PropertyOfZack had the pleasure of speaking to our good friend Kevin Devine a few weeks ago in Philadelphia, PA before his show with Say Anything. Kevin and I discussed his current tour and how Say Anything fans are reacting to him and his band, The Front Bottoms, the next Bad Books record, possible collaborations, US touring, and more. Read up on all of it below!
So we’re in the second half of the Say Anything headline tour…
We are! Damn!
How was the first half?
Unbelievably good for us. This is the truth: Of course I knew Say Anything’s name because you can’t really be into underground rock music for the last ten years and have not heard of them, they’re quite a popular band and we have some mutual friends. But I had never really heard any of their music before this tour. I was a little hesitant in the sense that I had no idea how their fans would take us or respond to us. I knew the people, I had met the people, and had talked to Max a bit before the tour and knew they were going to be nice. They were really welcoming to us even before we got here. But the good news is, beyond the fact that they’re all good dudes and did great every night, their fans have been super receptive of us. It might be the best we’ve gone over in some ways on a support tour.
POZ: It’s full band?
Kevin: It’s full band, yeah. It’s been really good.
I think the tour makes more sense from you down than it does with Say Anything at the top in a way. I felt like a lot of fans were interested to see how it would turn out.
Yeah and they might still be. I have to try to keep myself, for sanity sake, a little insulated from stuff like that. I went on a message board when the tour was announced, the first day, and read a bunch of responses. I was like, “I am never looking at this again.” There are definitely people who come to see Say Anything that are not falling in love with us. And there is definitely people that are big fans of us that are not leaving with their opinions changed of Say Anything. But more people, it seems like, are saying, “This is one of my favorite show’s that I’ve ever been to.”
So it could have been a lot worse?
I’ve been on a lot worse. It’s been really good.
It seems that out of everyone, you have had a love affair with The Front Bottoms.
Yeah we were a little bummed that they were no longer on it. Although that’s no disrespect meant to Tallhart, who are actually really good and really kind and easy people. But The Front Bottoms… we spent two and a half weeks with them. I’m worried that some of the stuff I’m going to say will make me sound like I’m a snob about music, but it’s more that I’m ignorant. I don’t really know a lot of music. Especially a lot of music that is kind of geared towards like younger people. That’s a way around saying that I kind of listen to the same twelve things like over and over again. For something to penetrate the cycle it takes a lot. Their band [The Front Bottoms]… First of all they are funny and smart punk rock people. But they’re also open and kind and they have edge to their humor, which I love, but they’re really nice. They’re really good.
I saw them open for a hardcore show with no one there at Maxwell’s like a year ago.
It’s insane. And they are really good. Their lyrics… his lyrics. I am a big lyric person and it’s not often that somebody really flours me. I feel like every single song that they have so far has at least one lyric in it where I’m like, “Wow. That’s really good.” And Matt’s an amazing drummer and Drew is kind of the glue. That band, they made a believer out of me. I would preach the gospel. They are my favorite band for sure.
Concrete has been out for like six months now. A lot of your records, I feel, can take some time to sink in.
I think that’s probably true for better or for worse for my career. But yeah.
Has it been going over well? Especially live?
I think it is exactly as you said. I think people are making more sense of it as they spend more time with it. It seemed like when the record first came out, the response was pretty split. The immediate response was either, “This was my favorite record you’ve ever made.” Or, “I don’t like Kevin’s new record at all.” Because I think the songs were deceptive in the sense that because we dressed them up a certain way, and I made certain choices lyrically, people thought they were simpler. But I think the more time you spend with that record, the more you’ll see that that’s not really the case. That’s what I hope. That’s my feeling. It seems like that’s kind of happening. There’s more people. A friend of mine, whom I’ve been playing with forever, said, “I think in ten years, this will be the record of yours that if I am going to put on one of your records, this is the one.” I know what he means. I’m hopeful that’s what other people do to. But I’ve got no problem with people. Every record has its camp. There’s the Make The Clocks Move people, there’s the Brother’s Blood people… If every record you make has it’s camp, that means you’re doing something well.
So this tour has a few more weeks left.
Yeah, three…two and a half.
POZ: Will we see any more touring?
Kevin: Yeah. I’m not going to be able to announce it until May. But I have one more full U.S. tour for this record planned, supporting. And that’s going to be solo acoustic. Which is exciting because I haven’t done a full U.S. solo acoustic tour in a long time. So I think it will be a good look as well to do the headlining and the Say Anything tour with the band and let the last thing be alone.
POZ: Will that be summer?
Kevin: July and August. And the band is going to do Lollapalooza and I’m going to do solo at this other festival called Bunbury in Cincinnati. It’s like Weezer and Death Cab and Manchester and Motion City. And then I’m going to the U.K. in June with Cursive.
So I guess the other big thing is that everyone wants a Bad Books record.
They will get it. Right after the last show of this tour, I’m going to fly to Atlanta for three days and finish it. It’s pretty close. It’s really close. I mean I think we got ten songs done. They need more keys and percussion and maybe more production stuff. But it’s getting close.
So we spoke and then I spoke to Andy too, and you guys both said that this one was going to feel more collaborative than just individual songs from you and Andy. Has that been the case?
Yeah. I think it feels that way. There is two or three songs on the record. Two that Andy sings and one that I sing that are pretty spare. They’re just acoustic guitar and vocal. But they’re more together. Like I’m singing harmonies. We’re singing together more. There was a song of Andy’s that we were like kind of work shopping lyrics on a couple songs too. That did not happen on the first record where we’d sit there like, “What about this? What does that mean?” I think with each progressive record and as that band gets the opportunity to play more live, it will become more of a band. You know?
So if you are finishing soon, probably a fall release and maybe fall touring if everything goes well?
That might be a rush. Because we still have to mix it and master it. Because it’s two totally different worlds, the conversations about that stuff take a minute because we both have different ideas, I’m sure, about who we’d like to mix it. Last time it was easy because it was a one-off thing. We recorded it in Manchester world. Now it’s more like we did that, now it is its own band. Do we want to have someone else completely outside of it? So probably either late this year or early next year. More touring than the last time.
Do you definitely want to bring it out a little bit more? When the record first came out you did a string of shows.
I do. They do too. It’s more than anything just scheduling. We’re going to do some stuff with some of my back catalog over the next year that’s going to be kind of cool. Some things that have been out of print, some things that have been long out of print, some things that never were in print. And I might do something with some new music that’s not like an album, but that’s more like a series of EPs.
So you played a few new songs at that show in Hoboken.
Maxwell’s? Yeah. Those are actually going to be Bad Books songs. All of those songs. But the next time I will make a new record wouldn’t be until next year so I think my schedule will be pretty open to do Bad Books touring. But it’s also going to be down to whatever Manchester is up to too.
So we should see from you, in some aspect, rereleases or reissues?
Yeah I’m going to stay busy. The Bad Books thing will come out, some of my older records are going to get put out in different or first time format. Then a couple of new things along the way too. And I’ve been talking to all kinds of other people about collaborating on things. I’ve talked to Brian from The Front Bottoms about writing some stuff together. I’ve talked to Morgan from M83 and White Sea. There’s those little videos… She’s the woman who sings in “11-17” and all those things with me on those videos from L.A. We’ve talked about writing some stuff. So I’m just going to try to stay busy. My brain is better when I am busy.
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