Interview with BY DEVICES
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Jimmy would be on a catwalk in Milan. Rob would be still trying to make it at something. Ced would be coaching at the weekends. Dave would be painting in a field somewhere and Matty… well he’d running for El Presidente. What got us all into music would be our love for it, music has moulded every one of us, we’ve all had it in our lives for most of our lives, the band was a natural thing for all of us. We’re just lucky we all joined the same band and get to do this with people we respect and love… most of the time.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
As boring as it sounds we all work in jobs, mostly mundane ones at that, from Monday to Friday so that is all the influence we need to get creative. Who wants to do that forever? Those brief moments when you hear your track on the radio, or do something like this, write a track, rehearse for gigs. Those are the moments that let you escape the nine to five, that’s all the influence we need to get off our arses and play.
How long has your band been around?
The band has been around for a few years in one form or the other. In this lineup, but under other names, it’s been about nine years but we like to think of our first proper release back in 2019 being the jumping off point for the band.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re based in Birmingham mostly, with Jimmy living in Devon now, but Birmingham is our home town, it’s where we’ve spent many a year honing our sound, rehearsing, where we met, where we enjoyed many nights out, it’s the landscape of our lives and it should be more on the map, musically than it’s given credit for at times. There’s so many amazing brummy bands out there, emerging and established like The Clause, Jack Cattell, The Novus, and us of course (chuckles) but it gets swallowed up by Liverpool, Manchester and London at times and it’s about time that changed. That in itself is how it influences our music I guess, brummies are stubborn and the city can be overlooked musically so we take it as being underdogs trying to prove that there is great music to be heard here and that hopefully we can be considered a part of it.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
A lot of our music is quite reflective. A lot of it comes from how the world is affecting us in that moment. So when we came up with the name we were in that “putting the world to rights” kind of mode, probably ranting about how nothing can be done anymore without having some sort of device being involved in your life, and I guess that’s when we started being reflective again, realising that even the music we create couldn’t be done, or put out to the world without some sort of device being involved hence even what we do is “by devices” and boom, the name was born. Or maybe we just pulled it out of a dodgy hat full of bad band names down the local boozer one night… who knows.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Lots of memorable gigs, Supporting the Twang at the Flapper to a packed out crowd, supporting the editors and falling down a hole in the stage pulling all the tendons in my leg. Rob and Ced fighting in the wings at the old Humming Bird stopping Corner Shop from going on stage😂😂😂.The last gig at the Academy Dragon Bar, the crowd were up for it and we were on it. In terms of favourite venue and ones we’d love to play at. There’s a list as long as your arm of venues we’d still like to play in Birmingham. We’d love to mainstage the institute, we’ve played the institute 2 and 3 and loved them both, along with the flapper and the vic. To get on at Mama Roux’s, The Mill, The Crossing or back in The Sunflower Lounge would be awesome. Anywhere that will have us we’ll play.
If you could play any show with any line-up, who would be on the ticket?
Maccabee’s. Pixies. Bloc Party. Foals. Foo Fighters. And the ticket would read “By Devices, with support from…” (laughs). Later with Jules Holland would be amazing. Or to be honest just a good sized festival would do us, it wouldn’t matter who we were on with. There’s so much amazing music out there, established and otherwise that it would just be amazing to get outdoors with, on a big old stage in the middle of a field just having a great time and making memories.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Enjoy every second of it cause it’s gone in an instant. Don’t take it, or yourself too serious and don’t spend every waking second looking for approval from people outside of the band. Believe in what you’re doing and the rest will hopefully fall into place, and if it doesn’t just make sure you gave it everything you could, whatever that means to you.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Probably something along the lines of our previous answer. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking what if we’d done this or that but it’s just not worth it. It’s almost the luck of the draw as to whether you make it a success as a band so as long as you’re getting yourselves out there in one way or another and again working as hard as you can with the time that you’ve got then all you’ll ever know is you did your best. At that point it either worked and you’re now looking back touring the world playing arenas thinking I wouldn’t change a thing or you’re still playing to ten people in local venues looking back thinking this still isn’t bad. How many people get to do this, I mean shit, we write our own music, Steve Lamacq even liked one of them enough to put in his show we play some awesome venues and have a great time doing it, and we’re still doing something we love, how many people can say that?
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why? It’s a difficult question to answer that will probably end in some cliche answer but so many of them have significance. Police the Police because it’s the first song we recorded with Gavin Monaghan, Glad you called because it was the first song to hit over 5000 streams which shouldn’t be significant but it’s nice to see a song do so well when you’re such a small band. Walking in your own, which we haven’t released yet because it’s the only song that has stayed in the set since it was written because it is always requested but it has to be the new one End of the line. This was an important track for us as this was the first track we’d written and recorded from scratch in about four years. The previous four singles we recorded and released were chosen from a back catalogue of tunes that we always wanted to record properly and release properly, but this track was a real test for us to see if we’d still got that spark and could still write a song that not only sounded like us but could reach audiences the way we wanted all our music to.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
As just mentioned Walking on your own is our most requested, even when we went through a stint of doing covers that track got requested, it’s the one we close the show with and it is a banger. Favourites to play. We’ve all got different ones, the drummer (Rob) loves Sink so low, Singer (Ced) and guitarist (Jimmy) love Glad you called Dave and Matty (guitar and bass) love Police the Police, there’s songs going back years we loved playing too which just don’t make it out now because of the evolution of the band but maybe they’ll make an appearance again one day when we’ve got to play for longer than forty five minutes (laughs)
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
The process has a blue print that generally follows one of us coming in with something and then the rest of us building around it. Then we go through the stage of chopping and changing, sometimes to the point where it’s barely recognisable to how it started and other times it being pretty much exactly the same. Songs have been written out of sections from other songs that just didn’t seem to work with that particular song or it wasn’t going anywhere but there was one section that stood out so we trash the song and use the section. Anything inspires us to write. Our environment, how we’re feeling though the mood of the song is generally captured by Ced’s vocals. As musicians in the band we like the instrumentation to be full on and frantic, which sometimes gets pulled back by the time we get to recording. We’ve tried to write slow, moody tracks before and they just end up getting heavier and faster so we just go with it, Ced then comes in and puts his take on it, writing about corruption, broken relationships, spiralling out of control, tensions and anything else that might be affecting him at the time. Like most bands some are written in minutes and others take months but it’s an experience regardless.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I don’t think we ever set out to spread messages with our music but again with the subject matter we cover at times it’s almost unavoidable, the general theme of our songs, strangely is reflection. All the songs seem to have a past tense feel to them where something has happened or something is going on and the subject is about dealing with that. We are a very reflective band, but we would never claim to have the answers to any subject we might broach it’s more about the listeners experience and taking their own messages from it.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Generally it’s only Ced and Rob who disagree and the rest of us just let them get on with it. We’ve known each other for a long time now so we’re more like a family with squabbling siblings. There’s generally a lot of ranting, a day of ignoring each other and then a phone call or a message to say one or the other was a bit dramatic and then it gets forgotten about, until the next one. Real grown up, mature stuff (laughs).
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Like all bands there’s a bunch of bucket list items you want to tick off. There’s the usual like getting on bigger radio shows, playing bigger shows, hitting higher numbers on your streams etc but our main one at this point is festivals, we’d love to put a run of festivals together next year. It’s always been a big thing for the band so that’s up there. In the meantime though there’s obviously the single coming out on the 7th of October. Followed by our first ever headline show at The Victoria in Birmingham on the 15th of October, which we’d love to get packed out. We’re releasing a music video for the first time alongside the single. Not your usual video. We’re not fans of being in front of the camera so you won’t see us in to many things unless we really have to. Then we’re hoping to end out the year with a few more shows and potentially start writing our first EP. Then coming up in May next year is our first ever festival at Breaking Bands Festival, which like we said before, will hopefully be the start of a few over the months that follow it. That’s it for now, ultimately world domination is a slow process that takes time and patience and apparently a lot of followers and streams so anyone reading this needs to do both. We die a little inside when talking about how you have to whore yourself over the socials but they are an integral part of the industry these days and we are grateful for every single person who supports us. Now go buy our single and get a ticket to the gig. Keep in touch with us at - https://www.facebook.com/mybydevices/