Breaking out

 

The Virgin Millionaires take on L.A. and a record deal with Outlook Music Company

In a relatively short time — about two years — the Virgin Millionaires have established themselves as one of Indianapolis’ top live acts, with such high-profile shows as the NCAA Final Four, the Indy 500 and the Hyatt Regency’s New Year’s Eve Rock ’N’ Roll Ball.

Now they’re in Los Angeles, spending the first of six weeks recording their debut full-length album after signing with Outlook Music Company. (In a moment of self-congratulation, we shall also note that NUVO selected them as one of Indy’s breakout bands last summer. Go us!)

Lead singer Zach Baldauf, formerly of Transmatic, credits strong support from local radio stations WRZX and WZPL for much of the band’s success; their singles “Bombs Away” and “For A While” have been in heavy rotation for some time now.

“Radio can do for you in a matter of weeks what years and years of playing around Indianapolis can do,” he says. “It has a way of reaching out to tons and tons of people all at one time. It’s been a huge part of our success.”

The band lineup includes Baldauf, guitarists Matt Carter and Nick Summers and drummer Ryan Scarborough. They’re currently searching for a new bassist; in the meantime, Kyle Cook of Matchbox 20 has been filling in for performances, and Andy Carrell, from Baldauf’s former band Transmatic, will play bass on the album.

Cook also produced their EP, and its driving pop certainly bears some resemblance to Matchbox 20, though it’s distinctive enough to carve its own niche. Andrew “Mudrock” Murdock, who’s worked with Godsmack, Avenged Sevenfold and Alice Cooper, will produce the as-yet-untitled album, and Baldauf says his influence is sculpting the edgier side of their music.

“We’re trying to take a little heavier, a little darker direction now,” Baldauf says. “We’re maturing a little bit; we’re feeling a bit different about life in some ways.”

This isn’t Baldauf’s first experience with large-scale production; he learned a lot from the tensions of Transmatic.

“Everything I’ve learned about the music business has been from past experience,” he says. “We failed miserably [at] Transmatic on several aspects. From those things, I’m trying to apply [them] to this band and not make the mistakes again.”

He notes that the interplay between the members of the Virgin Millionaires has been marked by mutual respect, friendship and influence.

“The four key members have been together now for about a year and are starting to settle in and get comfortable with each other,” he says. “We’re getting a lot of the band members’ influences now as opposed to just mine. I’m growing as an individual and I’m growing as a musician, and I’d like to think our music is ever evolving. If we stay the same, it’s not going to last a long time. We’re going to have to change, have to evolve. Having these guys around me has pushed me to be a better songwriter, a better musician.”

And what, one might reasonably ask, of the effect of fame on a band that’s hit it big in such a relatively short time, in Indianapolis terms?

“It’s not too hard staying centered,” Baldauf says. “We’re still broke; it’s not like they hand out millions of dollars anymore. We still have a lot to prove, and we still have to make a good record. This is just the beginning.”

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