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The Kill Devil Hills - “We don’t really aim to sound like any particular thing. It’s not like we sit around talking about music or let’s do a song that sounds like this.“

By Kimberley Price

Describing the sound of The Kill Devil Hills is very difficult.

So difficult, even their frontman Brendon Humphries has trouble defining it.

But their sound can be put down to something between blues, country and rock.

“We’ve been around for quite some time and the band has evolved since 2003 and we’ve had numerous line ups in that time and six albums,” Humphries said.

“I think for any bunch of people making music over time you naturally evolve.

“We’ve moved through a whole lot of different styles playing acoustically through to really heavy and continue to do so.

“Fundamentally I think our sound is mutant rock. By which I mean it’s kind of a mutation of a lot of different rock, blues, folk related stuff without any clear borders.”

Taking inspiration from the everyday and the extraordinary, Humphries writes about his personal experiences. Taking his ideas to the band, the lyrics and melodies are chopped and changed by the cluster of people involved until a song churns out.

“I think our music evolves from experimenting with new stuff and a particular combination of people naturally produces a certain effect,” he said.

“We don’t really aim to sound like any particular thing. It’s not like we sit around talking about music or let’s do a song that sounds like this.

“I think that’s about trust and really good friendship within the group.

“When I write a song I have a fairly coherent structure which I play on an acoustic guitar, sometimes on a bit of piano which I play very badly.

“There’s a top line of the melody and the chords and a structural blueprint and then at least a map of the lyrics and the melodies.

“I think there’s certain activities where unconscious, subconscious, right in front of your mind, do things behind the curtains. Like having a bath or a shower or going for a long walk or to the beach, I think when you’re doing those things and your minds distracted because it’s busy being functional, that can be a place where things happen.

“And I take it to the band and I bare my soul and they basically tear it into pieces, tread all over it and papier maché it into some other weird shape and suddenly it’s all there.

“The basic idea usually starts out very simple and folky and could end up in any number of directions because the band naturally finds its own equilibrium with the idea.

“While I might in my head think it’s going to be some sweet little tune it might end up as some raucous mess and that’s cool when that happens. It’s always weird and pretty funny sometimes what happens to it.”

Having released six studio albums in the past 15 years, The Kill Devil Hills has a huge calibre of material. Their music is best set against the falling sun of the day, which is exactly when they’ll be taking to the Riverboats stage on Friday, February 15.

For Humphries, his passion for the band he co-founded over 15 years ago and continues to dedicate his creativity to has not wavered.

“I enjoy playing live and recording but that actual time in a room where there’s no agenda and it can end up anywhere,” he said. “An idea might get finished right then and there or it might take years to discover where it needs to go next.

“For those coming to Riverboats, I guarantee you’ll be intrigued at the very least.”

Audio sources:
The Kill Devil Hills - Drinking Too Much
2004
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFeyLDafR6M

Acidosis
2018
Source: https://thekilldevilhills.bandcamp.com/track/acidosis

The Kill Devil Hills - When The Wolf Comes
2009
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UtG_hKcvq4

Interviewed by: Kimberley Price.

Voice: Vivienne Duck.

Produced by: Kimberley Price and Vivienne Duck. 

A Riverine Herald production.