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Devilskin have spent years building a profile around the world through a strong campaign of international touring and high-energy live performance.
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With both their previous albums topping the New Zealand charts, the anticipation and excitement surrounding the release of the Hamilton quartet’s third studio album Red could be easily forgiven. But Fate is an unkind mistress, and COVID-19 forgives nothing.
“We’ve had to cancel all our gigs and everything surrounding it, the launch party and everything,” says vocal powerhouse Jennie Skulander, now in lockdown on the Shaky Isles. “But we’re still excited to be bringing it out! It will be available on all digital platforms, but any physical copies won’t be sent out or go into stores until after the lockdown is over. Hopefully it’s only four weeks, but you just can’t tell.”
Wellington’s Homegrown festival subsequently canned in line with the country’s heavy quarantine, Devilskin made up for the disappointment of their enforced cancellation by putting their full performance from the 2018 event on their YouTube channel. It was one way they were able to keep in front of the fans with the important third album about to drop.
“We wanted to do a show together, another intimate show, but we can’t even do that now,” Skulander explains. “We had really started building our fanbase in Europe and we were looking forward to going back there, but obviously that’s not going to happen for a while. I just think it’s going to rely on people around the world who’ve taken a liking to us sharing our music online, and that type of thing.”
We went into this album with at least 30 tracks, and we just had to cut them down.
[ Jennie Skulander ]
The band are doing their level best at sharing too, posting material across social media platforms in the lead up to Red’s release.
“We’re putting up snippets of music every day, and we just put a track out off the new album last week for people to hear,” she says – the latest single is upbeat rocker Everybody’s High But Me. There is also their monstrous pre-order package which Devilskin revealed in early March. “The box sets have been snapped up quite quick. We can’t send them off yet, but the interest is there and people are into it.”
The Red box set is a true collector’s gem of near-epic proportions, featuring patches, guitar picks, several metal pins, an autographed poster and the album, of course, on vinyl (red vinyl, obviously) that the band offered as an online item only. Like everything else in New Zealand at the moment though, they’ll now be held up until the country gets back to some level of normality. It’s a bit of a blow, especially considering the band had originally planned to have Red released in October last year. Work began right after their return from their Australian dates at Download, but the release date was pushed back. Ordinarily, that would have made little difference, but these are not ordinary times: “We finally came up with the date of April 3,” Skulander says, “and unfortunately it happens to be in the middle of a lockdown for us!”
“We went into this album with at least 30 tracks, and we just had to cut them down. All of us, plus our manager and our producer, decided on our favourite songs. Everyone voted for Sweet Release. That was everyone’s favourite, and then we went with what was our second choice, until we had chosen them all. It was pretty hard, and there’s a lot of songs that didn’t make the cut that could be on the next album.”
Given the current situation, the next album may not be so far off. With little else to do while restrictions are in place in New Zealand, songwriting might be already underway.
“I think the boys are [already writing],” the singer guesses. “We’re all stuck in our homes now, but they’ve got a studio set up and I’ll probably send some lyrics for things they might come up with.”
For now, however, all anyone can do is be patient. Having played at some of rock’s biggest shows, Skulander can’t wait to get amongst it again and maybe do another festival in Australia.
“We loved them,” she says of the Aussie Download shows. “They were a blast. We would love to do it again some day, if we can. We did the UK one a few years back, and that was just awesome! Our favourite memories are playing festivals like that. I’d never been to anything like Download before. I had been to a few Big Day Out’s, but they were nothing in comparison.”