Indie-rock darlings The Devious Means carved out a niche in Orange County's sonic ecosystem with smart, accessible songwriting that showcases crafty lyrics and more hooks than a fly-fishing competition. Their first full-length album, Other Animals, drops September 13 with a launch party at the Wayfarer. The Weekly caught up with the quintet to find out more about their new aural offering, what the local scene means to them, and how they dug deep to find some soul.
OC Weekly (Kyle Cavaness): How did you get together?
Christopher Faris (vocals/guitar): The original incarnation of the band started in 2010, and [bassist] Joe [Petty] and [guitarist] Andy [Starr McCraw] joined in mid-2012. Initially it was just mutual friends who knew mutual friends – our former bass player had the connection to Andy, and I've known Joe since high school. We were in a hardcore band back in the day, so I called on his screaming expertise to be in this band.
What's your songwriting process like on this album?
Rachel Anderson (vocals/keyboards): Typically one member of the band will bring an idea or a developed song, and we kind of fight through it to make the best version possible. On Other Animals there are songs that I brought, songs that Christopher brought, and complete collaborations – the five of us were in a room, we played around with a riff, and it developed from there.
Faris: Rachel and I are the primary songwriters, but what's been fun about having Andy and Joe in the band is they bring a completely different feel – it's less pop-oriented, or even indie-rock oriented. There's more soul, more foot-tapping moments.
What made you decide it was time for a full-length album, after making two EPs?
Faris: There's a conventional wisdom about what to do in the digital world – it makes just as much sense to release a single as it does to make an EP or a full-length, depending on what your goals are. EPs have been safe for us in the past, because we'd write a few songs, raise some cash and get to record them, and everything worked out. Making a full-length was trying and stressful, but the result is something that we're the most proud of so far.
Jason Mize (drums): Setting the bar to create a full-length gave us a push into uncomfortable territory, because we had time limitations and didn't want to waste anyone's time and money. We were forced to explore areas that really worked out for the better, which we would not have done if we had just made another EP.
How would you describe the evolution of your sound?
Anderson: It seems like on the first EP we were infants, the second we were toddlers, and on the full-length, maybe we're kids? When the band first started, the songs we were writing served our purposes, but as we've accepted the fact that we're good at what we do and people like it, we started to push ourselves. We've continued to grow up and grow into our skills, and adding new members has expanded what we can do musically. Now we get to explore more soulful stuff, along with fuzzy guitar stuff, and execute it all better.
What does the title "Other Animals" mean?
Faris: One of the themes of these songs is expressions of yourself – when you're at work, you're one kind of person; when you're at school, you're a student; when you're making art, you're another kind of person. The idea of "other animals" expresses the multi-faceted parts of your personality, how you can be all these different things.
What has the OC scene experience been like for you?
Mize: It's been very supportive from the beginning. We've met really nice people, and made a lot of friends with other bands. People go to each other's shows, there's a general optimism about what's happening – we only have so many venues, but we've been able to do what we do because of the relationships that we've made since we started.
Other Animals will be available through TheDeviousMeans.com and can be pre-ordered through iTunes. The Sept. 13 album release show at the Wayfarer, featuring special guests Jeramiah Red and The Gromble, starts at 8p.m. (21+, $10 cover).