Interview with Miracle of 86 vocalist/guitarist Kevin Devine
S&S: How long have you been together, and do you still have the original lineup?
Kevin: A really long time for me and Chris (bass). Nine years or so, since I was 14. We definitely don’t have the original lineup, no. This lineup, the best one (Mike/Chris/Me/Skinner), has been together for two years in December.
S&S: What is your most memorable experience together?
Kevin: The four of us? Probably this past SXSW in Austin, Texas or a trip we took to play a college show out in Iowa in early May. Both of those stand out as being pretty fucking awesome – great shows and a lot of fun. Long drives are always a good time, especially when half the band is drunk or stoned.
S&S: What song means the most to you?
Kevin: They’re all pretty important, I guess. I get a certain charge playing “Every Famous Last Word” sometimes. That’s a little different, but I’d have a hard time picking ones I like outright a lot better. There are definitely some I like less, but that’s a different story – some older ones. The new record is real strong, and I love playing the whole thing.
S&S: What is your favorite venue to play at and why?
Kevin: It depends on the show. Bowery Ballroom is the coolest place I’ve ever played; they treat us right, the shows are usually pretty incredible, and the sound is the best. Punk Temple, a recently closed all ages venue in Brooklyn, was rad in a totally different way. Twelve year old kids would be there flipping out. It was like playing a punk rock high school dance – so fun. And I used to love Brownies; I had a special place in my heart for that place.
S&S: How would you describe your sound in three words?
Kevin: Smart power pop. God, that feels empty.
S&S: Who is your favorite band to tour with?
Kevin: We’ve not really done enough touring yet to say. AWEK would be my first choice, a great indie-rock band from NY. I did a tour in Europe alone with Koufax, and those guys were super good guys and a lot of fun.
S&S: Do you have any crazy tour stories?
Kevin: Yes. And wouldn’t you like to know them.
S&S: I see your LPs and new CD are all from different labels. Any inside info behind that?
Kevin: We’re notoriously difficult to deal with and constantly hopped up on coke, so it’s tough to keep us engaged on the business end. Nah, just kidding. Things just work out that way.
S&S: Rumor around town is that a very famous guitarist used to sleep with his guitar, just in case he thought of a song in the middle of the night. Do you have any habits of the sort? What do you do if an idea just pops into your head?
Kevin: For me, if stuff pops up, I’ll scribble it down. I have tons of random scraps of paper in my schoolbag with lyric starts. Then, I’ll sit down later with the computer or the notebook and compile all the scraps and figure the song out. Sometimes, it all comes in one shot, and you just find yourself sitting somewhere with a completely finished song on the back of an envelope, like The Gettysburg Address. I don’t fuck guitars, though, no.
S&S: How do you deal with being homesick when you’re traveling?
Kevin: Unfortunately, a lot of the time, drinking, which isn’t the best habit. A better habit is to call the people you miss, enjoy the new ones you’re with, and remember how cool it is that you get to do what you’re doing.
S&S: Do any of you have girlfriends, and if so, do they come on the road with you?
Kevin: Yes, and no way.
S&S: What are some of your hobbies other than music?
Kevin: I read a lot. I’m a big movie guy. I spend a lot of time with my friends and my lady. I’ve started to become a little more involved in progressive politics. I obviously listen to records a lot. I love meeting people, and I write about pop culture for a couple of websites.
S&S: This question is inspried by the picture on your main page: Have any of you ever been attacked by a wild animal?
Kevin: Ha! Outside of bees, not that I know of. Cross those fingers for me.
S&S: If you had to label each of your bandmates, what would you label them as?
Kevin: Chris is the one that keeps us honest and fun. Skinner is the one that keeps us sophisticated and elevated. and Mike is the one that keeps us mysterious and Hulk-ish.
S&S: What kind of soap do you use?
Kevin: Whatever. If I buy it, Ivory.
S&S: Complete this line: Shake it fast…
Kevin: Watch it blast.
S&S: What item could you not live without?
Kevin: I could obviously live without any of them besides, well, water and bread. But lately, I’ve been loving my schoolbag. I’ve got everything in there. I’d freak out if I lost that.
S&S: What is your favorite vacation spot?
Kevin: I haven’t been on a legitimate vacation in a while. I really like Cape Cod. I was in Provincetown a few summers ago, and I loved it. I used to love going to Virginia when I was a kid. I’d like to vacation in Europe sometime, especially Prague, anywhere in Spain or Italy, and throughout Germany in nice weather.
S&S: Did you all get good grades in school?
Kevin: I did. I’m fucking brilliant.
S&S: Are any of you vegetarians?
Kevin: My goal is to be back there by end of summer. I haven’t eaten meat in a week or so. I was vegan for two years and vegetarian for about five. Then, chicken and turkey snuck back in, and all bets were off. It really is better for you and better for everyone and everything else, though. Gotta get back.
S&S: If you woke up naked in the middle of a snowdrift and the only things around you were a water bottle, camera, lighter, and some trees, what would you do?
Kevin: Well, for starters, I’m probably drunk, right? I’d drink the water, take a picture of the trees, and try to set my d on fire because that’s about what I do when I’m real drunk anyway – except replace “naked in a snowdrift” with “talking way too loud in a bar” and “taking pictures of trees” with “arguing about Bright Eyes with Mike”.