By: Song River
Bonds tightly woven together reach deeper within the unit that has formed Devilskin and created a rock band that is more relative to the world of the rock. They are a scene now and as their toil, and sweat of perseverance lives and breathes an element grabs the listener an unabated organic dynamic that shoots straight through the music world.
An alternative metal thrust has been heard as they released their next album, Be Like The River in November 2016. A collective background as each band member stepped from the smoke and ash to unify what can only be known as Devilskin.
Song River: The words ‘organic, dynamic and real’ are used to describe what comes from the central core of your hard rock creation. How challenging in the realm of hard rock is it to create what Devilskin has?
Paul Martin: For us, it’s very easy, simply because it feels natural and organic to us. We play what’s true to ourselves musically and don’t feel we have to try to sound like anything or anyone else.
Song River: It would seem each band member brings with them a long and deep relationship with music already. How did this line-up finally come together to form who you are now?
Paul Martin: We were all big fans of each other’s previous bands and musical endeavors. When I found out Jen was no longer with her previous band I approached her. Nail has been one of my very good friends for years so it all came together quite naturally, except for Nic. I press-ganged him into joining us for a tour when he was 15, he blew us away with his skill and natural ability and we never looked back.
Song River: In the land of New Zealand music what is the current front heard on stations and how has Devilskin taken hold and grown far beyond your unique island home?
Paul Martin: Radio here has always been slanted towards pop music, we have one Rock station who got bombarded with requests before they started playing us. Now we are firm favourites with their listeners. Our profile here has grown immensely and gathered a lot of momentum. As well as touring a lot here in NZ and abroad, we’ve had some incredible reviews from overseas which has really helped us get attention internationally.
Song River: Jennie Skulander your raw and sacred vocals draw the listener in quickly and the complement to the fulfillment of each guitar riff, note, melody, and rhythm spun within the drums and bass did all of this just feel right from the onslaught?
Jennie Skulander: Yes it just feels right, it’s all a totally natural process. That’s how I sing and that’s how the boys play. When we write, the songs come together very organically. The lyrics are deep so it’s easy to climb inside and feel them.
Song River: There is something to be said for attention to details. I think there is an American saying that goes something like, “the devil’s in the details” what is it Devilskin knew instinctively that was a must to create a precision driven seat in the world of hard rock?
Paul Martin: We just knew we wanted to do the best work we could and had a vision of what we wanted, we stuck to our guns and were very fastidious in the studio until we were completely happy with what we had recorded.
We had all come close to greater things in the past with our previous bands and that definitely inspired us to work harder on this. There was no way we wanted to compromise our sound/ideas or passion, we backed ourselves 100% right from the start and the fine points and details have always been very important to us.
Song River: Work ethic is something many struggle with. It is easier to say “give it to me” than work for it. Where does the work ethic drive come from in Devilskin?
Paul Martin: Living in NZ and being a hard rock band there’s no free lunch available! We have always done things on our own terms because there was never a lot of support from the industry as such. Working hard is just what we have always done, what we believe in and what keeps it all real for us. The rewards are so much sweeter when mixed with toil and sweat.
Song River: So many things come to mind that makes Devilskin unique, one, in particular, is the father and son aspect of you, Paul Martin [bass] and your son, Nic Martin [drums]. Are mutual allowances made for each other and their relationship within a band? How do you handle both these sides of father/son and band mates?
Paul Martin: Nic and I get on really well and never have moments where the Dad/bandmate relationship is even an issue. It definitely makes us a tight and precise rhythm unit, we quite often read each other’s minds musically and understand each other with a quick look or nod. Nic has been brought up surrounded by music and musicians and he works really hard at his instruments. I couldn’t be prouder of the awesomely talented and humble young man he has become.
His input into all aspects of the band from songwriting to production and stage design Nic has proved himself totally committed and dedicated to the band. You couldn’t ask for more than that.
Song River: Mix this into the fact that Jennie [vocals] is Nic’s Aunt and your sister in law, with Nail [guitar] who is hellaciously wicked pisser… you really have created a dynamic force. As your debut album, ‘We Rise’ (2014) was certified platinum in February 2015, did this all affect the family ties?
Paul Martin: The band’s continued growth and success have cemented our relationships and bonds with each other. Everyone has committed and sacrificed a lot to be where we are today and we all totally respect each other drive and passion. We have a lot of fun together and there’s always plenty of laughs and good times. It truly does feel like a ‘dynamic force’ and we are all 100% happy to be doing what we do together.
Song River: Lyrically and title structure of ‘Be Like The River’ all swell, move, rise and bleed a supportive storyline of raw earnest. The emotion strikes the soul, this is honest rock. How important is it to you as individuals to really feel what is there and make it come to life?
Paul Martin: It is 100% crucial for us to believe in what we are saying/singing/doing/writing and performing. It’s as honest and real as it gets and it’s not something that we could fake. The songs are raw, naked emotions for us. When we get to make a video or play the songs live it’s a beautiful thing to be able to share these feeling and songs with others. To see the audience singing along is just the best reward.
Song River: You have shared the stage with some huge names: Alice Cooper, Megadeath, Korn, Rob Zombie to name a few. When you are out on tour, do you get a chance to tune in and watch/listen to the other bands perform sometimes?
Paul Martin: Yes we try to whenever we can. It’s important to see other bands and learn from their performances. We have been honored to share the stage with some of the biggest names in the business, from Slash, Motley Crue, Coheed, and Cambria, to Disturbed and shortly, Halestorm. These guys are all at the top of their game it’s a great experience to get up close to their band and see how they work.
Song River: Overall what has the band learned to be the greatest advantage thus far?
Paul Martin: Just to stick to our guns and believe in ourselves. It’s got us this far!
Song River: With the release in November of your next heavy hitting studio album, Be Like The River, will 2017 find you over in the states and in Europe on tour?
Paul Martin: Yes after a comprehensive NZ tour we will travel to Australia for some shows before hitting Europe around March and hopefully the US a bit later in the year.