21 Jun 2018
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Interview: Devilskin

16 Dec 2014 // An interview by RYAN KERSHAW

Hi guys and gal – well done on your Live at the Powerstation DVD and CD release. Some amazing bands have played that stage from Fear Factory to Marilyn Manson and now Devilskin! We’ll start with a pretty obvious question – how was it!?

Paul: We had an awesome night and were all fully aware of the amazing artists that that played on that stage. It was pretty exciting to be in such good company! The crowd was off the hook and really gave it their all as is evident on the live DVD!

The band has done extremely well since you last spoke to Muzic.net.nz - a no.1 album, gold certification, sold out N.Z tour, live album release… but you have also worked bloody hard for it, which is good to know for those of us that are also musicians. Now you have a tour coming up starting in late December; apart from a successful tour, what are on your Christmas wish lists?

Paul: I think we'd all like to throw our jobs in and get overseas with the band asap. Apart from that, the usual... socks and undies.

Your Surrender Summer tour starts late December with support from These Four Walls. What are some other NZ bands that you like?

Paul: There's so many.... Team Kill, Earthshield, Suede Arcade, 8 Foot Sativa, Fire At Will, In Dread Response, The Nod, Magic Eye, Slipping Tongue, Bulletbelt and my favourite World War Four!

Speaking of other NZ bands – Nail, I first discovered your previous band Chuganaut when I was in the Battle of the Bands that you were in, in 2003. I remember going to New Plymouth a couple of times and would get a weird vibe at that corner bar but would go down the stairs and love it when you guys were cranking. Do you still keep in touch with the other members?

We had some pretty crazy nights down there and have some very fond memories. We always looked forward to the New Plymouth crowd, their so hospitable down there, as they still are now. It's become like a second home crowd for Devilskin now. I still see the other guys in my old band and are all still good friends.

I think you captured the energy in the solo really well for fade – it’s not always easy to do with solos in the studio. How do you approach writing… do you write your solos around an idea, or improvise, or a combination…?

Thanks, I had a set idea for that solo for a while and stuck to my guns on it rather than deviating. It's very easy to have an idea with solos and get side tracked and ending up nothing like what you had originally planned. Not that that's a bad thing, sometimes they can work out better. But in this case it was based around an idea.

Jennie, Slipping Tongue was your previous band. Many musicians reading this interview will be changing bands or in multiple bands… what are the differences between being in Slipping Tongue and being in Devilskin. How do you operate differently?

Well I'm a bit older and wiser now and I feel my time with Slipping Tongue was a bit of a learning curb, I found out the highs and lows of being in a young band trying to make it big. With Devilskin you have Paul and Nail who have been doing the band thing for years so I seem them as red bearded yodas. We know what is and what isn't going to work for us. We sit down and discuss situations rather than taking chances

 

Your vocals are respected not just from fans but also the other band members (that’s always a good thing!). Who are some of your influences (singers) that Muzic.net.nz readers can check out, and do you warm up before shows?

My influences vocally would be Mike Patton, Freddie Mercury, Ronnie James Dio, Cedric Bixler Zavala, Claudio Sanchez and Jeff Buckley just to name a few! I do warm up before shows, I never use to but now it is part of my routine of getting ready. I tend to do a bit of core exercises (sit ups, planks etc) as well as warming up the voice. :)

I love some of the changes in the tune of the vocals. It’s awesome in Fade when it goes from “just another one” and then goes higher for the “to fade” part of the lyric. Do you just sing what you feel and that it’s usually the early tune of the singing that sticks, or do you craft it? How do you usually go about writing the vocal parts?

I do a bit of both, I'm always thinking of where and when I want  the vocals to be powerful, sometimes I may have a vocal part sorted then I change it around a bit. If you listen to the original recording of fade the there is no note held on at the end. I started extended the note on stage so decided to put it in the new recording. Paul also helps out  bit with melodies.

Paul – Nice to see it happening for you man, it’s been a long time coming and I think all of the band deserves the awesome support that it’s getting throughout NZ. It can be a fickle industry, even here in NZ – what are the things that Devilskin has done to get the industry listening? There’s that saying in the industry that if you are making enough noise the industry will listen but I don’t believe that is always the case and I’m pretty sure you have seen a lot of good talent go to waste over the years. What three things can artists do to try and get that side of their music progressing – the side that’s not on stage but dealing with the business issues, and is it important to try and know a little about how things work in the music business, not just on stage?

Paul: Yes it's a tough industry and we've all seem some fantastic bands go by the wayside. You really have to back yourself if you want to get anywhere in this game. First and foremost Devilskin has always taken our songwriting very seriously and coupled this with a really staunch work ethic, and enticing. We gig a lot and we're not afraid to get in peoples faces and show them how seriously we take our band and our music. We'd dress up the stage to make it look exciting and enticing. We like to spend time talking to the people who come to the shows.

Have you noticed a change in peoples attitude towards you since your music and videos have done so well, who perhaps may have not given you respect before, and do you think it is easy to become pessimistic about that with success? Or do you not give a shit and don’t think about it… or is it like with music, a mix of both perspectives and you just focus on the good and try and be aware of the fake?

Paul: Yes it's easy to spot the fakes and there's always a few in any industry. I certainly got some interesting emails and friend requests from some 'industry' folk (who had ignored me for years) after our album smashed the charts "I've always believed in you Paul!" haha but really I prefer to focus on positive things and positive people. 

What venues have you not performed at on this tour Paul?

Paul: Plenty this tour is only 7 or 8 dates our last was 20.

Nic, kudos on your drumming career so far man. Playing at BDO at 13 is pretty wicked and your playing is tight. The toms at the start of Fade are cool too, rather than just starting on the beat with the other instruments. Who are some NZ drummers that you respect that we can look up?

Thanks very much! I vividly remember a young drummer named Dylan Elise performing for my school in 2007 (I would've been about 11-12 at the time). He played Moby Dick and my mind was blown; so that was one of the first New Zealand drummers that really made an impact on me. Since then I've met and seen a large number of drummers absolutely kill it. Tom Larkin, Joe Brownless, and especially Sam Sheppard and Corey Friedlander. All talented and amazing guys, definitely worthy of a search, you would've definitely heard of who they have played for/with.

Although not so much of an issue at the moment, you have balanced being in an active gigging band with school. How have you balanced the two physically but also mentally – school can be tricky after playing a good live show. The realities are a bit different but I’m guessing you have done well with knowing the importance of both. There are lots of students in that situation – what would your advice be for them?

Balancing school with the band was always going to be tricky, especially in my last year of high school (2013) as Head Boy. School has always been important to me - and I believe it should be to everyone, to some degree - so I was determined to see it through to the end. It was all about compromise on both parts; I couldn't take too many Thursdays and Fridays off school but I couldn't just say 'No' to every show that came up on a school day. It was hugely draining physically and mentally but it was also incredibly rewarding in both areas. My advice to anyone else in this situation is to just go with your gut; I stayed in school because I wanted to finish. Some students simply don't have that same desire. Also, let people support you! I would've lost my marbles long ago if I didn't have my family and friends supporting me every step of the way.

Okay to the band: Time for a couple of questions from fans. Amber Wolf asks: “Why do you find it appropriate to do black face in your videos?”

Paul: Hi Amber, we did it to add a visual stimulus to the video to add an artistic contrast and get peoples attention, nothing sinister...

Jase Backhouse’s question is: “How did the cover of Aimee Allen's Revolution come about?

A good friend played it to us, it was obvious it had a lot of potential and suited our sound. We contacted Aimee and she gave it her blessing. I rewrote the lyrics to make it a bit more personalised and keep the message positive in it. It obviously worked as it’s really gone off for us.

A question from Haley Torpey: Do you plan on playing a show in Awhitu in the near future?

Hiya Haley, I wasn't aware there was a venue there, if there is, give us some details!


Along with a great live show, you have other things which help spread the word of Devilskin like merch and a street team, and you also work with sponsors. Would advice would you have for other musicians in terms of sorting out the ‘non-playing’ side of things?

Think outside the square, Every band needs support from their friends, family and as many outside parties/businesses as much as  possible.

What can fans expect from this tour?

Paul: A high energy, no-holds-barred night of sublime Kiwi talent and the party of the year!

Any words to the fans before you tear a new hole in Aotearoa?

Paul: I'd like to thank the people that have bought our albums/DVDs and come to the shows. To see people singing all the words to the songs is a really special feeling I think all of us regard as very precious."

About Devilskin

Devilskin is a four piece band from Hamilton New Zealand formed in June 2010, they already have guts, class, kudos and confidence. The sum total of a determined and accomplished group of musicians who know what they want, the music is organic, dynamic and real.

The band features the spectacular Jennie Skulander on lead vocals. Her powerful and compelling voice and alluring stage presence sets her apart from any vocalist New Zealand has put up so far. With an unerring gift for melody, Jennie's incredible voice sweeps from whisper to roar, rips with power, drips with melody and captivates with sincerity.

Jennie previously fronted Rotorua band Slipping Tongue garnering a swathe of fans with their videos, EPs and album. Slipping Tongue also impressed many when they opened for Coheed & Cambria in 2008.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Devilskin

Releases

Be Like The River
Year: 2016
Type: Album
We Rise
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Live At The Powerstation
Year: 2014
Type: DVD

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