You might not have picked up on the Black Devil Byrds yet, they might not yet have appeared on your radar, do yourself a favour and start digging around, I think your going to be knocked sideways.
The Black Devil BYRDS released the debut album ‘Dead And In Prison’ in November 2017. The album, recorded in Prague at Golden Hive studio in 2016, is raw: as the band says, “a deliberate move away from the modern-day, now-standard, “corporate” recording process;” it was recorded on tape with NO clicks and in an as-live-as-it-could-be way! Late night sessions and a low fi feel were the order of the project”.
The tracks were recorded while the band were touring and playing festival dates in the Czech Republic the group headed up by Long John on Vocals, Guitar and Harmonicas, included long time side kicks: Jules Fly Haffegee on Bass, Rob Poyton Keys, John O’Neil Saxophone, Mark Gilligan Clarinet and Mark Wheeler Drums with additional percussion from Lee Morley.
I caught up with Lead Vocalist Long John, to talk the Blues and hear about the new LP scheduled for release this year
Hi Long John, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us here at RPM, especially when your just about to jet out to L.A. on music related business, for starters tell us a bit about your background/influences?
Yes, I am jetting back to L.A for the launch of the New Black Devil Byrds single ‘Letter to the President’. The record company are having a shindig for the event.. My heart and soul though are in America, I love the country and the people can be amazing. I have lived worked and traveled in the US for many years it’s a huge influence on my music and poetry writing. You get the best of the best and the very worst of the worst in the USA. 370 Million people in one place. Bound to be trouble sometimes…
I played a few tracks from your earlier LP ‘Dead and in Prison’ on a radio program called the ‘Rock and Roll circus’ when it came out and loved the almost Cajun Blues feel ala Dr John/ maybe hinting at Tom Waits, the raw intensity that sits behind the music. For people who have never heard The Black Devil Byrds, how would you describe the sound?
Yes that’s some good ingredients right there! I never intended to sound like waits or Dr John but they are inevitable influences on so many artist. I have seen myself as a Blues musician for many years but now I feel my music is starting to take a more soulful direction. I want soul and I want a message!
(If you want to do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of the first LP you can get it right Here)
Your just about to launch a new single “Letter to the president”, produced by Paul Ronney Angel, how did you manage to keep him out of the studio and behind the mixing desk, once his harmonica duties were covered?
Paul Ronney Angel’s been a soul brother to me for some years now. I have great respect for his music and as a performer, his band The Urban Voodoo Machine really are amazing. (I couldn’t agree more N.B.) He joined the Black Devil Byrds on our short tour in Prague a year or so ago and he really liked some of the tracks we were doing .He kept an eye on the new album and I asked him if he would like to do something on one of the tracks .He put some real hoodoo magic down with harmonicas and vocals and re inspired our efforts on this Black Devil Byrds project. Paul had mentioned to Johnny Sting Ray he would like to produce a mix of Letter to the president. So we sent over the tracks from the studio in Prague to Space Eko, Alex McGowan’s studio in East London. I didn’t know what we would get back but when it arrived back with us Paul and Alex had really stripped it down and put an edge on things. Paul Rooney Angel is a very talented guy and has a very professional approach he is now producing the whole album.. Watch this space..
After hearing the single, I can absolutely say its gonna launch the Black Devil Byrds into the must watch bands of 2019/20 category) Its out on July 4th.
You’ve also dragged in Johnny Stingray to play on the new stuff, pulling him away from The Bad Idea Factory studio, to provide vocals and guitar are either of them going to be joining the band in the live setting?
Johnny is a great musician. Trouble is he’s and even greater artist so his guitar playing talents get over looked. He joined us on tour last your in Czech Republic and again for the recording sessions at Golden Hive in Prague last year. We had a lot of fun in the studio and Johnny did a great feed back version of the Star Spangled Banner… we had to use it. Its featured more on the Alex Limburg (Hipster) Remix, which is a sister, release to the Radio Edit.
Tell us a little bit about the single, my understanding is it came from an initial poem you had written?
Yes most of my songs are written as poems which can be hard to transpose sometimes. I’m influenced greatly by the Beat poets of the late 60S. Ginsburg, Bukowski it’s incredible. We don’t read poetry so much any more and its powerful stuff. Trumps a great subject matter and it was important to me to say something. It’s not a slander song it all factual and simply a protest to his roller coaster approach to global harmony.
It’s coming out as a precursor for a new LP have you got a title and a potential release date yet?
The album will be our later in the year. We are still thinking on the title.
Tell us a little bit about the new LP?
It’s a message album. And the tracks, which we are still working on, have titles such as Syria, Meet My Maker, and a remix of Dead and in Prison… Dark and Soulful with a message you can keep in your hearts!
Any plans in place yet for some UK/European live dates?
It’s funny as I was taking a year off in 2019. Things run over. But yes we will be supporting Jim Jones and the Righteous Minds in Bedford October 5th. And plan to tour and promote the album with a few festival dates for 2020…
Let us know when your playing and we’ll drop in to catch up and listen. Are you listening to anything new at the moment, anything you’d recommend?
Bob Dylan.. Rolling Thunder.. amazing..
Absolutely one to check out people, cheers for taking the time out to chat to us, can’t wait to catch you guys live and looking forward to the new LP coming out
Thanks Neville for the interview….
If you like your Blues with an edge, verging on the Dr. John, dark, Cajun at times at other times raw and emotional with a real undercurrent this LP is for you.
If you’re a fan of real music played with passion you have arrived at the right place, get listening to the Black Devil Byrds.
Author: Nev Brooks