Iconic Perth doom rockers The Devil Rides Out celebrate their ninth birthday this Saturday, June 6, at Jimmy’s Den, with support from Kaan, Skullcave and Black Stone From The Sun. The date also marks their final gig with drummer, Nathan Sproule. We talk to vocalist, Joe Kapiteyn, about this bittersweet occasion.
How has the band evolved over the past nine years? How does the current incarnation differ from what you set out to do way back then?
We’ve never really had a plan or an idea of what we should be, in terms of fitting neatly into a genre. We’ve always just rolled with what felt good at the time. But there has been an organic evolution gradually over time towards the band being more serious in lyrical content and heavier sonically. It was more of a tongue-in-cheek rock’n’roll excess vibe when we started out. We’ve been through a lot in our personal lives over the past nine years, there’s been a lot of emotional heaviness. I think that has shifted my weight towards introspection and taking stock, and Andrew and Scott have reflected that in the music. In my 30s I was more carefree, in my 40s I’m dealing with kids and death and divorce. You grow up, you change, you hopefully get wiser. It’s just life. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of good stuff too, it’s just that the band ends up being the vehicle that the dark stuff is channelled into.
What are you favourite highlights of the band’s career thus far?
The creative part of the process is the most rewarding part for me. Writing songs, developing them with the guys, that’s really fulfilling. After that, we’ve had a lot of fun playing live and doing supports and touring but they’re fleeting pleasures. You get a nervous energy for the two hours before you go on stage and then a high on stage for an hour, but then by the end of the night you feel empty and restless again – the come down.
The things I remember most fondly about playing live over the years are more the experiences you get on the road, rather than the shows themselves. Meeting new people, hanging with my brothers, forgetting the real world for a little while and having a few laughs and an adventure. I’m lucky that I get to do that.
What’s prompted Nathan’s departure and how will that affect you going forward?
Unfortunately, Nathan just has too much on his plate with work and other bands and so on. He didn’t quit the band, he was willing to press on, it ended up being more a mutual decision between all of us. It was just proving hard to rehearse and write as much as we like to do with this band in order for it to keep progressing and moving forward. We were all collectively aware of this situation and accepted that it wasn’t functioning. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make though, because Nath is a perfect fit otherwise, a brilliant drummer and a great dude. And he smashes the absolute shit out of his kit without mercy, which I love. There’s no hard feelings or bad blood at all, it just didn’t work out logistically. It sucks but life – and the band – goes on.
You’ve said this may be your last show for awhile. Why is that?
We don’t have a replacement for Nathan at this stage. It’s not an easy thing to find someone who has the skills, personality and time needed to make it work. Hopefully the right person comes along but we’re not going to rush things. I don’t feel the sense of urgency I used to. Things will happen when the person and the time is right. Or they won’t. We’ll see. I’m trying to be Zen about it, or maybe I’m just in denial.
What are your plans going into the future?
Same as always: to keep being creative and making music with like-minded people if and when we are able to. I think there’s at least one more album left in us and it would be kind of cool to make that happen next year for our 10th anniversary. It’s largely dependent on the drummer situation, but Andrew, Scott and I will continue to work on ideas in the meantime. Based on what’s been happening with writing in the jam room so far, I can tell you this much: when it does finally happen it’s going to be fucking heavy. Keep the dream alive.