Interview by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer
If you like bands who rock out harder than you think possible, play shows that really entertain, break barriers, have a frontman who is more creative than creation itself, a lead guitarist who writes out of control guitar solos, are talented, sexy and just basically make you doubt that perfection is maybe not in fact, an illusion; then look no further. White Devil Detroit are here baby! Sure, they have been around a few years, but they have really found themselves this year with the release of their new single, Guillotine wowing music fans everywhere! I had the pleasure of chatting to creative mind and frontman, Jake Blatchly about the new release, the brilliant new music video, their upcoming EP + tour and so much more. Make yourself a cuppa or grab a beer and sit back, relax and lets go on a kind of journey of sorts. The journey of White Devil Detroit… Which I think really, has only just begun…
Last week you released your new single, Guillotine along with an awesome new video! Since you’ve released it, it has been stuck in my head, I absolutely love it! How has the response been to the new release?
“Yeah it was released on the 23rd of November. The response has been really good. Better than anything I could have anticipated to be honest. We’ve got some record company interest. I can’t say too much about that at the moment. But yeah, some big record labels, some of the biggest record labels in rock ‘n roll right now have looked at us. So, it’s pretty crazy! It’s surreal. We do have a deal going ahead. We are just waiting for some behind the scenes things to go ahead before I can say any more about it. I am excited, it’s fucking crazy. Other than that, there has been a lot of different rock and metal news websites that have picked up the video and the song. It has only been a week and we’ve already been played on the radio everywhere from Noosa to Philadelphia to Russia!”
That is so wonderful! I am so happy for you guys. It is clear how much you love what you do. That really comes out through your music and your videos. So, can you tell me about the song itself? Who wrote it and what is it about?
“Absolutely. For a while there, I had a bit of a system for writing songs with White Devil Detroit. But I have scrapped that now. I am constantly changing the way I approach lyrics, the way I approach melodies. What I would do was write a chorus that I wrote when I was say 14 or 16 and then I would write 25, 26 year old Jake verses to it. I found that when I wrote choruses, when I was younger, it was very simple, very poppy, catchy, melodic, straight to the point. As I’ve got older, my lyrics have become a bit more complicated, a bit more intricate as I have found out about different pieces of pop culture and mythology and have got into different sorts of literature over the years. I like to go and get an old Jake chorus from years ago and then write new Jake verses to it. So that is sort of how Guillotine came about. I was going through my old notebooks and I saw the chorus written in there. I remembered the old melody that I used to sing for it and I wrote some new verses for it. Then my lead guitarist, Kyle came over to my place and I sang him the melody *sings* “This love is killing me, it feels like a guillotine…” and I just sang it over and over again until he basically copied the melody onto the guitar, so in a meandering sort of way, I kind of wrote that guitar riff as well. As for the inspiration for the original chorus, I have no idea, you’d have to get a time machine and go back and ask 16 year old Jake. I honestly don’t remember what I was thinking when I wrote it. But I do remember the melody. As for the verses, I was in a relationship and I wasn’t too happy, and it is basically about that. Also, it has a little reference to Aleister Crowley, some of the lyrics are inspired by the second verse of his Poem, Leah Sublime, which is a 660 word poem that is just filth. Pure filth. While we are talking about Crowley and using something of his as inspiration, I still find that when I use metaphors, or use analogies or whatever, I am still relating it to that thing and referencing pop culture. So, say Denis Rodman or something Aleister Crowley wrote or Evil Knievel , it is more of a metaphor for what I am feeling but I also still get to play around with words a little more. Kind of in the same way a hip hop artist would. I think you don’t really get that as much these days with rock ‘n roll and I think that is kind of lacking. That is why hip hop is so interesting at the moment.”
I love that this song has come about from several different places, or different sources or even different times in your life to all blend together into something so beautiful. That is pretty special how it has all come together and has come out as this masterpiece! So tell me about the video! Did that all come from your creative mind or was it a combination of ideas and minds put together?
“I basically said to my band mates, ‘let me direct this video for this song, I feel like I can do a video that is more contemporary than what we have done previously.’ We had done Cummin’ Down which is basically just a normal rock band video. It is basically Kick Start My Heart by Mötley Crüe. It is just on stage, fast cars, explosions. It’s cool, but it’s cliché as fuck. I like to break new ground for rock bands if we can. If there is anything left to break, I am keen to smash it up! So, I was looking at film clips by Billie Eiilish, Bring Me The Horizon, Tyler, The Creator, you know, modern artists. I wanted to do something for a contemporary audience. You know, we do have that sort of glam rock, hard rock, whatever the fuck you want to call it sort of feel. But we are trying to push it into a new area that is less explored. Especially visually, and just by the fact that you know, we do shows with drag queens and wrestlers and comedians. We have had a stand-up comedian open for us. We just like to break ground or not even break ground, just do things that haven’t been done in years. Because people are too scared too.”
It is so refreshing to see bands like White Devil Detroit doing what you are doing and not being afraid to try new things or to do things a little differently. I see a lot of bands through my line of work and whilst I appreciate each one and everyone’s own creative ways of expressing themselves and gifting the world their music, I do get really excited about bands that break through with something different and kind of make me stop and go ‘Oh wow, THIS is good!’
“Thank you, I really appreciate that. It is so nice to get some recognition from our peers and from people who have followed us for years and from journalists that can see what we are doing. They can SEE that we are not pigeonholing ourselves into anything. Our usual thing is being unusual. *laughs* I hate it when people are like ‘Oh Jake is going to do this, they think they’ve got me pegged, but I am always 12 ideas ahead of people. You know what I mean? Even to the point where people are like ‘Oh, they are theatrical band’ cos we’ve had shows where I had a dwarf on stage or we’ve come out with stockings on our heads or another shows where we’ve had TVs on stage where we’ve had Kenneth Anger movies playing or we’ve had incense lit on the stage. We’ve done a lot of different themes. But then sometimes, we are just like ‘nah fuck that’ we just feel like going out and playing a normal show and we just go out there, no make up, no bullshit, we just play a balls to the wall rock show. And that’s this early on. So, you never know what you are going to get. No two White Devil Detroit shows are the same. We are not a theatrics band; we are not a straight balls to the wall rock ‘n roll band. We are both. We are everything and nothing, you know what I mean?
Getting back to the video, this is the video I have always wanted to make. I have always wanted to make something that had a lot going on. From an artistic standpoint, it makes it more interesting for me. I get bored with rock n roll really easily. I need to always be changing shit, looking differently, trying different sounds. Doing different things with our shows. Otherwise it is not worth doing, because then I am just doing the same thing as everybody else! And I don’t want to do the same thing as everybody else. The video is a bit of a love letter to Aleister Crowley and Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol and Jackass and just things that I really like.”
When and how did White Devil Detroit become a band?
“I was playing in a band up in Queensland a few years ago called Pyromance, it was a terrible band *laughs* I think we did ok, one of the last shows we did was we opened for The Misfits, so that was kind of cool. I was playing in that band and my lead guitarist, Kyle was playing in another band who opened for us. I thought I knew everybody in Queensland, in Brisbane who played the kind of rock ‘n roll music that I liked. Turns out I didn’t! So I knew Kyle’s lead singer after they played and I was like ‘Dude, who the fuck is that guy!? Who is your guitar player, he’s amazing!’ Kyle’s guitar solos, they are his biggest strength, he writes the best guitar solos in the world, like I don’t give a fuck if it sounds contrived or whatever, he really writes the best guitar solos of all time. I love them and that’s what hooked me. So, when I asked the lead singer who his guitarist was, Kyle was standing behind me and he was like ‘thanks man!’ and I turned around and went ‘Dude, who are you!? What’s going on? We need to write some music together!’ I went crazy at him. I was like ‘come back to my place after the show, we’ll drink some bourbon.’ We didn’t really get much drinking done. We started getting some tracks together. He lived on the Sunshine Coast and I lived in Brisbane. My partner and I at the time were planning to move to Melbourne. I was feeling a bit stagnant in Brisbane. I needed to go somewhere else, somewhere fresh. I was talking to Kyle one day and he said ‘Yeah, my partner and I are moving to Melbourne next year’ and it was just like ‘No way!’ So the idea of a solo EP went and I thought, let’s just start a whole new band down there! We had a few false starts with different drummers and bass players.
Then we jammed with Jayden. I had him on Facebook for years and I reached out to him and said ‘Hey man, I am starting this band, it is kind of like Alice In Chains, AC/DC, Guns N Roses type shit, are you interested?’ He messaged back and was like ‘Oh yeah, any chances of Skid Row?’ The Skid Row thing is a running joke with us now. Our third show ever, we played the KISS convention. And the drummer from Skid Row was there with his new band, so Jayden got to meet him. It was pretty rad. Then with Dave, I went crawling through the catacombs of ‘people you may know’ on Facebook looking for people playing bass in their profile pic. I sent Dave a message ‘Hey man, I am doing this band, are you interested’ and he was like ‘Oh yeah, only cos I have got nothing else going on though.’ But you know, it is so funny. Jayden jammed with us and thought we were shit, Dave said he was just doing it because he had nothing else on. Now, you couldn’t meet two more dedicated band members that are that dedicated to White Devil Detroit and believe in it so much. Those two just froth it. As everyone does in the band.
I guess it took time for us to grow into the band we are supposed to be. I remember getting on the plane and flying down to Melbourne to start this band. And the band that I had in my head, White Devil Detroit have only just become in the last year or so. I got down here and I thought all my band members wanted me to be one of those cowboy boots, leather jacket wearing, trying to be like David Lee Roth, Axl Rose kind of frontmen. But now I have finally just started letting my freak flag fly, and it just works. I am not just a normal rock singer, I can’t fit into a archetype. I have my heroes like Dee Snider and Mick Jagger and all these sorts of performers. But I don’t want to be the next Mick Jagger or the next Dee Snider, I want to be the first Jake Blatchly. You know what I mean? I am inspired by those guys, but I am not trying to be exactly what those guys are. I have noticed with some rock and metal bands on the international or even the local scene, they are a KISS worship band or they are an AC/DC worship band or they are a Black Sabbath worship band. They are trying to fit an archetype of bands that have been here previously. Whereas in a way, you could almost say that White Devil Detroit started as a little bit of an AC/DC or Guns N’ Roses worship band. But being true to form like those bands are, there is a lot of bands that say they are a no bullshit, no theatrics band like AC/DC. Conveniently forgetting the time Bon Scott dressed up in drag as a school girl, conveniently forgetting the millions of devil horns that you see all throughout AC/DC Concerts, conveniently forgetting the giant cannons, the giant blow up Rosie, you are saying they are a no bullshit band, man I think they are a very bullshit band, if that’s what you are referencing as theatrics, absolutely.
Like Guns N’ Roses broke down barriers and created something new and didn’t fit into an archetype that had been precedented before them, that what we are trying to do. We are taking Salvador Dali surrealism, we are taking club kid fashion, we are taking bogan Australiana culture. We are taking all these things into a big melting pot. We are not cutting ourselves off from anything. There is just as much goth and grunge and punk rock in White Devil Detroit as there is classic rock or hard rock or pop or hip hop even.”
Earlier we touched on your previous single, Cummin’ Down, I wanted to go back to that one for a minute. Your vocal in that track is out of control good, you hit some big rock n roll screams in that one! When did you first discover you could sing like that?
“That’s a really good question! Thank you. So, I could always sort of pick that tone like that sort of *sings* “Yeah! C’monnnnn yeahhhh!” Like I could always sort of pick that tone in my voice. But it wasn’t until I moved to Melbourne and started White Devil Detroit. Because another thing I was actually going to do with White Devil Detroit, which I didn’t end up doing, was that I was going to cut that high scratchy vocal tone and vocal style completely out and just do like normal mid-range or like the grungy sort of ‘yarrrl.’ You know the Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains sort of style. I was just going to vibe with that. Then it was my drummer, Jayden, he heard me do a little bit of that sort of vocal and he said ‘Let’s cover some AC/DC.’ We covered Shoot To Thrill and we covered an L.A. Guns song called Rip and Tear and that sort of taught me how to have more control of that sort of aspect of my voice. Now, it is so funny because I didn’t want to sing like that and now that has become one of the main things that I am known for as a singer; is to be able to sing like that and do it well. I also went and got a couple of singing lessons when I moved to Melbourne because I don’t know, you move to Melbourne and it’s like you can’t piss like a puppy if you wanna’ run with the big dogs, you know what I mean? I went and got singing lessons with Peter Vox at the Vox singing academy. He is also the main vocal couch for Joel from Airbourne and like Northlane and a lot of big successful rock n roll bands. So, I went and did a few lessons with him. I think I even got better this year even from recording our EP. I didn’t think I was fuckin’ good until people told me this year. If you want my honest opinion, I don’t think I got good until this year! *laughs*”
Maybe you’ve just discovered what your voice was really capable of doing? Like you’ve really grown into and found your voice!
“Yeah that could be it! You know that saying about if you spend ten thousand hours doing anything, you’ll get good at it. I might have hit my quota of ten thousand hours this year and now I’m good. I don’t know *laughs*”
And speaking of recording, was it at Monolith Studios that you recorded?
“Cummin’ Down was recorded at Monolith, the rest of the EP was recorded with Mitch O’Shea, who is a new hotshot producer, he is doing some cool stuff in Melbourne with a lot of hard rock and metal bands. He is super talented. I have always wanted to work with Mitch in some capacity. Whether it be writing music together or collaborating on an idea. But it was perfect having him as a producer for the bulk of the EP. He is such a pleasure to work with and I can’t recommend him enough to other bands.”
When is the EP set for release?
“It is coming out soon. It is coming out early next year. It is mixed and mastered. We just need to finish off the artwork and get it all ready. Also, we’ve got this stuff happening behind the scenes that will make the release even bigger than we first thought. So, the timing of everything has just worked out fucking perfectly.”
And off the back of the release, you’ll do a tour?
“Yes, we are booking an East Coast Tour, it is called ‘The Shroud Of Tourin Tour.’ So, the Shroud of Turin is this old cloth that apparently is stained with Jesus’ blood. Turin is spelt T -U- R- I- N, but I love a good pun so I was like, let’s name our tour after that. There is a lot of our imagery and with our lyrics, our EP is called ‘Stay Calm It’s Only Napalm’ which if you spell out using the first letter of each word, it is S- C- I- O- N which is Scion, which there was a secret society back in the day called ‘The Priory Of Scion’ who had the job of preserving the bloodline of Jesus Christ because apparently Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene ran away to France and he didn’t actually die after the crucifixion and they started a whole new family and the blood of Jesus Christ, the holy grail is actually a reference to Jesus’ living relatives who are still alive today. So, it all ties in together. The tour name, the name of the EP. We are going to bring people up on stage and initiate them in some way. I won’t say how just yet. But it will be fun, it will be immersive.
The reason we put Guillotine out on the 23rd is that there is a Charles Dickens novel, called ‘The Tale Of Two Cities’ and at the end of that book, the main character gets their head cut off by the guillotine. Back in the day when that happened, the executioner would yell, just say it was the fifth person to be beheaded that day they would yell “Five!” And at the end of ‘The Tale Of Two Cities,’ when the main character gets his head cut of, the executioner yells “Twenty Three!” Oh and the little photograph on the front of the single, is on a 2.3-degree angle. So, we just had all our twenty threes lined up. So, it’s a reference to a Charles Dickens novel who possibly none of our fans may have even read *laughs* But you know. You never know. I like little literary references, references to movies, mythology, pop culture.”
What will 2020 bring for White Devil Detroit? We have already touched on most of it really, it is all very exciting! The new EP, the tour, what else?
Yeah, we’ve got ‘The Shroud of Tourin’ Tour’ which will take us to Brisbane, Adelaide, Bendigo. We’ve got a bunch of different dates around the country. That is going from January to April. Then we are dropping our EP, which is going to be great, it is going to have a worldwide release. It is all really exiting. We are just going to keep working harder and harder and keep pushing and elevating the art, keep elevating the music. And just make it more fun, more controversial, more sexy, more scary, whatever man you know! *laughs*”
Follow White Devil Detroit on Facebook HERE – Trust me, you do not want to miss a thing!
Oh and hey, if you’re in Melbourne, get to their next show on December 13! – Event page with all the details you need HERE