With an endearingly ragged, bluesy rock sound, The Dead Frets will celebrate release of a self-titled debut during a Founders Brewing show. But before that, they revved up Local Spins Live with a rare acoustic gem.
If The White Stripes had a musical fistfight with The Black Crowes, they might end up sounding like Devin & The Dead Frets.
And that’s a good thing. Really.
The Grand Rapids-area band – lead singer/guitarist Devin Weber, lead guitarist Eric Batenburg, bassist Zach Nelson and drummer Jordan Kerbyson – will unleash its self-titled debut album on Thursday night during a live show at Founders Brewing Co., and chances are, folks won’t soon forget what they see and hear from the one-year-old group.
“We pride ourselves on our live performances. That’s where we shine, I think,” Weber acknowledges. “We have the most fun. We feed off the energy of the crowd and Founders is our place. We basically got our start – we just decided we’re going to play open mic at Founders and we said, ‘Hey, these people don’t hate this music, so we should continue doing this.’ We love everybody up there and we always have a great show when we go up there.”
All part of the Hopkins High School graduating classes of 2007 and 2008, members of Devin & The Dead Frets have quickly established themselves as a fresh force on West Michigan’s rock scene – a garage-styled outfit that describes its approach as “grungy blues rock.”
“We taught ourselves to play and we don’t know anything about music at all, so it’s pretty impressive that we’re able to do this,” jokes Weber, 22.
They’re clearly quick studies. In fact, Nelson, who started as the keyboard player, took up the cello just a week ago after the band realized it would be performing acoustically on the air during Wednesday’s edition of my Local Spins Live show on News Talk 1340 AM. So with Nelson on a three-quarter size cello and Kerbyson slapping the back of an acoustic guitar for percussion, Devin & The Dead Frets hammered out a sweet rendition of “My Life,” a song from the new album. You can listen to a podcast of the complete show here, and watch a video of their performance below.
The band’s name is a backhanded tribute to early rehearsals, when Weber says “all of our guitars were terrible.”
“We came from humble beginnings. Most of our guitars had dead frets on ’em so we couldn’t actually play all of our songs,” he recalls. “It made it a little difficult. We had to improvise here and there, but we got through it. Now we’ve been able to afford nicer things.”
The band recorded its album at The Outer Vibe’s studios south of Rockford fairly quickly after working out songs during band sessions. “Stuff just kind of falls out of my mouth. I don’t usually use the pen and paper very often,” Weber says. “We just start playing and the song becomes what it is and we kind of let it go where it wants to.”
The organic music that emerges represents a melting pot of influences. For Weber, those range from George Jones and Johnny Cash to Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and The Foo Fighters. “It’s really all across the spectrum for me and I think for these guys it’s probably the case, too,” he says.
Thursday night’s free Founders show begins at 9:30 p.m., with Mississippi folk-rock band Rosco Bandana and Allendale alt-rock outfit The Dockside Fever also on the bill. For Devin & The Dead Frets, it amounts to a brew pub homecoming aimed at pumping up fans.
“We want it to evoke an emotion,” Weber says. “That’s what we’re going to go for, every show.”
Email John Sinkevics at email@example.com.
Copyright 2013, Spins on Music
A veteran journalist and former music writer for The Grand Rapids Press, John Sinkevics is editor and publisher of LocalSpins.com, profiling regional artists and commenting on West Michigan's music scene. He hosts "Local Spins Live" on News Talk 1340 AM in Grand Rapids at 11 a.m. Wednesdays, with a preview at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays on WLAV-FM (96.9). He also hosts the hour-long "Local Spins on WYCE" at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE-FM (88.1).
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