Legendary Perth rock n’ roll act The Devil Rides Out have been familiar faces on the music scene and the stage of Rosemount Hotel for over a decade. After 12 years of killer riffs, a West Australian Music Industry win, and some crazy adventures, they’ve announced their final show taking place in Rosemount Main Room next Friday August 3. We chatted to Joey Kapitan about the band’s journey, their musical vices and what to expect at their final show.
Tell us a bit about your on stage history with live music in Perth – for the uninitiated, the bands you were with and whatever else springs to mind
I discovered local live music at the Stoned Crow (now Mojo’s) in 1989. Cinema Prague, Thrombus and Inquisition were playing. I was f*cking blown away and immediately, desperately wanted to get involved somehow. Trouble was, I couldn’t play an instrument and couldn’t sing. I had just started getting into really heavy music and Napalm Death provided me with the answer. A new style of vocals called “death metal” which sat well alongside of love of horror movies and I found I was able to emulate, much to my parents disdain. Which of course added to the appeal.
From there I formed my first band with a friend at Uni who played bass in 1991. It was originally called Plague but after a couple of lineup shuffles we settled on iNFeCTeD. We were signed by Shock Records and ended up putting out a couple of albums and doing a couple of laps of the country. It all imploded in ’96 when we were offered a new deal with Roadrunner Records that involved relocating to Melbourne – half the band wanted to, half didn’t, and that was pretty much that.
A couple of years later I got together with Paul, the lead guitarist from SFD. Both of us were looking at a change of pace from our metal roots, something still heavy but a little funkier and weirder. That was Centre of Gravity, we put out a couple of small releases and folded when I moved to London in 1998.
When I returned to Perth in 2000, a very young band called Headshot were looking for a new vocalist and Mike Wafer suggested I have a jam with them. They were messy but had a really great energy that appealed to me. Once Ben and Glenn joined on guitar and bass, it morphed into this massive groove monster with crazy time signatures. We became label mates with Karnivool, Head Weight Champ and Subtruck and had a little scene there for a while. Of course, Karnivool took off and did their own thing on a bigger scale. Ben is playing guitar in Forstora now and still slaying it.
Headshot split in 2004 and I was feeling pretty burnt out and over being in “serious” bands by this stage. My good friend Andrew Ewing from Thumb found himself in a similar place and we decided to form a band together that would be more for our own amusement, a fun project that celebrated the less cerebral music we grew up with as teens – KISS, Van Halen, AC/DC and so on. Dumb lyrics and big riffs. We recruited Royce (from Downer and Non-Intentional Lifeform) on drums, and Ben from The Waifs on bass, both of who were also mates. It started with very low ambition and was more a bit of a laugh. Almost a Spinal Tap style parody really. The joke wore thin pretty quickly and it transformed into something else. We were listening to a lot of stoner and doom bands and that creeped into the sound and eventually taking over. It just got slower and darker and heavier with each passing year and release. If you play the first Devil EP back to back with the last one we did, they’re really two completely different bands.
Is it the same vices and virtues that’s driven you to play music all this time?
I’ve always been driven by the creative side of things. Making something out of nothing with some like minded people is what excited me.
Also, I come from a pretty turbulent family background. The music was a form of therapy, a way of processing some pretty heavy sh*t.
So I like to think my intentions and motivations have always been fairly pure and based in art and catharsis. But things do get in the way of that – ego, trends, money, popularity. You try to avoid that sh*t but it’s just human. You try to stay true to yourself and true to the course. But you lose focus from time to time. That’s generally where the vices get an opening! Things definitely get a bit foggy in The Devil Rides Out with late nights and alcohol there for a while. It’s funny, we started out parodying that lifestyle and I ended up living it.
You are a tall man with a heart of gold, a big friendly giant type, what’s that like?
Haha, people tell me that but it’s weird because I’m very shy and also I romantically envisage myself as this dark, brooding persona ala a Nick Cave or Mark Lanegan. But ultimately I know I’m not. I can’t help myself. I’m drawn to get creative and find something in life to be excited and positive about, be it music or photography or just going for a hike in the bush. Same goes for people. As much as humans can be dicks, and right now we’re really reaching peak dick in a lot of respects, humans are also capable of such beauty and kindness. So I try to stay positive and focus on that part of myself and others. To create and to immerse myself in what other people are creating is my thing. The giant part is cool. I get little old ladies asking me to grab things off the top shelf at the supermarket all the time.
What’s prompted you to commit to Aug 3 being your last ever appearance on stage, are you going to do a Farnham?
I remember reading an interview with Henry Rollins when he disbanded the Rollins Band and retired from music to focus on other forms of expression such as spoken word and writing. He said he knew in his heart he didn’t have anything left to say in that format and didn’t want to go through the motions trading off past glories. I thought to myself, man I’m never gonna feel like that. I live for music and this fire in the belly has a bottomless fuel tank! And I think that is true of some people, some artists can transcend time and age and remain passionate and relevant into middle age and beyond. True artists. I’m not one really. I’m a bit of hack who managed to fashion a career out of force of will. I had the burning desire and work ethic but not so much the real artistry or talent. But don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I won’t die wondering.
For the last 5 or so years, I haven’t been inspired to write lyrics or create songs as much. It was becoming a chore rather than something that I had no choice but to do. I realised that my drive in the past was very much tied into being in a bad place and dealing with that through music. At this point in my life I find myself in a good place, a happy place. And the truth is I don’t know what to do with that in a band. It’s always been about pain and chaos. Raging against something. There’s plenty to rage against right now, but that’s a mantle for the young people to take up. Hopefully. I’m kind of putting self-care before catharsis. I’ve spent most of my life feeling sad and angry and I just don’t want to sit in that place any more. It led to me becoming quite self-destructive, I ended up on ambulance rides with severe panic attacks, in hospital with pneumonia and lung problems, my first marriage fell apart and I was pretty much heading for an early grave. Nowadays I’m running, I’ve quit smoking, I’m drinking a fraction of what I used to. Unfortunately, creating music is another one of those vices I need to let go of for my physical and mental health. I’m channelling the creativity into other areas that don’t involve getting home destroyed at 3am.
Will you consider auctioning your mic at the end of the show?
I don’t own one. I’ve had 3 over the years and they always end up lost or stolen or left at a gig never to be seen again, so in the end I gave up. Thankfully venues have them. We vocalists are pretty lucky really. We need f*ck all gear and the one item we do need is provided to us. F*ck being a drummer or guitarist.
You can catch The Devil Rides Out’s final show The Last Ride on Friday August 3 in our Main Room – get your tickets here