Interview with Devon Graves
For those who don't know who 'Deadsoul Tribe' are then I will enlighten you, this is the current band put together by ex 'Psychotic Waltz' front-man under the name of Buddy Lackey, since then Buddy has changed his name to Devon Graves. Psychotic Waltz were one of those bands who took the world by storm with their unique style of Prog & Power Metal which could only be described between Omen, Helstar, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, J.Tull, & Frank Zappa. Now that Devon has returned with his new act under the name of 'Deadsoul Tribe' he is ready to carry on were Psychotic Waltz left off. The music with Deadsoul Tribe does have a certain feel to that of his previous band as if the ghost is still around him, which is great!! Anyway the band have released their 2nd album titled 'A Murder Of Crows' through Inside Out in Germany and what a great album this is. Here is what Devon had to say to the following questions. I started by asking him about Psychotic Waltz.
So why did Psychotic Waltz break up and are you still friends? Do you also think you may reform in the future?
"Well we try to still be friends & everybody loves Brian, so there is no problem with Brian but there is some tension between Dan & I because we are a posing sides of the force and we have been friends for a long time but I don't know how Norm feels about Dan these days etc.. and that's how it all stems from when the band broke up & Brian left the band first and he has a wife and daughter now. He started to write songs for movies and for colleges, but I have not seen him for a long time. I am not sure if we will reform in the future, as I sent Dan an e mail a month ago but have not heard from him yet. We have been friends from high school days and we really believed that we could make it big one day and we believed that our style was the next step up in metal and evaluation. At the time I was playing guitar and writing my own songs and my stuff was more like Black Sabbath & J.Tull and I heard Aslan which was the name before Psychotic Waltz playing 'Spiral Tower' at a rehearsal and I thought the music was interesting, that is why I approached them. It was a shame that metal never revolved into something different and the was severed and the Grunge thing took over!! I guess we came too late but we could only come when we had too. I am not to sure if we will reform, that depends on if people within the band sort out there differences, who knows??"
So have you heard Norm's band 'Tea Bag' and Dan's project 'Dark Star'? What do you think of them?
"I love 'Tea Bag' I always laugh when I hear it because I love Steve Cox and he use to be in Psychotic Waltz, and we had our own trip going on. There were bands in San Diego like 'Suicide Doors' or 'Bible Black', so when he joined Psychotic Waltz he had to remove some of his amps and turn them down. When he plays on his own he rules because he plays so loud!! Tea Bag are great live I am sure they will get a deal soon!!. Dan's material is good too, it's different and very atmospheric."
So what's your favourite and least favourite 'Psychotic Waltz' album and why?
"I liked them all for there own reasons, I think my favourite is the debut 'A Social Grace' (ED: Mine too) I think we were evolving into the next step of metal evolution with this album (ED: I agree!!) We never really had many arguments and things were going really great for that album. This album had so many things going on and I think it was ahead of it's time, I have not listened to it for a long time until recently and it really is a awesome album!! A lot of people dislike 'Mosquito' the most, and I'm not fond on 'Into The Everflow', as I started to do impressions of David Bowie on that record ha!!"
You later on went on to record a solo album, why did you release that album back then?
"Well I started putting the idea's together after 'A Social Grace' album & Dan had an accident so that kind of throw the band off for a while. He was doing a sport were it required ropes and bridges and he fell and almost killed himself. Cutting along story short we were suppose to be cutting a deal for 'Into The Everflow' but with Dan been ill I decided to record my solo album to make up for lose time, and Dan made a recovery and 'Into The Everflow' was recorded. There were a lot of difficulties with that solo album because I recorded it at home and then it had to be re-recorded and by that time we were ready to record the 2nd Psychotic Waltz album. So that solo album got side tracked."
OK, so why did you change your name from Buddy Lackey to Devon Graves?
To be honest Jase, I hated the name Buddy, that was my real name and I hated it since I was a kid. If I was a comedian than that name would of been fine, but for a musician it did not suite me at all!! I just made that name up and I use to live in a street called 'Graves Avenue' in San Diego. I liked it a lot and you called me Buddy (ED: Well that's because I remember Psychotic Waltz).
So who are your influences as a singer and as musicians?
"My favourite singer would have to be Robert Planet, Ronnie James Dio, Ian Anderson and some black singers from the 50's I really enjoyed some of those singers. Later on came Chris Cornnel who I really liked a lot and the singer from Tool. I also like Marilyn Manson a lot. I also like Rob Halford of course, and you know not many people liked Ripper in Judas Priest, but when I heard him I thought he was really cool!! I wish him the best of luck with Iced Earth, he is going to be the king of replacing awesome singers!!"
When you were in Psychotic Waltz' I never knew you were a guitar player too, how long have you been playing guitar, what came first?
"Well the guitar came before the flute or vocals. I started playing guitar when I was 12 yrs old and my first influence was Buddy Holly and I started to learn his songs and I would also learn to sing them as well. My next influence was Jimi hendrix, another guitarist who also was a singer. I never knew my father but my mum told me that my father was a really good singer, and when I was young I really wanted to sing but I could not until later on. I later on met some musicians when I was playing Black Sabbath by the pool and they asked me if I was interested in joining their band. The only thing we would play was Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath or my songs. I started to sing for this band as well as play the guitar. In the end there were so many guitar players and not enough singers, so I stayed with the vocals and became a singer. When I was 19 I decided to join Psychotic Waltz, but back then they were called 'Aslan', so know I can play guitar better than I would of done back then because I was the singer for Psychotic Waltz I learnt so much from Dan & Brian."
So were did you find the name for 'Deadsoul Tribe' & where there any other names?
"I wanted the name 'Tribe' in the bands name because I wanted it to remind people of earth or something a little bit scary or forbidden. It had to be the right kind of scary name not like boogy man scary or Iron Maiden's 'Eddie'. I make a lot of songs with more rhythm toms instead of bass drums & snare. So that is why I wanted the word 'Tribe' in the bands name. At first I was going to call the band 'Devon Graves & The Flies Of Creation'."
Does the bands name reflect in the music you are creating?
"I think so!! I think it does in only a matter of feel and not in the manner of meaning because this name 'Deadsoul Tribe' it only seems to sound the the way the music wanted to sound, I think the title 'A Murder Of Crows'."
Would you say that your new music has the spirit of Psychotic Waltz within the music?
"Well I'm not sure, it certainly has the spirit of me in it & Psychotic Waltz also had the spirit of me in it. Can you hear it more so on song that I wrote alone like 'I Remember' or 'Locust' or 'Skeleton' and if my old band had not released them I would of done with this band. The song 'My Grave' would of been on the debut Deadsoul tribe album for sure. (ED: you know the song 'I Remember' I would like that song at my funeral). You know Jase I would like Queens 'B Rhapsody' at my funeral that is cool!! ha!"
So after Psychotic Waltz broke up you decided to move to Austria and find some local musicians, why did you leave and how did you hook with your current members of your new band?
"Well the line-up is almost the same expect for Volker who has now left the band and was replaced before the debut album and the debut album features only me & Adel and I only got the other members in the band so I could play them live. I just found the members in the local scene and asked them if they wanted to join my band. We rehearse about 3-4 days a week and sometimes we can go for a while without any rehearsals."
Did you record many demos before your debut album and did you sell any of them?
"Yeah we recorded a lot of demos. I even made a lot of demos before I moved to Austria in 96-97 just after I felt Psychotic Waltz I had a bunch of them to go. So I wrote to a lot of labels that I few and sent them the demo and I told them that they may know me and my old band who became semi popular in Europe and have since left the band and I now am looking for a new deal. At that time I was called 'Devon Graces & the Flies Of Creation'. I might of said that my old band were signed to your old label without giving to much away. I did not sell the demos they were only for promotional use only. The demo was a full album and most of the songs were acoustic material like the song 'Spiral Cathedral" was one of the songs and the song called 'Time'. In the end of leaving Psychotic Waltz I got sick of hearing the crunchy guitar sound and I wanted to hear something which had a clean sound. The songs were acoustic with a electric edge to them."
So you finally got a deal with 'Inside Out' & CMM from Germany, are you happy with the way the deal turned out?
"Yeah for sure!! The thing with CMM is that they are certainly getting me more interviews for the new album, but at the same time I am not sure if there doing a great job, its fair to say the least. I can say that I am doing more interviews now than I was with Psychotic Waltz. With CMM & Inside Out it is for better or for worse deal, only time will tell!!"
Ok so now lets talk about the debut album, were you happy with the end results of that album because I can hear several different recording sounds as if it was recorded in different studios, why was that if that was the case?
"You know that album was recorded in one studio, and there is one song were the sound quality is not up with the rest because I had to issue a re-mix on the song 'Cry For Tomorrow' but a rough mix at that. I wrote that song and had just done the vocals and then I made a mix down of that and I was not use to the digital stuff they use in the recordings and I deleted all the original vocals for that song, so I had to re-do them.
That was a bonus track anyway. I am happy with the way it turned out actually, it turned out rather well considering if you saw the room I recorded it in, people said I was crazy!! For me the most important thing is to capture the performance and I would of liked a nicer room to record in at that time of recording that record. I think you can hear a massive improvement on the new album, it was just a learning process, we all make mistakes right?"
Where there any other titles for the debut album?
"No not really!! You see the thing with my old band were titled every album but with this band I just wanted to title the debut as a sld titled release, just like Sabbth and Zepplin."
So what songs from the debut stand out for you also were there any least favourite songs?
"Well I like 'Into The Spiral Cathedral', 'One Bullet' because I like the atmosphere in that song and I wanted to capture the scene in an emergency room to somebody who had just attempted suicide and the song is the person's thoughts and state, there not dead yet but they may come back or not. I wanted a sound of a heart beat to begin the song. There were songs I did not like as much as others like 'The Drowning Machine' was not one of my favourite songs because I never a chorus that I was really happy with, I like it but not totally blown away by it. We still play it live though."
So how do you compare the new album to that of the debut album?
"Well the music is just kind of step along the way from my own development so you can hear growth and you can hear the parts a little more put together with details and more aggressive and I use more flute, and acoustic and electric guitar more than the debut album. I wanted to make this album with more flavour than the debut album."
Are the songs wrote as a team effort?
"No I write all the songs on my own. Adel helps me out though because he is an unusual drummer in that way were he likes songs in an objective view point, whereas most drummers like the songs if the drums parts are good enough for them. He favourite song is 'Under The Weight Of My Stone' because he likes the melody."
Which songs from the new album stand out for you and why?
"Well I like the songs 'Feed', 'Something's You cant Return' , 'Angels In Vertigo' and also 'Black Smoke & Mirrors', there the first 3 that come to mind first. My least favourite song is 'Time', because I did not feel that it fitted in with the rest of the album and I wanted to drop it off the album, but the label told me to keep it as they thought it was a great track. So I kept it on there as a bonus track."
What sort of press reactions has the new album been getting so far?
"It has been getting a great response so far, especially from the die hard Psychotic Waltz fans out there."
When will we see the band touring Europe and will there be any UK dates as seen as we never had the pleasure of see in Psychotic Waltz, it would be nice to catch the band over here?"
"Well we have no UK dates planned as yet, we would love to play over there!! As for Europe, it's been great, all a promoter has to do is contact me and it usually happens."
Well Devon, thanx for your time, best of luck with Deadsoul tribe, do you have anything to say before we finish the interview?
"Well I really don't like to say too much after an interview but as seen as I am doing an interview with you and you live in the UK I would like to say that the majority of my musical roots come from the UK from the 70's and 80's and that is why it is very important for me to play in your country and maybe the UK would like what I am now doing, thanx Jase."
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