“We drove straight for the cliff:” The Villaintinos talk new EP ‘Come And Get It’

Columbus -based punk band The Villaintinos swing by Happy to chat their new EP, songwriting processes and desire to “create more range of emotion.”

Earlier this month, we were treated to the blistering punk rock attitude of The Villaintinos searingly cathartic new EP Come And Get It.

With a title that reads more like an ultimatum than a suggestion, the four-track project commands your attention from the get-go, thrusting listeners into the sneering vocals, razor-sharp lyricism and thunderous instrumentation of rock’s most promising act. 

The Villaintinos EP 'Come And Get It'

“We decided we would just drive straight for the cliff,” The Villaintinos guitarist Todd Novak said of the EP in an interview with Happy Mag.

Below, we caught up with the band to dish on all things Come And Get It, songwriting processes, and their commitment to “play between the genre lines.”

Scroll down for our full interview with Todd Novak, and listen to The Villaintinos’ new EP Come And Get It below. 

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

TODD: Now that our latest EP is released, we are preparing for the last few shows of the year. Mainly our excitement lies on the development of a second full length album for release in the early summer of 2025.

HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?

TODD: We are from Columbus, the capital city of Ohio in the United States. The four of us actually used to work together and have known eachother for about 10 years.

Our drummer Matt Grover and I were in two bands together before The Villaintinos came together. Our scene is comprised of a very eclectic mix of genres including straight up rock n’ roll, garage, punk, lo-fi, metal, stoner rock, doom, noise rock, jangle.

The list goes on. That makes it interesting for us to play in Columbus and greater Ohio especially because we fit in-between several categories, so we can gig with bands that bring crowds that are not limited to a rigid style of music.

The bands are fairly tight with each other here and the people who support the scene are very positive and love music!

The Villaintinos EP 'Come And Get It'

HAPPY: Can you share the story behind the title of your EP, “Come And Get It?” What does it signify for the Villaintinos?

TODD: After our first album, this follow up EP was like the feeling you get after you’ve been in a tangle and you know the fight is not over–”Oh, you want some more? Come and get it!” That has been our mentality all along.

When we first started the band it was clear to us that we had an approach to our live act that we could amplify, like the way a dog snarls and lowers its head before it bites.

We love playing our music and we never want to waste a single minute of the opportunity we have to do this, so we floor the gas pedal and don’t let up until the set is over.

A lot of bands do a fair amount of chatter in between songs and that’s cool if you can do that well. We decided we would just drive straight for the cliff. 


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HAPPY: Leah Hanson’s vocals are a standout element on this EP. Could you tell us a bit about the evolution of her vocal style and how it contributes to the band’s overall sound?

TODD: Leah is small but sounds like a top fuel dragster. When we met she had not really done much singing beyond karaoke and had never written lyrics or melodies at all.

But the moment I heard her I knew we had something special. It is critical to our sound because she is exactly who I wanted to write music for when I started the band.

Her vocal attack against our music gives us an edge and sets us apart in the male front man rock world. Not better, just different. I think it helps us connect with more people. And… it sounds killer.

HAPPY: The EP covers a range of musical styles, from grunge to punk. How do you approach the process of blending these genres while maintaining a cohesive sound?

TODD: If we knew, this would be a much easier process! It comes down to our collective roots if we had to guess.

I grew up in Southern California and my guitar tone and playing style has echoes of some of the great Los Angeles and Orange County early rock and punk bands with rich cultural influences.

Leah grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and spent time in LA as well, so her melody and lyrics synced up pretty naturally. Our style is often urgent and visceral and while that is home for us, we want to be stretching beyond that to enhance our songs and continue to play between the genre lines.

With all that considered, when we put together something new and we get the feels and look at each other, it is electric! Next is seeing how far we can push it without losing those vibes.  

HAPPY: The cover of The Rolling Stones‘ “Bitch” is a bold choice. What motivated you to reinterpret this classic, and how did you approach putting your own stamp on it?

TODD: I’ve always loved the heat of that song—It feels so raw! We like to introduce a new cover to add to our set to keep it fun and interesting. It is a great way to pull an audience closer in and make a connection especially if it is their first time they are hearing us.

I thought it might be a stretch to do the Stones and maybe even sacred ground, but in my gut I felt if anybody could pull it off it was us, especially with Leah in Mick’s shoes. She turns his swagger into a snarl and it’s just nasty!

HAPPY: The production on “Come And Get It” is notably clean and well-polished. Tell us about the recording process and any specific techniques you used to achieve this sound.

TODD: From the beginning we wanted to balance raw energy with a tight output, it was just naturally where we are coming from. When we went into the studio it was a priority to translate what we did on stage to what was recorded.

Jon Fintel recorded and produced our first album as well as our EP. He’s seen us do our thing live and just knew what to do. We were fortunate in that. When it came down to the engineering, we really kept it simple.

Jon can elaborate on this at length but in short, our drummer Matt Grover and bassist Jay Donovan play so tight together which lays the foundation for Leah and I to do our thing.

I think the most complex aspect of it was using two amps for my guitars. I tracked on my Marshall with a few overdrives and on another track we ran a 1965 Fender Bassman pushed to full volume.

We went pretty light on the mixing effects too. Leah’s vocals are single tracked with a few small dubs for effect. I love the way it came out. 


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HAPPY: How does “Come And Get It” compare to your self-titled debut from 2020 in terms of its themes and musical direction?

TODD: We had the pandemic to thank for the time gap between our first release and this EP.  But, this time allowed us to get real familiar with our signature attack and production. We naturally started stretching into more dynamic songs and creating more range of emotion.

Life provided lots of great lyrical content and honestly these songs started coming together in a way that felt almost unreal because it was just like, poof! There they are! We were just ready for them.

HAPPY: Can you share some insights into how the songwriting process works within the Villaintinos? Do you typically collaborate on lyrics and music, or is it more individually driven?

TODD: I play guitar at home almost every night to keep myself open to whatever may come. Often, after I’ve played for a while and I’m just about to call it quits I will hear something interesting and blammo! That is a new song offering.

Kinda like the idea of finding your lost keys in the last place you look. I regularly share the beginning of these songs with Leah first because she is going to have to put lyrics behind it. Some we know right away are bangers and some take time to uncover.

We play them as a band and Leah will listen and get a feel for the song. This gives us time to find the special moments in the songs before we start putting lyrics to it.  Leah and I will get together and discuss and or fight for what we like or don’t like.

It is important to us to collaborate on song themes and lyrical stylings but I think it is critical for Leah to write the actual lyrics and melodies because she will sing them with conviction, honesty, and real emotional connection. 


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HAPPY: Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the Villaintinos? Are there any specific goals or projects you’re particularly excited about?

TODD: We want to make as much music together as we can and play in front of as many people as we can and right now that means crafting our next album.

We have a great start and are putting in the work to make sure it is something we can cause some whiplash with. We are still an independent band but would love to get paired up with a label that can help us take things to a higher level.

For us that means getting more connections with bands touring through Ohio and other states in our region and getting this next album out on vinyl, which would be pretty awesome.

We would love to play a few festivals as well, even if we are in the fine print on the bottom, that is still Rock N Roll in our eyes.


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HAPPY: Lastly, what makes you happy?

TODD: We get to do something that not everyone can do. Creating music that moves us as well as other people is a total rush and that magic is not wasted on us. It is incredible that we have songs that are uniquely ours that we get to play on stage and hear on the radio.

On the back of my guitar there is a line from one of our songs underneath the lacquer that reads “Lean in, get your head right—show ‘em a little teeth!” That is what it is all about for us.