It’s been a long, hard road out of hell for the Highlands’ hard-rocking Devil’s Queen. Since forming in 2012 the band have played the festival circuit, gone through several line-up changes, and slowly put the pieces together for a debut album. Ahead of its belated launch at the Ironworks on Friday night, Kyle Walker caught up with the band to get the lowdown...
Hi, cheers for answering these! Whereabouts are you answering these from?
Huddled round a phone screen at our rehearsal space in Inverness (Iain MacLaughlin’s IMOUT Studios) after our final pre-launch jam.
You’re playing the Ironworks to launch your debut full-length – how are you feeling about headlining and flying the flag for metal at the city’s biggest venue?
We’re all pretty excited about the launch as it’s mutually considered our first big release of any kind. We did release an EP a couple of years back with different members but we didn’t feel it captured what DQ was all about. So we recorded those tracks again with the meat they deserved and folded them into the long play format. The Ironworks has always been a good show for us but we’re ready to take the venue for our own and arrogantly make it all about us and showing off what the Highlands and Scotland has to offer for the hard rock and metal fans up here. We know they’re out there!
So I’d love to get the history of Devil’s Queen – how did the band first kick off? What brought the band together at first? How have things developed for you guys since 2012?
We started out like any other band up here. Bored bedroom musicians looking for like-minded people to share a vision and make some f****** noise – scouring social media, friends of friends, ads in the music shop and even Gumtree just to find the right people to complement where we wanted to go with the music.
As far as developments are concerned there’s been more than a few over the years with regular line-up changes that shaped the evolution of the songs but more annoyingly held us back with all the breaks in between as we went searching again for the right replacement. Three drummers, two vocalists and the addition of a second guitarist and we’ve finally nailed it. This release has been a long time coming!
How would you describe yourselves, your music and your live shows to new audiences? What can the Ironworks expect from your headline show?
We’re a bit of an eclectic mix of people really. A rock’n’roll bassist Will Crawford (formerly of Stolen Order), alongside a ridiculously technical slam metal drummer Frankie Haymer (of The Haar). Guitarists Stewart and Murdo McArthur (No relation) are old school thrash and metal fans and have both played together with TMRD. Finally Ross Holland brings his barrel-chested brand of grit with some deep south blues leaning vocals.
The music? Headbanging choruses that even your mum can sing along to! Well that’s the idea at least. There may be a couple of heavier radicals in the set. We’re no death metal outfit, but the grit and balls of metal are there in full swing with smatterings of blues, classic rock, thrash and 90s grunge.
For the launch we’ve complemented our style with some hard hitters from around Scotland in the form of Edinburgh’s alt-metallers Grace and Legend and The Broken Ravens, a Hebridean hard rock outfit fronted by local headcase Toby Micheals.
With the debut album now due to come out, I’d be keen on some more info – how did the recording go? How did the album come together for you all? And how was it listening back to the whole thing for the first time?
The recording went great considering it was actually started nearly two years ago when we had different members. Obviously their parts have been scrapped but there was a couple of gems we managed to salvage such as the guest performances of a couple of other local metalheads. Recording at IMOUT is a refreshing experience as Iain’s dedication to his craft goes beyond just hitting record and letting you get on with it. He WILL get the best out of you whether it’s hitting a piano so the vocals and backing vocals are harmonised or our favourite technique – “Crap! Do it again!”
What’s been your biggest and best gig so far? And what’s been your, uh, weirdest one?
Not sure what the biggest has been, maybe this’ll be it! Supporting Phil Campbell and our first full band appearance at Belladrum are two that are definitely up there. The weirdest gig has got to be one of the backwoods biker rallies (location undisclosed) that was literally just an old byre down a dark forest track hidden away from the rest of the world. Halfway through our third song there was the unmistakable aroma of frying electrics and despite being unable to see we’re pretty sure there was no smoke machine. More life threatening then weird I guess.
So with the new album coming out soon and a big home headliner, what’s next for Devil’s Queen? What plans have you got for the rest of 2018?
At the moment we’re going to concentrating on our new stuff and getting that all tightened up now that the recording process is over. You don’t really get a chance to do that as everything is geared towards the album, even the rehearsal time is used to prepare for the launch so it’ll be nice to chill out a little and work on our sound. We’ll still have gigs of course, We’ve gotta try and sell some of these albums so the work is never done and that’ll still be a big drive for us with Monsterfest in Inverness being one of the bigger opportunity to get our noise out to everyone and promote the release.