A Word with the Devil
Handsome Devil Shares Thoughts on Music, LifeBy Devdoot Majumdar
After a summer of touring with Lit, the Orange County-based Handsome Devil is again on tour and coming to Boston on Sunday. Danny Walker, lead singer and guitarist, took a little time out to talk to The Tech from “just outside a club in Grand Rapids, MI.” The band’s members are Danny Walker, guitarist Billie Stevens, drummer Keith Morgan, and bassist Darren Roberts.
The Tech: What does the latest album mean to you guys musically?
Danny Walker: You know it’s just the style of music that we’ve always enjoyed playing. Ideally, a clash between AC/DC meets Handsome Devil type of thing. Something with some guts but at the same time telling some stories. Definitely stuff that’s fun to play life and has some beef to it.
TT: I’ve noticed you guys are really into playing live. What’s the live Handsome Devil experience made of?
DW: Well we want to make sure we’re working -- we’re not competitive guys, but we want to make sure that we’re out there at the top of our game in terms of putting out a show. Basically, if we’re not completely drained when it’s over, then we’ve failed. If people say, “Oh they sucked, but boy they kicked ass” I’d be happy.” I just think it’s a good practice to give people a good show.
TT: Wildest thing you’ve ever done at the end of a show?
DW: At the end of a show ... it’s hard to say. Probably in Savannah, Georgia, we had some trouble. We were playing with Puddle of Mud and Saliva, it was some radio event down there. We go on the show, and some promoter wanted us to get off before we had done our last song, tried to cut us off. But we weren’t going to have it, so I continued to introduce the song and the promoters were trying to kill the monitor feed on stage so the band can’t hear anything. I ignored it, and we did two more songs without any monitors, fighting off people on the sides of the stage, giving us the hook.
TT: How was the tour with Lit over the summer?
DW: It was great. I enjoyed it a lot. Not only was it like going out with friends, but those guys have actually done it for quite a while. You know, part of me felt bad about kicking ass on it all across the country. [Laughter] But at the same time, we love them and we’re a different thing from them. They’re a great band and they put on a good show, and it made us think, “okay, we’ve got to try to make ours way better than that.”
TT: The new album, Love and Kisses from the Underground, seems pretty complete. How long has it been in the making?
DW: Some of these songs have been in the making for a couple of years. Some of them were very current. “Back in Action” was actually one of the more recent ones. Some of them were written at the last hour, and some of them like “Making Money” and “Everything” and “Sorry Charlie” might have been older.
TT: No offense here, but you’re from Orange Country -- the ultimate suburb. What’s out there that even gets you pissed at the world and creates an album like Love and Kisses?
DW: Well you know there’s people in Orange County. And the songs are about people, everywhere. There are idiots in rich neighborhood and poor neighborhoods. You know, probably 90% of human beings are jackasses. I remember hearing the same slam about Zach from Rage Against Machine ... he’s from Irvine! But you know, in every way, he’s got every right to be pissed off as anybody in the ghetto or any white trash dude. The place where you live doesn’t give you any reason to be pissed off -- it’s the people.
TT: You guys are signed to a big label, so I was wondering if you had any horror stories from the dark underbelly of corporate music?
DW: [Laughter] Oh it’s a very evil business, man. I could tell you, but somebody would probably kill me. BMG is a much more reputable company than a lot of the majors out there. They’ve been around the longest. Wait, hey is MIT, is that like a Musician’s Institute?
TT: Oh hell no, it’s the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
DW: I thought it was. I thought it was a straight; it wasn’t just a school with just a music thing, like Berklee.
TT: Could you ever see yourself get cozy with Carson Daly?
DW: You know, I hope not. I hope to God we don’t end up having to stroke that far. In fact, I don’t think we’re of that fiber where they’d throw us into that spot. I guess you have to be flexible in this business. But most radio stations have a list of rules -- Handsome Devil’s rules -- don’t let them drink, and don’t let them swear too much. Obviously we were set up to be that type of thing. I don’t know Carson, so I don’t have him.