Got Swag

24 May 2012 | 7:39 am | Bryget Chrisfield

Devin: 'You want us to lick Iggy Pop's face? Challenge accepted.'

Speaking from his apartment in Brooklyn, Devin Therriault (who's dropped the exotic surname these days) chuckles when asked whether his current lodgings are an improvement on the basement apartment in which he composed much of the material on debut offering, Romancing. “It's much better,” he reckons. “It's got windows, it has two rooms – yeah, it's real nice. It's the best apartment I've had.” A room with a view? “It's a back view of [what] looks like a trash dump.”

Therriault was also working a terrible job at a Brooklyn shipping warehouse around this creative time and so the subject of his povo culinary habits is raised. “I would eat the same thing every day, which was a salami and cheese sandwich with mustard, because everything else was deadly,” the frontman describes his lunchtime rations. “But I just went to the place that was there. There's only one option over there: it's called John & Frank's. It's a terrible little deli but, yeah, I ate that every day for two years. That's the only place in walking distance from the warehouse. It's just desolate, there's nothing there. There's no reason for you to be there at all if you didn't work there.”

It's difficult to find anything written about the New Yorker that doesn't include the word 'swagger'. “It's alright. I mean, that's a popular word right now. Especially in New York, like, everyone's 'swag', 'swag', you know what I mean? So obviously they mean like Jagger - you know, vintage swag. I think it's from I Don't Think I, that song, and I think maybe more with the demo – I think the demo version is better than the album version but, yeah, I dunno, it's just the attitude is different to the Devin persona that is singing the songs. The whole Romancing thing, I mean there's definitely a sense of humour about it. It's about fun, which I think fun is sort of like neglected right now at shows.” Ahem, what about The Hives? “He [Howlin' Pelle Almqvist]'s unbelievable!” Therriault admits. “Yeah, I really like them. I remember he did a battle of the bands – The Hives and The Vines – and it was really cool. [The Hives] won.”

Much like the hallowed definite article bands of which he speaks, Therriault is dedicated to reinstating rock. On his Romancing set, the frontman explains, “It's all rock and I think [the songs are] also on a real specific theme, even though each song is really different in general. I have a very specific world that the songs fit in, so thematically they're all pretty similar. The setting is pretty similar, but I like to mess around. Obviously you don't wanna do the same thing all the time.”

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His band received rave reviews from their maiden South By Southwest showcases: “We drove 24 hours, we played a bunch of shows. The best show was at Stubb's, which is a great venue anyway down there, and that was one of the only shows we played at night. We played after midnight so we actually had a crowd that wasn't hungover, you know what I mean? And it wasn't daylight and we weren't outside. So, I mean, it was a great crowd and a great show and the whole thing was great. We got a lotta free stuff too.” Such as? “We got these crazy Sonos speakers that one of the venues gave us that I can't figure out how to use still, and I wish I could – they're very expensive. I just wanna hook 'em up to my laptop so I can hear YouTube and stuff louder, but I think you can only use it within the program. I don't think you can just use them as separate speakers. I dunno, it's really complicated and annoying.” When it's recommended that Therriault should look into selling these on... “I wish! I wish I could sell them. That was my initial plan, but no one has any money in New York anymore. I've listed all this stuff on Craigslist and I've not heard from anybody.”

Now that Therriault's landed a deal and has resigned from the shipping warehouse, what would be his most expensive purchase to date? “Um, I think my guitar, which is a [Gibson] Firebird that's in the video for Masochist. It's a white Firebird. It was my dream guitar. I bought it for like $US1,600, which I would have never been able to save [for] alone. I got it 'cause of the advance that Frenchkiss gave me, and I bought it and I hate it. I don't think it's very functional. It sounds good and looks good, but I just don't like the way it plays and it breaks strings. And that's what messed me up when we went to London for the first time. Our first show – busted a string on the third song. It was a disaster. I was like, 'Ow.' We had another guitar with us, but it just messes up everything. Everyone knows, you know, a disaster happened and it sorta blew up the whole vibe. [The guitar]'s just disappointing. I can't really rely on it. I'm in the process of still trying to save it. We upgraded the strings: I'm playing with elevens on it, which are like – you can't even bend 'em. I'm just trying to do all these different things, but, I dunno, it's just not that practical.”

So which rockin' tracks would Therriault crank from the jukebox? “I would say Iggy Pop, 'cause he really is my favourite. Raw Power is a classic rock song, you know. The riff, I almost play it every day just to remind myself. I mean, the guitar riff – that is rock right there. It's just unbelievable. That's one of my favourites.”

Therriault confesses that he hopes to meet Pop one day, “and James Williamson too. I think he's the best guitarist. He's just crazy.” When it's suggested that Pop looks like someone who would appreciate having his face licked, Therriault chuckles, “Oh, yeah, I might try that. It all depends on the circumstance.” Let's just hope there's someone there to record that moment for posterity.

After stumbling upon a sensational comment under Therriault's I Don't Think I clip on YouTube, it's time to share: “I hear nothing but the sound of gold and hot bitches raining from the heavens,” posts “catfeces”. Devin takes a moment: “Wow, see that's swag. There's a swag to that song that people like and, there you go, that's the definition.” He then agrees this post contains lyrics that belong in song. “Yeah, I might take that.”