David Devant and His Spirit Wife
Above left to right; The Colonel (Jem Egerton) Bass, Professor Rimschott (Graham Carlow) Drums, V your Vessel (Mikey Georgeson) Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards and Foz? (James Foster) Guitar and Saw.
"The Road Of Excess Leads To The Palace Of Wisdom"
Mikey Vessel Georgeson
Hi Mikey, thanks for joining us here today. So you have a long and varied career but today let us focus on all things David Devant & his spirit wife. So take us to the very beginning of the band and the eureka moment that the great minds came together, when where and how please
Mikey Vessel Georgeson ; Our first concerts were at the very top of a pub called The Rock (this probably influenced my feeling that we were the sum part of all rock ever). There was only one door into the room and right from the beginning we shook hands with every audience member as they left. This really became embodied in the phrase; “all done by kindness”, which was the catch phrase of the man we took our name from. One day Dennis the pub landlord arranged for us to play a charity concert in the sleepy village of Northiam in Kent. We all piled into the back of a sushi delivery van that he had acquisitioned. I think Dennis felt quite paternal towards us and perhaps liked the idea of sorting out our logistics. For me, at this time, the gig felt like quite a big deal and being in transit in the back of the van was very exciting and less fishy smelling than you’d imagine. The gig was in a large marquee of the traditional heavy white canvas variety with locals sitting around drinking Session ale and generally having a lovely time. The other bands were, I seem to remember more trad jazz than pop and I felt even more nervous to think we might be judged as actual musicians. It came time for our set and it seemed to be going pretty well. We all loved playing and I felt the familiar thrill of seeing people witnessing our assemblage of music and DIY absurd magic theatre. At a certain point I hear Dennis speaking to someone in the audience rather loudly. Now I can’t remember if I heard him right because the phrase he uttered became a legend held aloft at all subsequent concerts as a cardboard sign. He prefaced it with “why don’t you shut up…” clearly addressing one of the jazz musicians, “These boys can play!” So that is the band’s Eureka moment.
From a top room of a pub via a sushi van into a marquee jazz festival, a trial by kindness, not fire. Ok so the creative juices were flowing along with all the joyous madness that was and is David Devant. When did things take a turn to a more serious stance for the band. Did you all have the vision from the get go of what you wanted and how you were going to achieve it or was it more organic journey?
M . V . G ; Now this is a serious question that can only be answered with the same joyful feeling of stepping through the unremembered gate. Right from the beginning we all had a feeling that we weren’t like a conventional pop group although we took great pleasure from turning the trappings of being in a pop group into pure expression. When I was about twelve my teacher (I will get to the point) told me I was drunk with words - like Dylan Thomas. She was the same teacher who told me I should call my playground charity raising pop group a spunk group because we had spunk. We were all around the desk looking at our shoes when she said "you know what spunk is"? I digress. The point is that being drunk is savouring the tactile vitality or sensation of things. I’m drunk on my silver boots, I’m drunk on my wig and I’m drunk on the chord of d minor seven that feels as if I just heard it for the first time. I now feel very serious about this joyous temporal way of being because the serious way is to live spatially where everything is separate and has a meaning pinned onto it afterwards as if feeling wasn’t the most normal state of affairs and something to be nurtured. Back to all done by kindness I suppose. I do remember the Colonel saying how I had an almost naive belief that something would happen for the band. I don’t think I really sought out mainstream success rather more sublime experiences like piling into the back of a sushi van. I suppose the moment we all thought hey this is happening (and there were many joyous record company moments before this) was when we had set off on tour and had a day before the main run so we headed for a tiny town in the Lake District called Pooley bridge. I remember it because that night we all climbed over a tall iron fence to walk down the pier overlooking the lake in the moonlight. That evening we were all in the pub - the band and crew with all our euphoria for being a troupe on the road. Cocky Young’un was annihilating the locals at darts and all was well.
Then just as a local at the bar turned to me to ask what we did and I became conscious of my eye-shadow the room was filled with the sound of "Ginger" as the TV showed our latest video. At this point we were still driven by magic and a sense of making it up as we go along. Later the media and TV circus became intoxicating but somehow draining because much as we wanted to destroy consensus reality the hierarchy of fame was such that it felt ok to go along with it. We all feel now that we have learnt that this is just how media works and to go with it but then denying our joyful belief in sensation felt like a betrayal. I mean we don’t sit around planning we just take everything and make it a matter for expression. I’m called the Vessel it's not a persona it’s a tangible joy of naming things. This explains why I refused to tell Radio One Newsbeat my real name. That was supposed to be their scoop.
Beautifully put, "so making it up as we go along", as the song goes. Ok let's skip back to the record company activities. Was there a lot of interest? Even with the arrogance of youth and self belief did it come as a surprise? How heavy did it get before you signed with Rhythm King? Take us into the world of David Devant shopping for a deal if you will?
M . V . G ; Well before Rhythm King there was Humbug records. They released “Pimlico”. They were a visionary record label and home to the brilliant Martin Newell (of junk shop glam heroes Plod, amongst others) and various other eccentrics like us. They wrote us a four page love letter to entice us into signing. Our times in their offices were some really joyful occasions. Kevin rented a large extra office space for us to build the set for “Pimlico” and shoot it over the course of the week. It really captures the spirit of the early London shows. This video was ironically what brought us to the attention of Rhythm King and Arista.
Leaving humbug was perhaps the hardest thing I've had to do. I met Kevin later and he was a gentleman. He ended up being Ronnie Biggs chaperone when he came back to Britain. I was watching the event on the news and their was Kevin. We were talking to a few labels like Mother (who were U2's label) but Humbug were the only label who embodied the same spirit of passion for how art and music transform the world with joy and actual occasions. Well, having said this the start of our time with Rhythm King (who were bought by Arista) was also extremely creative. Adele Nozadder, who was helping guide us, suggested that instead of making a pop promo we make a half hour film. We collaborated with Trash 2000 to make “Light on the Surface” around the single “Cookie”.
This was a truly splendid undertaking, which came about through filming us on our travels and then shaping it into some kind of structure. Its the film where we are on the steps of an art deco office by the side of the A4 holding placards saying destroy consensus reality. The theme that holds it together is Plato’s Cave which we manifested via Iceman in a rubber dingy in a flooded basement.
We had a launch party for this film and "Cookie". I was and still am immensely proud of the film, which has the perfect ingredients for an after-pub sneaky spliff wind-down. At this stage Adele was all for us really pushing the creative envelope and you may have discovered the secret track on “Cookie”, which was a narrated story called “Cookie The Clown”. Again it was Adele’s idea to include a story and I loved the challenge. Expanding on this form of stream of consciousness writing is something that has stayed with me ever since. Later as Britpop became more of a Pitbull in terms of Arista seeing pound signs, this tapestry assemblage approach to our music and art got forgotten in the endless board meetings about which photo to have on the second version bonus cd cover.
Yes I remember “Light On The Surface” well along with the teaser of the track "Cookie", which was and still is a great single. I loved all the motorway service station footage sliced into the film and yes, great to get the whole back story to it also.
So onto “Ginger”, this is when the world started to take notice, take us if you will right inside all that was "Ginger". From the germ of the idea right through to the manifestation of the track and also what was behind the grating of the carrot when you played the song live? Take us if you will a little more into the brainwaves of DD at that time
M . V . G ; That’s a peculiarly fiendish question really. I’m not trying to be evasive when I say that when Devant formed something magical happened to my creative process. I mean I began to think through making things. Things being songs and performance. I no longer thought "ooh I’m going to write a song" but instead I thought I’m making something Devant. All the band talk about something being Devant. Usually what happens with my song writing is a phrase or in this case a word will sound resonant. I’ll think "mmm that is suggestive of so many possibilities". Now at this point Foz? has always maintained a more straight forward idea of the song’s inception. His partner is ginger and my girlfriend when we wrote it was ginger. All I can say is I only really remember thinking that’s a really interesting and evocative word. I remember how often ginger haired people at school would have a hard time and so it became emblematic of the outsider as a romantic figure. Before the song exploded into life during a rehearsal I was thinking it would be a quirky Kinks style song, which isn’t hard to imagine but would have been a lot less memorable. So this magical trick of Devant meant that the song took on all these associations of the super-gifted alien persona that "Ginger" has come to represent without me actually thinking it up. I just felt the power of the word’s sense of otherness. Regarding the carrot grating The Spectral roadies were just phenomenally creative and they decided to take the negative line of being a carrot head and turn it into a quasi-shamanistic ritual of transubstantiation, wherein Ice-Man truly becomes ginger during the performance. The power of this spectacle led several reviewers to conflate his and my personas or even suggest that I grated carrot whilst playing the keyboard - something not even I can do. If I had been thinking things up I might have totally discarded "Ginger" as a lyric because there are so many reasons not to use it. It annoyed too cool for school people like Gilles Peterson (I think) who thought we were trying to appeal to Chris Evans. I don’ t think I’d heard of him or Gerri Halliwell when I wrote the lyrics. We also received letters of complaint with one comparing us to the Nazis (admittedly the internet made this commonplace but then it was freaky). So in short "Ginger" is the embodiment of the total human organism alien within and the power of kindness to create an instant collective entanglement.
Well from carrots come artistic greatness, haha. Totally nothing left out and people will love this in depth conciseness, so thank you. People thinking you're Nazis whatever next, but hey that's the world we live in and even more so now. So take us from "Ginger" onto the first full album.
“Work, Lovelife, Miscellaneous ”. You say that you and all the band did things "Devant" how did the whole record come together and you included a single with the LP , “Mr Talent”. Was this just as an extra or did you really want it to be part of that LP’s statement?
M . V . G ; "Mr Talent" is one of the songs I'm most proud of writing in terms of melody, technical chord progression and lyric but at the time I think I thought it was too theatrical. Having it as a free single added to the magic really. I grew up loving 7" singles as a format, perhaps even more than albums, so this is like a concept single. Regret is too strong a word but I would like it to be on the album now.
Too theatrical for Devant, wow that's a statement!
I do totally agree about the 7" single format and also the giveaway with the album just added a little of that devant magic for a new audience. So onto the background of the album and how it was brought forward into an unsuspecting world.
M . V . G ; I’m sure you’re aware of how slowly the music business can move so by the time of it’s release Brit Pop had begun to calcify around the "cockney parker lad" thing but I like to think we maintained our sense of magical thinking. To be perfectly honest making the album was a joy. We recorded the bulk of the instruments at Wessex studios, which was previously a gothic church hall and had seen the Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Stones recording there. New arrivals were pointed towards the low rise staging where the foot stamping for "We Will Rock You" occurred. This was all very alluring but somehow not part of the magical realm we sought to inhabit. I loved the space of the place and since being a teenager have loved the stepping outside of the everyday into the recording studio. I know there can be a pressure with the record button going on but I find the realm of the recording studio to be liberating. Although I have to admit there was a lot of Mario carts played. Warne Livesey who had produced The The and Julian Cope was our chosen producer. Prior to this we had been in consultation with Phil Manzenera to produce. He was such a lovely man and we visited Gallery Studios. It was here that I tried on his famous diamanté bug eye sun glasses. At this time I listened non stop to "For Your Pleasure" in my basement studio shared with the now sadly departed Jet Boy Patrick Welch. Looking back I feel a little bit of shame at my tourist-like thrill at visiting the Roxy Music shrine he had created in an upper room, especially because Phil kindly came with his wife to our show at the Camden Palace and hung out backstage. It seemed all set for a Manzenera production but it wasn’t to be and the decision making process is lost in the mists of time. Strangely it seems that Phil left Gallery studios the same year. I remain a massive fan of his work. Warne Livesy was a real engineer producer and a perfectionist when it came to maintaining quality of sound. I think this explains why many people think the record is a lost classic from the seventies when they first hear it. not because of a retro thing but because of the richness of sound. He had marvellous stories about previous artists and this was still the time of two inch tape so the tale of one artist making a rope bridge from the previous days spool left us aghast. Warne even threw the phone at the wall in true do not disturb genius producer at work style. At the end of the sessions we built a huge cardboard box bar and all piled in for a booze up. it was called Bar Lavish - Lavish being Warne's Devant name because his production was so lavish. He had everything you would want from a producer because he wanted to get the most from us and the sounds of the songs as performances. I remember him sending the drum signal out through the humbucker of Foz’s guitar in the middle of the vast dark performance space at Wessex and this is what you hear on the track "Parallel universe" - the sound of the cosmos feeding back on itself.
The last time I saw Warne I went to his very normal house and we demoed a song which became Mister Solo’s “We live in Hope”. A super kind man who nurtured a special fungus for its health properties!
Wow! Roxy’s “For Your Pleasure” is my fave record of theirs too, what would that Phil Manzanera record would have sounded like we may never know but, again great insight to the record and recording process. So that is the recording of the album done and what a joy it was and still is, can you now take us into the world of promotion you did for the record. Not only the glorious tours but all the press and TV etc... I think you and your magical world rolled into town like something from outer space not unlike Roxy at their height, take us into a particularly hectic day for the Devant's at the time....
M . V . G ; It was a Maelstrom! When we signed to Arista we seemed to have been teleported into the last flickering moments of the pop media magical realm. It was always part of our outlook to perform and act as if we were in the sparkly atmosphere of pop magazines and TV, so when we were actually placed there it felt like here was a chance for more fun to be had. I think that being prior to the Internet as a viable space for promotion there were still lots of pop magazine’s on TV like Ozone and Fresh Pop and they were looking for curious otherworldly content or at least we seemed to think they were. In a way we worked really well on TV because we had children’s TV in our aesthetic DNA. If you watch the appearance on Ozone you can see they just let us create a total vignette of Devant magical mayhem without ever saying “hey what does that even mean”? Even when Gail Porter sat sedately interviewing me for Sky there were the spectral roadies creating a mechanical mesmerising device behind us. We once took part in a twenty four hour broadcast for Live TV up at the Top of Canary Wharf, which felt like an endurance version of Top Of The Pops with the crowd being ordered around in order to create the sense that there were lots of people there. During the proceedings I was interviewed at the bar by Thingumajig from Strictly. It crossed my mind that it’s not what you know but who you know, such was the level of our engagement over musical influences. In those early days we sailed on the seas of serendipity and when the Big Issue called for a major feature I remembered that a fan had offered us use of their flat in Pimlico. As we were promoting the single "Pimlico" it seemed only natural to all live there for the purposes of the interview. The journalist, Gina Morrison, arrived with us all in our glamorous day wear chinoiserie drinking wine from dark coloured glass goblets. What made all of this so easy was being part of a collective and each of us understanding how to make things up as we went along. Iceman felt the pressure because he and Cocky Young’un were largely responsible for any set pieces like the famous boiling unplugged kettle on the Jack Dee Show at the Whitehall theatre. It was during this TV show that we met KISS who were the sofa guests as we performed “This is For real”.
I remember taking the lift down to the stage with them. They towered above us and in such a confined space their costumes had the nomadic entertainer’s whiff of not having quite dried. I later found out that Foz? had earlier asked Gene Simmons what he thought he was doing dressing like that as a grown man? I must admit that even in Malcolm McDowell’s actual gold suit from the film “O! Lucky Man” and with my quiff at its most bouffant KISS made me feel a little underdressed. There was a point though when our time in the lens based media seemed to jump the shark and we didn’t really see it happening. The people who signed us faded into the background of the giant corporate machine and we were left with people who had no idea where we were coming from acting as our liaison with institutions like the BBC. I have resisted chewing over the moment when we were taken to Broadcasting house for a Radio 1 News Beat interview. Until then all our radio and media appearances had been a vitalist pleasure and just more make believe magic making. This interview as not to be like that. I was sat in a large dark studio at a small table with a desk lamp, looking at the Professor who was sitting in the control room. I’ve no idea why the interview had to be conducted in this theatrical fashion but it has certainly remained in my memory as a dream like scenario. What I didn’t know, and still don’t really know for sure, is that the interviewer (possibly Kevin Greening) had been promised a scoop, which was to be the revealing of my real name. I wasn’t in on this particular ruse so I naturally spent the entire (literally) interview explaining that The Vessel was my real name. It seems like a major operation to be taken into the belly of broadcasting house for a theatrically staged interview only for this interrogation never to be aired. As we left the building feeling baffled and a little grubby the lady handling the liaison explained that she had told them that I was a character like Dame Edna. This might explain why they thought revealing my real name was no big deal.
Mark Radcliffe made us single of the week and when "Ginger" was placed on the playlist at the end of the week Mathew Bannister made the executive decision to remove it over the weekend before it had been given day time play. The simple subversive act of refusing to betray our magical thinking meant that all our subsequent singles were not play listed but TV continued to support our cause enabling the Devant TV Spooktacular to continue for a little while at least. Later in the year “Ginger” came out and the producer of Simon Mayo came on air to demand that he make “I'm not even going Try” his single of the week. Mayo however did not like the track and said on air that it reminded him of “Life is Life” (both tracks have crowd noise duh). His producer continued to insist that this would be Christmas number one and to cover himself Mayo said he would let the audience decide between “I'm not even” and a since long forgotten dance pop tune. Of course the Listeners didn't chose the song that Simon toastmaster Mayo had decreed to be like “Life is Life”. I was sat in my living room taking all this in. Oh well life goes on.
So you were in the belly of beast so to speak, you moved around the best you could and with that theatrical flare that is second nature to all things Devant only to be brushed away with the politics of nonsense that the mainstream seem to not only encourage but hide behind almost and the world was denied the magic of Devant.
A sad but very common tale. However here we are talking about you and not them so take us onto what happened after the media circus came to a halt and you were left to re group?
M . V . G ; Well we made “Shiney on the Inside”, which seems to have been the introduction to Devant for many people. We launched the album with a residency at the Water rats. I shaved my head and we all wore camouflage t-shirts. The whole feel of that album was a pseudo scientific cult and that was our way of expressing our inner Waco. That album has such a different feel to the previous album and what I find interesting is how we assembled it as a kind of collaborative way of being. What I mean by that is that the meaning of the songs emerged as we made them.
With “WLM” we knew all the songs inside out when we recorded it so it was a question of making them as perfect as possible. When you make something emerging it is always perfectly of itself. I think this is pretty common in the music industry with bands making a first album that is their history until that point. EMI were due to release “Shiney” but in the end as the temple of Brit Pop fell around our ears we released it ourselves through mail order fuelled by our mailing list and the newly installed Internet. We have pictures of the professor and myself with care sacks of albums we prepared to send out. Two tracks off that album “Radar” and “Space Daddy” were on XFM all day and it felt like all hope was not lost. When I signed a new contract at University for my lecturing I got in the car and felt totally drained. I laughed when I turned on the radio to “Space Daddy”. I was a new father and had a proper job.
I've never subscribed to the idea that you have to pick a career. I missed that memo and so I carried on making art and music. On a whim I created Mr Solo (I was watching the "Man From Uncle" when I thought of the name). Behind Mr Solo was the sense that I wanted to make up for the lack of immersion I had begun to feel in the band when we were on a major label. I somehow stopped experiencing the specifics of events. With Mr Solo I hurled myself into the most mundane or absurd settings for a completely exaggerated idea of a pop star. He is quite obviously a manifestation of my shadow self and led me into truly magical scenarios. One of my favourites being jumping through ten wall sized paper screens that I had asked the audience to individually paint with images based on metro news paper headlines. I then sang a song by Belle and Sebastian with Monica Queen: “Lazy Line Painter”. This was apt as I had just jumped through a series of lazy line paintings. Also these dislocated antics continued roughly until I called the Professor about four years ago and said let’s get the band back together. We had never been apart but there was a need for us to make a new record. Sublime was one of the first songs we wrote: “Oh its been such a long climb. we're right over the hill and it’s making me feel sublime”.
Through the wringer but still kept your art alive, once an artist and all that. So take us into the germ of the phone call to the Professor.
M . V . G ; I think it was really a matter of getting together outside of rehearsing for gigs. Setting some time aside. Prof and myself have always enjoyed seeing what happens. Right from the days of him playing a make shift drum kit in my living room and me thinking I'm the reincarnation of Hank Williams via Tony Newley in my front room. I think we were very lucky to have an instant trust and total lack of self consciousness making stuff up. Prof simply decided he was going to be a drummer. I think he surprised himself but he was and is amazing.
For a few years I had been keeping busy with MR. Solo and Mikey Georgeson and the Civilised Scene which involved situations where I would have to decide things.
However in Devant no one decides it is more a case of things occurring and agreeing.
So how after the solo stuff how did it flow back in Devant land, easy peasy?
M . V . G ; Lemon squeezy. We're like family so it's easy to just merge and let it emerge
So was the idea to do a record there from the get go or was it the live work that sparked the Devant's naughtiness back into action?
M . V . G ; Well we have never stopped gigging so it was just a decision to get together and write new songs without the sense of having to perform them in a few days. Hanging out in a band writing songs is a blissful place so it wasn't a hard decision but as we get older its just more challenging logistically. I met a man on holiday who said he and his mates were camping in each others gardens. I suppose this is what writing and recording new songs is like except at the end of it you have a new album and yes the idea was definitely to make a record from the off.
And that was “Cut Out and Keep Me”, so take us into the coming together of the Devant's and was there a definite place you wanted to go to with the record from the start or did it just happen?
M . V . G ; Well I have song writing Tourette’s, which is fine for MR. Solo and the Civilised Scene but with this Devant album I had to try and merge it with being inside the band. I mean not say here's a song now let's arrange it. About half of "Cut Out" is actually songs we made together. “Sublime” being the clearest example of this. I knew we had a great shift into a chorus from our collaborative musical mud pies but it needed a lyric. I had been mulling over the sublime. Namely how it's a bourgeois construct like pastel coloured trousers at the weekend. My hero William Blake was not about the sublime because he was not part-time. He was about being fully immersed in the total human organism. However on that particular day I realised that sublime was perfect for this song. I dropped the lyric into the chorus as we collectively climbed over the brow of the hill musically speaking and suddenly I felt reconsolidated with the concept of the sublime. That song makes a lot of sense but it's meaning emerged from collective felt intensities through making it up together. The album was about the spirit of adventure. One of our b sides “Everything Fits Into Place” came from one of the Colonel's bass lines so ever since then we've wanted to try that again but never got around to it. Data streams was us getting around to it. Vocally it's probably quite influenced by Bowie's “Black Star” but only in feel because it's less esoteric. Because it was such a studio song I never would have thought we'd end up enjoying playing it live so much. Again there is a real spirit of adventure at work there because it's taken us into a whole new realm musically speaking and hopefully without it seeming like we're trying too hard to be a bit weird.
That's something the Devant's could never be accused off, trying to hard you always had your world and just put it on show without thought of whether it was forced or not it was just you and what you do and that counts as much to a legacy as anything.
So the lockdown you seem to have embraced this with your You Tube videos take us through the decision to do them and how you picked the songs.....
M . V . G ; Mmm it was pretty spontaneous. We started with “I Think About You” and managed to pull it off very directly. We did spend a bit of time messing about with platforms that are meant to make synchronization possible for live musicians playing remotely and this proved to be amusing when we created the live commentaries for the two remote concerts we created. When we started making the zoom performances it was somehow very spontaneous and although we played in different time regions it was essentially live. This felt very exciting and the version of “Rough Magic” is great. Really tough and vibrant. As with all things spontaneous there came a point when we started to try and shape what we were doing. Luckily this got channelled into the new song “When Nature Calls”. It was totally appropriate to craft this both musically and visually. It's one of the most satisfying collaborations we've done. That was a unique point in history and there we all were as musicians in our respective gardens playing together. The professor started things off with a film of himself drumming in the shed. I thought wow that's doing something sumptuous so thought I'd make something on a par with myself playing the keyboards in the garden. It just so happened that we had a night camera that had filmed some foxes so I set my camera up at the same position which meant the film was much wider than I would otherwise have done. I really enjoyed this method of being methodical about a simpler idea. For me one of the aspects of writing songs is finding a chord shift like a lost pathway and I think this song and video capture that.
As such you gave your fans a true look into the world of Devant and that is a glorious thing. So let's bring things right up to date (release wise) with like you say “When Nature Calls”, but before we get to that track let's discuss the a side to the single “Taking My Time”. A truly wonderous slab of the Devant's. Nice laid back sing a long vibe and indeed all of you sitting down in the video adds to the whole story of the song and the time we are in (Covid) strange days indeed perfect some would say for the Devant's. A fave line is “ I fell asleep beneath the tree and woke to find angels kissing me”, a very uplifting line, take us into the world of “Taking My Time”....
M . V . G ; “Taking My Time” was one of the first songs we wrote. Essentially when I moved to Brighton my friend Richard who has sadly passed on, lent me his guitar and I happened upon the suspended E that the whole song is floating in. Sometimes a simple chord is like entering a mirage and the song just emerged like that. For some reason we stopped playing it at concerts and by the time we made the first album it was completely forgotten. There is a funny demo of it on the lost world album and that was recorded even before we signed to Humbug and prior to Arista. I can only think that the songs innocence was almost too much for us at the time. I mean that to play a song that simple you have to have the confidence of naivety or experience. When we recorded it in lock down the simplicity was something we could luxuriate in. As for “the angels” line I would suggest that they are part of naivety returned to with experience. There's an artist called Cecil Collins who I always imagine when I sing that line. His paintings are populated by fools and angels and they inhabit the realm of "Taking My Time".
Much like life itself, fools and angels so to speak. It has a timeless quality to it and I would not have thought it was an early song at all however as you say with time comes clarity and even though you have never been a shy band the confidence of that song may not have fit you or the bands ethos at the time, however now it makes total sense indeed, great song. OK the b side which we briefly touched on “When Nature Calls”, quite an introspective song yes? A few points this one is very low in your range and has almost a classic seventies vibe to it, Queen and also a almost Pink Floyd solo and end ad lib, take us into the world of the writing "When Nature Calls"
M . V . G ; Well first before we leave “Taking My Time” behind I think it's worth looking at how song writing like all other art forms is about the emergence of something new. This can take people around the houses in the search of novelty or something unlike anything else. The irony being that generally this is now arrived at through a combination of things it's like, “Ooh is like the Beatles meets pavement on acid”. With “Taking My Time” the emergence of new was made possible through innocent joy of hearing a chord as if it was the first time it has ever been played. With “When Nature Calls” there was still this desire to discover the music rather than write it. It was exciting to find that chorus shift but needed delicate work and not treading all over it lyrically or with the attachment. The low range is something I'd done a lot with the civilised scene album which was about trying to capture a similar sense of being part of the substance of the earth itself. Sounds peculiar but it's like being an organism that is part of the cycle of life and death and the singing resonates in the body.
Yes, life and death and everything in between. The simple yet effective. The performance without the show. The meeting of minds in isolation. Bottom line great song is a great song no matter how it transcends itself.
So what is on the cards for all things Devant now? Lockdown has eased but not enough for the live performance to be active again how do you and the band as artists plan on moving forward with all things devant?
M . V . G ; I've just written a song for William Blake as part of Blake Fest. Foz? produced and arranged it and professor added bits of choir. To all intents it's a Devant track. I've made a video including art sent by the public to Blake fest: Corona visions. The song is definitely picking up from “When Nature Calls” and explores the idea of life lived with a more sensory outlook - transforming the surroundings into something immanent. I guess the "garden" is a place where life feels meaningful. Blake wrote that the soul is accessed through the senses. I like this down to earth attitude and for Blake the foot is a symbol of this meeting of two realms - something I've explored in the video. Back to all things Devant, we continue to support each other and we have plans to create an album from the lockdown songs. I've also got an album of new songs I've started with professor so who knows where that will go.
Well that’s good news all round in these strange times and that can only be a good thing. Do you have any parting words for all the Devant devotes?
M . V . G ; C At this point I'd like to say what a pleasure our meandering stroll through the foothills of Devant onto the peaks of kindness has been. You've asked if I have a parting message and being an in the middle of things kind of person this is a challenge akin to being dispatched to verify the source of the Nile. In the spirit of adventure I will look towards the new normal. A view towards the new normal: In the land of Devant, Magic has always been our normal. Magic being the excess beyond the perception of the computer processor unit model of life: The feeling of collective wonder at nothing in particular. Magic is pure play and terribly useful. Magic is the partical wave of kindness transmitted from body to body in the cosmic soup of those who are under its spell. Contemplate magic and Don spirit specs now.
The prof adds: "Stop, Look, Make stuff, and Swim in Cold Water"!
Excellent! We expected nothing but the best other worldyness from the world of Devant. Thank you again for the journey.
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How did the band travel to their Kent marquee gig?
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INTERVIEW CONDUCTED JUNE to OCTOBER 2020
WITH THANKS TO BEN WILLMOT AND THE VESSEL
PHOTOGRAPH CREDITS TO DAN GOODFELLOW & THE SUITS' VAULT.