Evan Rachel Wood’s New Band Is ’80s-Infused Magic for Your Ears

Rejoice babes, there’s a new 80’s-inspired synth-poprock unicorn glitter amalgamation that you can listen to on repeat – and, chances are, you’ll wanna cop their amazing style, too! Zach Villa and Evan Rachel Wood have just announced their new band: Rebel and a Basketcase, with the release of their first single, “Oh Yeah.

If you are any kind of pop culture vulture, you’ll probably know Evan from a few insanely great films like Thirteen (directed by ‘Twilight’ Director and radical chick herself, Catherine Hardwick) Across the Universe and a little series called True Blood. You may also know that Evan dated a semi-famous Goth-rocker – but blah blah blah who cares about that… back to unicorns and glitter!

Evan and bandmate Zach performed in Los Angeles-based cabaret-like performances of a show called “For The Record: John Hughes,” – where Zach sang a rendition of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” as the shows’ resident “rebel,” while accompanying himself on the guitar. Evan played an insane live drum solo in “Turn to the Sky” and poured out her heart as Watts from the Hughes classic, “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Lucky for us, they decided they never wanted to break character. Enter: Rebel and a Basketcase – most likely, your new favorite band.

What is Rebel and A Basketcase?

To quote one of our songs “we are today. we are the music that you hear. we are the voices in your head. we are the changes that you fear.”

Can you explain where the name came from?

In the show [‘For The Record: John Hughes’] we played an amalgamation of class “Hughes” characters, based mainly on the roles [that] Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy played in ‘The Breakfast Club’ – The Rebel and The Basketcase.

How did you two decide you were going to be a band/explore music together?

We never wanted to stop pretending to be in a John Hughes film and we loved working together so much we decided to make some music for fun, which snowballed into this sound we really loved and a new band.

Who plays which instruments?

Zach: Both of us are multi-instrumentalists. Live, Evan handles a number of synth and theremin parts, and vocals, obviously. In rehearsal Ev picked up a bass… I showed her a couple riffs and that was that. Guitar is what I stick to primarily in the live show. I also play drums, bass, keyboards, violin, and others.

What is the dynamic when you write a song together?

Evan: Zach was amazing at coming in with these ideas and riffs he had laid down and one or both of us would just start playing with the melody. We both had songs we wrote separately that we reworked together. I dug up a lot of lyrics I’ve been writing over the course of 7 years that I have kept in a shoebox and we would find things that fit. We just set out to have a lot of fun and we were clear about the message behind each tune.

Do you think it’s easier to be an artist in the day and age of digital music and Spotify? Do you think it’s harder to connect with people in terms of getting the music out there?

Zach: It’s both.

In the age of constant connection, I think it’s easy for the consumer to tire of the incessant uplink. We want to turn it off, which makes us spend less time with a record. We move on. The benefit of modern distribution is that an indie artist has the ability to make their music available everywhere instantaneously. But we take that for granted as consumers, and forget that there are so many factors that allow us to hear a song more than once, if at all. With the music industry as convoluted as it is, it’s a beautiful and rare thing when “the good stuff” makes it into the hearts and ears of the public.

What are some of your musical influences?

The Cure, David Bowie, Radiohead, M83, Phantogram, Eurythmics, Cindi Lauper, Joan Jett.

If you were to describe your sound, like “Cyndi Lauper meets Guitar metal”, what would it be?

Like a unicorn threw up.

What is your first single, OH YEAH, about?

The internal conflict of finding one’s identify, whether it be ideological, gender, sexuality, etc. For Zach, there is an underlying message about classicism and one’s place in life. The songs’ message about breaking through barriers and refusing to make yourself smaller for other people really resonated with Evan.

If “OH YEAH” were on a movie soundtrack, set to a specific scene maybe, what would it be and why?

Well, obviously ‘The Breakfast Club’ scene when they all get high and dance around the library.

Explain your fashion and how that relates to the music. The images that we’ve seen seem very 80’s/David Bowie inspired – did you pull your looks from any particular inspiration?

Evan: David Bowie has been a hero of mine my entire life. We found out about his death after the video was made and in the middle of writing the album. It really inspired us to keep the torch burning and the dream alive. We love films like ‘Velvet Goldmine.’ We take a lot of inspiration from the 80’s but with a modern twist.  I like to describe “The Basketcase” style as Bowie, Watts (from ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’) and Siouxsie Sioux. It’s androgynous and fluid.

Zach: When you wear that, does it make you feel awesome? “Yes, yes, it does.” (Adds glitter) How about now? “Ah, yes, even better.”

The video for OH YEAH seems like a contemporary dance short film. What was the idea behind the video and how does it tie into the music?

The grey look is our conditioning. We are placed in these boxes, told to drink the water, run in place, and act ‘normal’ in this acceptable routine. The glam look represents the inner child and the refusal to conform. As the video progresses, the inner child gets stronger, spits out what it has been fed, and literally shatters the illusion of constraint to allow the real ‘them’ to come out and play.

What kind of fans are you hoping will connect with your music?

Anyone that needs a space to be themselves, be free, and dance. It’s emotional and empowering music.

If you could play an acoustic show like MTV unplugged, what songs would you cover?

Well, we might want to cover them one day so…that’ll be a fun surprise. We have a couple covers lined up for the live show we are excited about.

Do you believe that every song is about something? Or do you think songwriters just write what “sounds cool”?

Evan: Both. A lot of our lyrics are about self-discovery and changing your thought patterns to overcome unhealthy situations and finding your inner strength by just saying “F*ck that”

Zach: Yup. Often you write a tune that sounds like nonsense, and then weeks/years later you realize you were writing a message to your future self. So…both.

Since you are both actors also, do you plan to continue doing any other acting projects or is the music your new primary focus?

Zach & Evan: Yes.

When can we expect to hear a full album from you? And what is next for you?

Show dates are coming soon. We plan to start playing this summer with the full album release in the fall.

To find out more about the band, follow @rebelandabasketcase on Instagram.

Artwork by Megan Lockhart

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