Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (https://petesrocknewsandviews.com) July 29th, 2017
PD: What type of artist are you?
Kevin: Despyre is generally considered a metal band whose sound has been described as “pure metal”. We have a classic approach to our overall live sound and recording style. We tend to shy away from backing tracks, special effects and samples, focusing on the traditional power and melody that, to us is what makes metal so appealing. That’s not to say that we have any boundaries or limits of any kind, or not open to any new ideas going forward that will help get the message of a specific song across, it’s just that for our CD “IRRITATION” specifically, the evolution was very clean and we tried to emphasize on that in the recording. It’s also important to note that the mission of Despyre is driven by our shared aspiration to fulfill the band’s definition, which is simply to motivate passion and expression creatively, in whatever avenue the world has put you on, despite your circumstances. We want to entertain and inspire.
It’s also important to note that the mission of Despyre is driven by our shared aspiration to fulfill the band’s definition, which is simply to motivate passion and expression creatively, in whatever avenue the world has put you on, despite your circumstances.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
Kevin: The members of Despyre all have had wide-ranging careers in music with varied levels of success in the past but typically on the local level for the most part. The band was originally formed around 2011 under a different name with a subsequent release on an independent label that got a ton of critical acclaim, but the lack of marketing and promotion limited its reach and the band went into hiatus. Ironically, it was that CD that made its way to Life of Agony’s Joey Zampella, who appreciated the potential of the band’s pure intensity and offered to record us at his studio called NEST Studios. The band reformed and the subsequent recording was shopped to a limited number of worldwide labels and within days we were contacted by Tim King, the VP of artist relations at Pavement Records and also the bassist of the band SOIL, a two album deal was signed. Soon after, Despyre also teamed up with the M7 Agency and the release of our debut CD “IRRITATION” was put into motion, now set for Friday the 13t h , October, 2017. In the interim we’ve played a bunch of one-off shows and short runs on the east coast as the support host of major acts in preparation for a tour after the release.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Kevin: It may sound cliché, but for us, our biggest influences are under our own roofs. We are all blessed with immensely supportive families, wives and kids and we are truly motivated by their patience and support. The inspiration we get from their encouragement is a big motivator to push us towards our goals. Being in a band that takes a life of its own as Despyre has, takes a huge amount of time and effort, and without their backing, we really wouldn’t exist. We also give a ton of credence to NY’s own metal forefathers like Anthrax, LOA, Suffocation, Dream Theatre, Type O Negative, Manowar and the like, who have established the genuine, true New York metal sound… We see Despyre as a natural extension of that tradition.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
Kevin: On a purely material level, the band’s goal is to be totally self-sustaining, with the ability to focus all our attention on the simple artistic output. As we said, a band that’s amidst of the countdown to launch, requires a ton of effort that is sometimes more focused on the business end of the machine, and as artists this can be a bit unnatural, though quite necessary and unavoidable. Despyre is extremely fortunate to have mentors such as Joey Z, and ex-Antrax singer Dan Nelson, who keep us focused on what it takes to navigate the business of music, but can still be quite a daunting task at this stage. On a philosophical level, as artists, our goal is basically to be appreciated, not in an egocentric sense, but in the sense that we are making a connection with people through music. It’s really quite an achievement to make an impression or influence an emotion in someone you’ve never met and could be a world away. This is something that we never take for granted, which in turn pushes us to produce meaningful material worthy of that opportunity.
It’s really quite an achievement to make an impression or influence an emotion in someone you’ve never met and could be a world away.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
Kevin: The writing style of the band is a pretty varied process, with all the members having influence, but most songs typically originate from the string section. Often times Brad, Dennis (guitars) or I (bass) will come in with just a simple riff and the song will emerge from that foundation with Rob (vocals) laying his interpretation of lyrics over the band’s groundwork. Other times someone will come in with a more developed concept with lyrics and melodies, then the band will work as a unit to develop it. So essentially the finished product is wholly a group effort. The themes behind most, if not all of Despyre’s songs are based on some version of real life circumstances. Be it life or loss, love, trauma, desperation, dreams, frustration, anger, rage or sorrow…. all are on the table and these themes seem to develop and take a life all their own as the songs progress.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
Kevin: Having teenage and adolescent children, we are fortunate to have a nice array of “in house” social media directors, and our footprint on the major platforms, without the release of any music to date by the way, is growing substantially. As far as show promotion, with the signing of the band, this process is going through a pretty dramatic change. In the past, we would print and produce all our own promo materials, distribute them through our fans, friends and families, and frankly do whatever was required to get the word out. We also were very aware of the bands we agreed to support, as to appeal to the fans and of groups we personally admired and respect. Playing shows with Drowning Pool, Through Fire, Devil Driver, Death Angel, All That Remains, etc., significantly helped to elevate our base, and the response has been pretty overwhelming frankly. Now that the band has signed with Pavement and M7, the process is a bit different. We send our agent a list of blackout dates for the coming months, and the offers are screened by the label and presented to us. We still love to and aggressively promote, but the task is not totally our own anymore, which is a very cool benefit of having a label behind you.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
Kevin: The simple answer is, we all do it, but there are obvious pros and cons. The most obvious benefit to us is that the range of exposure is simply massive. There are no limits to the reach of where an artist’s work can be appreciated, and that market increases daily as internet access spreads to the most remote places on the planet. The detriment of it is pretty drastic as well, whereas the piracy or free downloading ability has really changed the landscape for musicians trying to make a career out of making music.
PD: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
Kevin: The days of a label or an executive therein financing a band’s livelihood based solely on their belief in an unproven artist’s material are basically a memory. The pure economics of the industry have been altered so extremely that most bands, even those with better than moderate success, need alternate income sources to survive. The tricky part is finding a balance in which both masters can be served without sacrificing too much on either front. The life of a father and a spouse in the music business can be pretty trying, but it is never, ever boring…and the rewards always seem to outweigh the efforts, particularly when a fan comes up to you and praises your work. That is truly priceless!
PD: What’s your claim to fame?
Kevin: Not sure if it’s a claim to fame per se, but Despyre’s signature notable achievements are almost always our last show…which, in show business is just the way it should be. We want our fans to leave a performance, no matter the crowd size or the venue, with a feeling of having seen something worthwhile and impressive, and we work and prepare extensively to achieve that. The recent success of the band has given us the opportunity to grow our live show and we see no boundaries or limits to where it will evolve, as long as the core remains the music.
We want our fans to leave a performance, no matter the crowd size or the venue, with a feeling of having seen something worthwhile and impressive,
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
Kevin: As a band as a whole, the most obvious answer is general ball breaking and practical jokes…both of which can be taken too far from time to time and Despyre is guilty of that to excess! Unfortunately, examples are a tightly guarded secret and not fit for public consumption. A few of us have been jamming together since we were in our early teens…in our rooms, playing along to Kill Em All, or Reign in Blood, or Piece of Mind…playing high school parties and eventually together on the road, so we can push the envelope pretty far without too much collateral damage!
PD: What are the biggest obstacles for artists?
Kevin: The biggest obstacle is probably the inability to foresee what it actually takes to get a band from local success to national and worldwide success. Anybody who thinks that you send a demo out to a few labels and a tour bus shows up to take you to an arena or a festival to open for a huge national act is somewhat diluted. To have any level of real success takes a huge amount of commitment and sacrifice. Perseverance and belief in your message is something that needs to be paramount, but an ability to take criticism from those outside your sphere is something that we’ve learned to practice and we believe it’s been a major reason why we’ve achieved what we have. It’s a common hazard for a band to be so committed to a song because they’ve been locked in a studio for months, creating it from thin air and breathing life into what didn’t exist before, that they have a hard time considering it just might not translate to an audience well. So, in simple terms, we believe that YOU are your own biggest obstacle, and hard work and dedication to your craft can overcome any barrier.
we believe that YOU are your own biggest obstacle, and hard work and dedication to your craft can overcome any barrier.
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.
Kevin: Well, a short tour is in the works by our management team in support of our CD this fall, but we do have a headlining record release show coming up in October on our home field, Long Island, with our friends from Misery Kills…and a show in support of Soil and Saving Abel September 28t h at the Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY. In the interim we are shooting a video for the single “IRRITATION” and that looks to be ready for worldwide release end of September. A Despyre show is always an event; loud, aggressive and compelling! We have a growing and intense fan base that increases show to show and without the benefit of any commercially available music, which to us is, a great sign. We would encourage everyone who enjoys hard and heavy, pure, powerful and intense metal to come out and share a night with Despyre…coming to a town near you!! We promise you won’t regret it!
Band location – Yaphank New York
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