Devil’s Brigade are just now readying the release of its first album, a self-titled collection due Aug. 31, but it’s been around for the better part of a decade. The band made its debut on the 2002 Hellcat Records sampler ‘Give ‘Em the Boot III,’ swooping in mid-disc with ‘Vampire Girl,’ a showcase for [lastfm]Rancid[/lastfm] bassist [lastfm]Matt Freeman[/lastfm]’s raspy, ferocious vocals and proficiency on the upright bass. Freeman went on to release a pair of Devil’s Brigade singles, but it wasn’t until recently he was able to give the project his full attention.
“Mostly it was a matter of time,” he tells Spinner. “I like to do things all out, and it just seemed like a point where [lastfm]Rancid[/lastfm] did our record last year and toured a lot the last two years, and we were definitely going to take some time off. So it was, ‘What are we going to do now?’ That was a big part of it. It just felt right.”
Featuring guitar work from [lastfm]Tim Armstrong[/lastfm], Freeman’s bandmate in both Rancid and the legendary ska-punk four-piece Operation Ivy, Devil’s Brigade plays East Bay punk with a psychobilly feel, pairing slap bass with heavy guitars.
“I’d been playing a lot more upright [bass] lately,” Freeman says, explaining what prompted him to switch instruments. “I started playing upright on some [lastfm]Rancid [/lastfm]songs on our tour last year. I ended up bringing it on tour for the first time, so it was just what I was going to do. I really love to play and I love being in a band and playing shows, so I was like, ‘I’ll put out a record and go on tour with it.'”
Freeman wrote the album with Armstrong, who originally proposed making a musical about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. While that idea never panned out, half of the album’s dozen tracks are in keeping with the theme. Among the other six are rerecorded versions of ‘Vampire Girl’ and ‘Ride Harley Ride,’ older tunes deemed worthy of rerelease.
“We’d been kicking around those [Golden Gate] ideas for a long time, we had those songs and we went back and listened to the original Devil’s Brigade stuff and we were like, ‘Well, let’s just take these songs and add them to these songs and just come up with a really good record,'” Freeman says, leaving open the possibility he and Armstrong will one day revisit the aborted musical.
Freeman admits the songs came easily and that the writing process was as collaborative as it’s ever been. “We’ve been friends for so long,” he says of Armstrong. “We’ve written a lot together. We’ve done bands. History is there. We just get in and bounce ideas off each other. We’re really secure with each other.”
Next month, Freeman and an Armstrong-less Devil’s Brigade will embark on a US tour, and if the seven years that separated the release of [lastfm]Rancid[/lastfm]’s sixth album, ‘Indestructible,’ and its most recent effort, 2009’s ‘Let the Dominoes Fall,’ are any indication, the bassist may have time to make the side project more of a regular thing.
“Hopefully we’ll do more,” he says. “[lastfm]Rancid[/lastfm] is still around, obviously. There’ll be other [lastfm]Rancid[/lastfm] stuff. The beauty about this is Tim and I did it together. We had a lot of fun doing it. I would like to take it out on tour a lot. We’ll see what happens.”
[Source: Spinner ]