Devilskin are heading back to our shores next month and Sentinel Daily’s Paul Kerr took the time out to chew the fat with the band’s bassist Paul Martin about what he’s been up to and what the band has in store for us at Lagerfest

I am talking with Paul Martin, the driving force behind New Zealand rockers, Devilskin. When I am chatting to him, I am surprised to find he is already in Australia on the devilish shores of the Gold Coast, having come over for some family birthday celebrations.  He’s on his way back home Friday to as he puts it, the grim weather, that New Zealand offers.  I offered that it should be warming up over there and should be warm enough, but it’s not warm enough for Paul I find out.  He’s living it up with blues skies and a lovely twenty eight degrees or warmer.  We have some connection issues, but soon get into it as I find out how busy Paul and the band have been…

“We’ve released a song called Let Me Breathe (an absolute banger with a killer bass groove – check it out) to our their hat in the ring while we have been writing a bunch of songs. It came about by one day we just asked ourselves ‘Do we have to wait for the rigmarole of doing a single release? Let’s just get it out there’. So it’s exciting and we’ve been in new music mode for about two and a half years now, can’t wait to get it all done again. But it’s something we don’t really stop, me personally I can just never try and switch off. I use my different experiences, that’s how I write songs, there’s always stuff going on and I’m recording it. Like today, I’ve been out recording big fluffy white birds, cockatoos aren’t they, and while I was doing that a kangaroo comes bounding past and heads down into the bush near me. Experiences, I’m always inspired”.

“All of us are equally inspired and we’ve got a system now of sending demos to each other so we can experiment with bits and pieces now. We have a lot of fun doing that”.  It really doesn’t tie you down, so you can do what you want to do, be it home or away. “You have to be able to do that, there’s a window of opportunity for a band, and you’ve just got to grab it with both hands and go for it because it might not be there tomorrow. I’m just full of noise about playing and recording and doing some more shows over here, and touring and getting back to Europe. We are all keen to do that as well; for the moment we are focussed on our Australian audience and the Lagerfest Tour. The Froth and Fury festival, oh man, it’s going to be a lot of fun.  Seriously, what an awesome line up to be a part of”.

I was listening to the (Lagerfest) line-up and it is very different styles of bands, very eclectic. “Yeah, no-one is the same, from Sweden to Germany, to New Zealand, to Aussie’s finest – Lagerstein.  Wow, it’s just going to be, like imagine what it’s going to be like for the audience – a very cool vibe. It’s going to be so much fun”.

It’ll be very interesting to see the crowd it brings, because there is such diversity between the bands. “People crave that, you can’t satisfy everyone all the time.  It’s nice to break it up and fans of The Halo Effect, you know, phwoar.  Their fans go back a long way, that’s a super-group, so there’s some people that will be there, regardless and I think they are going to be pleasantly surprised by the whole line-up. It’s not about one thing and they are all complimentary in their own way.  It feels like it is going to be a good vibe, I can’t wait to meet these bands and see them night after night. I’m really excited about it”.

With a name like Lagerfest and add in the Froth and Fury Fest, I’m sure there will be a beer or three had. “I’m a tequila guy more than a beer guy, but hey I’ll give it a nudge. (laughing) I’m sure the Lagerstein guys will be walking around offering me boots full of beer, that’ll be a bit of fun”.

It’s pretty full on, you kick off in NZ on November 11 and finish off eight days later with six gigs done and dusted. “Yeah, we finish up in Melbourne, six days, a lot of travel and not a lot of time to look around – the usual story but exciting.  Brisbane, Sydney Adelaide Melbourne, and of course Auckland and Christchurch at the beginning. We’re frothing for it… Just get out on the road and meet people and catch these other bands and be part of the vibe”.

Building on from your last tour, which was now May last year.  Wow, that’s gone quick.  But everyone I talked to was pumped about the gigs and loved them. So you built up a lot of loyal followers in Australia and hopefully they’ll bring their friends this time. You now have the chance to keep building. “Yeah, that is exactly right. It’s all about that organic reach, you’ve just got to keep coming back, keep touring. If you are not out there touring, you are invisible, you need to get back in their faces. It’s been a bit of a mission, we would have been ideally, back here before now, but we are just jumping at the opportunity. It’s the same all over world, like Europe, it’s the same sort of thing. I think we went there five times and the gigs get bigger. It just grows and next time, the last time through Europe was with Halestorm and that was awesome, we had a sold out crowd every night. I think we did twenty four dates with them, and so much fun, hard work, but worth it. But it’s challenging times for everyone, and the sector”.

“Momentum is key and everyone has got a klck in the nuts, with the whole COVID thing.  But it’s really good to see how it has picked up over here and you guys are getting so many great tours coming through. Even though obviously with our geographical proximity to Antarctica, things don’t work at quite the same rate, but slowly we are starting to get the trickle through. There’s so many cool bands coming through – (Steve) Vai, Nazareth, so looking forward to seeing Nazareth man, they are a great inspiration.  But you guys get all of it, we probably don’t hear half of it back in NZ, which is probably just as good, as it’d be heartbreaking”.

I can understand as we recently returned from Europe ourselves, and we continually had people asking how long to get from Australia.  When I told them our trip was thirty four hours in transit, they were horrified… (laughing). But you get over there and you build momentum.  I think people really respect the fact that you have travelled so far to and bring everything you’ve got to play to them. It’s what it is, so continuing the momentum in those faraway places is hard. “Totally, all you want is to play to a happy crowd, who are keen.  But, momentum, once you get started here in Australia, it picks up really quick because you’ve got such a vibrant and healthy rock scene, it always has been. And the other aspect is your average rock/metal dude, is loyal as hell.  Not going to change its spots overnight. Like if you loved Led Zeppelin when you were a kid, you’re still going to love them as an adult. Everyone loves Black Sabbath. It goes through all these generations, and they keep the whole thing alive. The bands would be lost without them”.

That’s all you can hope for is those sorts of people. When you are talking about the Lagerfest, its in such a short space of time, but so many people can get in to experience these bands that bring their all.  Going back to what we said before, because of the diversity of these bands, you guys are going to be introduced to whole new legion of fans. “We’re absolutely blown away to be on such a cool lineup.  I’ve never been one to comfortably “genre”ise, so we think it’s just going to be a great night of music from all parts of the world. Everyone has the got their own sound, their own voice and their own vibe.  Beyond the Black, that guitar player, is phenomenal, I can’t wait to see them play live. The vocalist, she’s just killer. And of course, the Halo Effect, legends. I think the crowds are in for a treat, no matter what”.
You touched on Let Me Breathe earlier; it’s grabs you by the throat. When can we expect more? “I’m constantly writing, but I’m also the guy who has to have something finished. It’s a process, put them all together and getting everyone together so we’re comfortable with playing them live, because that’s how we are. We are a live band first and foremost. We just bang around some riffs and come up with some awesome ideas, it’s just now a case of getting around to doing them. The riff for Let Me Breathe was hanging around for a couple of years, but then the timing felt right, and everything fell into place. Jennie (Skulander, vocals) came up with amazing lyrics and it just felt right. We’ve got all the songs that missed out on the first album, a track called the Whale Song, which is on our live album. We never recorded that and gave that the proper treatment in the studio. We’re looking at revisiting that and putting it right, we’re also coming up with new stuff all the time. We’ve been looking at a song that was hinted at in the RED album, a little instrumental piece, but the song itself, Nail (Vincent) wrote when his daughter was in utero. So he wrote the song for his pregnant wife’s belly and she’s seven now, so we’ve had this song and been playing it – but it’s time to record it properly. It’s definitely due it’s time. Not sure if you heard, but Nail got signed to Gibson as an ambassador, I mean he’s worn out some Gibsons in the time I’ve known him. We couldn’t be happier for him.  He lives and breathes it, so he’s over the moon. He scored himself the beautiful twin neck six and twelve (string) and that has been inspirational for him. So this beautiful little ballad that starts out with this gorgeous picking from Unborn develops into this beast that Jennie (Skulander) just…  So yeah, we’ve just got to get around to recording them, we’ve been playing them live and they’ve been passing the test with us and we feel like we are getting to know how these things go now. It’s important to take your time, you don’t want to do a crap version of the song that has got a lot of potential or could possibly be done so much better if you had more time or a different producer. We’ve been tending to do a lot more of the work ourselves as far as production goes. We’ve worked with a guy named Dave Rhodes, who’s really good, he’s done some huge stuff in NZ. We are booked in for some more studio time in December, actually.  So next year – July 14th is the ten year anniversary of the We Rise album. That’s a massive moment for us, so we’ve got a bit of a tour we are looking at. We’re still celebrating those songs, they still feel good to us, they are still relevant”.

For a debut album, it really knocked everyone’s socks off.  Every album has got something different, so really looking forward to what you put out.  You can tell they have meaning to you, they’ve ot the hooks, the riffs, it’s really well thought out and put together well. “Cheers, thanks. We like to explore real emotions and subject matter that people can relate to. For example, Violation, from the first album, was an angry song, because Jennie got robbed. People robbing her house and they got burgled badly, and she turned up to rehearsal a bit grrr.. She’s pretty chilled mostly, but when something happens like that…  But channel it and put it into music and it strikes home with other people. People will relate to the realness and it’s got to mean something. We’re not lost for material, but we do need to step it up and get it out. So like I said, we’re recording and have new releases pretty soon”.

It’ll be getting harder for your setlist, there’s so much good material… Tell me about it, can we do some three hour gigs? (laughing) I’m into that, the hard work is getting to the gig and setting up.  Just give us an extra hour… If it was up to me bro… But yeah, you’re right it’s got to the stage where it gets complex at rehearsals and it’s like ahhh… Who’s going to know this song, we really want to put the new stuff in but we know this one goes down really well with people, so it’s how long have we got? We’ve got a set list for all occasions that we’ve been working on really hard. We’ve been sharpening all our weapons as we want to make a punch while we are on stage and we don’t want people to forget us. With some pretty amazing bands on tour at Lagerfest, we’ve got to show up.  We’ve got to gain that momentum again. It’s a bit tougher being in NZ, so far away. There’s so many more places we want to go and play too, you guys have got Japan and Indonesia on your doorstep.  I’ve been following Billy Sheehan, Mr Big, and Testament going through there.  There’s a big rock and metal following there. All you ever want to do as a musician is get out there in front of people… no matter where it is”.

Potential for Devilskin there? “Yeah, I’d love to. I’ve been pushing for it.  The prices of getting a tour party back to UK and Europe have just skyrocketed. We have to wait for a really good opportunity to be able to get over there. The costs of everything have just tripled, so we’ve got plans but yeah. At the end of the day, you need a bunch of new songs and music behind you to drive it. It makes it a lot easier to tour when you’ve got a bunch of new music to tour for… It means a lot to be able to come back and meet old friends and a bunch of potential new ones.  So we’re excited to be over there soon.  We will catch you soon!”.

Devilskin tour Australia as part of the Lagerfest jamboree in November… all the dates you need are HERE