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Devolved Interview @ Jedbangers

For its native fans, Australia is a goldmine of extremely talented metal bands. Unfortunately due to whatever reason other fans around the world often overlook these great acts. However, this is soon due to change. One of the bands penetrating the overseas market is Brisbane group Devolved. Forging an ultra-heavy aggressive mecha-metal sound, Devolved were recently given the offer to perform among others at the prestigious 2001 Milwaukee Metalfest, a chance that would have ensured them some serious international exposure. With only one album ‘Technologies’ tucked under their belt, they are soon to embark on a national Australian tour in October/November before stepping up to the big time.

Thanks go to drummer/lyricist John Sankey for the interview.

Kev- Firstly, fill us in on some band history.

John- BASICALLY BRETT (GUITARIST/VOCALS) AND I STARTED OUT WRITING SOME SONGS AND GETTING IDEAS TOGETHER FOR A 'METAL' PROJECT. WE HAD ALWAYS BEEN HUGE FANS OF HEAVY MUSIC AND ALTHOUGH THERE'S NOT MUCH OPPORTUNITY FOR THAT TYPE OF MUSIC ON THE GOLD COAST, WE JUST THOUGHT FUCK IT, LETS DO THIS AND TAKE IT AS FAR AS WE CAN. AFTER A FEW MONTHS OF SOLID WRITING WE MET MARK (GUITARIST) AND JOEL (BASS) THROUGH MUTUAL FRIENDS AND DEVOLVED WAS FORMED.THIS WAS THE LINE-UP FOR A FEW YEARS BEFORE NIK JOINED AS FULL TIME VOCALIST MAKING THE BAND A 5 PIECE. THIS WAY WE COULD HAVE A VOCALIST WHO COULD CONCENTRATE ON HIS DUTIES WHILE THE REST OF US GOT MORE TIME TO CONCENTRATE ON OUR JOBS, BY THISSTAGE THE MUSIC WE WERE WRITING WAS BECOMING MORE AND MORE DIFFICULT TO PERFORM AS WELL. THE ONLY OTHER CHANGE TO THE BAND WAS WHEN JOEL DECIDED TO LEAVE DUE TO MUSICAL DIFFERENCES AND LEIGHTON BECAME THE FULL TIME BASS PLAYER. TO ME DEVOLVED IS NOW COMPLETE, THE FIVE OF US ARE READY TO TAKE ON THE FUCKING WORLD!


K- How was the whole process of getting the album 'Technologies' done and out? Any major difficulties?

J- APART FROM A FEW QUICK DEMOS WE HAD DONE ALONG THE WAY THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME WE HAD BEEN IN A STUDIO SITUATION. NIK HAS A DEGREE IN SOUND ENGINEERING SO IT CERTAINLY WASN'T AS FOREIGN TO HIM AS THE REST OF US. BASICALLY IT WAS A HUGE LEARNING CURVE, BUT ONE THAT I THINK EVERY SERIOUS BAND NEEDS TO GO THROUGH. THERE WAS NO MAJOR PROBLEMS DURING THE PROCESS, WE ALLOWED OURSELVES A GOOD AMOUNT OF TIME FOR RECORDING AND WE ALSO FOUND A GOOD STUDIO AND ENGINEER WHICH WAS SUITED TO THE SOUND WE WANTED. LOOKING BACK I'M SURE THERE'S MORE WE WOULD HAVE LIKED TO DO GIVEN MORE TIME, BUT WE ARE ONE OF THOSE BANDS WHO WILL NEVER BE 100% HAPPY. ALL IN ALL WE ARE VERY PROUD OF 'TECHNOLOGIES', IT'S CHAOTIC, IT'S DARK..... AND IT'S HEAVY AS HELL.

K- How have local circles reacted to the album, and to your music in general?

J- THE REACTION HAS BEEN AWESOME! NOTHING BUT POSITIVE REPORTS. WE HAVE HAD A REALLY STRONG LOCAL FOLLOWING FOR SOME TIME NOW, AND THAT SUPPORT HAS DEFINITELY SPREAD FASTER THAN WE EXPECTED. WE HAVE TOTAL CONFIDENCE IN THE STRENGTH OF THE ALBUM AND THE LIVE SHOW IS FUCKING MADNESS GUARANTEED! IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF GETTING THE PRODUCT AND THE SHOW OUT TO THE PEOPLE. THE ALBUM HAS SOLD REALLY WELL SO FAR AND WE ARE TOURING AND FORCING OUR CHAOS DOWN AS MANY THROATS AS POSSIBLE!

K- Your bio said you recently signed with a distribution company called Copro Productions. How did this come about and what will this mean for Devolved?

J- WELL WE HAD QUITE A FEW TALKS WITH SOME OVERSEAS RECORD COMPANIES THAT WE HAD SENT THE ALBUM TOO. AT THE END OF THE DAY CONDITIONS WEREN'T SUITED TO US AND WE DIDN'T WANT TO BE TIED INTO A LENGTHY CONTRACT THAT WASN'T IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF DEVOLVED. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ALL TO EASY TO SAY FUCK YEAH, JUST SO WE COULD BE A SIGNED ACT BUT LUCKILY WE ARE VERY PROTECTIVE OF THIS BAND AND ITS FUTURE AND WE MADE SOME WISE DECISIONS.  FOR NOW WE WANT TOTAL CONTROL OVER OUR MUSIC SO WE DECIDED TO LOOK INTO OUR OPTIONS FOR A DISTRIBUTOR WHO WOULD DO THEIR JOB, AND LEAVE US TO DO OURS. WE WERE ADVISED TO APPROACH COPRO AS THEY ARE A MAJOR COMPANY WITH A SOLID HISTORY. WE SENT THE ALBUM AND WITHIN A FEW WEEKS THEY CONTACTED US SAYING THEY WERE MORE THAN KEEN AND VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE PRODUCT. THEY WILL BE LICENSING 'TECHNOLOGIES' WORLDWIDE INCLUDING THE UK, EUROPE AND U.S.A. FROM THE START OF NOVEMBER. THEY ARE ALSO WORKING ON A TOURING SCHEDULE FOR US OVERSEAS EARLY NEXT YEAR.

K- The advancing technology debate is at the heart of your album. Why exactly did you choose this field to be in lyrically?

J- FIRST OF ALL IF PEOPLE DON'T READ OUR LYRICS AND LOOK AT THE ALBUM AS A WHOLE RATHER THAN A COLLECTION OF SEPARATE SONGS, GO ELSEWHERE, SIMPLE AS THAT! DEVOLVED ISN'T JUST ABOUT MUSIC, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT WORDS, ITS ABOUT THE FIVE OF US MAKING OURSELVES COMPLETELY VULNERABLE AND SHOWING THE WORLD SOMETHING IT NEEDS TO SEE AND HEAR. BRETT AND I WROTE ALL THE LYRICS FOR 'TECHNOLOGIES' AND WE DECIDED LONG AGO THE LYRICS HAD TO BE AS IMPORTANT AS THE MUSIC ITSELF, THEY ARE NOT TO BE SEPARATED. WE WANTED TO WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING REAL, SOMETHING WE ALL FACE AND SOMETHING EVERYONE CAN LEARN FROM. I'M NOT PREPARED TO GO INTO THE FINER DETAILS AND MEANING OF THE LYRICS BECAUSE WE WANT EVERYONE TO LOOK AT IT FROM THEIR OWN POINT OF VIEW AND THINK FOR THEMSELVES. I CAN SAY IT'S BASICALLY HUMANITY AND MACHINE MERGING TOGETHER, IT'S BRUTAL AND VERY FUCKING DARK, AND IT'S VERY FUCKING REAL. 


K- Looking through the album's lyrics and notes, it's pretty clear that Devolved are very passionate about your ideas and concepts. Which set of lyrics in particular best depicts what Devolved is all about and why?

J- IT’S VERY DIFFICULT TO PICK JUST ONE LYRIC BECAUSE THE ALBUM IS ALL ONE COMPOSITION RATHER THAN A GROUP OF SHORT STORIES. IF I HAD TO POINT ONE OUT I GUESS THE OPENING LINES OF 'DISTORTED' WOULD BE APPROPRIATE...... "A MIND FOR SCIENCE, THERE IS NO GOD".  IT IS THE FIRST THING YOU WILL HEAR ON THE ALBUM AND IT SETS THE SCENE PERFECTLY. A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL INTERPERATE THAT LINE THE WRONG WAY, THAT'S WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT FOR US THAT THE LISTENER READS ON THROUGHOUT THE ALBUM, IT WILL MAKE SENSE AND IT WILL CERTAINLY MAKE AN IMPACT.

K- You're probably sick of being asked this but explain the whole epilepsy story, and what exactly do you have to place the warning on?
J- WE PLAYED A SHOW AT A VENUE IN BRISBANE LAST YEAR AS PART OF A TOUR WE WERE DOING. WE PLAYED THE SHOW AND THE CROWD RESPONSE WAS GREAT, VERY PHYSICAL! AS WE SAT BACKSTAGE AFTERWARDS ONE OF THE VENUE STAFF CAME OUT AND TOLD US A GUY HAD SUFFERED A SEVERE EPILEPTIC FIT DURING OUR SET. TO CUT A LONG STORY SHORT IT WAS A SERIOUS SITUATION AND WE ENDED UP MEETING WITH THE VENUE OWNER AFTER DOORS CLOSED TO DISCUSS WHAT HAD HAPPENED. LUCKILY WE GOT NEWS THE GUY WAS ALRIGHT AND NO LONG-TERM DAMAGE WAS DONE. AFTERWARDS WE WERE LEGALLY ADVISED TO PUT A CAUTION ON OUR ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONS, WHICH INCLUDES THE ALBUM AND SHOW POSTERS, IN CASE IT EVER HAPPENED AGAIN. IT WAS A BAD SITUATION BUT IT'S REWARDING TO SEE WE CAN LEAVE A LASTING IMPACT.

K- You've also received some recent attention from overseas quarters, which is great to hear. What's the situation and your plans at the moment, and how have international markets reacted to the album?
J- WE INITIALLY MADE A SHORT LIST OF COMPANIES AND HIGH PROFILE PEOPLE WE WANTED TO GET THE ALBUM TOO OVERSEAS. WE WANTED TO SEE WHAT SORT OF REACTION WE WOULD GET FROM SOME OF THE PEOPLE AND BANDS WHO ARE AT THE TOP OF THIS INDUSTRY. WE HAVE SINCEHAD REALLY AWESOME FEEDBACK FROM BAND MEMBERS OUT OF NILE, THE HAUNTED, MORBID ANGEL AND MUDVAYNE TO NAME A FEW. WE HAVEALSO HAD GREAT REPORTS FROM MAJOR BAND MANAGERS AND MANY INTERNATIONAL RADIO STATIONS (WHO ARE NOW PLAYING DEVOLVED ALL OVER THE WORLD). ANOTHER FAN OF THE ALBUM WAS THE HEAD ORGANIZER FROM THE 'MILWAUKEE METALFEST' IN THE U.S.A. HE ACTUALLY OFFERED US A POSITION ON THE FESTIVAL THIS YEAR BUT UNFORTUNATELY WE WERE UNABLE TO GO DUE TO LAST MINUTE CHANGE OF DATES FOR SOME OTHER SHOWS WE WERE GOING TO DO WHILE WE WERE OVER THERE, BASICALLY WE JUST DIDN'T HAVE THE FINANCES TO GO TO THE METALFEST WITHOUT THE OTHER SHOWS BEING THAT SAME WEEK, NEXT YEAR FOR SURE THOUGH. HOPEFULLY THE ALBUM WILL BE SUCCESSFUL WHEN IT COMES OUT THERE SOON AND WE WILL INCORPORATE AN EXTENSIVE TOUR WITH THE FESTIVAL NEXT YEAR.

K- From what I understand you've put a lot of effort into attracting this international attention, almost concentrating more on there than here in Australia. Why did you choose to shoot straight for the top, and exactly how did you go about doing this?

J- BY NO MEANS ARE WE DISMISSING AUSTRALIA AS UNIMPORTANT OR IRRELEVANT, THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY GREAT BANDS IN OUR OWN COUNTRY TO DO THAT! BUT THERE IS OBVIOUSLY A FAR BIGGER MARKET OVERSEAS FOR OUR STYLE OF MUSIC. OUR AIM HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO GET OVERSEAS AND MIX IT WITH THE HEAVYWEIGHTS OF THE METAL SCENE. WE HAVE NEVER LOST SIGHT OF THE BIG PICTURE AND TO DO THAT WOULD JUST BE A WASTE OF ALL OUR HARD WORK. THERE'S NO HALFWAY FOR DEVOLVED, IT'S ALL OR NOTHING AND NO FUCKING WAY WE WILL SETTLE FOR NOTHING! AS I HAVE SAID WE SENT COPIES OF THE ALBUM OVERSEAS AND WE RELIED ON THE QUALITY OF THE PRODUCT TO GET THE ATTTENTION WE WANTED, I THINK THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. I ALSO THINK OVERSEAS ATTENTION HAS DEFINITELY HADE AN IMPACT ON OUR NATIONAL STATUS, PEOPLE ARE TALKING AND WE ARE READY TO DELIVER!

K- Listening to the album, tags such as Fear Factory and Meshuggah do inevitably pop up, and from reviews I've read it seems others think the same. Do you yourselves see these bands as a major influence in your music? What's it like being compared to these established bands?

J- PERSONALLY I TAKE IT AS A DEFINITE COMPLIMENT, THEY ARE BOTH HIGHLY ESTABLISHED ACTS WHO DESERVE THEIR SUCCESS. I CAN UNDERSTAND SOME COMPARITIVE ELEMENTS TO THOSE BANDS AND DEVOLVED BUT THERE'S NO WAY ANYONE CAN MISTAKE US FOR EITHER BAND AND THAT'S THE MAIN THING. MESHUGGAH ARE TRULY A REVOLUTIONARY BAND, THEY ARE AMAZING, AND I THINK WE DEFINITELY HAVE A SIMILAR KIND OF AGGRESSION. FEAR FACTORY ARE ALSO A QUALITY ACT AND I THINK THE COMPARISON THERE COMES FROM THE MORE MECHANICAL SOUND AND FUTURISTIC APPROACH WE HAVE. HAVING SAID THAT WE ARE WAY FUCKING FASTER AND FAR MORE HOSTILE THAN THESE BANDS, WE GO OUT OF OUR WAY TO BE AS CHAOTIC AND INTENSE AS POSSIBLE WHILE KEEPING EVERYTHING CONTROLLED AND ORGANIZED. OUR ORIGINALITY IS DEFINITELY ONE THING I'M EXTREMELY PROUD OF WITH THIS BAND, I HAVE HAD PEOPLE SAY "THAT BIT IS SIMILAR TO SOMETHING CRYPTOPSY WOULD DO, OR MESHUGGAH, OR DAMAGED, OR STRAPPING YOUNG LAD", HOW DO YOU CATEGORIZE THAT? YOU CAN'T! IT JUST SAYS WE ARE DIVERSE, ORIGINAL AND TOTALLY FUCKING HEAVY!

K- It certainly seems that Aussie bands are coming out in force around the world, what with Destroyer 666 and Vanishing Point touring Europe, Alchemist signing a major international distribution deal and of course yourselves. Personally, from your own dealings with foreign scenes could we expect more Australian metal bands to be following suit?

J- WELL THAT IS COMPLETELY UP TO THE BANDS, THE MARKET IS OUT THERE AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN. A LOT OF BANDS EITHER AREN'T SERIOUS ENOUGH ABOUT THEIR PRODUCT OR DON'T HAVE THE FOCUS TO REALIZE GETTING EXPOSURE OVERSEAS ISN'T AN UNACHIEVABLE TASK. I'M VERY MUCH OF THE OPINION THAT YOU HAVE TO GET IN THESE PEOPLES FACES AND DEMAND THE ATTENTION IF NEED BE. IT'S FUCKING GREAT THAT THERE IS AUSTRALIAN BANDS IMPACTING OVERSEAS, THE MORE THE BETTER FOR ALL OF US! FOR NOW THOUGH ALL I KNOW AND REALLY CARE ABOUT IS DEVOLVED CONTINUING FORWARDS, WE HAVE A LOT OF GOALS SET FOR OURSELVES AND I CAN ASSURE EVERYONE WE WILL MAKE THEM HAPPEN.

http://www.devolved.net

Kev Truong
bleeding_hands@blistering.com

 




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