The upcoming new release from Americana band The Devil Makes Three, due Sept. 16 on the New West Records imprint, is called Redemption & Ruin. The effort is a covers album, but the material found within goes a lot deeper than that. The 12 selections on Redemption & Ruin are not just favorites of the players --- singer and guitarist Pete Bernhard, bassist Lucia Turino and guitarist Cooper McBean --- they are songs that influenced the trio before they became The Devil Makes Three, that not only inform their music today but that also helped shape the tastes of each player so that a collaborative effort such as The Devil Makes Three could be possible in the first place.
The Devil Makes Three completed a European tour in July; right now they’re taking a breather from travel until September when they’ll resume touring and be on the road into 2017. We took advantage of the band’s downtime to have an email chat with Bernhard, who told us a bit about the making of Redemption & Ruin and about working with some of the album’s guest players. His commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.
AXS: Your new album Redemption & Ruin is a set of covers, a collection of songs that influenced you as individuals before you formed the band. Undoubtedly it was tough narrowing down the selections that ended up on the album; what were some of the songs that didn’t make the cut?
Pete Bernhard: There were at least 20 songs that didn’t make the cut for various reasons. Most of them just didn’t click with the stripped down style of our band, but some were songs we loved but for one reason or another we just didn’t feel like we were doing them justice. The ones that initially jumped out at us ended up on the album. Side A of this album is all about how life can crush the human spirit down to a nondescript fine powder that is then power-snorted up the nostril of the giant Keith Richards in the sky. Side B is about remolding what’s left of that dust into some semblance of a life and limping on down the road using whatever is needed to make that possible; picking up the pieces and finding a way to persevere. We plan to persevere, no matter what kind of dust we get ground down to.
AXS: Numerous guest stars joined you for the making of Redemption & Ruin. Can you share one of your favorite in-studio moments?
PB: My favorite moments were recording with Jerry Douglas and Chance (McCoy) from Old Crow Medicine Show. Jerry had a ton of ideas and we had him on more songs than any other player on the album. We just enjoyed listening to what he came up with and hearing people play off of each other in the studio. We recorded a Robert Johnson song with him and Willie Nelson, a few others as well.
AXS: You recently wrapped up a European tour with a performance in Dublin, Ireland. Did you have a chance to visit a pub with live traditional Irish music before you left? Was there time on the tour to do anything touristy?
PB: Being a touring musician unfortunately means that you rarely get the chance to do anything touristy, but last tour in Europe we did get to go to the Guinness Brewery and be in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day. That may have been the most-touristy thing I have ever done in my life (other than visiting Alcatraz Prison, which is awesome by the way.) I did get to see some traditional Irish music in a small pub and it was one of the best shows I have ever seen, hands down. I may have cried a little bit. My father lived in Dublin when he was a kid so it was great to get a chance to visit.
AXS: There’s a video clip on Facebook of the band spinning a vinyl test pressing copy of Redemption & Ruin. Are any of you big on collecting or listening to music on vinyl? What is the latest “discovery” that you found on vinyl?
PB: Yes! We all collect vinyl and listen to vinyl; my collection is probably the smallest of the three of us. I recently got my friend Marisa Anderson’s new album Into the Light on vinyl and a few compilations of old rockabilly stuff when we were in Belgium. The point of our new album was to have the concept split between two sides of a vinyl album; Redemption side and Ruin side. We love thinking of our albums in terms of side A and side B. Hopefully the fans will spring for the vinyl if they have the proper equipment to play the antiquated medium.
AXS: You’re enjoying about a 60-day break from touring right now before your North American tour begins in mid-September, and Redemption & Ruin drops around the same time. Do you have a special celebration planned for release day?
PB: We plan to set something on fire to celebrate the release of the album. What we plan to set on fire has yet to be determined. It will be a private burning of some sort.
AXS: It looks like the last festival that you’ll play this summer is the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia, Missouri. Are there other acts playing that event that are friends of yours that you’re looking forward to catching up with?
PB: It is a great line up this year! I’d like to see Shovels & Rope again for sure.
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