Beat - June 11, 2003
The DEVASTATIONS are: the sound of a meteor cooling in the cut grass; the clash of a terrible beauty with the customary; Tom Carlyon, Hugo Cran, Conrad Standish.
This is what happened.
A faceless driver picks me up in a shadow car. The windows are mirrored, but in this case you can see in, but not out. Automobile as blindfold. As we drive (in what feels convincingly like one continuous circle) I discover that my shell-likes are utterly useless. There will be no aural clues as to the route of my destination. No train sounds. No church bells. No market stall owners bawling about their luverly spuds. Nothing. Nienté. Nada. The near total absence of sound. Just the hiss of silence. With a jolt I realise that we are now stationary, and that the faceless driver is long gone. I get out and walk toward the Academy. Vast and dream like. The strangely familiar door stands ajar, so I push my way in. Conrad Standish sprawls on a chaise longue, all unkempt glamour and undone sophistication. A large glass of red wine sits carelessly in his left hand and I get the impression that for Conrad the sun passed over the yardarm yesterday. He stretches his elongated frame, yawns sleepily and shakes my hand, though not without a wince of revulsion at skin contact with a journalist. As Mister Standish pours himself a second glass of sanguine wine, Mister Tom Carlyon appears from the back of the building. He drops into a battered armchair and after removing his guns begins to tug off his riding boots.
They look like the James brothers: Jesse and Frank. Rough gentlemen. Rogue poets all.
The Devastations rose from the corpse of the remarkable Luxedo. Luxedo were a sprawling rock adventure, the Devastations are altogether more to the point. More direct. The Devastations are all about silence. Holes; big enough and empty enough to fill the Grand canyon. Silence and how you fill it. And how much you fill it, and what you fill it with, and when? And the answer to the last part of that puzzle is song. And song is where the Devastations come in. Messrs. Standish, Cran and Carlyon are life-long devotees of song. And you can hear it, a whole history of song. They neither sound like the past or this year¹s fad. This is timeless, because it is of the heart, and the soul is always timeless. Lyrically they leave themselves without defenses, with nowhere to hide.
Conrad: "Luxedo were a full tilt rock band, the three of us got tired of gyrating and Tom¹s posturing. We wanted something more relevant to ourselves."
Apparently we¹re talking now. Hang on a minute, can we go back in time? Europe, 2001? Conrad pours himself another glass of the fetid looking wine and slides the bottle to Tom. Jesus Christ! Hugo Cran is standing as silent and unmoving as a ghost. He¹s directly behind me, and I get the feeling he¹s been there for some time. Possibly even when I entered the room.
Tom: "Hugo?" He offers Mr. Cran a glass, Mr. Cran doesn¹t move.
Conrad: "Well we (Luxedo) left with really very little organised and ended up staying for four months and doing maybe forty to forty-five shows. Very catch as catch can. No tour manager. A remarkable experience. Earlier someone asked about how Europe shaped the sound of the album. We were all pretty lovelorn and isolated and I think that made the album more vulnerable. It also forced us together as a group and made us use our own resources instead of going outside for help. And believe me, we needed it."
Whilst in Europe Luxedo recorded an album. Came home, broke up and used it as the basis for the eponymous Devastations album. Available now! They also swapped lead singers replacing Toms vocals with those of Conrad. Tom: "It just seemed that Conrad was more comfortable with the role of front man than I ever was. It seemed a really natural thing to do." You can¹t really talk to the Devastations without talking about songs. Songs are at the heart of what they do.
Conrad: "I can only speak for myself, because I certainly wouldn¹t be seen dead talking for those guys." And? "Oh. There is a universal beauty to a really simple and obvious song. Sometimes it¹s the simple and obvious that need to be said. That doesn¹t get said. A phrase like, you are so beautiful can be so much more powerful than something more abstracted and florid."
Tom: "But at the same time we¹re interested in furthering songwriting and stretching it into something more than just verse chorus verse."
More of the wine is poured and somehow this time I end up with Hugo's glass. As I drink I can feel my faculties begin to recede. The ghost of future?
Tom: " We¹ve already started demoing music for the next album, we have a release in Europe of this one so we do plan to go back and record at the same studio. Demos are so terrifying."
Conrad: "The new songs are more varied."
Tom: "We did have a lot of different songs for the last album but we chose songs that seemed to fit together as a set."
This is the last coherent thing I remember and as the ambulance speeds me through the night, outside in the darkness I am alone.
- Rowland S. Howard