In part two of our interview with Kevin Devine (part one can be read here), we focus on the lyrical content of his upcoming records Bulldozer and Bubblegum, which are due for simultaneous release this coming Monday (14th October). Alongside this, we also dug deep to find two songs that were left off both of these records, and to find out about future tour plans for Kevin.
You can read our review of Bulldozer here, with a Bubblegum review coming shortly. Here’s part two of the interview, big thank you to Kevin for taking the time out of his hectic day to speak with us!
Are there any overall lyrical themes that are present across both of the albums?
KD: I’m like a broken record in some sense. I’m writing albums or songs that are essentially about my experience with personhood. You’re a different person at 33 than you were at 29 etc. To me, it feels different, what’s being talked about. I’m interested in family and human nature, why people do bad things and why certain things hang around and haunt you, songs about moral quandry.
There’s a lot of that stuff on these records because there’s always a lot of that stuff on these records. For me, each of these albums is a snapshot of what it’s like to live in the world right now. I don’t really do concept records, that’s not my thing, but some of the songs are about me and some of the songs are about everybody else
Were there any songs produced in the sessions that were left off both albums?
KD: There were a handful of songs that I had brought to Bulldozer that I ended up deciding not to record. There was was one called ‘In The Shower, After’ and it was actually a song I really liked, but it’s never really had a home. It’s a very strange, playful song, it reminds me of something that would have been on the first Stephen Malkmus solo record, with some harmonies that remind me of The Everly Brothers. But it doesn’t really work on either of the records, and it didn’t work on Between The Concrete and Clouds. If it ever gets released at all, it will get released as the acoustic demo I did of it.
There was a song called ‘Everything Gets Reduced To Its Purpose’. I like the lyrics and I loved the melody, it was very laid back and had some really great melodic terms in the chorus, but again, it just didn’t fit. I just felt that these two – for whatever reason – didn’t fit.
This may seem quite early as both albums have yet to be released, but how do you see the release of these two albums influencing your next release?
KD: I really don’t know yet. I think the hardest thing about making music in a public sphere, even in a small corner of it like mine, is that you have no control of how people receive it. The only thing you have control over is making it. I used to think about that a lot more, but it just makes you crazy because you can’t control it.
What I can say is that these two records are very different from one another and I think they are very different from the records that have come before. There’s a lot more breath in them, they feel like there’s a certain looseness that’s not sloppy and it’s not meticulous. There’s nothing about them that I want to change. I’d like to continue to make music with this kind of openness in it, but I don’t know what that means stylistically. I’m really in a space right now where I’m exploring more with the noisier stuff, I think you can have an acoustic centred record that’s raw.
With such an extensive back catalogue, how are you going to decide upon a setlist for the upcoming tour?
KD: I think we’re just gonna bite the bullet and they’re going to be pretty tight 75 minute sets plus an encore when applicable. I think on the Bubblegum tour this fall, we’re going to end up playing most of the new record and maybe one song from Bulldozer, and then maybe six or seven older songs, focusing on Split The Country, Brother’s Blood and a little bit of Between the Concrete and Clouds. We’re going to try and play a lot more stuff that’s a little bit more stylistically matched with that record. That’s not saying I’ll never play an acoustic song at those shows, but that’s going to be our version of a rock show.
I think when Bulldozer gets toured, which will be next Spring or Summer, we’ll focus on Put Your Ghost To Rest and Make The Clocks Move, but the goal will still be to play as much off that record at that point too. You want to honour the fact that you have this back catalogue, but you also want to play what you just made.