the way back to 2006. hah, as for the others – one is an instrumental acoustic piece I came up with early last year, and three others were previously demo’d riffs/ rough conceptsI had brought into the studio and assembled with Corey.

Did the reunion of Cap’n Jazz in 2010 have any effect on these songs?
For sure! I’d like to think the Cap’n Jazz reunion sparked an overall effect on not only some of those songs, but my drive and motivation as a musician as well. Yep heh.. really lit a match of inspiration under my stationary ass.

Do you find that most of the people in attendance at your shows have known you more from the reunion, through your work with Joan or Arc, or via Ghosts and Vodka?
Ahh its hard to say.. but if i had to guess, I’d say I get asked about Cap’n Jazz the most. As for whether the people are referencing it back to the reunion or pre-reunion, it’s really hard to tell. Second most would be Joan of Arc or Owls.

What first prompted you to write the songs on Invisible Cinema? Was there ever an impulse to arrange them for a full band?
Nothing really prompted me other than the desire to make and complete a solo record. I feel like it was long overdue. The parts were written for therapeutic reasons and originally had no order to them, the reason I wanted to arrange them into songs was because I had never lived up to that challenge before.

I’ve never had a desire to arrange these songs for a full band because I’ve felt that there should be a certain spontaneity to the way the music is projected from me.

Are you still writing solo material, or do you think your next time in a recording studio will be with a band?
I am still writing solo material. However, aside from the occasional random collaboration, I’d like to keep my solo work separate from my work with bands. It feels like I’m just now starting to develop my own personal style as a solo artist and would like to continue to define that.

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