The Murder City Devils are one of the few bands making some noise, kicking some ass, and still managing to have as much fun as possible while they do it, in a rock climate that can currently be rather boring. The group recently came to down to drive the lucky locals in attendance into a mad frenzy at the Troubador in Hollywood. Known for their ability to tear the roof off the “mother-bleeper” and deliver the rock, those in attendance were anything but let down. To make a short story shorter, the kids definitely “lost their shit”, plenty of beer spitting and crowd-shout-a-longs on stage included. Before the rock show, Buddyhead parked it at the club’s bar while Nate and Spencer told us what was new and old while they also threw a few “early ones” back. Interview by Aaron Icarus. Photos by Travis Keller.
buddyhead – so tell us your names and what you do in the devils.
nate – i’m nate and i play guitar.
spencer – my name is spencer and i sing.
buddyhead – ok… maybe it was a couple years ago when josh from behead the prophet told me that he is actually the person that came up with your band name. is this true?
nate – yes, it is true. there was a band called the murder city devils in olympia. josh wasn’t in it, he just named it. quitty was in it, who is also in behead the prophet and now the tight bro’s, and…
spencer – larry.
nate – yeah, larry from the rickets was in it too. they were around for just a little while. they only played a couple of shows. it was probably a year and a half or two years later when we were starting up and needed a name, so we called them up and asked them if we could use it. so, we had their blessing.
spencer – yes. josh is the master of coming up with band names. he’s come up with shit that’s amazing. he has a whole list of them.
buddyhead – well yeah, just look at his bands’ names. also, cece from subpop said something about some of you guys backing duffs band in japan?
nate – yeah, cody and dan were gonna play in a band with duff and go to japan to play some big festival. it ended up getting canceled though. they actually only did one guns n roses song though.
spencer – it was also kim from the fastbacks playing in it.
nate – yeah, they practiced in our practice space, and dan has a soldano head that duff just left there for a long time. duff just leaves his stuff all over the place. so, we started using duffs’ head at shows, and dan liked it better than his head. then, when we recorded our last album, duff left one of his amps at the studio we were recording at, so i used his amp to record all the tracks with it.
spencer – it was awesome. the amp in our practice space didn’t say anything on it except on the front in sharpie marker, it just said DUFF.
buddyhead – awesome. were you guys ever guns n roses fans?
nate – huge.
spencer – yes, all of us. we’ve played with other bands duff has been in too, and hanging out in a backstage area with duff is such a funny thing. it just seems so ridiculous.
nate – yeah, it’s like, “you were in the biggest band in the world, what are you doing back here?” he’s a really cool guy.
buddyhead – is it cool for you guys to play hollywood in a place like this where there is so much rock history? like, izzy from guns n roses pissed on the bar right here once.
nate – it’s awesome.
spencer – i’m mostly stoked that neil diamond played the troubadour.
nate – i like all the rock n roll stuff down here, it’s totally different than any other place in the country.
buddyhead – did you follow the hollywood rock stuff in the 80′s?
nate – in a way. i mean, i wasn’t into poison or anything. the bands that lasted through that period were like motley crue… and then guns n roses was sooo separate from that.
buddyhead – yeah, totally.
spencer – none of us were like heshers or anything, but we did really love guns n roses growing up, and still now really love them. being in l.a. is fun cos it’s just so ridiculous in so many ways. i wouldn’t want to live here, but visiting is great.
buddyhead – why wouldn’t you want to live here?
spencer – well… everything is so spread out, and you’d have to own a car, and it seems like such a pain in the ass. it’s real dirty and seems like it would be depressing after awhile.
buddyhead – that’s funny you’d say that coming from the northwest where everybody is depressed and offing themselves.
spencer – it’s just so easy to get into trouble here. there’s just too much temptation.
nate – we met rick james last night.
buddyhead – really?
spencer – haha, speaking of temptation…
nate – he was at our hotel. we were checking in and i was standing in front by the valet spot, and i heard this singing all souled out, and all these people were clapping, and i was like, “what the hell is going on up there?” so then, rick james comes strutting down the stairs hanging out with all these ho’s. i was just like, “woah, it’s rick james!”
spencer – then cody and dan came up just as he was getting into his limo, and they were like, “mr. james! mr. james!” so he rolled down his window and he signed the piece of paper they gave him, “to the murder city devils, peace and sex, rick james.”
nate – it’s the most valuable thing any of us have now.
spencer – we’re totally gonna frame it. the irony of it, besides peace and sex is so…
nate – or kidnap someone and burn them with crackpipes.
buddyhead – hahaha! so you say it’s easy to get into trouble here, have you ever gotten into trouble here?
spencer – (quickly) no! haha.
buddyhead – ohhh, c’mon.
nate – no, you just end up running around and staying out too late and go… places…
buddyhead – what kind of “places”?
nate – uhhhh, after hours bars or whatever. you just end up getting really drunk and we always stay at the same hotel, and we always get kicked out of the hot tub in the middle of the night, and the security always comes to tell us to quiet down…
buddyhead – what hotel do you stay at?
nate – we stay at the roosevelt. we just come down here and have a rocknroll time.
buddyhead – do you guys ever get into any fights?
nate – naw. one time this guy who was hanging out with us got his face busted up at a denny’s. as a band we don’t fight with each other, and we don’t get into fights with other people.
buddyhead – i would think that since maybe your band leans towards the brasher side of things sometimes, that you might fall into a few altercations resulting from that maybe?
spencer – um, i think that people get that we’re not tough guys looking for trouble. we’re just into drinking beer and having fun and stuff…
nate – we may get into trouble because we get really drunk and run around…
spencer – it’s not like aggressive though, it’s just having fun.
buddyhead – so when you started the band, was that what you wanted to do, just have fun? where did you originally want to go with this band?
spencer – we were all in punk bands.
buddyhead – what bands were you in?
nate – i was in the unabombers and this band called the black eyes. derek and dan were in a band called the death wish kids, and spencer was in a band called area 51 with derek and dan as well.
spencer – so we were all in these hardcore bands, and we just wanted to play rocknroll. when we started we thought we were, we were really trying, but really we were just playing more punk music. we started wanting to play older rocknroll punk stuff.
nate – and to really not be limited by, “hey that’s not fast enough or hardcore enough” or whatever. we just tried to take it back so we had more options as a band to write different types of songs and just play whatever we wanted to play.
buddyhead – were there any bands that were particular influences?
spencer – there’s more obvious stuff like iggy pop or the new york dolls or whatever.
nate – mudhoney.
spencer – yeah, also mudhoney as well. now it’s so broad, we kinda have our own thing.
nate – in the beginning we were more enthusiastic about claiming influences, but now i feel what we’re doing doesn’t really relate to where we originally started.
buddyhead – so what’s the story with the new album?
nate – we just finished the record in december, so it should be out in june. now we’re just starting to tour for it.
buddyhead – what kind of sound does it have compared to your earlier work?
nate – it still sounds like us i think. the difference between the first and second album was really big. the difference between the second and third is equally as big, yet it still sounds like us from the first.
spencer – i really like the first record, but i don’t think we were really that good. we weren’t as good at playing music and writing songs and executing them. we didn’t really know what we were doing as much. i think we’re better now and broader. we have more room to figure out what we want to do with things.
nate – also, we know how to write our own songs now. we were able to go into recording this album with a clearer definition of ourselves.
buddyhead – what have you guys been listening to lately?
nate – i’ve been listening to a lot of nick cave and soundtracks actually… like western stuff like “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” a lot of blues stuff as well and old jazz.
spencer – i’ve been listening to lee hazelwood, nancy sinatra… and neil diamond, and also nick cave quite a bit. the “folkways smithsonian ballads” cd is what i’ve been listening to a lot too.
buddyhead – have you heard the stooges “fun house” box set yet?
nate – yeah, i want to hear that really bad.
spencer – isn’t it all the complete sessions? like every take?
buddyhead – yeah, it’s awesome.
spencer – do you have it? it’s really expensive isn’t it?
buddyhead – yes. it’s awesome. it cost me 140 bucks.
spencer – that seems like it would be worth it though. it seems like the kind of thing where you’d actually want to study it more than anything.
buddyhead – exactly. it’s like, you’ve heard that album a million times, and there’s so many questions you’re left with, and it’s great to have all of them answered.
nate – i heard about that when we were recording and i wanted to hear it because i was thinking about recording so much.
spencer – does he change the lyrics?
buddyhead – yeah, he changes it up the whole way through.
spencer – that has been one of the most important inspirations to me. iggy pop and the way he… like how the lyrics i write are mine and i don’t have to do it one way all the time. like when we play live, i can change it and do it different every time and he totally justifies that.
buddyhead – how do you guys feel about the overwhelming amount of “rock” bands after you guys have now had a big part of popularizing it in the underground or whatever?
nate – it seems like the bands that are jumping on the bandwagon or whatever, are following more of the ac/dc and mc5 kind of thing. i don’t think we sound
like any of those types of bands. i think the bands that are doing that aren’t defining themselves as their own band as much.
spencer – we don’t have a formula where we’re like, ok we’re gonna be like mc5 or whatever. obviously those are bands that we love…
nate – i can’t play guitar like wayne kramer or angus young. when people ask, “how do you define yourself?” i say, “well you take bands people say we sound like, but you put them through us as a filter.”
spencer – as far as i’m concerned, every song we write is a response to music we listen to. it’s not so much trying to sound like another band, it’s trying to respond to another band. as far as rocknroll being the cool thing now, there’s always that 10 year circle of trends coming back. it doesn’t have anything to do with us. we’re a rock band and our influences are pretty much rock.
nate – when we started this band, we wanted it to be fun to go to a show again. we wanted to write songs that weren’t about anything but whatever… spencer – we kinda also wanted to just get on stage and be like, “yeah, check us out we’re awesome! we’re having fun, this rules.”
nate – kicking your ass.
spencer – yeah, that’s what we felt was missing from music.
nate – bands were being apologetic about being up there. like, “sorry you have to listen to this.” well then get the fuck off there, we’ll kick your ass.
spencer – we just wanted to do something that wasn’t boring.
buddyhead – anything else interesting besides meeting rick james happen this trip?
nate – well, the first show was in lake tahoe, and we drove all night to get there and showed up at about 11 in the morning. we started drinking then and then drank all day until 4 in the morning and everybody was pickled drunk. gabe got lost trying to find the house we were staying at, and the girl we were with got arrested trying to pick him up cos she was driving drunk trying to find gabe.
spencer – this girl ended up in jail… she owned this bar and let us drink as much as we wanted. we were all doing shots together.
nate – we were too drunk for our own good. it was just one of those things where you can’t be that drunk for that long without something going wrong.
nate – we bailed her out the next morning… oh well.
buddyhead – so the new record comes out when?
nate – june 6th. we’re also probably going to europe with zeke for 5 weeks, then back in time for the album to come out and then off to tour in support of that.
buddyhead – ok. thanks guys.
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