The Damn Devils have come through lockdown and living thousands of miles apart with a hard-hitting album The Damn Devils. The self-titled debut album fuses rock, pop and metal for a sound that will make you want to come back for more. From the collective minds of Vin Perotta, Age Graves and Joey Dominick, they take you from bar fights to graveyards and everywhere in between. We sat down with singer and guitarist Age Graves to talk about the album, creative processes, influences and much more!
OSR: You have all known each other for a long time, but what prompted you to start making music together?
Graves: Vin and Joey grew up together and were in bands together all their lives. I know Vin had been trying to get Joey up and running with a home studio so they could start playing together again. Vin and I used to live down the street from each other in Charlotte, NC so we had a small project at the time but I moved to Idaho and we didn’t work on anything for a while. I tried starting a band in Boise but it fizzled out.
I had a few songs I was working on so I hit Vin up and asked if he’d be interested in recording. We started with ‘Hell’ and took it from there. Eventually, we had like five songs or something and were like, “shit! We can do an album.” Joey got set up and we started incorporating him into the songs which added a really cool new vibe. It all just kind of worked out.
OSR: How did you decide on the name of the band?
Graves: It just came to me randomly and it made me smile so I threw the idea out there to Vin and he liked it. Signed, sealed, delivered.
OSR: Your self-titled debut album The Damn Devils was created remotely, how difficult did you find this process?
Graves: Certain things are difficult about working remotely. For example, there’s no real-time feedback. When you’re writing a song together in person, you can iterate very quickly. Online, that process is slowed down tremendously. We did everything over text messages, too. This communication creates a lag but I think it allows for more creativity and flexibility as well. You have the time to sit down and think about what you’re playing before you press record.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Do you have a structured process or is it more going with the flow?
Graves: Going with the flow for sure. There have been several times where we’re in the middle of working on a song and we get an idea for a new one and start working on that instead.
OSR: The album has a touch of a few genres from metal to pop. Was this something you planned or did it happen organically?
Graves: Definitely organically. I love pop music and I’m not ashamed to admit that I like Top 40 Country music, which is basically pop. It’s just great. You can appreciate it for what it is and not be a hater. Vin definitely brings the heavy edge. He writes a lot of the heavy stuff, which I love. Joey always adds a cool vibe to any song. I’m more of a straightforward songwriter so those two just add a totally new dynamic.
OSR: Is there a story or theme to the album?
Graves: Not exactly. We tried to touch on different topics like quarantine, loss, love, how divided we are in the world today, etc. There’s supposed to be a bit of fun to some of the songs. Like ‘Hush’, for example, is kind of joking about how people are online all the time just spewing nonsense. ‘Pantheon’ is about the pandemic sweeping through and taking over. There isn’t a theme to the album, but the songs all tell a story.
OSR: If people could listen to only one track from the album, which would you suggest and why?
Graves: I’d suggest ‘Gravedigger’. It kind of encompasses the full spectrum of our style and it’s a good story about self-sabotage which I think many people can relate to. When you’re doing something that you know isn’t helping you get where you want to be, but you keep doing it anyway, you’re digging your own grave. If you asked Vin or Joey, they’d probably say ‘The Line’ or ‘Liarmageddon’. ‘The Line’ is about compromise and ‘Liarmageddon’ is about the age of misinformation we’re living in.
OSR: What was the biggest influence on the sound of the band?
Graves: This is a really great question. I think it would depend on who you asked. We wanted to write music that we liked and that pulled together all of our influences. We never decided on a “sound”, we just sort of wrote what we felt like writing. I mean, if you compare a song like ‘Hell’ to a song like ‘Bar Fight’, they’re nothing alike. ‘Hell’ is an acoustic-driven almost alt-country song and ‘Bar Fight’ is just a fun hardcore song with less screaming. We get compared to Ozzy a lot which I think is cool although I have to admit Ozzy isn’t an influence for any of us. We’re still scratching our heads on that one (laughs). I don’t think I can name a biggest influence but I can say our biggest theme was that we were going to record whatever we wanted to.
OSR: Do you feel that the pandemic has affected the music you make?
Graves: Definitely. ‘Scratched on a Wall’ is all about feeling pent up and scratching the days onto the wall like you would in a prison cell. The angstier sound we have I would attribute some of that to pent up aggression during the age of quarantine. At the same time, it’s allowed us to be home a lot more and we probably wouldn’t have released an album this year if it hadn’t been for 2020.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the coming year?
Graves: We keep getting better and we aren’t going to stop writing music, so I’d expect to see us either releasing some singles or working on the next album.