The Devon graves effect

« I’ll try to give short answers but that’s the hardest thing in the world for me to do », claims Devon Graves at the beginning of the interview. We’re warned! What’s more, we had many questions to ask the guitarist / singer / flautist. As a result, we get such a rich and dense interview. Devon Graves (whose real name is Buddy Lackey, but he doesn’t like being called so), shows a lot of passion throughout this interview, but also a stunning and nearly frightening honesty. That’s how we learn what encouraged him to switch from Psychotic Waltz to Deadsoul Tribe, then from this one to his brand new band, The Shadow Theory, a kind of « dream team » he seems very proud of, and very hopeful for the band’s future. But his words about the Psychotic Waltz ‘s carrier are even more striking, about their unrealistic hopes and their disappointments of never having seized the opportunities, and finally the amazement they felt when seeing the band achieving an iconic status.

Then, Devon gives us a dark overview of the progressive scene, from which he’s very close, paradoxically as it may seem. He also talks about him, and reveals us his joys and doubts…

Let’s end this introduction with a funny anecdote : in 2004, Deadsoul tribe was performing at the Transclub, in Lyon (they were the support act for Rage). I precisely remember a young girl (very charming, but that’s not the point.) While the band was playing on stage, she was standing still right in front of it, apart from the crowd, and she was so motionless that it seemed her body didn’t mean anything for her. Some tears were falling down her cheek, some lively droplets full of passion. What she was feeling at this moment seemed so strong that it was hard for me to look away, as if a light-beam was encircling her. This is, precisely, what we call the Devon Graves effect.

« I think that a lot of progressive metal bands suffer in live performances because the musicians are not performance minded: they are technique minded. They are concentrating on their guitar lines and basically come and just stand there. That’s my take on it. It is not everybody but that seems to be the disposition of prog bands, that’s why I’m not into prog bands. I like the passion of the performance.« 

Radio Metal : A year ago you have announced the break up of Deadsoul Tribe. The reasons given were kind of blurry but they suggested a kind of disappointment, despite the pride of what you guys had accomplished. It looks like you were disappointed of the fact that you failed at getting your music earn more recognition. Is recognition something you’re looking forward to in music?

Devon Graves : I never really announced that we were broken up, I never said so. What I did say is that I was putting it on ice for a while. I just knew that I wanted to really try The Shadow Theory to try something new and I knew that I needed to give it my full attention. In fact The Shadow Theory has been waiting for me for about four years. They have been waiting for me through two Deadsoul Tribe albums, through three or four tours and it was always a thing of priority. I was making a living out of Deadsoul Tribe so I could not really afford to stop a momentum but at the same time I did want to go into something new. My frustration is not about recognition, it was more about the fact that Deadsoul Tribe was an intent to go a little more main stream and try to make a more modern metal out of a rock band, just embracing a more modern style of rock music that I happened to like and trying to do something a little less technical. I would have liked to get us on a major label but that’s not what happened. I got signed to a progressive label and maybe because of that and maybe because of my past associations, I remained in the progressive vein of music. And because of this, the band was a little harshly criticized because inevitably so, we were not, musically, technically, up to the level of the prog bands that we were playing amongst. So I did start to think “well, this is what I am, I am going to be prog no matter what I do so I probably had better surround myself with some players who are really up to this task”. First of all, it was about responding to that change and responding to the criticism but also about doing something completely new. So I told the guys in Deadsoul Tribe “look, I’m going to take a break for I don’t know, two or three years because I want to do this new band and I want to spend all the time making the album and I want to go on the road, I really want to see this through without interrupting it and trying to see how far we can go.”

Maybe there is some truth about what you said about seeking some recognition. Of course, we all want to succeed; we all want to have as many fans as possible. Yes I’m certainly hoping that it will follow, especially with having such a great band now. But Deadsoul Tribe was a solo project, you know what I mean? You had two Deadsoul Tribe: you had Deadsoul Tribe albums which I made basically alone and my friend Adel played the drums. Then I had a live band who was just friends of mine that could barely play but who looked really cool, I thought, so I said “ok I teach them how to play my songs and we will go out.” I wanted to play live and I needed a band but that was me writing everything, creating everything, producing, basically carrying the whole project on my own shoulders. The Shadow Theory is very different from that, I am just one in the band, I’m really just writing my vocal parts. The keyboardist and the guitarist are the main composers. I’m just kind of acting more like a producer in the musical creation, choosing the songs I like, choosing the parts of the songs I like, putting them together in a way I think that makes the song the strongest, doing a lot of arranging stuff but basically I don’t have near the creative burden that I had with Deadsoul Tribe and it is very refreshing! I can take all the focus and all the energy and all the effort and put it just into my singing.

To make it clear, Deadsoul Tribe is not really over then?

Not necessarily, I was telling people five years ago that Psychotic Waltz was over and now I am back with that band. It goes to show that these sorts of things are never really permanent; it just depends on what kind of demand there’s going to be in the future you know. If five years down a road, the whole metal scene is begging me to get back with Deadsoul Tribe, I will probably do it. But in the mean time now it just looks like I am going to be too busy by having The Shadow Theory. I thought there would not be much calls for Deadsoul Tribe, I did not think I would get a lot of offers for Deadsoul Tribe concerts as long as the Shadow Theory exists. In fact, that was what I was so scary about: doing a band while I was making a living from Deadsoul Tribe. I am just thinking objectively that the promoters and stuff are going to be more interested in The Shadow Theory. So I had that in mind and said that I was going to put Deadsoul Tribe to rest for a while. But now that I am also back with Psychotic Waltz. I think that makes the likeliness of Deadsoul tribe concerts even that less possible but you never know, I don’t know that for a fact, it is only what I expect.

What makes you think that the promoters would be more interested in the Shadow Theory rather than Deadsoul Tribe?

It is just because of the musicians that I am playing with. I think that this band is absolute monster! I met these guys when I was on the road and I met them by seeing them perform, I chose them on this. They had on one hand this technical ability which was lacking in Deadsoul Tribe and on the other hand they had that passion which I found was lacking in most progressive acts. I think that a lot of progressive metal bands suffer in live performances because the musicians are not performance minded: they are technique minded. They are concentrating on their guitar lines and basically come and just stand there. That’s my take on it. It is not everybody but that seems to be the disposition of prog bands, that’s why I’m not into prog bands. I like the passion of the performance. So I found these guys and they had both, they had everything! I just expect that it’s going to only entertain people, and when it entertains people, I imagine that it’s going to be profitable for promoters to want to get this band on a stage. It is only my way of thinking; I don’t know if it is going to be a fact, it is only my idea.

« A lot of my songs in the past were always something philosophical and after a while you can just feel like blablabla, I’m sick of hearing my own self preach« 

When The Shadow Theory was formed, drummer Mike Terrana was part of it. But he’s not anymore. What happened?

Actually my first choice was Johanne James but when I asked him right after the Threshold tour if he wanted to be part of the band he turned me down. He said he was too busy; he has no time to do it. The following year we toured with Rage, Deadsoul Tribe was supporting Rage, and I really became a big fan of Mike Terrana. I really admired his playing so I asked him and he said yes. So for the three years that followed, while this band was still just a kind of a concept and not a reality, Mike Terrana was the drummer but when the band started to come into reality, it’s when reality got a little bit too real and I realised what Mike Terrana fees were gonna be… (laughs) It was way too much! I didn’t want to pay that much and I was also very concerned since he is on about every other album in the metal scene. He is, true to the word, a professional musician, he does this for a living and he plays band after band after band, he takes high fees for what he does and he is certainly going where the money is. I can’t promise that’s going to be with me, especially when it comes to the stage, when he is playing with Tarja and Masterplan and all these other groups, he probably wouldn’t have time to tour with The Shadow Theory especially as we try to struggle our way up in this uncertain business. So I was interested in finding a guy that would be more of a band member. Then I looked up Edward (Warby) from Gorefest and he accepted the proposition to do the album but he could not commit touring. At that time my bass player Kris (Gildenlöw) suggested me “Hey why don’t you try Johanne James? I always wanted to be on an album with Johanne James!” I explained that he already turned me down two or three years before. So I also talked to the record label trying to get them to increase the budget to possibly afford Mike Terrana, probably before I approached Edward, and Thomas Waber (managing director of InsideOutMusic) said “Hey why don’t you look up Johanne James?” (laughs) So I said “well, maybe that’s must be some sort of an omen, maybe I will give him a call again and ask him again.” I guess time has passed and I sent him an email and also sent him some of the demo and he really liked the music and this time he said yes, he would love to do it. He said he would also be open to do touring and being a band member. I really liked that. I was really happy to have him at last and I am really glad it turned up the way it did because when I had him in the studio, doing the tracks… You know, I had forgotten how much I really liked his playing until I had him here recording. I was so blown away with his performance and his focus and how he came so prepared and how he knew the songs so well and how easy it was to do the sessions with him. I was just so proud to have him! So yes, it is having a guy like that and having a bass player like Kris and a guitarist like Arne that I do expect we will probably have more success in the progressive scene than with a band like Deadsoul Tribe.

By the way, Kristoffer Guildenlöw at one point played with his brother in Pain Of Salvation. Isn’t he sometimes missing playing with his brother?

I don’t know, maybe, I suppose… But to be honest I think he is a little fed up with the metal period. I think that Kris wanted to do something on his own he’d like to do some mellow things. I had that sort of envy too, I’d like to do that also but somehow I can’t get away from it once I started to do this heavy music, it kind of gets in my blood… But Kris is also another professional; he plays with a lot of people. I think that he probably misses his brother; I am just imagining he is missing playing with his brother, but I think he is more interested in exploring his own talents, doing his own composing; he is working on a solo album. He is very talented! He can play really nice acoustic guitar he can play the piano, he is a good singer and I think he has a lot in himself to express. I think he probably wants to explore that a little bit.

Apparently the album “Behind The Black Veil” tells a horror story of a man who wakes from one nightmare into another, into another until he can no longer tell where the dream ends and reality begins… So what is concretely the story of the album about?

It is a ghost story. The main character is a rock star drug addict, he is a guy who has been wealthy but who has basically missed his entire life, he has been married but was never there; he is a kind of self-centred guy. The story begins with him lying in his hotel room, in front of the TV; there is a drug needle in his arm he is coming in and out of consciousness. He is looking at a coffee table and there is a train ticket on this table, he is trying to remember where he has to go in the morning. He can’t remember where it is but he knows it is something important. Then he passes out and begins to dream and then it begins to become a nightmare and then he wakes up from the nightmare and then somehow the reality in which he wakes up begins to distort into what must also be a dream and this continues and continues. This is now the first song which ends with an alarm clock and then, the second song. He is now at the train station and he is thinking about what happen to him on the train, that’s what the song’s theme is about. He thinks “no way it could have happened to me, I must have fallen asleep, that must have been a dream.” Then he goes into the taxi cab which is the third song, the taxi cab driver tells him that he already knows where he is going, “don’t worry about it your drive has already been paid for” and he has to fuck with his mind in a very severe way on the way and every time he goes to a new song, it’s just a new point in the story but every time he is in a new point, like when he reaches the house, he realises that the place is somehow familiar and he gets emotion “oh I realise I am dreaming this” and it keeps going on and on until the last song where what really happens to him becomes revealed and so that song ends with an alarm clock which hopefully create the question mark. I don’t want to tell you too much details otherwise it would be like explaining a whole story of a movie but generally, to give you a little insight, this is a ghost story.

It’s your first concept album. Why now? Why didn’t you write one before?

I don’t know why I didn’t write one before. I guess I just wrote song by song by song. I never really thought of doing a concept album…Okay that’s not true. I had the thought of doing a concept album and I had the story but the story was such a great huge story that I’ve never really written it yet. I only had it in mind and where it was going to go. Actually now this is my plan to take that story to the next Shadow Theory album because I want to continue this recolour music rock cinema or cinematic metal. We would like to be somewhere between metal music and a film score and that lends itself very well to storytelling and we want to continue into this. But I did it now just because this is my eleventh album I think and it is just my attempt to try something new, you know, a lot of my songs in the past were always something philosophical and after a while you can just feel like blablabla, I’m sick of hearing my own self preach, you know what I mean? It was just trying to do something I’ve never done before, trying to bring something new, trying to keep the interest for me and the challenge for me is to continue the story from one song to the next, creating episodes and so on. I didn’t begin this album with a concept, I am not even really happy with this word of “concept album” because it is a story and “concept album” sounds a little pretentious to me and considering what was the big concept behind it my idea was that I was going to write ghost stories and each song was just a little short story but the motif would be like horror, classic, old-fashioned horror. But afterwards, I don’t know, maybe four or five songs, I started to see how I could tie some of the songs together and then I stumbled onto a story line and then I completely rewrote some of the song’s lyrics to continue the story and when I was half-way through, that I knew what story I was telling, I chose the songs to tell certain parts of that story. I didn’t start this album with this big master plan it was like I stumbled into sort of speak.

« For me it is important for the music to change. It is just the kind of influence from the old rock bands from the past. If you listen to Led Zeppelin albums, it is in that kind of way too, it changes, one song is going to be heavy rock, one song is going to be a slow blues, one song is going to be a kind of folkish that’s just the kind of music I come from, it is just a more modern version of it. »

The album, over whole, is quite dark. Is this the musical orientation and identity we have to expect from the band or is it so mostly to go along with the story?

Well I think it is just my taste in music as I said the story came second. The music was first and then the lyrics came along to suit the music. I think I have always had a dark taste in music, and I don’t know if I will always do music like that but it is irresistible to me, I just love it, that’s just me. Maybe I could be the Edgar Allan Poe of rock, if you feel comfortable with that. (laugh) I just have a dark taste in music. It is not what my personality is like. Anybody who knows me can tell I’m mostly making jokes, the movies I enjoy watching are usually comedies, I am a very positive hearted person. It is just that when it comes to music I have a very dark taste, that’s what I like.

The album offers a great diversity. We got some very heavy stuff, some psychedelic, a bit of symphonic, some folkish moments… Is this what you are really about? Diversity? Or is this the result of the band members’ spread influences?

It is both. The diversity is certainly intentional because over these many years, I probably had around 200 songs to choose from so I was trying to make a certain kind of album which is basically this very heavy album, very dark. I was taking most of the songs that I thought would suit this it was just like: “ok I am going to take this very fast one and I am going to take this like slow heavy one then I am going to pick this kind of mellow-one » but they all have a common thread to them. To me contrasts are very important just to keep an album interesting. One thing that I don’t like so much – and this is a problem with a lot of bands – is that they tend to have one sound that they maintain to the entire album. In fact this is how music is defined when you get the black metal, the death metal or whatever, these bands, these music styles are defined by drumbeats so they basically confine to this drumbeat through the entire album and not only that but for the entire catalogue of albums. To me, that’s interesting for a couple of songs but after three songs maybe the fourth or the fifth song, I start losing interest, I can’t listen to a whole album like that. For me it is important for the music to change. It is just the kind of influence from the old rock bands from the past. If you listen to Led Zeppelin albums, it is in that kind of way too, it changes, one song is going to be heavy rock, one song is going to be a slow blues, one song is going to be a kind of folkish that’s just the kind of music I come from, it is just a more modern version of it.

There is also a large range of vocal approaches in the album. We can hear some dark whispers, some harsh, almost black metallic vocals. Are you looking forward to experimenting more with your vocals now and trying new things?

Definitely, but it is also for me trying to give the idea that this main character is surrounded by many different entities and there are many different people speaking to him at once and prodding him, taunting him and pulling at him. So I have these different voices and even different accents and different ranges of real contrasts in sort of things happen very quickly, sweeping from speaker to speaker with a lot of stereo movements going on. Also further faster feeling that I am trying to achieve so I don’t know if I will always continue to keep doing it this way, I don’t know maybe I will, but yet there are a lot of exploring and new things that I have never done before. Things as you said like this sort of black metal singing: it was me trying to do something that I heard in my head which sound appropriate for the music and I had to learn how to do it and once I got it I was really happy with it and got a real taste for it. But again it is about contrasts it is about keeping on moving and keeping it changing and keeping it interesting.

The album ends with a very remarkable piece called A Symphony Of Shadows. It actually has a very Tim Burton kind of feel to it. Was it the intention?

Not specifically but you are the second journalist to say something about Tim Burton. Actually this came from Demi Scott, he had sent me hundred of songs, he sent me stuff that sound like metal, he sent me stuff that sound like acid jazz and he sent me this one CD called “orchestral” and the first incarnation of the Symphony of Shadows was just orchestral and I said to him: “man, this one piece if you were going to take metal guitars and put them in certain spot on this heavy part you have, add drums and guitar come in” and I said “take the song back and add this to it please! » And I showed him what I meant and what he sent me back is basically what you have without vocals. It was also much longer so I just thought “oh this is going to be the monster of the album!” When it was just a little slow for me I just cut out these pieces way, shorten the song down to a more manageable seven minutes from its original like eleven minutes length. Then I just thought it was just like Queen’s album Night At The Opera with “Bohemian Rhapsody. » I was thinking more like Queen not so much like Tim Burton (laughs) but you also have a lot of contrasts with the sort of singing when I am doing… I don’t really know if it is black metal but that’s fair enough to say this for that kind of singing or this real low singing. And again that was at the end of the story, where he is surrounded by all these people in a house and they are all kind of singing to him, accusing him of his life and kind of showing him what happened to him and telling him what is now happening to him, it is many people singing at once, that was naturally the way to go about it, it would be with these multiple voices and these complex arrangements.

(About Psychotic Waltz) « Metal was the premier form of pop music, you know. Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden were selling out stadiums all over the world. My thinking was that this band was going to be the next step. There was Judas Priest and then came Iron Maiden and then came Queensrÿche and I thought Psychotic Waltz would be the next step. The sad truth was that there was no next step at all.« 

As a matter of fact The Shadow Theory, in essence, is closer to what you did with Psychotic Waltz than Deadsoul Tribe has ever been. When you formed the band was it somehow a new Psychotic Waltz for you, especially since, at that time, you couldn’t manage to put the band back together?

Maybe in a way, I don’t know if I was trying to make a new Psychotic Waltz but I certainly wanted to appeal to that crowd of fans. I lost about half of my fans by making Deadsoul Tribe. It’s fair to say that I gained many new ones but I did lose a lot of people who missed those more complex elements not only in the music but also in the style of singing. I think the Psychotic Waltz sort of flavour comes from the fact that Demi and Arne were big Psychotic Waltz fans. Demi was asking me if I would consider singing a little more like that old way again. I think there was a little attempt on my part to sing a little more like that just to make Demi smiles you know. (laughs) I just wanted him to be really happy when he heard what I did with the songs. I kind of dug out some of my old tricks. If it is not a conscious effort to be a little more parallel with Psychotic Waltz then it must have least been a self-conscious effort but to me a lot of the music reminds me a little more of King Diamond than Psychotic Waltz, not all of it but a lot of it.

You have recently announced the reunion of Psychotic Waltz. But, in fact, in November 2009 you claimed in an interview that it would take a miracle to happen. So it looks like a miracle did happen after all!

Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My good man, you are the first person to correctly quote me. Everybody was saying that I said that it was not going to happen or that it was impossible. No! I said it would take a miracle and I guess miracles do happen. (Laughs)

You also said in that interview that you tried over and over again to make it happen, that you were offered up to 20000 Euros for a single concert. Why were they so much reluctant to the idea of getting the band back together?

Well, you know when I left that band I was pretty bitter especially against Dan. Dan and I could not just get along toward the end. It became impossible to live with. There were a lot of reasons for that which I had been very vocal about it and I don’t want to get into that again but it is fair enough to say that we had differences. The irony of it is that he was the guy that I approached first about getting back together. The first time I’ve been offered substantial fees for playing a concert, if I had approached Norm there might have been a lot more momentum to make it happen but Dan pretty much swept it out he would not even let the information get to those guys. He was just not ready to do it yet and he knew that if Norm had that information that Norm would be on the phone night and day pressuring him to do it and Dan didn’t want to live with that. But I knew that Dan would be the hardest one to get to come along so he would be the first one I will go to and the only one I will go to. What made me want to do it is just that when we broke up we were also very disappointed that we had not become really famous and rich and having the limousine and being the big rock stars that we thought we were going to be. When we got this band together, the youngest guy was 16 and I was the oldest guy and I was 19 (laughs) so we had some pretty unrealistic expectations I guess but again that was also in the midst of the 80s when, like I said before, metal was the pop form of music. When I say “I said this before”, I had two interviews prior to this one, so I might not have said this to you yet! I kind of forget who I say what to! (Big laugh) But metal was the premier form of pop music, you know. Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden were selling out stadiums all over the world. My thinking was that this band was going to be the next step. There was Judas Priest and then came Iron Maiden and then came Queensrÿche and I thought Psychotic Waltz would be the next step. The sad truth was that there was no next step at all. Metal as a pop music just ended and then it became grunge and then it became… whatever it became. The number of different forms of music since then had come and gone and we never really got that chance. So we just kind of looked at it as if we never really made it. We were very frustrated over that and me leaving and making Deadsoul Tribe, I guess, was my way to re-conciliate that, to try something different to test the water elsewhere. It was in that journey with Deadsoul Tribe that I really realised how much Psychotic Waltz really did mean to people. That’s when I started to notice how the value of that band just grew and grew and grew. When I was working on a Deadsoul Tribe album I got an offer for Psychotic Waltz to play a festival for like 5000 euros and that was a pretty good fee, we never really made that much before. But of course I turned that down immediately since I had no interest in doing Psychotic Waltz at that time and then the next offer would be like 15 000, I told that one to Dan, a couple of years later, Dan said no not for all the efforts for that one concert and then the offer turned to 20 000. I was thinking: “Jesus the value is going up and up and up.” I realized that this is really unusual for a band that was never famous to have this kind of longevity, we were like 10 years, 15 years after and our records were still on print and we still have these fans, they got the first album cover tattooed on their arms. That’s when I realised that this band really meant something to people. It was then that I realized that maybe we were never famous like we were hoping to be but we certainly did achieve something and it was something very unique and something very special. I started to want to honour that and be part of that again and come back together and, instead of being disappointed for what we don’t have, have some appreciation for what we do have because it is a really unusual phenomenon about that band.

« I am scared to death because the world has changed. It could very well be that most of our fans are dead by now! Hell, I don’t know!« 

For this reunion at first Steve Cox was announced in the line up instead of Dan Rock. But then Dan came back. Do you think Dan’s absence would have been felt?

I think it would have been damaging without Dan! But Dan is back! Now I can rest easy that I can expect some real quality music to come out of those guys. The thing was when I left the band, back in 1997, Dan and Steve Cox were writing music together and really for the first time with me being in that band, I wasn’t so blown away by the music anymore. It is nothing against Steve because Steve is probably a better guitar player than Dan or Bryan. He makes an amazing material on his own but it is just something about the chemistry between Dan and Bryan that this magic happens. I witnessed that again when they were reforming with Steve and they sent me some music, that was basically Bryan’s compositions and Steve playing and again it was the same: it was good but it was not just begging me to pick up the microphone, you know. The feeling I used to get, back from the early days onward, would be like they show me a new song and I would be like “Oh God! Give me a tape of that man! I got to write to this” I just couldn’t wait! And then mainly the stuff made by Bryan and Steve I could wait (laughs) There’s good riffs in there, there were really good ideas in there but you know, it is just missing something and that something is something that you can only get when Danny and Bryan are doing it together. That’s what I really feel, that’s what I feel it is. And so, I’ve been begging Dan “you’ve got to come back! Because I don’t know if this is going to work without you.” I think he was very happy to hear that and I think that secretly Bryan also knew it; he just didn’t want to tell Steve because he really likes him, everybody in the band loves Steve. You would love to have this guy in a band. He is an excellent player, an excellent performer, great attitude, really nice guy, the hardest worker in the room, so you can’t have any real reasons to ask him to step aside. But in Bryan’s heart he wanted Dan back but he didn’t want to rock the boat, he didn’t want even to say anything but when I asked him “Bryan what do you think?” he said “well my first choice is Dan.” When Dan heard about this Power Metal Tour, compared to what we’ve been offered before, it’s not that kind of money, unfortunately, but he thought it was the perfect opportunity. It is a reasonable length set like 45 minutes, it is not a headline set 2:30 hours. Dan hasn’t played guitar in six years, he has forgotten how to play all these stuff, he’s got to sit there and learn it all again and that’s not an easy task. So, that was why he was saying that he didn’t want to do that one concert because it is like all that work for like one gig isn’t going to pay off. I told him it was not just one gig, it was only one offer but for sure if there is this one there will have more. He was also not ready for personal reasons of his own but when this Power Metal Tour offer came he said “man, this is the sort of thing I have been waiting for, I’d love to do this” and so I told Bryan and Bryan was really happy: Bryan wants Dan back, Dan wants to come back, I want Dan back… But we still had the problem of getting Steve out because Ward and Norm loved that guy and actually didn’t want Dan back any more because they like Steve so much. (laughs) I just kind of did my magic, I can have a way with words I suppose. They ended up coming around in the end and now Dan is back in and now all the music they had presented to me now has just gone back to the drawing board. It’s going to be Dan and Bryan again now and I am really looking forward to what they come up with.

Will you bring back the Buddy Lackey pseudonym?

No, no I’m going to keep Devon Graves I think. But, you know, Buddy Lackey is my real name! The only reason why I never changed it is because I couldn’t think of anything, I never could! And even my own father, I am named after my father, I’m Buddy Lackey Junior and Buddy Lackey Senior, my father, told me “Son, you’ve got to change your name!” (laughs) If you can imagine… He was also a singer, he also changed his name for the stage and he gave me the advice to do so. I just couldn’t think of anything. So unfortunately I kept a name which I really hated, I always hated that name “Buddy.” If I was a comedian that would be fine, if I was a blues guitar player that name would be fine, it just didn’t really suit me and I didn’t like it, every time someone calls me Buddy I just don’t like it. So I changed it to Devon Graves when I made Deadsoul Tribe and, you know, I never really looked back. Now all my friends, my family, my father, they all call me Devon. I could not go back to Buddy just for my own sake of vanity I suppose, but I will just keep the name Devon Graves.

But it is funny because everybody thinks Buddy Lackey is a pseudonym and that Devon Graves is your real name…

(Laughs) I wish it were true, I would have never chosen Buddy Lackey on purpose though.

Psychotic Waltz has produced four very different albums. The band seemed each time to unveil new musical territories. Is this what we also have to expect for the next album, something yet unheard from the band?

I sure hope so but even I don’t know what to expect, I have no idea but we want to continue the formula as it was, with Dan and Bryan doing the basic music construction and then I will bring in one or two songs of my own, like I used to do with “I Remember” or “My Grave”. I now, just as of today, begun a song that I am writing for Psychotic Waltz that will be in that tradition, doing it on acoustic guitar. Even I don’t know exactly what to expect from this song. I like it very much; I think it would be really suiting. However I have no idea about what to expect from those guys and that’s what makes it so exciting for me.

In the end, are you confident in this new chapter with Psychotic Waltz?

No, not at all! (laugh) Confident would be the wrong way to put it. I am scared to death because the world has changed. It could very well be that most of our fans are dead by now! Hell, I don’t know! I don’t know what is waiting out there! But what I can tell you is that we already started rehearsing our set, we already have the set for this tour. I have been rehearsing these songs almost every day and I fell in love again with this music. I am just so much looking forward to see those guys again, playing with them again and to play this music again, I just can’t wait!

Interview conducted by phone on november 18th, 2010.

Transcription : Isa

Website THE SHADOW THEORY : http://www.the-shadow-theory.com/
Website PSYCHOTIC WALTZ: http://www.psychoticwaltz.com/
Website DEADSOUL TRIBE: http://www.deadsoultribe.com/

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