“I don’t go to nobody else’s shows. I mean, if I’m at a show I’m on the stage.” Devin is pushing past tourists in the East Village. Radar’s lagging behind as he spits and snarls missives about his home city and the music he makes in it.
Even when you consider the impact The Strokes had on NYC a decade ago, the 23-year-old Brooklynite seems somewhat aloof compared to the ocean of tie-dye-infected shoegazers currently engulfing the place. His monstrous quiff sloops over a sharp leather jacket as he talks hard and fast about the work he’s put into crafting his Elvis-inspired (Presley and Costello) fuzz-flecked repertoire. When he really gets going he sounds like a youthful Costello – mean, dead-eyed and dead serious – which is handy because, musically, his songs drip with the same kind of passion and pure filth that made The Attractions so important (check out the smutty, clever ‘I Don’t Think I’ for proof).
We ask him about his beginnings. He used to scream Chuck Berry songs into a computer mic in his room, he tells us, until one day his housemate came in and demanded he get his shit together and form a proper band. We ask him what reaction he got after he did that. “Hysterical,” comes the reply. “We played Shea Stadium [no, not that one] in Brooklyn and just… flipped out. Everyone flipped. It was a nasty room filled with girls and nobody knew what the fuck was happening. I mean, we were just on the floor rolling around. It was awesome.”
Shortly after that, Frenchkiss Records (The Drums, Passion Pit) came calling, nurturing Devin over the past year and even helping him fill out the band. “They got Steve, who’s their accountant, to play bass. I’m like, ‘The accountant’s coming? Dude, this is rock’n’roll! Give me a fucking break!’ I was thinking this guy’s gonna be horrible, but he comes in and he’s actually perfect. The whole band are. And we’re super serious.”
They’re headed to the UK early next year, around the same time Devin’s debut album, provisionally titled ‘Romance’, drops. “You know, places like New York are just so tight,” he says when asked how he’s preparing for it all. “You just gotta be so good you can loosen things up a bit.”
Need To Know:
Based: Brooklyn, New York
For Fans Of: The Strokes, Elvis Costello
See Him Live: There are plans to hit the UK in February
Buy It Now: Devin’s debut EP ‘You’re Mine’ is available on Frenchkiss
Believe It Or Not: Devin’s still working in a warehouse. “I’m the only person there, so I have a drumset and a guitar with me”
This article originally appeared in the December 3rd issue of NME
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