Kevin Devine: Hard Work Pays Off


The last couple of years have gone by like a whirlwind for Brooklyn singer-songwriter Kevin Devine, even though his last album was released three years ago.

“I’ve probably played 450 shows, internationally and at home, since Put Your Ghost to Rest came out,” Devine admits. “But somebody who wasn’t paying close attention to that could be like, ‘Oh, it’s been a long time since your last record [laughs].’ It’s like it has been, but there hasn’t really been a ton of time to make one.”

Devine finally found time at the end of last year to finish his fifth full-length album, Brother’s Blood, although the stress from constant life on the road did take its toll.

“I didn’t know how to reconcile between staying in the moment and dealing with what was right in front of me, while also having a family and life at home that I wasn’t connecting to at all,” Devine confesses. “It felt like I was trying to live perpetually in two places at the same time and not doing a very good job at either one.”

After seeing his relationship with his girlfriend dissolve and getting dropped by Capitol Records, Devine found himself in a tailspin. Then all of sudden, it changed.

“For better and for worse, I figured out what I need to do to be a healthy person who is going to be away this much,” he says. “It was weird for a little while, for sure. It felt like the world had gotten knocked on its side for about six months where I didn’t really know what the fuck was happening. Now I definitely feel a bit more adapted to it.”

Once Devine had a handle on that, he was ready to put the finishing touches on Brother’s Blood. While the record does tackle some fairly weighty themes, including religion and politics, personal reflections are nothing new for Devine.

“I’ve always been someone who’s been obsessed with conscious, both personally and socially, and obsessed with why we do what we do,” Devine points out. “I’m certainly not as neurotic about the world as I was in my early 20s, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not confused and dissatisfied by a lot of things. So the record is also about the personal and the political, and how they both enmesh with one another and can throw your head for a loop a little bit.”

To express these ideas, Devine ended up making the most eclectic record of his career, encompassing everything from the quiet, acoustic strumming of Elliott Smith on “All of Everything, Erased” to the raw power of Nirvana on the title track.

“Instead of trying to make this overly ambitious thing, I just wanted to make a record where all the different things I like about the music I listen to and about songwriting are all represented,” he admits.

Now as Devine heads back out for his biggest headlining tour yet with the economy struggling and the future cloudy, he’s grateful to have just made it this far.

“I realize that something like this is fickle, and it’s subject to the whims of popular reception. Something that people like today, they might not like a couple years down the line,” he says. “So I try and not take it for granted that these people choose to spend 10 bucks and three hours of their time with me because they could be spending that time and that money in other places. I know that might sound cheesy, but I really mean that.”

Originally appeared in Campus Circle