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Kevin Devine – Splitting up Christmas

December 14, 2009

The combination of pride and modesty that exudes from Kevin Devine as he talks about his music is incredibly endearing. He is on the third date of the first leg of his Big Scary Monsters Holiday Tour promoting his new album, Brother’s Blood. There is not a particularly festive mood in the air but one of a relaxed, close-knit tour driven by the desire to have fun and give the fans a treat.

Kevin recognises with a smile that there has been an incremental increase in his popularity over in the UK. Big Scary Monsters, an Oxford based label, have given him the chance to have a British base as opposed to the previous occasions where he just “came over because fans invited him.” As he speaks of the ‘kids’ that come out to his shows a paternal pride can be seen on his bearded face.

“The last year I’ve watched it get bigger with everything i’ve done. It’s been the most successful year in terms of establishing myself in the UK.” Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band, or Kevin Devine, in any other variation, has definitely got a footing in Britain now. Tours and friendships with Brand New and Manchester Orchestra has increased his profile greatly. When asked what he puts it down to he is obviously very proud of his work and success, yet modest, attaching a caveat to any statement that may be perceived as selling himself.

He fills the minutes assessing himself and explaining his musical progression. He is very keen to explain himself, as someone with such a beautiful product as ‘Brother’s Blood’ should be. “It’s maybe the best record i’ve made. People are responding to it internationally in a way they never had before, but also playing 300 shows…it’s a case of ‘if you build it, they will come.’”

Despite this success Kevin speaks excitedly about the prospect of 30-date tour with just a car as his transport. Thankfully for all the venues, this mean they will be witness to a brilliant acoustic set. He feels ‘Brother’s Blood’ is record that most combines energy and low-fi grit with a professional well-rounded sound. Because all the music is written with such passion and commitment, even when it is just Kevin and his guitar there is no conviction or emotion lost. This is a case of less is more.

“When it is just me it is to present something that isn’t just standard finger picking talking about the sad weather or lost love, but doing it in a way that has some ‘teeth’ to it.” If you strip Kevin’s sound down, you see the raw aspects of his work. He sings the praises of early ‘Make The Clocks Move’ for its primal nature and notes that, although the studio is a somewhat sterile environment, he is still singing his songs which he wrote and loves, and consequently, nothing can be removed from the music.

Though success is now within reach and he has been touring religiously for the past year or so, it seems like it was originally slow to take hold for him. He responds to questions about the history of his music with an air of nostalgia, recalling for himself how it all started – delivering a comprehensive story and how and why he got where is today. The sense of enjoyment and pleasure is visible. He toured haphazardly through his first three records and did not quit his day job until going into Put Your Ghost To Rest. He humbly suggests that he does not know if there will not be day when he has to go back to it.

Any barriers between singer and fan seem to fall as his modesty leads him to discuss how his live shows have developed his voice over the past years. Though he has always had the voice to hit the notes, his confidence has not always allowed him. He tells how he was told not to “do that goat thing” and shake his voice when recording. His recent success and the massive respect he derives from crowds means this now is a thing of the past.

This is obvious when he takes the stage. When playing live, Kevin tries and succeeds in bringing “the spontaneity of jazz and the energy of punk to our folk rock pop songs.” His diverse musical background – hardcore, Dylan, his Mum’s “hippy music”, his Dad’s big band – lends an unique sound to his acoustic teeth.

The crowd sit on the floor – respectful. Kevin Devine displays why he is the one of the special artists to be playing music today. His politicised acoustic, folk, rock, pop and desire to maintain a close relationship with music results in a success that can only grow. Mid-set, as he closes a reprise of ‘Cotton Crush’, he breaks for applause but everyone is too stunned to move. He accepts this response inwardly and begins the next song.

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3 comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Hugh Morris, Hugh Morris. Hugh Morris said: Interview with @kevindevinetwit up on the ol' blog – http://tinyurl.com/ybladyp […]


  2. I just love your web site! boy george has a beautiful xmas song: http://tinyurl.com/yfxx72p
    i had fallen in love with this song, i can’t help myself
    have a blessed holidays and good year


  3. […] For slightly better recordings, have a look at Alfie Tolhurst’s blog ANOther Manc. Also have a ganders at Hugh Morris’ interview with Kevin on the night- Wax Lyrical. […]



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