Buddy Lackey, formerly of California rockers Psychotic Waltz, had arrived in Austria in the company of his soon-to-be former wife who hailed from Austria. He had announced his departure from his former band in September of 1997. Using the name Devon Graves (originally used on his solo venture), the singer/guitarist set out to form a new band in Austria. First to join was drummer Moustafa who was soon followed by Wilschko and Ivenz - both formerly of punk rockers Sonic Bastards.
After obtaining a contract with Germany's Inside Out Music, Dead Soul Tribe issued its debut record in the spring of 2002. According to Graves, much of the music was originally written for Psychotic Waltz. The band followed the release with a tour and an appearance at the Dynamo Festival in The Netherlands. Dead Soul Tribe further performed at ProgPower Europe in The Netherlands in October of 2002.
The January Tree was released in the middle of the summer 2004. It featured Graves on all instruments except drums, still handled by Moustafa. The band immediately set out to tour Europe with Threshold.
The band issued a fourth album, The Dead Word, on November 11th, 2005 through InsideOut Music. The group’s newest album, A Lullaby For The Devil, was issued on September 11th, 2007 through InsideOut Music. Its cover artwork was a tribute to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.
DEAD SOUL TRIBE - same - DEVON GRAVES/INSIDE OUT
There is something oddly attractive about Dead Soul Tribe that needs several listens before becoming detectable. That thing is originality. Dead Soul Tribe is one of those bands whose sound is its own and has a soul guiding the many layers from within. In fact, everything about this package smacks of individualism. Starting with a dark yet thought-provoking cover and inside art, on to titles like the melancholic Anybody There?, the accessible Powertrip, the catchy Coming Down or the haunting You and deeply personal lyricism, the thirteen songs on this CD constitute a compelling package. Crossing and fusing elements from the progressive, dark and hard rock genres, Dead Soul Tribe grabs the listener who is willing to devote the extra time to really delve into the song. Yet another special mention goes to the album's production which captures the overall vibe and the individual instruments with special care and power - love the bass sound for example. What if one were to tell you that this is producer Devon Graves' first production job?! This is hard rock for the forlorn, the out-of-the-way and the lonesome. And if you have to know Dead Soul tribe is the band of one Devon Graves a.k.a Buddy Lackey formerly of Psychotic Waltz.
DEAD SOUL TRIBE - THE JANUARY TREE - INSIDE OUT
The first Dead Soul Tribe of two years ago seemed like a profound and exciting release and Metallian ran a positive review and subsequent interview with the band's leader Devon Graves as a result. Two years and two albums later things are different. It is not so much that my tastes have changed. It is more as if DST has ran out of gas.
For all its meaningful and intriguing lyricism and imagery The January Tree fails to light the fuse with much that sticks its neck out or takes the bull by the horn and heads into any particular direction. Where the album needed brash innovation one finds hesitancy, power is replaced by sheer melancholy and vision seems to be forced on several songs.
It is not so much that The January Tree is weak or a bad album. It is how the band's third album comes across as just plain dull. Sure, this type of music has been played by the likes of Tool to much acclaim, but the spark is missing here. Perhaps it's the monotone whimper or the slow pace of song after song. Perhaps it's the misplaced use of flute or the presence of electronica. Who knows, it might even be the departure of the band's bassist and guitarist leaving Devon even more intimately responsible for the songs. Whatever it is, The January Tree seems to reflect the off-colour cover art more probably than the (by-now) duo would have wanted it to. Devon even includes a rerecording of Just Like A Timepiece from his solo album The Strange Mind of Buddy Lackey.
DST is a distinct band for a distinct audience, yes, but Devon should put more thought into the rescuing of the music from the doldrums next time. - Ali "The Metallian"
DEAD SOUL TRIBE - THE DEAD WORD - INSIDEOUT
The Dead Word, the new album of one Devon Graves, is a play on words, but there is no fooling around with the sheer depressive nature of the album. Be it the title, the cover or the songs the Austrian-based band is never out of emptiness and rut. Deadsoul Tribe largely dances to its tune, but that does not mean that comparisons are hard to find. The most obvious approximation is Tool obviously. The aura and mood structure of the album probably draw from the said band. The intro could have been Pink Floyd's, Waiting In Line is overtly Led Zeppelin influenced and A Fistful Of Bended Nails copies Iron Maiden from 1986's Somewhere In Time.
Those occurrences aside, Deadsoul Tribe is down on itself without much frills this time around. A little flute here, one song with some electronica there are all that the album affords outside the vocal, guitar, bass and drum framework. That is the way it should be. What would have been useful to hear more of is heavier and more metallic passages. In its quest to brood the album largely abandons the metallic wont in favour of the introspective sulk. Circle one for the converted and the assimilated. - Ali "The Metallian"
DEADSOUL TRIBE - A LULLABY FOR THE DEVIL - INSIDE OUT
It seems that Deadsoul Tribe band leader Devon Graves had become increasingly wary of the musical style pursued and produced on the band’s last two albums, 2004’s The January Tree and 2005’s The Dead Word, and has deliberately gone for change. To be perfectly clear A Lullaby For The Devil is still moody, dismal, atmospheric and everything else this band is famous for, but there are a couple of subtle changes here. The new album is practically non-metal all the way, has more vocals, and flutes instead. The weight is squarely on the soft and gentle. Devon has recorded a variety of voices and put an emphasis on being the best progressive rock man/band he can be. The devilish flute player on the cover naturally reminded me of Jethro Tull and for good reason. Strangely, traces of Psychotic Waltz and the occasional Queensrÿche sound are also present. Instead, the band Tool is less of a concern here. The album is indeed original, but not as hard or captivating as one could hope. - Anna Tergel
Buddy Lackey is Devon Graves is Dead Soul Tribe. Now based in Austria and promoting the release of a debut album via Insideout Music, the ex-Californian and former Psychotic Waltz singer has transitioned his solo act into Dead Soul Tribe where he handles both the vocals and the guitars. Having granted the debut a positive review earlier, Ali "The Metallian" contacts Graves in order to clarify a few matters and address others - 12.06.2002
Devon, thank you for agreeing to this conversation. Seeing that Dead Soul Tribe is a new band with a debut, please get into the story behind the bands formation.
Ali, I consciously chose band members for their presence, personality, and attitude. Since I am the song writer, I did not need people with a songwriting style which matches mine. I simply set out looking for band members that looked a certain way and had the right attitude to be in a band with me, to work with me, and to live on the road with me.
The most important choice I knew I would make would be the drummer. If a rock band was a car and I was the driver, then the drummer would most certainly be the engine. I found Adel (Moustafa) first. I knew from the first three seconds of his audition what my new band would sound like. I can never express the happiness I felt and carried with me after finding him. At first, I was considering going with a power trio in the way of the Jimi Hendrix Experience - Hendrix is my idol. Then I set out to find a bassist with a certain image, which is dreadlocks, because I always thought that was a very powerful stage look. I spent months going up to anyone with long dreads asking "Hey man, do you play bass?" A friend said he knew just the guy and showed me a photo. It was Volker (Wilschko) who was playing guitar. I said 'He would be perfect.' So my friend got Volker on the phone and we talked for a while about what I wanted to do. Though he was a guitarist, he agreed to play bass in my band. It turned out that Volker was a very nice person and a strong player so things did work out.
A short time later, We were at a party at Adel's house. Volker invited his best friend. He is another very striking person named Roland Ivenz. Right when I saw him, I asked "Do you play an instrument?" He said, "yeah, bass." It made me think. Just the sight of this guy made me want him in the band. Since I knew Volker was a guitarist at heart, I considered moving him to rhythm guitar if Roland would play bass with us. After seeing a certain live photo of Roland my decision was made. First I asked Volker if it was okay with him to move to rhythm guitar. He was so happy that he begged Roland to join. Roland said "If the music is right, then OK."
That is a twist to the usual formation story. What is the moniker referring to then?
Moniker?... Wait a minute, let me look that word up (reaches for a dictionary)! Okay, here it is. Moniker: (MÃ¤ni ker) is a noun and slang for a persons nickname. Okay, then. I just made it up. It doesnt refer to a thing.
Forgive me for being inarticulate, but I am referring to the band's name.
Oh! Well then. I just made it up too. It has just the vibe I was looking for, but it has no real meaning either.
So there is no Lynyrd Skynyrd story there?
No, I had Mr. Hoadley.
Going back to Devon Graves for a moment, why did you change your name?
I will tell you. I remember being two years old. I was the youngest of four. For some reason my brother was asking our mom what his middle name was. 'Allen,' she said. Then my sisters gathered, 'whats mine?' 'Lynn, Lee...' Right then, I got this feeling of hope. What is this thing you speak of, this 'middle name?' Could it really be that there is, waiting for me, something better than... Buddy?
Yeah, my mom gave me a nickname, or moniker if you will and I know you will, for a real name. Its not a good start in life when you are two years old and you already hate something about yourself. So as the last of us four to become privy to this new information, I waited in rapt anticipation. Heres my way out! Go on mother, Im waiting... 'Howard.'
Even at two years old, I had this keen instinct as to the nature and quality in the naming of human beings. A quality I am afraid my mother was lacking. It is fortunate that we all had different fathers or we might all be named Sonny. I think my mom named us boys after our fathers so she could keep track. My own father, whom I met only twice in my life, even told me I should change my name professionally. So I feel I have every right, and permission to right what has been wronged.
Devon, that is quite an interesting story. At this point one has to ask though, what twist of fate finds you living in Austria? When did you get there and why leave America? Have you emigrated?
I was married to an Austrian woman. We lived in California for about two years. She became quite ill from a severe eating disorder and we felt she needed to be home in Austria to get help. There she would have the support of her family, the return to her friends, career, and normal life that she had given up to be with me. Since I had left Psychotic Waltz (for nearly a year by this time) I felt no anchors that should prevent me from moving. So I decided to just go for it. I had a kind of an enormous leap of faith. I am still American.
How would you contrast the Austrian society with the American one? I ask because one wonders how it affects your art.
It is not as different as some people would like to believe, you know? People are people. You get pretty much the same cross-section of personalities just about anywhere you go. The main differences that I can see are just how clean and safe Vienna (the capital city of Austria) is in contrast to where I lived in California.
My art is affected, not because of the society, but because I am working full time on Dead Soul Tribe. In California, I had a full-time job which left only nights and weekends for music. After working at any job for eight hours or so, your energies have been compromised in a big way.
Speaking of your music, the group is comprised of musicians who are completely unknown. Why don't you introduce them better?
Well I think I already introduced everybody. If you listened to Adel's drumming, it is obvious what he brings into the band. Volker brings in some neat ideas like stops and accents. A lot of it is actually drum ideas to define the arrangements. Roland is solid, dependable, dedicated and has a monstrous stage presence. He helps a lot more in the organisational side of this band. He takes care of many things which are not music-related that I often forget about or dont even think of. If I am not sure of whether some business aspect is appropriate, I always can get sensible advice from him.
Where the three in any bands previous to Dead Soul Tribe? If so, which genre were they active in?
Roland and Volker played together in a punk band called Sonic Bastards. Adel had previously jammed with a few people, but when I found him, he didnt even have a drum set, and was considering giving it up!
Having said all of that, Dead Soul Tribe is your band, isnt it?
It is my music. It is our band.
I won't persist. Let's talk about the album then. Elaborate on the concept, art, music, lyrics and so forth.
That is too general and about four questions with four very long answers that will lead you nowhere. The artwork, Just look at it. Your guess is as good as mine. The music, Just listen to it, what else is there to say. The lyrics, Just read them. To use words to explain words defies their principle.
Let me try this from another angle. If the music is a reflection of you, then how would you describe yourself? For instance, would you describe yourself as depressed?
Well, I sure was during the song writing process! I was even deeper during the recording. Remember the Austrian wife? Well, after we arrived in Austria, things went from very bad to much much worse. Rather than rebuild herself as was the idea, she found herself in a safe place and no longer had any interest in me or what we came here to do. Eventually she started seeing someone else and left me. Im not sure when I was the most lonely, When she left, or when we were together, but it was more or less two years of tears. Incidentally most of the lyrics are dealing with those feelings.
Thank you for bringing up the lyrics. Let me mention two of my favourites. Those would be Anybody There?/The Haunted and You.
The song You should be pretty obvious in light of my last statement. It is a song about searching for my soulmate. Anybody There? is just an intro to The Haunted. They are about supernatural occurrences that I have been living with for most of my life.
Now is a good time to bring up the spectacular atmosphere prevailing on the album. How did you manage to so texture the album? How would you describe it?
I engineered the album and I would describe it as um... unique.
This could be an entire article for Mix, or Recording Magazine. What I mainly focused on was capturing the right take. It has less to do with the tools and techniques than it does with just listening to what you have done and using your instincts as to whether or not it sounds the way you intended. I am talking about judging the performance. First it starts with a sound in my head. Then I have to play it or sing it until what I have on the recording sounds like the song in my mind. I hear it very clearly, distinctly, and in quite a detailed fashion in my mind before I ever have it recorded. In fact most often before I even know how to play it. The challenge is having it end up sounding to you as it did to me.
Having said that, I generally went for a very dry sound on the guitars and bass and used no effects. The guitars' signal path was Les Paul-cable-Fender Prosonic amp with the channel gain turned to about four (very low distortion). The exception was an occasional Wah Wah pedal. I also played a Fender Stratocaster with the same amp. I put a bit, or more in a few cases, of reverb on the drums for ambience and some delay on the vocals. Aside from a few tricks and random effects, that's about it.
I would like to talk about this more in an appropriate forum because recording is an art that really interests me. But I do not want to get too technical here.
Staying on topic, much of the material would be at home on a Psychotic Waltz album. So why isnt it?
Because I play in Dead Soul Tribe, not Psychotic Waltz. Actually you can say in a way that some of it is. Believe me, If I hadnt used Bleeding, Locust, My Grave, and Skeleton on the Bleeding album, they would have definitely been on the Dead Soul Tribe album. Actually a completely different version of The Drowning Machine was rejected for Psychotic Waltz's Bleeding album.
Which really answers the question regarding the affinity of the material. However, since the album is released by Insideout one has to wonder as to how you came across the label. Do you have a longer term contract with them?
Wolfgang Schäfer from Rock Hard Magazine (German monthly) gave me the contact. His words were "It would be no mistake to check them out." We will at least do three albums with Insideout. I really like the label, the guys, and the overall situation. I have no desire to make a change. I just want to build on what is already there.
Still, one can see that the album is primarily a Devon Graves (company) release. What is the arrangement here?
Actually I had the deal with Insideout before I had a band. I knew I needed to find a drummer, but I would play all the other instruments myself. The idea is to make the record like a craft: adding every detail, every nuance as your inspiration guides you. No arguments, no debates, no compromises. I think its a lot like the way Trent Reznor does Nine Inch Nails. I have band members to play live. Dead Soul Tribe is really strictly a live band. They are however quite involved with everything. I show them the songs Im working on and kind of get their approval, and maybe some input. When we play the songs together, they often bring in some further details. We practice quite a lot. We hang out quite a lot. It is like best friends actually.
Thank you for the explanation. Before wrapping up though, will you provide the readers with your latest news and happenings please?
Thank you. Now I am writing for the new album. We are rehearsing for several shows as well. A small tour will come toward the end of June. I just accepted an offer to play the Dynamo Open Air Festival this year on July fourteenth in The Netherlands. I am very happy about this.
On that note, we end our conversation about an album that, while different, may prove irrepressible to many. Visit www.deadsoultribe.com for more on the band.