Photo by Piper Ferguson
Part road songs, part heartbreakers and part barnburners, the rowdy and rootsy trio The Devil Makes Three’s fourth full-length studio album, I’m A Stranger Here, will be released October 29 on New West Records. Described by frontman Pete Bernhard as a “very dark record thematically, lyrically and sonically,” the album is also the band’s biggest sounding one to date. Produced by Americana icon Buddy Miller and recorded at Dan Auberbach’s (The Black Keys) Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, the 10-track collection features the drummer-less acoustic threesome of singer/guitarist Bernhard, guitarist/banjoist Cooper McBean and stand up bassist Lucia Turino coloring their songs with an expanded sonic palette – percussion, strings, electric guitar, fiddle, vibes and a variety of horns are used to powerful effect.
To preview the new album the band have debuted the first single, “Stranger,” at Rolling Stone, exclaiming it “blends raw folk, punk-tinged Southern blues and even amphetamine-fueled jazz.”
Over the last decade the well traveled Santa Cruz, Calif. by way of Vermont trio has built up a rabid following through non-stop touring and they are excited to hit the road this fall to play their new songs. The month-long headline tour will kick off Halloween night in Colorado Springs and include shows at Webster Hall in New York, 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. and the Metro in Chicago. Prior to the tour, the band will play at New West Records 15th Anniversary Party at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville on Friday, September 20 and return to San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass on Sunday, October 6. The full routing is below and more tour dates will be announced soon.
TDM3’s sound is garagey ragtime, more punkified blues than bluegrass, old n’ new timey without settling upon a particular era, inspired as much by mountain music as by Preservation Hall jazz. “We bend genres pretty hard,” Bernhard says. That sound has won accolades from critics across the board, with NPR describing the trio as “acoustic roots music with a relentless beat in mind at all times,” going on to praise their “whiskey-drenched, ramshackle fury,” and “fiendish intensity.”
Recorded at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, I’m A Stranger Here was inspired by the bands travels and travails so far, a journey that has lead them down numerous roads since they first left their picturesque rural hometown of Brattleboro, VT. While most bands are propelled from behind by a drummer, TDM3 builds exuberant rhythms from the inside out, wrapping finger-picked strings and upsurging harmonies around chugging acoustic guitar and bass, plying an ever-growing audience onto its feet to jump, shake and waltz.
Bernhard wrote more than 20 songs for the album and turned them over to producer Buddy Miller, who gravitated toward the darker material but ensured that the recording was lit up by the band’s innate ebullience. For a band that made its bones with dynamic performances, recording an album is almost like coaxing lightning into a bottle, but Miller and TDM3 succeed on I’m A Stranger Here. From the slithering electric guitar and drums on the gypsy jazz opener “Stranger,” to the jaunty yet ominous “Forty Days,” featuring all sorts of horns courtesy of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, it’s evident that this is a much different record than the band has made in the past. One thing is for sure, none of their ramshackle charm is lost – tracks like “Hallelu” and “Spinning Like A Top” are pure vintage Americana, yet played with an intensity that comes from a youth of punk shows and rock bands.
Since releasing their first album in 2002, The Devil Makes Three has released a steady stream of well-received studio LPs as well as two live albums that have captured their deft musicianship and the rollicking and ragged intensity of their epic, sweat-soaked performances they are so beloved for. They have garnered ardent fans the old school way by relentlessly touring North America and just this summer played with Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Willie Nelson, Trampled By Turtles and Yonder Mountain String Band. They are also regulars on the festival circuit and veterans at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Treasure Island, theTelluride Bluegrass Festival, Pickathon and many others. Described by Relix as “taking the primitive components of American folk music and assembling them into post-apocalyptic nostalgia,” the trio brings forth a genuine approach to acoustic music that is deeply steeped in rhythm but is simultaneously vintage and new.
Now armed with a new label and stunning new album, they’re continuing the journey that began when they found their way to the road that led them out of Vermont. “I can’t wait to get onstage, I love it,” Bernhard says. “Playing music for a living is a blessing and a curse, but for us there’s no other option.”
I’m A Stranger Here Track List:
2. Worse Or Better
3. Forty Days
4. A Moment’s Rest
5. Dead Body Moving
7. Hands Back Down
8. Spinning Like A Top
9. Mr. Midnight
10. Goodbye Old Friend
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE ON TOUR
September 20 – Nashville, TN @ The Cannery – New West 15th Anniversary @ Americana Fest
October 6 – San Francisco, CA @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
October 31 – Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
November 2 – Aspen, CO @ Belly Up Aspen
November 5 – Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note
November 6 – Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose Tap House
November 7 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
November 8 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
November 9 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall
November 10 – Bloomington, IN @ Bluebird Nightclub
November 12 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
November 13 – Morgantown, WV @ Metropolitan Theatre
November 14 – Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small’s Theatre
November 15 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
November 16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of the Living Arts
November 17 – Charlottesvile, VA @ Jefferson Theatre
November 19 – Baltimore, MD @ 8 x 10 Club
November 21 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
November 22 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
November 23 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
November 24 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Ballroom
For up to date tour information visit thedevilmakesthree.com