It’s Alive! - DeviI Eyes shake the baby
Lucinda Catchlove / photo Susan Moss
Rock and roll is a visceral beast. Get rid of the raw power and emotion and you sanitize its soul, rendering it impotent.
Devil Eyes – a thrashing, writhing swamp monster of a band – unleash a mighty DIY voodoo on their self-titled full-length debut on Signed by Force, released late October, making a concerted noise that can awaken the living dead. Grabbing power by the horns they waltz with their demons, stepping on the toes of hardcore, garage punk, blues and Japanese noise and consuming everything that crosses their path.
“We’re just this little nugget of power that we kind of condense down into this ball,” explains Devil Eyes’ lovely Emilor (also of Miss Fortune) over iced tea in the band’s kitchen in Mile-End. Chatting with Emilor, Mattlee and Zen – the core trinity that channel this apocryphal vision and visceral barrage – is anything but terrifying. They’re as pleasant and funny off-stage as they are dangerous and unpredictable on-stage, but they’re still full of surprises. For instance, Mattlee and Zen (who formed the band in 2006) played together in Bollywood and reggae bands before they were possessed by the need to exorcise their demons via direct creative action. And the Devil Eye posse sometimes also includes Bryan on clarinet and Gooseball Brown who, as the highly unstable MC, provides on-stage surprises that even the other members don’t expect.
Rock and a Hard Place
“Our album was recorded on piss and vinegar,” says Mattlee, explaining that they recorded MacGyver-style with whatever frankengear they could piece together, including “two crap computers with two separate sound cards that we activated by banging the wall with a 2x4” and the constant threat of electrocution. Glamorous though this sounds, it wasn’t by choice. “There was no lo-fi intent, we’re not based on a lo-fi aesthetic,” says Mattlee. “We want to be thunderous.” Necessity, in this case, was the mother of intention, giving birth to a dirty and brilliant rock record with its daddy’s eyes. Thunder, it seems, is the sound made when you mix piss and vinegar with passion, creativity and integrity.
“We don’t allow ourselves to be comfortable in the band,” explains Mattlee, who has been known to whip, drill and smash a guitar or three.
“It’s like the unstable molecule, it’s interesting so long as it keeps turning.” The rogue universe born of Devil Eyes’ apocryphal vision may be unstable, but it is far from pure chaos. “We’re very serious and dedicated to crafting this world, it’s not accidental,” attests Mattlee. “We spend a lot of time working on it.” Like the hardcore of NoMeansNo, Devil Eye’s musical universe is intelligently designed, playful and darkly humorous. They don’t worship at the altar of stupid rock gods or fame, they just use what life gives them to make smart, intense music that touches the gods and monsters in each of us.
Rock has been devilized…long live rock.
Bar Saint-Laurent II | 5550, St-Laurent
with Desert Owls, Miss Fortune, DJ Pestilent Splendour and guests
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