From page 17 of Classic Rock Magazine July 1999
"We were having a terrible time and then we found Villa Elaine a block down from Vine. Man Ray had lived here, Orson Welles lived here, he lived in the back. Lucille Ball was here, they'd put a lot of people here who were working in the film industry, they'd come and write here. We've just finished shooting the video for'Gramarye' out by the pool."
The Villa Elaine, an apartment hotel set in a once prosperous though now ultimately faded part of Hollywood, plays home and occasional muse to the band Remy Zero.Their moniker is either derived from an underground comic book featuring a private detective of the same name, or it's a character named Remy from a Dutch novel set at the turn of the century who found himself at odds with the world. It depends on which story they feel like telling. They come from the southern town of Birmingham, Alabama, and gravitated towards Los Angeles in July 1996, signing a deal with Geffen Records around a time when the label was in the throes of a band acquisition binge. Geffen gave their self-titled debut a domestic release in 1997 and then, quite successfully, ignored them until late last year when the Seagram label takeover ushered in new personnel and a shift in attitudes at the label. "I think most of the people there [at Geffen] saw us as introverted carnival freaks.They weren't sure what to do with us, our music didn't live for them," sighs drummer Gregory Slay, 29, on the phone from his room overlooking the courtyard at the Villa Elaine. He and Shelby Tate (vocals/guitar) the rest of the band is made up of Cinjun Tate (vocals/guitar), Cedric LeMoyne (bass) and Jeffrey Cain (guitar) still live at the Villa. Slay says they drifted naturally towards one another in their hometown. Idle teenagers who all played music, admired artists like Brian Eno,The Beatles,T-Rex, REM and The Smiths and loved the films of the now deceased Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. "We're from the same sort of fabric, I grew up playing everything; my dad plays sax, my mom plays the church organ.The band switch instruments on the album, I just happen to love playing drums. We're a family; swapping stuff around makes you feel the music a little more."
For its part,'Villa Elaine' picks its way through a Hollywood decayed and overripe from indulgence and neglect. Remy Zero playing an elegy to its tortured edifice.Their music, which counts Michael Stipe, Courtney Love, Counting Crows' Adam Duritz and Radiohead among its fans, is a beautiful blend of lilting atmospherics, plaintive acoustic melodies and dramatic resolve. The Tates' haunted vocals merge harmoniously to eclipse the distinguished musical narrative beneath; it's a work of unyielding grace under pressure.
Slay is flattered, but patently finds the attention disorientating.
"It's nice that those [famous] people have responded to it, but I'm glad when anyone likes it. It's fun to write and play, it's something that I love to do." Philip Wilding 'Villa Elaine' and 'The Gramarye'EP are out now. Check out the Remy Zero website: www.remyzero.com for unreleased band material in MP3 file form.