Idle hands are the devil's playthings. Not so with Mile Zero's Raspy Devils - who have been busy for the last year.
Just 13 months ago, in February 2020, The Raspy Devils were recording a new album by Pouce Coupe with Bert Goulet, and preparing for a summer of playing shows in support of the album.
Though their plans didn’t go as planned — most of their scheduled shows were cancelled within the month due to the onset of the pandemic — but the band didn’t go silent, or use the downtime as a break from music.
Instead, it’s been quite the opposite for Dawson Creek’s hardworking blues band. After a month-long break, the band has spent the last 12 months practicing every week, writing songs constantly, and honing their craft more than they ever have before.
The album they recorded still hasn’t been released — it’s ready to go whenever the band feels the time is right — and in the meantime they have enough new material to go back in the studio. “It was challenging at first, but if we’re not playing music we get squirrely pretty fast. (Singer Matt Lee) was writing nonstop, and I would say over the past year we have a new album ready to go, and I have no problem with that,” said bass player Adam Perrin.
Lee has enjoyed the opportunity to write as many songs as he had.
“I feel like I’ve written 300 songs in the past year. Each week I’m unveiling a new song to the guys and it feels great. We’re a lot tighter too. Songs I thought were good enough to play in front of an audience before, we would practice maybe twice before a show. Now, we’ve been working on some of the same songs for six months straight,” Lee said.
Though the band has enjoyed the steady practices and has made the most of the past year, they are eager to get back to playing shows for their fans. “We constantly complain almost every practice about having no shows to prepare for, it’s a whole different process when you are playing but not getting ready for a performance. We just try to put that energy into making the songs as best as they can be,” said Perrin.
Last fall, they had the chance to play a show — kind of — in the form of a live recording as part of the Kiwanis Performance Centre of the Arts “KPAC Sessions” live video and recording series.
KPAC Sessions: Raspy Devils
Recorded in August, the show aired in October 2020, and is still available to watch for free on both the band’s and KPAC’s Facebook pages.
“You almost feel like an honest to goodness rock star,” Perrin said when thinking about the video.
“They had a full camera crew, lighting, we even got dressed up for it. The difference between what we were working on that day, and what (KPAC technician Kurtis Nguyen) put out two months later, I didn’t even recognize us.” The band is looking forward to when restrictions loosen and they can play a show, and is exploring all their options and opportunities in the meantime.
The Devils said many of their musical contemporaries haven’t survived the pandemic, and know it can be hard to keep going without performances, but they never considered going their separate ways.
“We have unfinished business. We have a taste for the small bit of success we’ve experienced, and still want to be doing what we’re doing. Also, we all live such separate lives, so when we get to play together, the release of stress through music is really important to us,” Lee said.
Lee said it was hard getting used to not playing, and that the break nearly broke him. “I felt like I was losing a bit of my identity, that I get with creating. You come to crave and depend on it,” he said.
However, that’s resulted in Lee writing some of the band’s most positive lyrics to date.
“When I write about darker things, I seem to stay in that place. Now, I’m writing more hopeful, happier tunes. It’s more fun, and exciting to dance to,” said Lee.