While playing New York City, Kevin Devine talked to QRO. In the conversation, the singer/songwriter discussed still fine-tuning his live show after all these years, being “progressively passionate” (our words, not his…), his work in Bad Books (QRO live review), releasing two records simultaneously, and more…
QRO: I’m curious to know, with playing so many shows over the years: do you feel that your live show has gotten to where you’d like it to be?
Kevin Devine: I think there are always things to fine tune, little pieces here and there you could attack differently, but generally, I’m really happy with where the shows were at on this tour, on both legs, solo & band.
QRO: I’ve had the job of describing your music to friends and peers over the years, and a constant phrase I’ve utilized is, “progressively passionate.” There’s an element to how you write that just resonates with people in a way that’s very unique to you. When it comes to writing songs, is it ever a thought on how people are going to feel or respond to a song?
KD: Thank you. Not really, and I think that’s a mixed blessing. I bet it’d be better in some ways if I could do that, or it’d help people market my songs more easily, or something. I’m mainly just trying to communicate something cleanly or in a way that’s satisfying to me. It’s amazing when it resonates that way with other people but I’m not expert at planning/predicting that.
QRO: Do you feel that your time with Bad Books inspired your approach towards making Bubblegum and Bulldozer? And if so, how?
KD: Making the Bad Books records is a lean and focused experience, that is also loose, fun, charged, all ideas on the table. I tried to carry some of that into these records, and some of the growth I’ve experienced singing harmonies in that band, too, doing more layering vocally.
QRO: It sounds almost redundant to state, but many would consider releasing two albums simultaneously would be risky with how short people’s attention spans are. Personally, I think a fan of a musician would want as much of that musician’s output as possible. Did that ever cross your mind when recording/prepping the release of these albums and did you feel a sense of confidence towards this project?
KD: I definitely thought about it, and still do. The current music industry isn’t really set up to support an 18-24 month cycle on concurrently released records; people forget more quickly, and invariably one of the releases will suffer. That said, hindsight 20/20 etc., and I think it was an important feature of those records to come out side by side. If I could do it over, I might more strongly consider staggering them, but I stand by what we did.
QRO: Lastly, what inspired this vinyl project you’re currently on?
KD: I’ve always sort of sat in this weird spot, kinda indie rock, kinda pop, kinda folk, kinda punk, kinda emo, but none of those things all the way through. I thought it’d be cool to curate a series that reflected that flexibility; disparate partners from different corners that might not make sense together but all kinda do with me. It’s awesome taken each on its own and even cooler in its totality.