“I didn’t realise it was real until they drove away with my girlfriend…”
“…and your weed.”
For psychedelic stoners Devil’s Crossroad, EP two is all about breaking down boundaries and experimentation. On their last day in the studio Zac Czuchwicki, Kyle Clarke and Nathan Dior took us on a track by track journey through their upcoming EP. The forthcoming six track entitled Gypsy Kings was recorded over six days with local veteran Matt Hills (Wolf & Cub), and sees the band explore all things alternative, psychedelic, grungy and experimental.
As an embodiment of Devil’s Crossroad’s confidence to pursue new sounds and styles, only they can detail the mind bending acid trips and backwards guitar solos that formed the foundation of Gypsy Kings.
As they prepare for the release of their second EP, Adelaide’s Devil’s Crossroad walk us through Gypsy Kings and the insane stories that inspired it.
High Above the Clouds
“We open up the EP with a track called High Above the Clouds. This song is a fucking psychedelic masterpiece!” starts vocalist Nathan Dior, bursting into laughter. “You would say that about the whole EP bro.” retorts lead guitarist Zac Czuchwicki.
“It’s come out really raunchy…” continues Dior before Czuchwicki finishes his sentence. “It’s pretty rocky! It’s raunchy and rocky through the start of the song, the intro and the verse. There’s quite a hooky melody and it’s all pretty upbeat and in your face. Then the bridge mellows right out to a really ambient, psychedelic sort of thing that we do live but with Matt Hill’s production… he played some organ over the choruses and came up with this sick little organ line for that bridge which has added to it and made it way more psychedelic and ambient.”
Bassist Kyle Clarke emerges from the studio, inside which he had been napping. “Yeah I wrote this amazing bass line which was actually in the wrong key.” There’s laughter all round. “We had to scrap the entire bass line and start again. Luckily Matt walked me through my own bass line in a different key…he pretty much taught me my own bass line and then I went from there.”
Crawling Back to You
“The second track is called Crawling Back to You, which was predominately written by our drummer Stefan Metzgar” begins Czuchwicki. “That was a weirder one to track. We still love the song, don’t get us wrong” smiles Dior. “It’s got a pretty sick grungy vibe to it” grins Czuchwicki, “It’s mellow in the verses and then builds up to a thumping riff before the chorus.”
“Yeah it’s stoner rock” says Dior to surmise. “The whole idea, well Stefan’s idea behind this song was that he wanted to have a song that had an EDM vibe to it without the electronics.” Czuchwicki continues to explain; “How were we going to make a song that was dancey without adding electronics to it? Stefan’s got a dancey drum beat going the whole way through the song and then the bridge is one of my favourite parts of the song. It tries to emulate that classic build up towards a huge filthy drop. It’s built up crazily before smashing into a booming riff.”
“That song is psychedelic as all hell,” begins Dior. ”We’ve got fucking backwards guitars, we’ve got backwards vocals, we’ve got harmonized laughs!”
“There’s double tracking on the insane parts to make it sound even more whacked out than it has come across live.” says Czuchwicki. Clarke sums it up, “We really built on the name Psychedelic for this one. We had to!”
The song has an excellent story, as told by Dior. “It all started when I was having an acid trip with my girlfriend. We were both having a beautiful time, but we got to a point where our realities had completely collapsed. It was almost like we were children, we were re-learning everything and she forgot who I was for a few brief moments.
She asked at one point if I was Jesus. I said yes. She looked at me again and she said ‘Are you the Devil?’. I said yes as well and then I smiled at her. That smile freaked her the fuck out and she thought I actually was a demon. She ran away from me because she wasn’t sure who I was anymore. She started talking to some people who called the police and then she went home in a cop car.
Even when I was talking to the police I thought I was still tripping so I was being really trippy towards them. I was asking questions like I would to my closest friends such as ‘What makes you Happy?’ and ‘Why are you really doing this?’ They were very rigid and kept saying ‘I don’t want to answer that, I don’t want to do this. Blah blah blah.’
I was sitting in the cop car and it just felt like a simulation to me. I was thinking ‘This ride is too smooth’ and ‘nah this can’t be happening’. Then they searched my car. They found some… stuff… they found some buds. They slapped a fine in my hand and I looked at the time and they had given me this fine at exactly 4:20am and it was a $420 fine! I looked at the fine and I thought ‘Pfft, I am so tripping right now! 420, this is so fake! Okay, cool’.
I didn’t realise it was real until they drove away with my girlfriend. I was left in the campsite and I had nothing except this piece of paper in my hand which said I had been fined $420. I held it and I tore it a little bit and I was like ‘No that’s real… that all just happened.”
Sleeping with Venus
Sleeping with Venus, the EP’s single features a hip-hop collaboration with MC Entirety. ”We got our good friend Henry to lay down some raps on that song so for the first time we’ve got some hip-hop elements into one of our songs” says Dior. “It’s very sort of Bliss n Eso,” continues Czuchwicki, “That Sea is Rising style. There’s some groovy drum beats too. It’s definitely one of our favourite songs that we brought together before recording because when Nathan brought the song to us it was about his breakup and it was a pretty big emotional thing for him to be talking about and write a song about but it was really easy to connect my guitar to that having experienced the same sort of thing.”
The song has some of the most compelling lyrics on Gypsy Kings, as Dior explains. “There’s one line that says ‘I’m gonna eat you alive, keep you on the inside, when you’re swimming in my intestines everything will be fine. Now we’re singing da-da-da da-da!”
“I love those da-da-da’s because the lyrics are so honest and emotional and then it goes into a section where the words don’t mean anything, as if to say; ‘Everything’s going to be fine even though all this shit has gone down. There is light at the end of the tunnel.’ Another key line is ‘There is no love here today. If you let it get away.’ That was another sneaky line I put in there not to make it a typical break up song about everything going to shit.”
A Moment Too Soon
“A Moment Too Soon which is a much lighter track” says Dior. Czuchwicki concurs saying “It’s very chilled.”
“It’s almost the ballad of the EP” continues Dior “It’s got a bit of acoustic guitar in it, very clean vocals…” Czuchwicki finishes Dior’s sentence “…It’s probably the most stripped back song of the EP. There isn’t too much production over it.” Dior chimes back in saying “There’s not many effects at all. It’s really raw.”
“We kept it quite simple.” states Zac. “It’s very slow and ambient. There’s lengthy instrumental parts throughout the song. It’s one of the jammier, drift around, floaty tracks we have.”
“It feels very dreamy” says Dior, head in the clouds.
“Gypsy Kings is our personal favourite… at the moment” explains Clarke. “That was fun to do,” continues Czuchwicki. “We just finished that up this morning. It’s an awesome song, really rocky and groovy with harmonies and group vocals. There’s elements of punk in the chorus and the bridge where it’s fast and ferocious. It ends on this epic jammy section with Nathan and I trading guitar licks and building up into an insane solo!”
“I may have invented a sound,” interjects Dior, impressed with himself. “I call it the seagull being played through a Wah pedal.” Czuchwicki was able to record backwards guitar which Hendrix pioneered in the late 60’s. “I got to do one of those which is like the highlight of my guitar playing career” he says. “To be able to emulate that Hendrix sound by flipping it backwards. It sounds like you’re back in 1969 man!”
“It’s going to inspire us for a long time” says Dior seriously. As for Clarke’s closing comments; “Drugs are good. Drugs got us here and everyone should do them.”
Sleeping with Venus is currently out now as a single through The A&R Department. Gypsy Kings will see an independent release on Saturday February 13.
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