Interview with The Devil Whale
1. How would you describe your music to someone who has no clue who you are or what you sound like?
One of the hardest questions to answer. So I usually settle on a vague and unhelpful description that goes something like: we’re a rock band but one with no screaming, ever.
2. Influences? Musical, cosmic or otherwise!?
I feel heavily influenced by my peers. Not in a “Here, smoke this” kind of way, but influenced in that I find myself feeding off of the energy of a collective that’s all kind of working towards the same things. An energy similar to the “competitive spirit” minus the competitive part. I have lots of talented friends. I also really really really like Dan Bejar and Theodore Roethke and Bob Pollard.
3. Do you write collectively as a band? What inspires the music? The lyrics? What defines the impetus for a song: is it a lyric or a line?
At least until this point, I do the writing and then we kind of arrange things together as a band. For me, the music/melody comes first and I’ll kind of spit out made-up lyrics until I find a line that I like or something that seems worth latching onto. So there’s a kind of stream-of-consciousness element to it, I guess. Not to get too cheesy but I really feel like the best ideas I’ve had (the best songs I’ve written, the best parts of songs, etc.) weren’t things I felt like I created as much as they were ideas that felt like were floating in space and I was the one that happened to catch them. And there is a weird quality to those ideas like you don’t remember writing them. It’s all kind of a blur because it feels less like something you created and more like something that was given to you. The process seems a bit fuzzy. Lame, I know. But that’s just how it is sometimes.
4. Recording process: How do you capture realized songs or ideas?
I use recording a lot in the songwriting process. Since I usually write the music first, recording those ideas allows me to kind of suspend the ideas. I can pull myself out of the moment and hear them as they stand on their own. It’s been a helpful way for me to experiment with different melodies, lyrics, secondary and auxiliary parts, etc, and hear how they fit in the context of the foundation. Once all the elements are nailed it helps me map out the song well so that I have a good structure in place when I present it to the band. That’s helped a lot. As far as the “official” recording process, this time we went to a studio in Seattle called Studio Litho and worked with an engineer there (Shawn Simmons). Being in a big space allowed us to be comfortable, all playing at once, and not be tied up with the technical/engineering side of things. Which is certainly not where our talents lie.
5. What are key elements to your creativity? Having the gear/tools to get the thoughts expressed, recorded or documented?
For me the most important element to being creative is being in a comfortable frame of mind. Mornings are good; rooms with lots of light. I go on walks a lot late at night and some of my better ideas have come from those. Certain guitars seem to generate more than others. But again, for the most part I feel like you never know when the ideas will come. You just need to be ready when they do.
6. Must-have piece of gear or tool for creating/making music!?
I have a couple of guitars I really like. I have a Gibson ES 125 from the early ’60s and a Guild Starfire III also from the early ’60s. They’ve been good to me.
7. Best collective or individual guilty pleasure?
I love terrible movies. ”Trapped In The Closet.” ”Dragon Wars.” Stuff like that. LOVE them. I think I enjoy those more than the “good ones.”
8. What’s coming up for the band, any highlights, special projects or gigs?
We’re releasing an EP called “Young Wives” in June. Touring the west coast thereafter and at the end of that tour we’ll stop in Seattle again for a week and wrap up some more recording for an LP called “Teeth” that we’ll be releasing in the fall. August we’ll hit the midwest. And there will be lots of loose ends in the meantime.