Kevin Devine Is a Reformed Cheesy Hair Metal Fan
Numerology > Vibeology. It's a fact. So, what better way to get to know a band than peppering them with probing numerical associations? Today we Count Off with singer-songwriter Kevin Devine, who just released his new album, Instigator, via Brand New's Procrastinate! Music Traitors label. Stream it below, and read on for all the math-y goodness.
1: Describe your band in one sentence.
Witnessed in constant motion by a rotating cast of his friends, one man stubbornly refuses to quit or die or etc., sometimes quietly, sometimes with fuzz and shouting.
2: What do your parents think about your music?
They're proud of it. My mom has always been supportive of it and actually likes it; she loves songs — big '60s / '70s singer-songwriter fan — so I think she prefers the moments that skew more that way than the ones that are fuzzier / rockier. My dad passed in 2003, but always backed it, even as it was a pretty foreign world for him. Drove me to shows, listened to the first two records, said a song on the second one reminded him of the Grand Ole Opry, which was cool.
3: What are three things you can’t do without on tour?
At this point in human history, "my phone" goes without saying, so otherwise I'll say: personal space, good coffee, semi-decent sleep.
4: Who do you play music 4?
Primarily, myself; secondarily, my family; my kid, but with an awareness that you don't get to do it in public without an audience. So, obviously, for them, even if I'm not necessarily writing or performing "for" them.
9: If you could be any musician in a past life, who would it be?
Accepting / excepting the grisly ending, based on the work and the feeling and ability alone, Sam Cooke. His songs, delivery, the world he makes in three minutes, are objectively perfect.
10: What was your favorite album when you were 10?
Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction.
12: What’s the best album you ever received as a present?
It's not technically an album, but when I was a kid, and leaning into cheesy hair metal, my mom was a nurse in a private gastroenterological practice in Bay Ridge, and she taped "Stairway to Heaven" for me off the radio at work — I think to show me a better version of what I was listening to — and I totally remember thinking that was really cool and being, like, almost nervous to listen to it. It was so mythical. My friend Daniel Laureano dubbed Nevermind for me in seventh grade; that obviously made an impression.
50: What is your favorite state to play in?
It moves around, but for a lifelong New Yorker, California still has some magic to it. The whole West Coast — Oregon and Washington, too. I feel far away, someplace(s) different.
69: Will you still be writing music when you're 69?
If I am alive and relatively well, I think so. I have been in some form for almost 30 years, so my experience doesn't indicate otherwise.
96: What is your favorite album from 1996?
I'm answering you on a flight without the beneficial crutch of Google to back me up, but I think that was the year New Adventures in Hi-Fi by R.E.M. came out , and I really liked that record. I think maybe LP2 by Sunny Day [Real Estate] also did? Maybe Tigermilk by Belle & Sebastian? [ed. — he's two for three; SDRE was 1995.] One of those. Lots of great ones in 1997 and 1998, but 1996 isn't ringing as many bells in my head.