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THE KILL DEVIL HILLS Gritty in Pink

Kill Devil Hills
Since their formation in 2003, The Kill Devil Hills have been a revered yet irreverent staple of live music in Western Australia. In recent years they have brought in the cream of Perth’s musical talent such as Timothy Nelson and Luke and Ryan Dux (The Floors) which has not only seen their legacy continue, but also grow into exciting new musical territory. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with founding member, vocalist, guitarist and all-round local rock legend Brendon Humphries to talk about how their new album Pink Fit marks a new musical chapter in the band’s envied discography, taking the WA sound to the world, and what you should brace yourself for at their launch at Badlands Bar this Saturday, August 25. 

You have just got back from touring Europe, including shows in France, Germany, and Eastern Europe. What was that like and how does the “garage-swamp-blues” or WA sound more generally translate to those audiences?

It was a great run of shows and our third trip over there. It went down well with the audiences, new people and out of the woodwork from past tours, so we’ll be going back again next summer, until we are very old. As to why they go for the Australian mutant rock thing, I think it’s a combo of us being exotic birds, who sound a bit American but with weird differences that they appreciate and enjoy. Plus there are a couple of labels there like Bang Records in Spain, and Beast Records in France, that have pretty much championed indie-underground Australian music hard for the last 10-15 years, doing boutique vinyl releases and put stuff like this in the ears of a whole new bunch of aficionados. The Beasts of Bourbon were one of the first to crack eggs over there and it’s followed in their frothy wake since.

You recorded this album in January in just three days, what was the reason you took this approach for this release?

We needed a new bunch of stuff to have for our Euro tour and an EP length release was really the minimum. It’s a complex thing getting six busy people together. Those three days were all the time we could get everyone in a room, and afford the studio time too, so whatever we were going to record had to happen in that time. That was actually a good thing, because otherwise we’d still be mixing and procrastinating and overdubbing and lipsyncing and autotuning and…

There are actually only six songs on this release, is that because there are a few epics in there?

That’s because we only meant to get two or three recorded but had our shit together enough to keep going and get a few more down. It’s kind of an album length at 35 minutes, and we do like to crap on a bit so, there you go.

You have almost been like a footy team as a band, bringing in youth to keep your list looking healthy over the years. Do you think The Kill Devil Hills might outlast us all by continuing that dynamic?

Yes, we’re like the Stepford Wives. Actually we’ve got a cloning programme in development so that the gene pool will never fade. We’ve got some petri dish material safe in a mountain in Switzerland just in case too. But seriously, after 15  years, I have observed most bands near and far go through some degree of line up changes. I was reading a chronology about the Bad Seeds lineups recently and when you look at it, Nick Cave is the only constant member in their work. Take The Rolling Stones for example, they are all in second or third phase cloning by now. Then there’s the future holographic tour potential too…

The band really is a bit of a supergroup of WA greatest musical talents. Is it tough getting a creative direction with so many talented members from different bands or does that make up part of the group’s strength?

The specific lineup has always determined the alchemy of any creative flow. I believe it’s the same for everything humans collaborate in, for example football teams, military operations, orgies et al, and with the current lineup it works brilliantly actually. If you time it so that they are creatively engaged elsewhere in their musical philandering at key times then it’s kind of like the rhythm method for pregnancy maybe, tapping into the nice and fertile part of a collective hormono-musical cycle and you get positive results. If you try at the wrong time, you may just get slapped, or cold shouldered at the least, which is what the music will sound like. I hope that makes sense because I am being serious.

You have said this album delves into “new and stranger territories.” What kind of new things did you try out on this record?

I think there’s a few tracks in there that, for us at least, signal shifts away from your typical straight up verse-chorus ballad for starters. They are the newer material that we effectively experimented with and defined while actually recording them so they felt very fresh, uncertain, less controlled and thought about, and consequently new and exciting to play. Plus they tend to be the moodier and darker pieces, because it’s generally easier to fudge your way through that kind of territory.

Given you have a track list that spans back over 15 years to choose from, what kind of set list are you going to take to the stage at Badlands on Saturday night?

Over the course of the recent run of shows in Europe we trialed a variety of set lists and found a good balance between all our albums, so it’s a mix of all the songs that really worked live recently. It’s something from all the records merged together. If we can remember what those songs actually are then we will hopefully pull that off intact… nah, just kidding, we’re professionals, you know?

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