Kill Devil Hill (USA)

Kill Devil Hill

Metal-Roos: So tell me about the guys you are playing with?
Rex Brown from Pantera and Down, we knew each other for a long time. We work well as a band and always seem to have a great time. Mark Zavon is on guitar and Dewey Bragg is on vocals are more up and coming guys that are great.

Metal-Roos: Now this is actually your second album with these guys. What did you find you did differently?
It wasn’t as defined a band in the first album, especially the song writing. Rex didn’t get in the picture until later on. Mark would be jamming and Dewey singing along with Rex playing bass. But now since we have been on the road, we’ve become a lot tighter as a band, and the songs are more focussed.

Metal-Roos: So what’s it like playing with Rex? He’s probably a lot different from the Dio or Black Sabbath guys you have worked with in the past.
Rex comes from the same school. It’s great playing with him. The sound of his bass and my drums really gel. It’s cool playing with someone when you really love and respect their playing. It’s a good thing.

Metal-Roos: Did you have to adjust your style much? Or did you find you guys jammed pretty well from the get go?
Yeah from the get go, we both fit in. We just jam together because it works well. The thing you have to do together in a band is you have to play together well. If you get along together, that can be a real cool thing. We all get along pretty well together. Have you heard the record?

Metal-Roos: I have. I have already picked a few favourites. I’m picking out the last song as a dark horse, “Life Goes On”, with it’s stop start riff, it’s quite heavy.
Oh yeah yeah, there’s some crazy stuff in there. The good thing about this band is when we play, and we’re trying to put together the song you know, we’ll try any crazy idea. And that’s really cool. There’s nobody saying “that’s not what we want”, “we can’t do that”. Nobody’s putting the brakes on anything. We’re more “let’s just try it”. And when it works, that’s excellent. That’s a cool thing about the band, if anyone has any ideas, we will try them.

Metal-Roos: How do you guys generally compose the songs? Do you jam it? Or does someone come in with a fully fleshed out concept?
Sometimes Mark will come in with a whole song, and then we’ll start playing, and maybe change it around. Sometimes we’ll have a riff jamming at rehearsal. Some of the riffs came from sound checks from the first tour.

Metal-Roos: I was curious about that with “Stained Glass Sadness”. It has a very natural feel to it. It feels like it came out of a jam.
Yeah that was a song that was supposed to be on the first record too. There’s a double set of drums on it. There’s a drum set where I’m playing the rhythm, and there’s another whole set to give it that type of tribal feel in the background. It’s a cool song.

Metal-Roos: It’s got a nice bass led breakdown in the middle that changes it up.
Yes, that was very cool.

Metal-Roos: Was there anything on the album that was a real challenge?
No everything went pretty smooth. Some songs were easier to play, some songs required more effort. Some required more thought behind them when you were playing them. But we had a producer this time that really did his job well with Jeff Pilson. The first one we had to produce ourselves. We had Jay Ruston master mix the album [Revolution Rise] so we had some great guys.

Metal-Roos: How long did the Revolution Rise take to record? And where was it recorded?
We had to work around his schedule you know. We had three days here, we had a few days there, so it took a couple of months to do it. At that point, we didn’t have a record deal.

Metal-Roos: The snare sound is particularly prominent to me, especially on the opening track “No Way Out”. Did you do anything different to your normal set up?
There were drums that were actually at the studio and I tried them and they sounded great. I brought my snare drum with me and the engineer got a good sound with it. But yeah, they were not even my drums. It was the same thing when I played “The Devil You Know” album… I didn’t even have my own drums.

Metal-Roos: I’m sure I read a story about you learning the entire drums set for Black Sabbath on the way to a gig.
There was this LA show with only 4 days rehearsal, so I had to listen to the songs all the time and learn all the stuff. I mean 4 days just spent learning nothing but these songs.

Metal-Roos: Are there any drummers who really influenced you and who continue to influence you?
I grew up with John Bonham, I was friends with him so, he was inspirational. When he played he was just amazing. Even now. He always plays just the perfect drum parts and has the perfect drum sound. So he influenced me a lot. And then Buddy Rich! I love Buddy Rich. I don’t think anyone’s ever going to be like that. And Mitch Mitchell. There’s just so many great drummers out there. They’re almost like scientists on drumming, they’re so scientific. But you got to have feel though, it gets too technical without feel. Gotta have vocals. You have vocals then it’s a great thing.

Metal-Roos: Do you think the technology has had a negative effect? Eg. the fact that people can just cherry pick albums from iTunes. Are people’s attention spans really that short? People don’t seem to listen to entire albums.
The problem is… the internet. People support them [the bands], and it’s cool. But the band needs to survive. If you want to listen to the music and you like the band, you need to support it somehow. It’s hard when people download the stuff. Then we’re not making money, we can’t go on tour.

Metal-Roos: What’s a typical practice session for you guys? Eg. rehearsals, etc.
I hate practicing. I like writing, I like rehearsals somewhat. But I don’t like this “Let’s rehearse for two weeks” and that sort of stuff. I like to get it done and get it right as quick as you can do it. You’re going to go on tour, you play the songs for 3 months, so they’ll come together on their own. We rehearsed on this tour for about 4-5 hours a day. That really does get the band tight. When the band plays together, goes on the road together, it’s really cool. You jam, you take some time, where the guys just get together, work on the verse again, etc. We did a lot of things together and played a lot of gigs, so it’s easy to rehearse. And then all of a sudden there it is. I’ve got bands like that now. I haven’t seen them in 5-6 years maybe. And then we get together, start playing and wow! I remember the patterns, so it’s sort of the same thing.

Metal-Roos: Did you have any particular idea in mind when you formed Kill Devil Hill?
When I put it together, I just wanted to have my own band. I didn’t want to have it sounding how everyone else is sounding. I wanted it to sound heavy. Kind of Bonham, you know. That was what I had in mind, cool riffs make it interesting and have a lot of energy. Then I got a lot of people down there to play with me. Mark played guitar. He suggested Dewey Bragg, and that was the most important thing. You get a singer who sounds kind of 80’sish, then the band sounds like that. As soon as I met Dewey I thought, this is what I’m looking for. He sounds right, sounds positive, he sounds great, looks the part… So we grabbed him. Got him to come down to rehearse. Asked him if he’d do it. Now it’s kind of complete.

I let Vinny know that Australia is looking forward to seeing Kill Devil Hill (he said they are coming), and thanked him for his time.

Interview Date: 2013-12-04

Interviewer: Matt