Photo courtesy of Billy the Kid
The members of Billy the kid include, from left, Owen McInnis, Robert Boscacci, Dante Bertana and Johnny Villar.
Four teenage boys of San Mateo suburbia taste the beginnings of musical success.
And what a sweet taste it is.
Three-and-a-half years ago, Billy the Kid started out as a few seventh graders having fun. Today, while fun is still first priority, the high school juniors’ accomplishments have translated into their first full-length album, Nefarious Evildoings.
"We didn’t think it would last more than a few months,” vocalist Johnny Villar beamed beneath his striped fedora hat, speaking of the pop-punk-rock band itself. After years of playing shows at several battle of the bands competitions, local venues and even the 2008 San Mateo County Fair, however, Billy the Kid has grown up.
"We’re finally starting to make revenue off CDs and shows,” said guitarist Robert Boscacci, "so we can start paying off our parents.”
Drummer Dante Bertana, bassist Owen McInnis, Boscacci and Villar have been buds since kindergarten. Like the famous teenage outlaw who supplied the band’s name, the members of Billy the Kid have taken a few risks to get noticed.
At their first battle of the bands in Hayward, the group learned the pleasure of performing. A gig at an elementary school that started with one 6-year-old fan turned into waves of excited, screaming children.
One show at Castilleja, the all-girls high school in Palo Alto, holds a special place in the band’s performance memory. "They invited us to their dance a week later,” said Villar of the highly satisfying event.
Billy the Kid’s newfound success has made its members far from cocky. "We personally shake hands and hug — depending if it’s a guy or a girl — every single person who buys our CD,” said Villar.
The boys are thankful for the support of their families and Boscacci’s dad, Mark, who has provided the means, funds and garage like any loyal band manager would. "We owe everything to our parents,” Villar said.
Though musical influences vary from one band member to another — McInnis prefers Prague Rock whereas Boscacci sticks to Indie — the chemistry of Billy the Kid is undeniable. "Each of us are very musically independent,” said Villar, "But we’re so tight as a unit.”
Billy the Kid identifies their music sound with the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Green Day. When it comes to style, however, they take after the greats — Weird Al, for example.
The band’s amusing sense of humor surfaces throughout Nefarious Evildoings. The all-original songs praise everything from video game nerds to pirates fighting ninjas.
The album’s uplifting tunes and genuine lyrics were inspired by true events. When the band started working on the album a year ago, Villar and Boscacci would walk around their neighborhood and the Hillsdale Shopping Center on weekends, jotting down lyrics as they went. "The lyrics have a sunny and clean feel from walking around in suburbia,” Boscacci said.
When they are not playing music, the four teens go to high school — Villar, McInnis and Bertana at Junìpero Serra in San Mateo and Boscacci at St. Francis in Mountain View. "We get a lot of flack sometimes at school (for being in a band),” Bertana said. "They’re just jealous.”
Boscacci smiled. "But 90 percent of it is positive,” he said.
During the fall, Billy the Kid plays nearly one show a week. Check out the band and their upcoming performances at http://www.myspace.com/btktheband.