How did the concept for R&R come about? What's the story behind it?
The idea was to give some insight into our inspiration by giving a nod to our songwriting hero's but also make it our own. The concept was half gospel songs, by and large, of the darker variety (Redemption) and half songs of vice heartbreak (Ruin).
What was the method of song selection? Were there a lot you considered that didn't make the album cut?
Holding to the concept and finding songs that were arrangeable for us was tricky. We considered dozens of songs and settled on the ones that clicked once we were all in the same room. It was a process of listening and trying out arrangements, a lot of songs were left on the cutting room floor due to trying to keep to the original idea of two side of a vinyl record.
Tell me about this version of Robert Johnson's Drunken Hearted Man - how does it exemplify Devil Makes Three's vibe?
Part of the reason Cooper, Lucia and I came together as a band was because of our similar musical tastes and preferences. Robert Johnson complete recordings were a gift from my brother when I was 11 years old. It started me on the path that eventually led to the forming of the band (Pete Bernhard)
what is a drunken hearted man in your eyes?
Someone desperate, someone who has watched their life fall apart and can’t find a meaningful way to change. This is tune about knowing that you’re doing wrong and not being able to stop yourself.
How long did it take to record? was the arrangement easy?
This is actually the first song we recorded in Nashville. Jerry Douglas is on Steel Guitar and Shawn Camp is playing fiddle and Lead guitar along with the band. The bare bones track was basically fully formed in one or two takes with minimal over dubs. Yeah this song came together easily and fit the band and style.
What stands about to you about this album compared to your past LPs?
Well, we've never really done a concept record before or other peoples songs, so this would be a first for us! It also features a ton of guests who tracked live with us. Emmylou Harris, Jerry Douglas, Tim O'brien, Darryl Scott and many more helped shape how these songs turned out in the studio. It is our most collaborative record to date.
Your new album Redemption & Ruin is a set of covers, a collection of songs that influenced you as individuals before you formed the band. Undoubtedly it was tough narrowing down the selections that ended up on the album; what were some of the songs that didn’t make the cut?
There were at least 20 songs that didn’t make the cut for various reasons. Most of them just didn’t click with the stripped down style of our band but some were songs we loved but for one reason or another we just didn’t feel like we were doing them justice. The ones that initially jumped out at us ended up on the album. Side A. of this album is all about how life can crush the human spirit down to a non-descript fine powder that is then power snorted up the the nostril of the giant Keith Richards in the sky. Side B. is about remolding whats left of that dust in the some semblance of a life and limping on down the road using whatever is needed to make that possible; picking up the pieces and finding a way to persevere. We plan to persevere, no matter what kind of dust we get ground down to.
Numerous guest stars joined you for the making of Redemption & Ruin. Can you share one of your favorite in-studio moment?
My favorite moments were recording with Jerry Douglas and Chance from OCMS. Jerry had a ton of ideas and we had him on more songs than any other player on the album. We just enjoyed listening to what he came up with and hearing people play off of each other in the studio. We recorded a Robert Johnson song with him and Willie Nelson, a few others as well.
You recently wrapped up a European tour with a performance in Dublin, Ireland. Did you have a chance to visit a pub with live traditional Irish music before you left? Was there time on the tour to do anything touristy?
Being a touring musician unfortunately means that you rarely get the chance to do anything touristy but last tour in Europe we did get to go to the guinness brewery and be in Dublin for St. Patricks Day. That may have been the most touristy thing I have ever done in my life (other than visiting Alcatraz Prison, which is awesome by the way). I did get to see some traditional Irish music in a small pub and it was one of the best shows I have ever seen hand down, I may have cried a little bit. My father lived in Dublin when he was a kid so it was great to get a chance to visit.
There’s a video clip on Facebook of the band spinning a vinyl test pressing copy of Redemption & Ruin. Are any of you big on collecting or listening to music on vinyl? What is the latest “discovery” that you found on vinyl?
Yes! We all collect vinyl and listen to vinyl, my collection is probably the smallest of the three of us. I recently got my friend Marisa Anderson’s new album Into The Light on vinyl and a few compilations of old rock-a-billy stuff when we were in Belgium. The point of our new album was to have the concept split between two sides of a vinyl album; Redemption side and Ruin side. We love thinking of our albums in terms of side A and side B. Hopefully the fans will spring for the vinyl if they have the proper equippment to play the antiquated medium.
You’re enjoying about a 60-day break from touring right now before your North American tour begins in mid-September, which means you’re not on the road on Aug. 26 when Redemption & Ruin drops. Will there though be some sort of show that day, or how will you celebrate?
We’d like to give everyone a chance to listen to the album for a minute before we get out on the road.
But personally we plan to set something on fire to celebrate the release of this album. What we plan to set on fire has yet to be determined. It will be a private burning of some sort.
It looks like the last festival that you’ll play this summer is the Roots ‘n’ Blues ‘n’ BBQ festival in Columbia, Missouri. Are there other acts playing that event that are friends of yours that you’re looking forward to catching up with?
It is a great line up this year! I’d like to see Shovels And Rope again for sure.