Devon Sproule Interview

March 24, 2010

Arriving at the Hardcourt Hotel I find Devon Sproule in playful form. Having spent the past two years out on tour storing up the grass-is-always-greener memories of her Virginia home that fuel Don’t Hurry For Heaven, she’s a little wrecked thanks to the late night antics of Hardcourt Street’s permatanned revelers (Carlsberg may not commit mass murder but this would be a dam good place to start). The latest talent to emerge from Tin Angel Records roster of remarkable talent (Adrian Crowley, Polar Bear, Baby Dee), who have given Coventry their musical tropic, Don’t Hurry For Heaven is a mismash of traditional country, folk and blues with a little reggae added for seasoning. Produced by husband Paul Curreri and surrounded by British session musicians Devon Sproule opened up to me about musical matrimony, a lack of teenage angst and an early love for The Cranberries.

Your music has been called a lot of things. How would you best describe it?

My brother in law says “Hot-Wifey Backport Jazz”, because there is something domestic about it. But I’m 27, and I got married at 23. So I’m no old married lady.

You’ve said that your new record is more youthful than your previous work. Is that deliberate?

One of the first tours I did was with Ritchie Havens and he’s really cool but a lot of people who listen to him are 50, 60. So when I play a lot of older people turn up. And I like that. But my new record is more youthful.

My husband produced it and he’s 6 years older but is so unwilling to not be rock and roll which helped with this record being a little more genre ignoring.

How important is your style to your stage persona? I mean are your professional and personal persona’s one in the same?

I don’t believe in being an entertainer. But if you act like someone who doesn’t know why you’re there, people will wonder why you are. Part of that process is wearing clothes that put you and the audience in the mood.

What influence does your husband have in your music?

I met Paul Curreri (my husband) when I was 18 and his music was pretty influential. It still is. He’s really rooted in country, blues and jazz. And even though he’s rooted he’s also really out there.

He’s not afraid to write a song that is linear, that makes sense within the context of the song but not to anything else. You don’t quite get what he’s on about but you get the feeling. You can’t ignore the good rocknroll and roots and country and jazz. And he hasn’t. But he has totally gone somewhere different with it. So that’s helped me feel like I can actually do things that I haven’t heard before and it’s all right as I have my feet rooted in something.

I read somewhere that you are a Cranberries fan?

Oh…ahhh, yeah, I wouldn’t say a fan. When I was real young my dad played me all this great stuff like The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Then when I was 13 or 14 I went through this phase of listening to the radio. When I hear the first strains of Salvation and I hear that crazy ‘tie your children to their beds’ lyric. I’m like “Jesus woman, shove it down my throat why don’t you”.

That’s why I don’t sell the first two records I wrote. It’s not that it’s bad to rebel, but if you don’t have anything to be dark about then it never sounds honest or real. When I hit this record, it was mellow and pretty happy and that, for me, felt more honest then all the shouty stuff.

Do you reckon you’ll ever revisit those first records?

After my divorce (laughs)…I don’t think so, they are just not very good songs.

You got into writing at quite a young age? What do you think this helped you discover about yourself?

Playing those dark songs and slowly coming out of that, realizing that I connected way more with songs that were not devoid of hardship but were balanced and used language that was interesting to express if something was good or bad.

I want to ask about the two covers on the album? How did you choose them? Or did they choose you?

Honestly, I spent so much time last year touring that the songs I did write were home sick. I just needed a song and I’d been playing Bowling Green at festivals, and it just seemed right.

And Sponji Reggae, well we just really liked that CD by Black Uhuru. Seriously 80s reggae. We had to change it pretty drastically but it has a nice African inspiration, which is really nice because it came naturally. You can’t force this stuff.


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