Brooklynite singer/songwriter Kevin Devine brought his fireball of energy in the form of the Goddamn Band to our shores last month on an EU/UK tour following the release of his ninth (yes, ninth) studio album Instigator. I caught the powerhouse trio in at Bodega in Nottingham and was so blown away that I had to see them again. So I headed to London the following day. Says it all really.
Kevin is no stranger to the UK, especially since signing to Oxford based indie label Big Scary Monsters back in 2009. He even told a comical story on stage (which he often does, as well as being an insanely talented musician he is also a great story teller, often making the crowd laugh with his touring anecdotes in between songs) which told of his first time playing a show in London; a support slot for a Norwegian metal band in a venue above a small pub. Over a decade later, here he is playing a headline show at the prestigious Dome venue in London to a packed room full of dedicated fans from all across the country. He says himself that his success was never a fluke. It never peaked after one sudden spurt of interest. It’s just been slowly on the rise since he started pursuing his music, and the current height of his *mental* growth chart could be mapped by the sheer volume of people singing their hearts out along with him at this headline show.
Kevin and his fellow bandmates, bassist Andy Prince and drummer Damon Cox, were joined on their 16 date tour by Laura Stevenson, a fellow native New Yorker slash singer-songwriter with a heavy folk influence, as well as acoustic melancholic folk-rock The Lion and The Wolf for the UK dates. With me not being a seasoned Londoner of course I got lost and ended up missing the first support, but I raced my way to the venue in time for an overpriced cider and the start of Laura Stevenson’s set. A mix of slow, intimate finger-picking songs such as ‘Nervous Rex’ and ‘The Hole’ and the contrasting upbeat folk-y speedy tempo tunes like ‘Barnacles’ and ‘Jellyfish’ liven up the crowd and keep the energy up after the previous peaceful set from TLATW. Nearing the end of her time on stage, Stevenson was joined by man of the hour Kevin Devine and the two joined forces on two songs, one being a song by Courtney Barnett.
It was soon time for the main event, and the crowd was ready. Standing near the front, I saw familiar faces from previous KD shows (unsurprising, as Kevin Devine fans are known to be some of the most loyal out there). A solo Devine walks on stage, guitar in hand, and opens the night with fan favourite ‘Ballgame’. A raw and emotional song, which touches upon alcohol abuse: “And when you realize it’s a pattern and not a phase, It’s what you’ve become and it’s what you will stay, That’s ballgame”.
It was special. It was unique. Not many artists will choose to open up a show with a slow song but it worked. And it was a lovely introduction to the evening. The band joined Kevin on stage and got stuck in straight away, powering in to ‘Just Stay’ and ‘She Can See Me’- electric songs with heaps of on stage energy from the trio. From then on, the trio just keep them coming, hardly taking a breath in between songs. Debuting tracks from the new album, of course the crowd already knew the words. That’s Kevin fans for you. Oldies like ‘Private First Class’ and ‘I Could Be With Anyone’ are met with intense noise from the crowd, all with huge smiles on their faces. As intense as the lyrics and aggressive the sound, the crowd are ecstatic and the whole room is radiating positivity- an after effect of every KD show I’ve ever been to.
Nearing the end of the night the rhythm section, presumably exhausted, leave the stage and Kevin stays to finish off their set with an encore of compelling acoustic tracks. An iconic song in the KD fandom, ‘Brothers Blood’, leaves the crowd silent. Awestruck. He ignores the mic for sections in the song and shouts into the audience, making it all the more personal. A true highlight of the night. Closing the show with a solo version of ‘I Was Alive Back Then’ from new record Instigator, the uplifting lyrics (which touch upon the birth of Devine’s baby daughter) radiate the same level of joy felt by the audience, leaving everyone in high spirits for their commute home.
The talent of Kevin Devine almost speaks for itself, with nine studio albums and sold out shows all around the world, it can be truly witnessed and agreed upon in person. Next time KD comes overseas (soon, please) I urge everyone to make it to a show. Even if you’re unfamiliar with his work, you are sure to be entertained and leave with a spring in your step.
– Sarah Lusher.
I caught up with Joel Peat from Lawson to talk about the band’s brand new single, Money, their new album plans and tour antics.
So you’ve recently released your latest single, Money, what’s the song about and what inspired it?
It’s kind of a bit of a joke for us all. Back when we were starting out we’d do loads of gigs all over the country and you kinda do it all for free, you know, you never get paid for it and the promoters would take all the money on the door. We always used to laugh about that, “where’s the money?” like, how are we gonna live? And how we were sort of living on each other’s sofas. It was just a bit of a joke at the time and we always wanted to write a song about the fact that, you know, even though we never got paid for it, we had the time of our lives travelling around the country with our best mates. We didn’t necessarily need to get paid to enjoy it. We always wanted to write a song about that. It sort of came about really naturally last year. We never really thought about it since we started out and started the idea back in the day, then it naturally sort of materialised into this pop song that everyone can sing along to. I think it’s come out at a good time, ’cause everyone’s skint from Christmas as well!
Does Money reflect the sound of the new album?
I think it does, yeah. I think that’s the way it’s going. We released Roads and that was sort of a bit of a different direction but the more we chatted to everyone, the more it sort of became apparent that people just wanted “pop lawson” and they just wanted to sing along to the songs. They’re a bit more light-hearted. We always want to play stuff that people like and enjoy.
How do you think both your sound and the band itself has evolved since the first album?
We’ve done so many gigs like we sort of know what each other wants and what each other’s thinking. When we come to write the songs and go to the recording studio everyone seems to know exactly what is gonna make it sound like Lawson, and that’s just got better as we’ve gone on. Yeah, I think we’ve grown up and matured a bit and grown into the band. We were really young when it started so it’s nice to have had time to mature into it.
Are there any tours planned for later this year?
Yeah, it will be later this year. It will be after the album. We’ve got another single after this, which I think is probably my favourite off the album actually, in fact it is yeah it’s my favourite song off the album. Then, after that single will be the album and then we’ll be going on tour after that, so like an album tour. So I can’t wait, it’s gonna be really good.
Speaking of tours, do you guys ever play pranks on each other on tour? What’s been the best prank?
I don’t know really, there’s been loads of stuff … not probably that I could repeat … We had this support band once, the support bands tend to get a lot of stick. There was like a balcony behind the drum kit behind the stage and we had, like, catapults and we were like putting fruit and stuff in that and firing it at them in their set which was probably distracting people from their music a bit but it was hilarious. Ryan is usually the one like, if anyone gets stick in the band, it’ll be Ryan every time. He’s sort of the butt of most of our jokes.
Is there anywhere that you haven’t been on tour yet that you would like to play?
I’m sure there is, but I just don’t know about it yet. There’s a venue in Colorado in America called Red Rocks Amphitheatre and it’s like carved into a canyon or whatever. It just looks phenomenal. I saw John Mayer do a gig there, not actually saw but on the internet. I think ever since then, I’ve just always wanted to play there so that’s a big one.
You’ve played both big arena shows and small intimate shows, which do you prefer?
I think it’d have to be intimate shows. I like to see what people think of what we’re doing, you know what I mean? Like, if you’re doing arenas it kind of becomes one huge … like one person, like you’re playing for one big entity. Whereas if you’re playing a small venue, you can see everyone like how people are reacting to it and like are they grinning or are they like, “not sure about this”. But yeah, it’s just nice to be able to see what people think about what you’re doing. There was a gig we did in a place called Albany in New York, it was a really small gig. We were having a right laugh, we just let loose and were just really on form that night and we could just hear this girl screaming from the back, “you’re enjoying it now aren’t ya!” It was just funny, I love gigs like that.
Last question and kind of related to the new single, if you did have unlimited money for one day, what would you do with it?
I’d buy all the world’s guitars, that would be the first thing. I’d probably buy my mum a nice house and I’d look after my family. I dunno, I’d make sure all the lads like, I’d probably take them out for a Wagamama’s or something, that’s all they’d get. I’d probably go and record in Abbey Road, that’d be cool.
– Sarah Lusher.
A new calendar year marks new beginnings, new relationships and most importantly… new music! With 2014 being a huge year for British newcomers such as Neck Deep, Bury Tomorrow and many others, 2015 is expected to follow suit and bring some great up and coming British bands into the spotlight.
A band expected to make this year their own are 4-piece band emo band called Moose Blood from Canterbury. A recent sign to No Sleep Records, a label that boasts bands like Balance and Composure and Manchester Orchestra, Moose Blood’s sound can be described as an incorporation of the spirit of emo rock and pace of pop-punk, tied together with meaningful and relatable lyrics making their music especially popular amongst young people.
The band got to work in 2013 and released two EP’s: ‘Moving Home’ and ‘Boston/Orlando’. These were well received by fans, who described their sound to be ‘spell like’ and that they ‘couldn’t stop listening’. After touring extensively with bands such as Gnarwolves, Major League and more recently Mallory Knox, Moose Blood certainly got their sound out to the masses. Their debut full-length album, ‘I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time’, was released in October 2014 and has already made an impact on the music scene. Barely even a month after the album’s release, Moose Blood announced their first UK headline tour, with their Manchester and Nottingham dates selling out weeks before the tour was due to start (January 15th).
If you didn’t get a ticket for their show at Bodega in Nottingham for later this month, don’t panic. Moose Blood will be back on the touring circuit soon so keep an eye out, especially during the festival period. Be sure to check them out and give them a listen.
For fans of: Basement, Modern Baseball, and Seahaven.
– Sarah Lusher.
After recently landing a spot to work on Platform magazine I figured I would start my new blog off with my most recent submission: three songs that have been stuck in my head!
1) Marmozets- Hit The Wave
This 5-piece math-core band from Bingley, Yorkshire is a family force to be reckoned with. Made up of two sets of siblings, Marmozets are one of the UK’s most exciting new bands, with their debut album ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’ peaking at number 3 in the UK rock charts. Hit The Wave is definitely a contender for best song off the album. Starting slow and melodic giving front woman Becca McIntyre a chance to show off her stunning vocals, the song then fully kicks in with heavy guitars and a catchy chorus you’ll find yourself singing all day. This song is electric, especially live as witnessed at their sold out show headlining Rock City last month. The closing line of the song, ‘so take this life and make it something’ might just be a personal aim for the band and, judging by their success, I’d say they’re doing just that.
2) Decade- British Weather
With their ironically titled debut album, Good Luck, Decade (a 5-piece alt-band from Bath) have finally been met with, well, good luck! Although this band may not be instantly recognizable to you, I’m sure you’ve come across them on their extensive touring circuit supporting impressive bands such as Tonight Alive and soon to be A Day To Remember this month. Good Luck is a pop-punk record filled with angsty lyrics, infectious choruses and head-banging riffs. Their first single, British Weather ties in all 3 qualities and proves why Decade are ready to go it alone. It’s a definite stand out track, with lead vocalist Alex Sears giving his all to an impressive chorus just begging to be sung back by a crowd of fans. Being the final song on the band’s set list, they’ve definitely saved the best for last.
3) Lower Than Atlantis- Here We Go
Back on the scene after a much-needed break, the first single by alternative rock band Lower Than Atlantis, blasts them back into the limelight. This bass heavy anthem, complete with singer Mike Duce’s signature accent coming through in the vocals, reminds us why we all loved LTA. Starting off with pounding drums building up to the explosive chorus, Here We Go is energy filled track sure to get your fists in the air. It’s one of those songs that makes you want to burst out your room, punch a wall and overthrow a government… just me? The Watford based 4 piece are back in our sights headlining Rocksound’s Christmas Ball in London on December 4th and I urge you to catch them. With a new self-titled album reaching 16 in the Top 20 UK album charts, Lower Than Atlantis are well and truly back.
– Sarah Lusher.