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Ready for Battle, A Conversation with John Allen of Charm City Devils

If you have ever seen the Charm City Devils live, you know how exuberant of a performance that they deliver. They also have the musical chops to back up those performances. Since their inception in 2008 they have given us some seriously groove laden songs from the blues influenced “Devil Is A Woman” to the hard rockers “Spite”, “Unstoppable” and “Blame” to an unequaled, and in my opinion the best, cover of “Man Of Constant Sorrow”. Recently the Devil City Angels had a canceled show in Indianapolis but vocalist John Allen has since taken some time out to talk about that and their much anticipated album Battles.


 

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Charm City Devils

The recent show in Indianapolis was canceled last minute. What happened with this show?

Well, when we arrived to load in the owner/manager wouldn’t let us in. We wanted use the bathroom and he wouldn’t even let us do that! He told us to come back after he opened at 7:30. We always load in around 3pm or so. Usually to do sound check and make sure any problem we encounter are taken care of well before the public arrives. That’s how it’s done in the professional world. I don’t understand why he didn’t want to run his venue in this way but he has been through 2 or 3 promoter/bookers in that room in the past few months so I think there may be a personality issue there! Lol.

Will there be any plans to reschedule an Indianapolis show at a different venue?

I hope so. I have family in the area and we don’t get to play Indy as much as I would like.

What experiences with the former bands Child’s Play and SR-71 helped to form the sound of Charm City Devils?

I don’t know, I guess just learning to write better songs through those two projects is what I hope I took away from those two bands.

What is the history of this band?

This line up came together in 2007 and we were signed pretty quickly, 2008.

I have heard that the way you were originally signed to Eleven Seven was unusual. If true, how did your signing happen?

It was to me. I emailed the label, not knowing anyone up there. Within a couple of weeks I was in NYC talking to the CEO and we had a handshake deal after lunch standing on a street corner! No showcases for months on end, no bullshit. Straight up done!

How much truth is there that Nikki Sixx came up with the name Charm City Devils? If it is, what names where you thinking of prior to that?

It’s true. We thought of Harm City (a nod to Baltimore’s murder rate) and I think the name came out of that sort of.

How did the idea come to do a cover of “Man Of Constant Sorrow”? Why was that song chosen and did you know the end result would be better than all the previous covers?

I honestly did not know that Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart had done covers of it. I actually don’t recall hearing many, if any, other covers beside the one in the movie. Had I known I may have had second thoughts. No, I didn’t know it would turn out so cool. I have to give credit to Skidd. Mills for creating such an eerie track for the tune. My demo had it double the speed that we ended up with. Slowing it down gave it a real ominous vibe.

How is the new single “Shots” being received, both live and with available downloads?

It is going over great! I think up tempo songs tend to work in the live setting easier due to the energy that is coming off the stage.

What was the inspiration for “Shots”?

The inspiration for song is basically an open letter to a very close friend to get help for his addiction issues. We lost one of our friends/ex band mates a few years ago and I don’t want him to be next.

Tell us about the new album, when will the new album be released? Will there be any special bundle packs that seem to be popular now available with it?

The new album comes out September 23rd, and yes, we have a “Pre-Order bundle” that includes a Special addition T-Shirt, a shot glass with our logo on it and the CD.

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