The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

THE KILL DEVIL HILLS' BRENDON HUMPHRIES

TALKS TO MATT @ THEROCKPIT.NET

 

 

I was lucky enough to catch up with Brendon Humphries, the front man and guitarist for the hard hitting and beer drenched Australian rock band… The Kill Devil Hills.

This five piece have just finished their third studio album and are about to hit the road again… sharing their noise and their stage with the Gun Street Girls.

You’d be crazy not to check this show out… The Kill Devil Hills are one of Australia’s top rock bands! Check out the dates and venues below!

This is what they had to say….

 


MD: You have just finished a tour over East. How did that go?

BH: Yeah, it was awesome; it was the first time we’ve been over there for quite a while because we’ve put a lot of money into recording ,finishing the album and changing the band around.

So, yeah it was really good, there’s going to be plenty more of that. It’s a good starting point.

MD: Is there one state more favoured than the other? I notice that you spent a bit of time in Victoria, is there a reason for that?

BH: Yeah, we’re going back there to go to all of the coastal holiday towns, around the summer season really. And we’re going to hook up with Dave Larkin’s band, The Gun Street Girls. (Dave Larkin is more commonly known for his work with Melbourne band, Dallas Crane)

MD: Ah, that’s his band? He’s great…
Do you have a loyal following over East? I know you have that here in Perth?

BH: Melbourne has always been one of the best audiences in Australia. Nothing on WA, but because we play there (Victoria) so often, there has always been a good turn out.

MD: Live album? Have you thought about putting one of those out?

BH: Yeah, it always good, that’s something that may happen…It’s always good to take a “photo’ of the band playing live, yeah. Absolutely, I don’t know where or when, it’s got be the right place…maybe over a couple of nights. Maybe do two shows to get it right, maybe…

MD: Do you ever record your live shows?

BH: Yeah, we have a few recordings. Nothing that I want put out though.

MD: (Jokes) Can you slide me a copy?

BH: Yeah, (laughs) there’s usually some slightly dodgy desk mixes lying around…

MD: You have a few song writers and singers in the band, does that give you some flexibility and do you always sing your own song? I’ve been told that if you write the song, you sing it…

BH: Na, not really, I mean, that’s probably the natural thing to do.
Because you know the spirit of it, your closer to it and probably especially for the singing, the subtlety of the song.

MD: So you won’t write a song thinking that this will be a good one for Joinsy or Gibbo to sing?

BH: There was one song that we did called, “Hungry and Down” that Gibbo sings, that I wrote, and we tried recording it in a number of different ways. I could hear this blue growl like Bon Scott, sort of sound that I wanted and I just knew that that wasn’t my voice. So we gave it to Gibbo and he gave it a go.

MD: Gibbo has a great voice!

BH: Yeah, so that was handballed to him and he’s made that his own. It took him ages for him to remember all of the words. (laughs)

MD: Do you put Gibbo’s song earlier in the set so that he’s not puffed from smashing the drums all night?

BH: Nah, “Drinkin’ too much” always goes towards the end. So he’s got them spaced out?

MD: How important are songs like “Drinking too much, it’s almost like an anthem for you guys?

BH: I think there has only been one gig that we haven’t sung it, it’s always been there since we had the song. We go through phases, but we’ve always enjoyed playing that. But there are songs where we just say, lets not play this or that tonight, lets not play “Gunslinger…” And I think if you fly in the face of songs that the punters really want to hear, you’re probably being a bit arrogant or something, so…you know, people pay money to come and see you, so, I think “Drinkin to much” has always been an entry point for a lot of people, you know they’re at a party or it’s on the radio and they say “I love that song”, and it’s sort of the one song that becomes the fishing net.

It’s a fairy straightforward song…

MD: It has three chords…?

BH: (Laughs) It has four cords… all the way through, and it’s a great one to have. You need those types of songs that people kind of get into…Then they can then discover the rest of the songs.

MD: It’s a bit like Cold Chisel’s Khe Sahn, to some degree… If people haven’t heard of the KDH, this is the one people will play and say “Listen to this one…”

BH: Exactly, yeah.

MD: You’ve won a few WAMI awards; did you win the Country award or something like that? How does that sit with you… because you’re not really a country band are you?

BH: No, we won the country one a few times, and I think maybe three or four years ago we may have been more apt. We were a bit more acoustic and the tunes were more like that. Some songs were acoustic based with those sorts of arrangements, but I think we’ve just sort of changed a bit. But, when we got that one, we were slightly uncomfortable with receiving that. Not because we didn’t appreciate it, the recognition was very kind, you know… and everyone who voted for it… But there are probably a lot more straight up country bands that I thought more deserved it. It was a country award, and I sort of feel like we are somehow ripping them off.

MD: So what genre do you put yourself in?

BH; Just a Rock band.

MD: Simple as that?

BH: A lot of different things have been said over the years, but I think we’ll just settle on our own version of rock and roll, you know.

MD: WA has a great music scene, best venue to play at?

BH; In WA… Fly by Night, and Mojo’s too, I love Mojo’s.

MD: Best place to watch a band?

BH: I love watching bands at the Hydey … (laughs) It usually sounds shit, but the feel and the vibe in the room is the kind I’ve always loved. And I love just sitting at the bar, watching bands and heckling them. .. From two metres away saying “Play it louder!” (Laughs) When it’s already piercingly extremely loud…

MD: You have supported lots of big bands; who is the best band that you have supported?

BH: Probably the gig that I felt most proud to be playing with was “The Dirty Three” at the Fly By Night… They’re a Melbourne based band, they’re just phenomenal.

MD: Would you rather headline? Or do you like supporting and then having more punters at the gig?

BH: I think you need to do both; you always want to do your own set, in your own way and market yourself and get promoted. Knowing that the crowd is there to see you …and you make more money out of it (laughs).
But it’s always a great pleasure to see how other bands play, meet them and be part of the larger thing. It was a bit like supporting “You Am I”... Because I was overseas when “You Am I” broke out, so it’s not a particular band that I’ve known well, but it certainly didn’t do us any harm to play with a band like that, it’s part of the business that you want to play with bands that expose people to your music.

MD: Festivals? Do you like playing there?

BH: Yeah, mostly, we do yeah, it depends on the festival you know, I like the festival where people are there for a few days and it runs for a while like the “East Coast Blues and Roots” or “Southbound”. The atmosphere is great of like we’re here… and were living here… and were living the whole thing through. The one-day festivals seem a bit…

MD: Short lived, hurried and rushed…

BH: Yeah, and the feeling of playing them, there’s a mechanical turn over of bands and acts and the same feelings not always there…

The One Movement Festival is a really good thing for Perth. It’s a trade fair, it’s an industry show case festival and it’s useful to be part of something like that.

MD: Numbers were down on that festival?

BH: I think they did OK from what I can gather, and they would have liked more people to come along. People in Perth can be a bit conservative on things that they haven’t heard of thing before. But I think the One Movement Festival is a really good thing.

MD: Change of line up…what was the main reason?

BH: No one reason, I mean we’ve changed the line up before. We used to have another guy who used to play piano… Then changed the Bass when Justin joined and Michael left, then Lochy came to play a few gigs, and that worked and he stayed. It’s just one of those progressions, you’re never static. We’re always keenly exploring what we’ve got. And you’re not resting on you laurels… and just really pushing it. There has always got to be something else that has to give. And for various reasons musically and in terms of the level of commitment to touring, and a couple of the guys had just had babies… So there was a lot of change in their lives so there are a lot of factors that meant that it wasn’t all sitting right … and I think that the rest of us really wanted to get on with it, so we went into an electric and played that type of music.

MD: You have definitely got heavier, because the previous line up you had banjo, mandolin, double bass, now you have Ryan in… You’re more electric, you’re heavier. You still have the same feel but and you have the same brand of music, it’s just got heavier and harder…

BH: Yeah, but even on that last album there are still some of the quietest and gentlest songs that I think that we’ve ever done as well. It’s not like we’ve just divorced ourselves from playing gentle music, it’s just that the line up has changed and the way we’ve gone about it has just changed.

And on the other end of the scale…there are songs that are out to ugly and deranged there too… you know.

MD; How crazy is this…were at the Freo Arts centre conducting this interview and the main act has just had a break and is between sets and the DJ is playing “Drinkin’ too much “ by the Kill Devil Hills.

MD: Album cover and the title? Where did that come from?

BH: I think I tend to take… in most cases the creative control of the album, so I‘ll take full responsibility for that… and partly to blame as well (laughs) The album cover came first, and it was simply a case of exploring around the internet on photo sights and came across this one photo called “I wanna be a pirate.” And it was by this Peruvian born Israeli woman. And I asked the other guys and said. “What do you think of this?” and it pretty much polarized everyone, some people loved it some hated it, but we wanted a very strong image…and you know you decide whether you like it or it’s disturbing or whatever…

The name (Man, You should explode) is actually the name of a poem by an Indian poet… I went over to India a couple of yrs ago and came a cross a book of poetry, by a very radical poet and very modern. And it had been tucked away in my notebook and it was a line in a poem and there is a lot of ways you can interoperate it and it seemed to make sense.

The name “Kill Devil Hills” That was a name of a town where the Wright Brothers flew the first plane…

BH: I honestly didn’t know it was a place and we were going through various band names and …

MD: You picked it? You’re responsible? (laughs)

BH ; Yeah, and I was talking to friend at a party at the time and he was reading a book called “The Invisible Republic” By Graham Marcus and the book is about Bob Dylan and the band. And there’s a chapter about Harry Smith, who wrote about American folk music. And this chapter is called The Kill Devil Hills. And my mate was telling me about this book and my ears picked up and at the time there were only three of us, so the others were all in agreement.

MD: You all play in other bands, do you still do any solo gigs?

BH: Occasionally yeah, not as much though.

Alex, plays with Abbe May, Felicity Groom and also with The Auto Masters,

Gibbo plays with Driftwood Revival with Cass and Wes.

Ryan plays with Will Stokes and the Embers as well as The Floors.

MD: You’re getting a fair bit of radio play on RTR and a bit on JJJ, how important is it to get commercial play to make it big and take it to that next level.

BH: I don’t think that we’ll ever get onto the real commercial stations, but JJJ play us a bit, not that I listen to it. But you have to be conscious that, that is reaching a very large audience, in a young demographic, who go out to gigs and will go out to what has been ordained as being cool. And it’s obviously good having the support of that, but we don’t rely on that. But in Melbourne, the biggest radio station there is RRR and they have higher rating than JJJ and they’re playing us. And I think we’ve always been well represented by various radio stations and as music becomes more commercial, just as JJJ have become a more of a teeny bopper type of thing. And they’re (RRR listeners) the people that we want to reach, the people who buy records and the larger network in every state.

Overseas as well were getting played in Europe.

MD: I’ve seen you guys a few times and some times you get massive crowds and other s sometimes not… , but you always see the same people there, which proves that you have a loyal following and on the cusp of making it big…

BH : (Jokes) yeah, you and a couple of others…

MD: Nahh there is a heap of KDH loyalists; do you think you can be the next Powderfinger?

BH: No, not really, I think a lot of the time… to get that type of popularity and bands that get that impact are on major record labels and pour a ridiculous amount of money to make that happen. And that’s not likely to happen in the near future for us. There is a lot of business that goes with that type of stuff. We’re an independent, self managed band; I think for us, the intention is to get out of Australia and we’re going to Europe next yr. We’re planning that at the moment. I think we’ll always be a relatively an underground, alternative band that gets a lot of following in Australia, and I don’t necessarily see us being anything bigger than that, and that’s cool.

Some Australian bands have made it big in Europe but couldn’t pull a crowd in Freo. So there are audiences out there that I don’t think we’ve reached out to yet.

MD: You have a big tour going to Victoria very shortly, for those guys that haven’t seen you before, what can they expect?

BH: That’s going to be an interesting one because that’s going to be mostly coastal towns, they’ll expect us to talk about fishing, be very relaxed (laughs) Yeah, it should be cool, everyone should be on holidays and we’re gonna blast these people really heavily and shake them out of their holiday spirits (laughs) and remind them that there’s a war going on.

MD: Thanks very much for you time Brendon, it’s much appreciated and from all at Rockpit.com, we look forward to seeing you guys on your next tour… and thanks for producing yet another great album. Well done.

 

Brendon Humphries is the lead singer and guitarist from Perth based band, The Kill Devil Hills.

22 November 2009. By Matt Dillon

 

 

Check out The Kill Devil Hills Live Dates below:

http://www.thekilldevilhills.com/shows/