Since their debut show on the 20th of August this year at The Sandringham Hotel in Newtown, Melody Black have had a great response from the fans. With core members John Devoy and Leeno Dee making up the band, some may have thought this would be a Jerk or Ink rehash. But when those disbelievers heard Melody Black, their suspicions were quickly put to rest. While they are still in the process of mixing their debut album, Christine Caruana got the chance to sit down with Leeno and John to talk about their rising success, their past and of course the debut album.
Q. You are both fairly prominent members in the Australian music scene, but for the readers who aren’t up to date with the who’s who of the Australian rock scene, could you introduce yourselves?
J: I’m Johnathan Devoy, singer…excellent chef. [Laughs] Seriously though, I sang in another band with Leeno called Ink, and another with Leeno called Jerk. I played bass in a band called Anxiety Whispers, singer for a band called The Vandolls for a little while, and solo artist. That’s about it for me I think.
L: I think you covered it all. I’m Leeno Dee and for me, I guess the first thing I was a part of was The Candy Harlots. Phil who is guitarist in Melody Black, was guitarist for Candy Harlots. After that there were a few little projects here and there, but the next one that really matters is Jerk, and then Ink of course, and now Melody Black.
Q. With you Leeno, it’s always been music, but John you actually started as an actor. What made you switch to the life of a musician?
J: To be honest, creative satisfaction. Of course, money was always awesome, acting wise. Still is, haven’t done any in five odd years, but every now and then I still get royalties for Queen of The Damned. But choosing between being not me, and wanting to be me, musically it’s a lot easier to get that stuff out, you actually get the chance to be you. Instead of move hear, say this, kind of thing. Not that I wouldn’t do acting if it ever came up again, but music is far more satisfying, really.
Q. Leeno, have you done anything other than music we don’t know about?
L: No, with me it’s always been music. Always been in bands. I’m not an actor or anything like that. Just the day jobs needed to feed the habit of being in a band.
Q. Just switching on to what we are really here to talk about, Melody Black. Could you explain how this new project came to being?
L: Well it really started with stuff I was writing while we were in Jerk. The music I liked to write, just weren’t right for Jerk, so I just kept it on the side. And I always had this idea that one day I’d do something with it on a side project. Tubby, who I’ve played in bands with before, moved back up to Sydney and told me he wanted to be in a band again, and so we started on this idea to start it when we had a chance. So as soon as Ink sort of, went to sleep for a little while, I just thought, now is the time. I had this man [Devoy], why would I look anywhere else? And I had a guitarist that was just dying to do something again. So it sort of came together really fast in a way, which was great. Within a month we were doing a show.
Q. Now that Melody Black is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, do you think you’ll continue with Ink, or leave it be?
J: The one thing about Ink, and Leeno can confirm this, it will always be there. People’s focuses are other places right now, Dan is in LA, Aaron is doing his Daysend stuff, and we would never stop him from doing that, Cilia’s busy, we’re busy, it’s just a matter of wait for the right time to get it going again. The official explanation is, it’s on blocks in the backyard, we’re waiting on some parts, the oil is draining right now. What I’ve learnt lately is, patience is the key. If we do it when we aren’t all there 100% it just wouldn’t work.
L: When you really think about it, Ink is made up of so many different elements, everyone needs to be corralled at the same time to be ready for it. With Melody Black, no one does it because they have to, everyone is doing it because they want to. Everyone has got plenty on their plate, everyone is busy, but everyone is doing it because it’s so easy. And it feels good, so our focus is here.
Q. Since that first gig in August, you’ve been climbing steadily and getting a great response from fans.
L: Yeah, it’s been a good incline, without really trying, which is great. For me it just reinforces the fact that we’ve got some great songs, great band and the chemistry is there. I know it’s the really cliché thing to say about chemistry, but I’d be damned if I didn’t feel it. After all the bands I’ve been in, I know chemistry when it hits me and when all four of us got into the room for our first jam, we just looked at each other as if the band had been around forever.
Q. Were you expecting such a large response, especially from the first gig?
L: To a degree because you have to have a level of confidence.
J: I was certainly hoping for it!
L: Yeah, if you put yourself out there, you have to be confident you have something cool, otherwise there is no point. There is a lot of competition, a lot of great bands out there. I think maybe we thought it was going to be good, just not that good.
J: It was definitely a good feeling. A lot of people may have come down just thinking “ok is these guys again, let’s see what happens.” Same thing happened with the first Ink show and the Jerk fans. Some got what they weren’t expecting, but the ones that stayed, stay.
Q. When is the album set for release?
L: We haven’t actually had time to talk about that yet. But our initial idea was to get in and record it really fast, get it mixed really fast and then get it out really fast. We hit a tiny snag with that, not necessarily a bad thing though. We did record it really fast, did everything in something like twenty hours.
J: We booked twenty hours, recording time was six.
L: Yeah, so we recorded it pretty much live with the band and then went back and just added a few bits in. We had in done in no time. The initial mixes however, wasn’t going where we wanted it to go, so we handed the job on to someone else. And that is good, we’re just trying to work around, so it’s taking a little longer than we hoped. But the results are really good. We have to look at now, that it is getting close to the end of the year, and while things are going well for us, we don’t want to put something out there that we really value if it’s just going to get lost. It might be a matter of holding out till January. We are planning a video to shoot as well, you know we’re going to do it right.
Q. Is a national tour planned with the release of the album?
L: Definitely, we want to play in everywhere. We get so many emails, and comments on Facebook telling us to come to Melbourne, come to Perth, so yeah definitely going to take it out there.
J: And that’s the thing, do we go out there without a product or wait? That’s why I made the video, it gives people an opportunity to see what our shows are like. I mean YouTube is making everyone famous these days.
Q. What is your greatest highlight spanning your whole careers?
J: I think we’re going to tell the same story. All I can say is it was about 4 o’clock in the morning, we had about three bottles of tequila…and that’s all I’m willing to say, Leeno can fill in the rest.
L: Ok, yeah so we were mixing the Jerk album and those three weeks really were highlights. Anyway, we were invited to the Ozzfest end of tour party. People wanted our photos, didn’t know who we were, but we looked like we were meant to be there. I mean I was talking to the girl from Hanzel und Gretyl and only realised when we were in the car! It’s moments like that, that are the highlights.
J: There is so many though. I think when you do support for these big bands, when they actually treat you with respect and not like a peon beneath them, is always a highlight. There is never one highlight really.
Q. Getting back on to the album, what can people expect from it?
L: A whole bunch of really good tunes, performed really well I think..I don’t know really.
J: You’ll hear things from people in the band that you wouldn’t have ever heard them do before. Think, Nirvana and The Sex Pistols doing Garbage. It’s not a heavy album, but it’s no walk in the park. It’s not thrashy, but it still has energy.
L: There is no song over four minutes. I think it’s the music that is a bit lacking at the moment. It’s not 80’s glam metal or anything like that, it’s more like 70’s meets now.
Q. Would you be happy to have your stuff played on the radio? Or do you one of those bands who don’t want anything to do with commercial radio?
J: You know what? I don’t care who plays it, who likes it, I just want it heard. If radio plays it then great, it means more people will hear it, if not, well there is nothing you can do about that.
L: We’ve been in weird situations before in the past, where a song that would be perfect for a certain radio station, won’t play it, but then they play the song, that you would never expect them to. It can’t really be explained. All we really consider though with this album is that we like it first, and then we put it out there and it’s up to everyone else to decide.
I think the problem is some bands are so concerned with their “cred” they don’t want radio to play their stuff.
J: Really though, if that’s their attitude then do something else. The music you make is not for you, it’s for everyone else, and it’s made to be heard.
L: It’s not a sin to make money from doing what you love.
J: Exactly. People hate record companies, but what they don’t realise is they are better at getting the record out there, then what you are. They aren’t just going out with shotguns and taking people’s money, they sell records, and sell them well. You can’t turn your back on one part of the industry, really.
L: The whole underground, I’m-too-cool thing just makes me laugh really. To make music it takes money. Every guitarist wants to play the best guitar thRough the best amp, but you can’t do that without money. Even the dishevelled I don’t care look needs money to make!
Q. Did you have a favourite moment during the recording of the album?
L: For me it was just hearing it.
J: Yeah, just doing it. We’d do three takes and be done. It was really good.
Q. What do you hope to achieve from Melody Black?
L: I have to answer this one. We’ve had so many missed opportunities in the past. Bands breaking up for no reason, Jerk got as far as LA and getting looked at by booking agencies and then it was cut short. With Melody Black, we’re just going to do it and see where it takes us. I’ve had my hopes up before and then dashed. So, as long as it feels good and I can see as far as the next show, or next album, we’ll be happy with that.
J: At the end of the day, it’s just about playing good songs with good people. Sounds too cliché to say, but it’s not. For my money I’d like to see it never stop. I can picture it in so many places, so just let it do what it does because at the moment it has its own life.
Q. Well, that’s all the questions I have for today. Any parting words?
L: I want to thank everyone who has shown their support. Come along for the ride, you won’t be disappointed.
Q. When can we next see Melody Black in action?
L: Next show is “Nightmare Before Christmas” with Familia and Black Label at The Sandringham Hotel, December 23rd.
J: I would also like to second that thanks.
And thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, and good luck with everything.
L: You’re welcome, thank you.
J: Thank you.