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The Devil Rock Four

The Devil Rock Four is a young band from Australia, with their debut album just released in Europe. In their home country they have been touring with big names already, but although their music has quite some Scandinavian rock and roll influences also, they are hardly known in Europe (yet). It is about time for an introduction to this band. Guitarist Johnny Driver took the time to answer some questions.

By: Cor | Archive under alternative / pop

First of all, let's start with a short history of the band. How did you guys get together?
Carl, Jimi and Myself all met back in Tasmania, the southern most state of Australia. We all played in different bands around the place and often did shows together but were never in the same band. It is a very isolated place with a very small rock scene so we all inevitably went our separate ways and tried our luck in various cities around the country. About four years later our paths crossed again in Melbourne and we decided to get the band going. Then add local drummer Jamie who was introduced to us by a friend and the line up was complete. We've been together now for six years.

Does the band name refer to the Tasmanian devil and your place of origin?
The band is named after a place. Devilrock is in Tasmania and it's a place I used to frequent growing up. No reference to the Tasmanian devil I'm afraid. It's just a cool place that not many people know about so we went with it.

'First In Line' is your debut album. It sounds like you have plans for lots still to come. Already writing material for the second album? How did the writing go for this album? Does anyone write the raw material, or is it based on jams?
The follow up album to 'First In Line' is fully written. We are in pre production as we speak. The debut came out a year ago over here so we've had time to work on new material while the album got released overseas. Carl and I write all the songs for the band, at the moment anyway. We both sing and approach song writing very differently so I think it makes for a good mix on the albums. The songs are usually written pretty much before they come to the rehearsal room. When the band gets together the arrangement is what really gets worked on. The songs are already there. I don't think any of us would have the patience for jamming out riffs.

I can hear some AC/DC, Kiss, and a lot of Hellacopters in your music. Who are your sources of inspiration?
All of the above are influences for sure. Carl is AC/DC crazy and I am really into the whole Scandinavian rock scene especially the Hellacopters. I flew over to Europe from Australia to see three shows on their farewell tour last year. They're such a good live band that puts on such a show but the songs or musicianship never suffer no matter how hard they rock out. That is definitely what I aspire to do. I think Cheap Trick is a big influence to me also as well as The Cult. The list is endless really. Any band that puts their emphasis on the song writing and then on the show/image will get my attention and respect.

Also the Pixies/Nirvana concept of dynamics with the same riff under the vocal lines also used as break or bridge with more power is used in your music. Is that just because you like the simple, yet effective concept, or is there also a commercial thought?
We play rock 'n' roll so we never expect to have a commercial edge. We just like catchy songs and I think simple is usually the most effective way of creating that. Dynamics plays a huge part in our music and our drummer is probably the man behind the plan there. He usually knows what the song needs in that regard and we just run with it. If rock gets commercial again we'll be over the moon but right now we're just happy to still be in business.

band imageWhich song ever is the song you wish you had written?
Tough one. So many really, any AC/DC from 'Highway to Hell' or at the moment I can't stop listening to the Black Crowes so it could be 'Twice as Hard' or 'Go Faster'. I'll say 'Surrender' though by Cheap Trick. It's pop, it's rock, it's catchy, and it's clever. I'd love that one to be mine.

In your bio I read that you toured also in The Netherlands. I think I missed your gigs. How were the shows in The Netherlands, and any chance you will come over again?
Unfortunately the Netherlands shows didn't pan out but we did get there on holiday after our UK/Spain shows last year. We are in talks at the moment with our manager over there and he's looking for the first half of next year and The Netherlands will definitely be on the schedule.

You have been playing shows so far away from home, nobody knowing you or your music (yet), because you had no album out yet. How was that?
It was daunting yet good. We had a great promo team working for us in Spain and the shows were very successful. We just wanted to get our music out there and we figured the best way to land a record deal for Europe was to get over there and just play shows. Thankfully it worked and now the album is out and we'll have many more opportunities to come and tour over there. The sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.

You have also been touring with rock veterans as Rose Tattoo to more alternative rockers Lemonheads, and (somewhere in between) The Wildhearts. Your music can fit with both directions, but where do you guys feel most at home, and are there any quotes worth mentioning from the road?
We really love playing with the more established rock bands like Rose Tattoo and the Wildhearts. I just feel like there's a lot you can learn from guys like that. Also touring with young bands like Airbourne has its lessons too but of a whole different type. The fact that we can slot in on different styled bills is great with me. It expands our audience and broadens my horizons that's for sure. Too often you get stuck in the one place as far as genres go and it's hard to see what's going on outside of your scene.

In an old interview with Carl, I read you preferred to use Fender guitars. Now in the clips I see you guys use Gibson Les Paul and SG, if I am not mistaken. Did something change your mind, and what can you tell us about the gear used on stage and with the recording of the album?
Back when that interview was done Carl and I did both use Fender. We both love both makers. I could never be tied into a guitar endorsement as I judge each guitar on it's own merits and would hate not to be able to play what I wanted at any given time. These days Carl is a Fender man while I play Gibson. We found a really good balance with one of each a while back and now we use that set up live. We have used Mosrite and Les Paul's in the past that's why they appear in some of our clips. Carl plays a Strat through a Marshall Jcm 800, Jimi plays a Jazz Bass through some Ampeg rig while I opt for an SG through a Marshall JMP. That is the standard live set up anyway when we are travelling light. If we had our way we'd have all our axes on the road I suppose. The album is a big mix of everything as with most records.

On the Internet I came across ringtones of your songs. Are you trying to use this medium to your advantage in any other ways, and what's your opinion about internet and downloading?
I wasn't aware that we were available for ring tones but I'm all for it. There's so much bad music out there blaring from people's phones we may as well contribute also. As far as Internet downloading goes, I'm cool with it. It's the way of the future so I accept it and am ready to embrace it. I use the web to locate rare tracks from bands that I can't find anymore. I use iTunes and pay for music as I'm a musician and realise the need for artist income. I just hope that it doesn't make physical copies of albums obsolete. I love owning the records, reading the information and appreciate the artwork. So if both mediums can co exist happily I won't have a problem.

What are your plans and dreams for the future?
Right now we are planning to record the new record over summer (your winter) and then when that's done we plan on heading back to Europe to tour First In Line. We'll then come back hit the road in Australia for the release of the new album. Hopefully we can then look to release the new album overseas at the end of 2010 and head on over to tour again. We look forward to seeing you all when we do.

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