The first track that I ever heard from New Zealand band Devilskin was “Little Pills” sometime around 2013/14 and it was one of those tunes you love instantly. I’ve followed the band since then and was delighted to find out that they’d been added as support for the Airbourne gigs in Dublin and Belfast in June 2017. I arranged to meet with the band to record an interview when they arrived at The Limelight for the gig on 7th June. I chatted with “Nail”, Paul and Nic about the band’s two albums (“We Rise” from 2014 and “Be Like The River” from 2016), touring, future plans and more.

 

 

The interview was included on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 9th June, along with an interview with Ryan O’Keeffe from Airbourne. That Show is now available now from our MixCloud page - https://www.mixcloud.com/NIRocks/interviews-with-devilskin-and-airbourne-on-the-friday-ni-rocks-show-9th-june-2017/

 

The interview has been transcribed and posted below.


Check out the band’s website - https://devilskin.co.nz/

 

Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site


Playlist for Friday NI Rocks Show 9th June 2017

SCREAMING EAGLES – Save Me

DEVILSKIN – Little Pills

Interview with DEVILSKIN Part 1 (4 min)

DEVILSKIN – House 13

Interview with DEVILSKIN Part 2 (6 min)

DEVILSKIN – Voices

Interview with DEVILSKIN Part 3 (7 min)

DEVILSKIN – Limbs

JORN – Hammered to the Cross (The Business)

BLACKWATER CONSPIRACY – Hanging Tree

THE FERRYMEN – Ferryman

KINGS OF THE SUN – Playin to the Heavens

AIRBOURNE – Down on You

Interview with Ryan from AIRBOURNE Part 1 (4min)

AIRBOURNE – It’s All For Rock n Roll

Interview with Ryan from AIRBOURNE Part 2 (4.5min)

AIRBOURNE – I’m Going to Hell For This

Interview with Ryan from AIRBOURNE Part 3 (4.min)

AIRBOURNE – Breakin Outta Hell

PALACE OF THE KING – No Chance In Hell

MOTORHEAD – Iron Horse/Born to Lose (Live)



 

Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site


NI ROCKS – Welcome to Belfast and thanks for taking some time to talk to Rock Radio NI. You played in Dublin with Airbourne last night, but am I right in thinking that this is the first time playing in Belfast?

PAUL – It is our first time in Belfast and first time in Ireland.

NAIL – And our first time at Donnington – Download I should say.


NI ROCKS – How did the Dublin show go and what expectations have you for tonight?

NAIL – It was awesome. We had a great time last night. As you just said it is our first time here and everyone was very receptive to us. We had a great time and it was a great show, and we’re looking forward to doing it all again tonight.

NI ROCKS – You’ll always get great crowds in Belfast and Dublin.

PAUL – This place is legendary; we’ve come a long way to be here and we just can’t wait.

NI ROCKS – I thought Devilskin was a great choice to support Airbourne when the announcement was made. Have you supported the guys on tour before?

PAUL – No. I actually have in a different band back in New Zealand. Years ago the radio station I worked for had put on a tour and I was in the joke band made up of radio DJs and they had to throw in a musician – I guess I was it. A lot of fun. They were neat guys and they bring the energy.


NI ROCKS – Yeah, they’ve played here about six times; they’re very popular here. You move on from Belfast to play at Download on Sunday 11th June. You haven’t played there before. What plans have the band after that?

NIC – We’ve got three more shows in the UK.

NAIL – We play the show tonight and get on a plane and go straight to a video shoot for two days and then we do Download and do some gigs as well.

NIC – We go to the Metal Hammer Golden Gods awards the day after and then we play Wolverhampton, Bridgwater and Bournemouth, though not in that order I believe.


NI ROCKS – The band are from New Zealand, obviously, so touring in the UK is an expensive undertaking. How important is the UK and European market to the development of the band?

NAIL – It’s crucial for us. There is only so far you can get in New Zealand given that it is so small and how far away from the rest of the world it is.

PAUL – We’ve only got four and a half million people in the whole country so it can’t sustain rock like Europe and the UK can.

NIC – I suppose it seems far more receptive and open to anything; it’s awesome, we really enjoy it.

NI ROCKS –Though you do OK at the rugby with the (Auckland) Blues beating the (British and Irish) Lions this morning.

NAIL – We weren’t gonna say, but now that you’ve brought it up (laughs).

NIC – We’re from Hamilton and our team are called the Chiefs -  I think we play in a few days so that’ll be great.


NI ROCKS – You’re one of very few bands that feature a father and son in the line-up.  The only other that I’m aware of is an English band called The Brew and oddly that is a father on bass and son on drums set-up as well. On tour what is the dynamic like – is it father and son or band mate; how does that work out?

PAUL – I better let Nic answer this.

NIC – On the road it’s probably safe to say that it’s band-mate first, but we definitely vibe off each other when we’re on stage as we’re the rhythm section that holds things together quite nicely. There’s never any huge problems – I’ve only been grounded a handful of times (laughs).

NI ROCKS – You’re 21 now so maybe there’s more freedom. You were 14 when you joined the band weren’t you?

NIC – Yeah 14 or 15.


NI ROCKS – I’m going to ask a few questions about the album (“Be Like The River”) later on but before I do lets pick a track from it to play. Which track do you want to play and tell us something about it?

PAUL – I’d like to start with “House 13” just because it is such an epic song to play. The riff was kicking around for years and it was something that really wanted to come out. So for me the song is really organic and just wanted to happen. We’re really proud of the way it has come out and the story is all about basically the universe lining up and things coming into alignment. It’s a special song for us and we’re stoked at the way the recording came out.

 

 

NI ROCKS – The band’s second studio album “Be Like The River” was released at the end of last year. Much of the recording was done in England I believe. Where was it recorded and who did you work with on production and mixing?

NAIL – It was recorded in a little town called Tetbury in a place called Modern World Studios and it was mixed and engineered by the same guy that did the first album “We Rise”, Clint Murphy. We were over here doing a tour and we recorded “Mountains” and another song called “Closer” while we on tour over here. They came out really well and it just made sense that while we were over here touring the second time around, so we booked a studio and did it while we were here. It was a no brainer.


NI ROCKS – I believe Jennie was actually pregnant during the recording?

NAIL – That’s true and there’s some big notes on that album.

PAUL – We were a five piece briefly (laughs). On the last tour that we came to the UK and Europe we brought Jennie’s baby with us, so we were touring with a  7 month old baby and she was just awesome. We had a lot of fun.


NI ROCKS – The album was released on your own label Devilskin Ltd. Who are you working with for distribution, promotion etc? And are you looking to sign with a label next time around?

NAIL – Yeah, we’re open to whatever. At the moment we’re working with Rodeostar in Germany and I believe that they’re looking after distribution through Europe for us; I don’t know if that includes the UK or not.

NIC – I don’t believe it does.

NAIL – Yeah. We’re always open to whatever. If you’ve got a ton of money? (Laughs)


NI ROCKS – Your debut album “We Rise” had been very well received and I believe stayed in the album charts in New Zealand for 95 weeks. The second album is traditionally seen as the big test for a band – did you feel any pressure working on the new album?

NIC – When “We Rise” came out we released it on a Friday when the charts roll-over, so we had exactly seven days and in the first week we found out it was Number 1 and that was...we never set that kind of goal for ourselves for anything big – an independent rock band from Hamilton, New Zealand can’t aim like that. Then 14 days later it was Gold which I believe is 7,500 units sold for New Zealand, which is unheard of for a band of our calibre. I think on the surface we knew that there was...the way I put it was that we couldn’t really raise the bar any higher for ourselves. Let’s not focus on that, but do what we did last time and let it be organic and natural. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

NAIL – It’s funny, we didn’t really feel the pressure about writing the music; but everybody kept reminding us about the pressure for the second record (laughs). It is what is you know. The thing is the content was good. We’re happy with the songs and we’re enjoying playing them; and they’re even more exciting to play live. They’re coming across great live and being received really well.

PAUL – The thing for us, like Nic says, the bar was set pretty high from the first album so we didn’t have any illusions that we were going to try to top it or anything like that. We just wanted to make the album that we wanted to make and we’re stoked.

NIC – It’s what we did the first time and that’s what shot to Number 1.


NI ROCKS – Musically how would you compare “Be Like The River” to the earlier “We Rise”? Is it different?

NIC – Song-writing wise – with “We Rise” we would get together in a room, the four of us and riff off of each other. This time around with “Be Like The River” we did do that, but we also found out that Jennie was pregnant quite early on so a deadline was put in place arbitrarily. So we sped things along and Clint the producer was doing some work in Australia and he flew in and brought down his computer and was actually recording our writing sessions and our demos. We were dictating where they should go and it was kinda just a faster song-writing process. You were able to dissect the songs a lot easier and a lot faster. So if anything it was the exact same process, just sped up.

PAUL – We’d learnt a lot from the first album and we were a lot more focused going in this time. It was easy. We find that kind of stuff easy. The writing of the songs and everything is the fun part; just getting the money together to be able to record and the time to record is the only sort of obstacle. We love writing together and we love recording – it just feels natural and feels good.

NIC – Half of the songs on the record were written before “We Rise” was put together. We had a big collection of songs that didn’t make it to the first album and those were the first contingent for the next one. It was a good starting point.


NI ROCKS – How many tracks will you playing tonight from that album and and how many from the older album?

NIC – About 50/50. We’re playing 45 minutes, so that’s roughly ten songs. It’s a pretty even split I think.


NI ROCKS – We’ll play another track from “Be Like The River” now. Again, can you pick a track and tell us something about it?

NAIL – “Voices”. It’s an epic song and its dedicated to our Devilskin Army who have always been fully supportive of us. We played a show with Disturbed back in New Zealand and we shot some footage there. Check out the video on YouTube and you’ll see a pretty cool gig. We got some great footage. “Voices” – turn it up!


Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site

 

NI ROCKS Devilskin formed back in 2010. You’d all played in other bands previously. From the outset was there a clear vision of what you wanted the band to sound like?

PAUL – No, not really. We were all just big fans of each other’s talents in other bands and we wanted to get together. We didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what we wanted to sound like or anything. We just got in a room and started playing.

NAIL – It just came out the way it came out.

PAUL - In our first jam we wrote three songs I think, including two of our big singles – “Fade” and “Little Pills” – they just happened so quickly and just felt great. From that moment we knew we had something cool and it was just so much fun to play together.


NI ROCKS You mentioned “Little Pills” there – it came out in 2012 and the first album followed in 2014. Were the four years between 2010 and 2014 spent touring locally and developing the bands sound and how much of that relied on the very positive feedback on “Little Pills”?

NAIL – A lot of it. We just got out and gigged the old fashioned way. There is no easy way to gain momentum or to try and get ahead in the music industry. I think every band has to find their own path and ours was just gigging, gigging and gigging! Hitting the road and building up our fanbase the old fashioned way. Telling them to ring the radio stations and request the songs and they did.

PAUL – The crowds got bigger and everything just snowballed. We spent a lot of time, driving for hours and hours to get to some tiny little venue and we’d spend a lot of time dressing the stage and making it look really good and putting a lot into the shows. The people that came along; there weren’t many bands doing any kind of shows in these venues.

NIC – There was a talking point and a reason for people to come and see the band again and bring their friends. People were saying ‘you need to come and see this band because’ this, this and this!


NI ROCKS – I’ve been telling people for the last lot of weeks that they need to get down early and see Devilskin. When you’re on tour what music do you find yourself listening to? What music might we find on your phone / iPod or whatever?

NIC – We’re a decade in part in age the four of us, so as far as music taste goes it’s a large buffet. But, we’re all pretty open to each other’s tastes really. Anybody can plug in and nobody has too many complaints. Personally, you’ll find anything from The 1975 to this new female fronted death metal band called Jinjer to Between The Buried And Me to Avenged Sevenfold.

NAIL – We’re all loving Twelve Foot Ninja. Testament is always a favourite.

NIC – Jennie loves Faith No More and Coheed And Cambria and a lot of that 90’s grunge stuff .

PAUL – She’s also a huge Dio fan. None of us play band music I think.

NAIL – It’s all rock isn’t it. Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac. You name it, it’s all cool.

NI ROCKS – I’m actually coming tonight with my 21 year old son. He’ll listen to a lot of stuff I wouldn’t listen to but he’d listen to a lot of stuff that I do listen to as well. You walk around the house and get different vibes – it’s all rock music though.

PAUL – The cool thing is that good music doesn’t age. Back home on my radio show every year I do a Black Sabbath special called Sabbathon where I do seven hours of nothing but Black Sabbath. The amount of young kids that listen and really get it is cool. Quality endures. It doesn’t matter when it was made – if kids like it then they like it and they grow old loving it. The other thing with rock music is that people are very loyal to it. Most of your rockers and metallers aren’t all of a sudden going to be into dubstep over night and forsake the AC/DC albums. Once you’re in, you’re here for the long haul.


NI ROCKS A question, that I always like to ask. Can you remember the first album you bought and the most recent?

NAIL – The first album that I bought was INXS “Kick” I think (laughs)

PAUL – Mine was probably one of those Solid Gold hits compilation of something or other (laughs) – it might have been Disco Magic! Probably the latest one I’ve bought was Twelve Foot Ninja.

NIC – Growing up I was extremely lucky that dad had a radio show and had a collection of about 7,000 CDs. I could walk into the spare room and close my eyes and pick something. So I truthfully can’t remember the first album that I bought, but the latest was “To Speak To Listen” by a band called Eidola – just amazing, beautiful, beautiful melodies from start to finish.


NI ROCKS And first gig that you went to and the last – other than Airbourne last night obviously.

PAUL – The first gig I ever saw was The Ramones when they played in New Zealand. I can’t tell you what year it was (laughs). The last gig I went to was The Stranglers.

NAIL – My first gig was AC/DC in 1991 on The Razors Edge tour. The last one I went to was Slipknot.

NIC – My first show was Disturbed in Auckland in 2006. My most recent was Protest The Hero at Kings Arms two months ago.


NI ROCKS We’ve mentioned Download and the remaining UK dates. What else is Devilskin likely to be doing over the next 6 to 12 months?

PAUL – Working on a new album. We’ll be recording within six months I’d say and we’re making another video as Nail said tomorrow. We’ve got a single to release and an album to write. And more gigs. We’ve got a New Zealand tour when we get back home.

NI ROCKS – Roughly, a date for the album?

NIC – No, it’ll happen when it happens

NAIL – Probably the middle of next year is what we’re aiming for.


NI ROCKS That’s all the questions that I have for you. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I know you’ve a really busy schedule. We’ll finish with another track from the latest album. Which one would you like to play and why?

NIC – My choice. I’m going to have to go with “Limbs” because that’s quite a different track for us. It’s a bit of a Frankenstein song as I said before. We had the chance to piece together the songs on a computer and this is one of the stronger examples of that kind of writing style. It twists and it turns and its epic and its longer than most of our songs.


Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site

Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site

Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site

Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site


 

 

Last Updated (Tuesday, 25 July 2017 16:30)