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Costa Mesa boy/girl indie rockers the Devious Means celebrate their musical range. Between Johnny Cash/Patsy Cline moments, they're channelling Mates of State and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes might be an apt comparison for their overall sound, a tuneful mix of down-home and sensible guitar pop. With their second EP nearly finished, the Devious Means are set to make their mark on the OC rock scene in 2012, says guitarist/songwriter Christopher Faris, joined by bassist Megan Polendo.
OC Weekly: Everyone in the band comes from a unique musical place. Sometimes, that causes friction in the creative process. How do you deal with that?
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Christopher Faris: [Keyboardist] Rachel [Anderson] and I are the primary songwriters. Usually, one of us writes the song, then the two of us develop a basic structure, but the band does the rest. We try not to tell one another what to play where and when, aside from what we may be generally feeling the song should do. We are good at verbally expressing our frustrations face to face.
Megan Polendo: Christopher and Rachel are very respectful when it comes to the rest of our crafts. We haven't yet come up against a conflict that we haven't been able to resolve.
Have there been any incidents to speak of?
Faris: For me, it was earlier this year when we were in the studio redoing a song from the first album. Once the main recording was done, we toyed with the idea of throwing the first half of the song out the window to go with a totally different vibe than the original version. Some of us rejected the idea, and some of us wanted to push for it to see how it sounded first. There was some creative tension, but we ultimately threw much of the front half out the window and went with a really rootsy take. It was a choice that so far is paying off beautifully.
I'm picking up a strong Edward Sharpe vibe in your music. Are you guys fans?
Faris: Some of us are more than others; I don't know a single person in the world who doesn't like the "Home" song.
Polendo: I am definitely a fan. I was listening to them quite a bit when I joined the band, which made me more excited about the guy/girl duo and what can happen vocally within that dynamic. I also feel as though they think outside the box with auxiliary percussion and nonconventional sounds and vocal parts.
Is it annoying when someone says you sound similar to such-and-such band?
Faris: More surprising than annoying. It helps to have a point of reference, but many of our songs have different points of reference. I sometimes hear Mates of State, the Dead Weather, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Tokyo Police Club. But we only have so much time to be creative in our lives, and I don't like the idea of restricting that to one exclusive genre.
Is a tour in the works?
Faris: We discussed touring, but we never went. It frankly doesn't make much sense to tour in this day and age at the level we are at as a band. It breaks my heart to hear about friends' bands who go out on the road and come back utterly defeated by low turnouts and being broke. Touring will happen when it makes sense, but that time isn't right now.
You have a new EP. What has changed since your self-titled EP?
Polendo: Pretty much everything. I love our first EP, but this next one is definitely a progression. The songs are stronger and more developed. The production is more raw. Our producer, Dallas Kruse, created an environment in which we could try anything. He didn't shoot down any idea until we had set up a mic, tried it and heard it in the context of the song.
This column appeared in print as "Within the Devious Means."