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Interview: Paul Martin – Devilskin

Devilskin - Be Like The RiverDevilskin are a band in the ascendance. Hailing from New Zealand, they made a big impression worldwide with debut album, ‘We Rise’, picking up some high profile fans along the way. ‘Be Like The River’, the second album, is out now, and went down well here at DGM Towers. I grabbed a few words with bassist, Paul Martin…

Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.

“My pleasure!”

Instead of winding down for the holiday season, Devilskin are ramping it up! How are preparations for the New Year’s Eve show in Christchurch coming along? With Halestorm supporting, that will be an incredible event!

“Yes, we are really looking forward to the shows with Halestorm! We started the tour last weekend, and the first three shows have been amazing. The crowds have been in fine form, and the new material seems to be going down a treat!”

So, how did the link up with Halestorm come about?

“We have been working on doing something with them for a while, and things have fallen into place nicely with our schedules. They were very keen to play with us and get a decent look around New Zealand, and we are more than happy to oblige!”

When their tour hits Australia, Devilskin will be opening for them. Time to put your feet up and have an early night?

“Haha! Not at all! The schedule is pretty tight, so there won’t be a lot of down time. It’ll be great to enjoy Halestorm’s headlining sets, for sure!”

I believe that local band, City Of Souls, will also be on the New Zealand dates. What can you tell us about them?

“They are a great band. We have known most of the guys for years, and its brilliant to see how well they are doing. They are recording their album shortly with Forrester Savell.”

Devilskin also just opened for Disturbed in Auckland. How did that go?

“We had a great night. 10,000 or so people saw us play, and the response was unreal! We had reason to celebrate because our album had just debuted at #1 on the official album chart, so we were pumped! The Disturbed guys were really cool, friendly, and gracious hosts. We had a blast!”

New album ‘Be Like The River’ is a belter. You must be stoked that it’s out there now for everyone to enjoy?

“Yes, definitely. We have been excited about these songs for a long time now. It’s so good to finally be able to share them with the world!!”

You mix it up on the new album with some crushing moments, alongside something as tender as ‘Closer’. Is it important to show as many sides to Devilskin as possible?

“We don’t write to showcase our different sides as such, it’s just how the songs come out. You can pack so much power and emotion into an intimate song like ‘Closer’, and it really does highlight the band’s different strengths and qualities. Just like life and love are full of highs and lows, it’s the most natural thing in the world for us to write with different dynamics.”

‘Limbs’ is perhaps my favourite track on the album. The arrangements are massive, and I love the Zeppelin-esque eastern vibe. Where did the song come from?

“Yes, this is one we are all very proud of. The complexity, and twists and turns of the trip it takes you on, really give it an epic feel. We wrote this one in the latter stages before we started the album, and knew immediately it was a bit special. From memory, I think Nic [Martin – drummer] came up with the main riff. Jennie’s vocals are sublime on this track, her power is just off the hook. Nails guitar parts give so much drama to the song, and we recorded the church bells in Tetbury [Gloucestershire – where Devilskin recorded the album], to give it an eerie, foggy feel.”

I’m also a fan of ‘Animal’, with it’s very laidback feeling that just builds beautifully. What’s the story behind that one?

“The song came about really naturally from a bass riff I wrote. Nic’s dark drums at the beginning add an ominous darkness without any clutter. The song is resplendent in its simplicity, and it gives so much space to Jennie’s evocative vocals. The lyrics are about standing firm, empowering, and self belief.”

Naturally, with albums come singles. How bloody cold was the video shoot for ‘Mountains’? It looked freezing!

“Yeah that was pretty cold. The bus broke down as well, and got stuck in the snow… what a day! Great fun though… when we thawed out! “

The father and son dynamic makes Devilskin quite unique, but not only that, you and Nic form the crucial rhythm team. Does this make for some interesting conversations over the dinner table? “Hey Dad, you were out of tune for the last song tonight… pass the ketchup”

“Haha! Yes, at times we have our own language, but mostly its wordless communication on stage. We sync up easily, and always seem to know what the other is thinking and about to do. We both keep a good eye on each other, and never have any schism or issues. I think I have grown the perfect bandmate!!”

Jennie was quite ill during the band’s UK tour earlier this year. Will you give us the opportunity to make it up to her for poisoning her with our local delicacies?

“Yes definitely. Although she was really ill, Jennie performed like a star, and I’m sure she wants to get back to the UK and see all the sights she missed out on! We really can’t wait to get back there again.”

Finally… being Scottish, I’m used to getting constantly asked “What part of Ireland are you from?” when I’m abroad! How many times on the UK tour did random strangers ask you whereabouts in Australia you were from?

“Surprisingly few! Yeah, it can get annoying. We are fiercely proud Kiwis, but it seems we don’t get accused of being Aussies at all… touch wood!”

And rightly proud. Well, thanks for your time. Good luck with the new album, and enjoy the shows with Halestorm, but above all, have a raucous New Year!

“Thank you for your time. We are going to have a brilliant new year. Think of us touring in our shorts and vests at the beaches, enjoying cocktails with our buddies in Halestorm! We’ll have a drink for you!”

Yeah… thanks for that! 

Interviewer – Dave Stott

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