Interview: Kevin Devine & Bad Books

Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra teamed up to create indie super group, Bad Books.  We had the opportunity of interviewing  Kevin recently who was ever so nice to answer our questions.

Modern Mystery:  This is one of the most anticipated lineups in a while. Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra. How did Bad Books come about?

Kevin Devine: We’ve known each other for almost four years now, met on tour with Brand New in 2007, and got along really well, enjoyed each others’ stuff, and have been talking about actually making music together ever since.  It was a question of aligning two separate and busy schedules to give it a fair shake, and we were able to do that this January.

Do you find it hard to work on Bad Books and still be able to work on your original projects?

Not yet, not at all.  It kind of worked out perfectly in terms of finding a window where we were both pretty available to devote the necessary focus to at least lift this off the ground.  I wish we’d have been able to do a bit more touring for the record, but our collective schedules just didn’t really allow for it, and with that in mind, I’m glad we got to wedge in as much as we have.

How does playing in Bad Books feel, as far as writing songs and playing live, differ from what you’re used to as a solo artist?

I’ve been playing in bands my whole life, and have a group I play with when I do my own stuff, so it’s not like I went from playing exclusively alone with an acoustic guitar to playing in this big rock context and it required a super big adjustment.  What’s different about playing in Bad Books is the people – people always bring their stamp to things and by nature songs change if you let the personnel change them – and the dynamic – I’m not necessarily “leading” here as much as I am part of a whole, and that’s been really nice and I think strengthens the performance and material, being able to spread that role and responsibility around. 

When it came to writing songs, how did you two collaborate? Did you work on the tracks together or did you come in with music you have already worked on?

We both came in with some structures and ideas, some basic frameworks lyrically and melodically, and then built out around those.  We were both very vocal and involved with each others’ songs, suggesting structural changes, harmony ideas, arrangements, all that stuff.

What is your favorite track on the album and why?

Probably “Holding Down The Laughter” or “Baby Shoes”.  I just think those are the best developed and the most exciting to me, the most progressive.  They make me excited to see what we’ll do next. 

What was the inspiration behind the songs on this record?

I think each song carries its own inspiration; there was no binding governing principle to create some sort of theme or collectivized idea, it’s not like a concept record or anything.  I wouldn’t speak for Andy but I’d say that my songs tend to be about people figuring out the relationship between crisis and hope, people dealing with loss and acceptance, people trying to make sense of how to keep open in a very difficult and at times relentless world.  I think to varying extents all the songs on this record are about those things, too.

What are the future plans for Bad Books? Can we expect to hear more from you?

That’s the plan.  Hopefully we can get in and make another record sometime next year.

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