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No Devotion: “It’s about letting go of the past”

With their debut album, No Devotion are setting out exactly who they are.

No Devotion: “It’s about letting go of the past”
With their debut album, No Devotion are setting out exactly who they are.
Words: Heather McDaid. Photos: Tom Barnes.

It’s something I’ve never experienced before,” recalls Geoff Rickly, looking back on No Devotion’s first shows as they come ever-closer to their debut release. “Having people just waiting for us to make our first song, not knowing what we are but just wanting to be a part of it. I just hope they know we don’t take that for granted, we work our asses off to be good enough to deserve all the support and love we’ve been given.”

That hard work culminates in ‘Permanence’, and they couldn’t be more excited for people to hear it. “I think that everything every single song on the record is something that I’m really, really proud of. I think it really gets across who we are what we are trying to do, what’s different about us, what’s new, how we blend together. I think this record helps tell the whole story.”

It’s a story that developed over time. It took hearing ‘Addition’ before Geoff knew this was something he truly wanted to be a part of. “The first demo was a lot heavier and I just didn’t know if I wanted to do a lot of heavy rock. Then I heard the rest of it and thought ‘Shit, they’re great at this kind of stuff!’ so I cut down the demos by what I really like and when I finished, it was pretty obvious what kind of band we were going to be.”

Not only had the band got Geoff excited with this new endeavour, but it changed his creative process, from the lyricism to capturing first takes. “Usually I try to find a point of view and find something new that has never been said before,” he explains. “With this band I just wrote completely heartfelt songs that were very immediate and what was happening to me in that moment. Detailing love and loss, regret – everything was very personal and I knew it wouldn’t be political, it wouldn’t be a post-modern Thursday. It would be very classic, very romantic, very real.”

Stuart Richardson, bassist of No Devotion, also produced the album, meaning that they could capture their sound in its infancy, not losing that original passion or emotion in finding a producer later in the process. “The difference is unbelievable actually,” enthuses Geoff. “When you get to producers, it’s like translating it into another language. It’s like, ‘It says pretty much what I wanted to say but it’s not exactly what I want to say’. Having a producer in the band, you can actually capture all the sounds that you want as you’re going along.

“From the very first demo tape that we made, we kept those sounds, we kept the tracks. The first day that I was in the band, I sang in a song and that song is on the record; the vision it tracks from Stu’s bedroom, it’s amazing that you get to keep your best takes. With Thursday my best takes would be on a demo and you would never get to redo it and it would never work quite as well. We get to keep it all.”

In doing so, this album is a collection of all the best versions of the songs they’ve ever done, whether it was the spark in a first performance, or something honed later in the studio. “The funny thing is for a first album I think every song stands out. I love every one.”

“I think ‘Permanent Sunlight’ – that’s one of my favourite songs, a lot faster, a lot brighter than the rest of the record. It has the most hope in it, it’s just a super positive song. It’s got a great beat so you can dance if you want to, you can jump up and down. That song was one of the last songs that we wrote.

“A lot of the darker songs on the record we had to get through first. We’ve all been through a lot of hard times in the last couple of years. I think we had to write the harder stuff, we had to write songs like that – ‘Why Can’t I Be With You?’, ‘Grand Central Station’ – those songs had to come out first and then we could find a little bit of light at the end.

“To me that’s the most interesting idea, the contrast of those two songs: ‘Grand Central Station’ is really slow and dark and heavy. Then you have ‘Permanent Sunlight’ that’s really bright and pretty and fun to me. That’s why I always look at bands like The Cure for that contrast of a really slow, silly, happy song and the really dark, furious, heavy song – that’s a thing I always loved. I love that I get to be in a band like that right now.”

It is exciting to find someone so enthusiastic for what they do and where they can go. When Stuart spoke to Upset earlier this year, he called the album “a statement of intent”, so it’s worth questioning – what is the intent of No Devotion?

“It’s about letting go of the past,” says Geoff. “A lot of this record is about letting go of a lot of the things that happened to both of us in the past and starting something new, building something real from the ground up. I think when people get seventeen years into a career and have a devastating thing happen, I think it’s really hard to find something new. A lot of the time they try to recreate what they had and they put out a half-assed version of the thing they just had. That’s what I’m used to; it’s always watering down the same old shit.

“We had this really long talk about that, like it can’t be that, it can’t be like our old bands. It has to be new, it has to have new life, it has to be worth something. It can’t just be the same shitty old thing again. It has to be real. That’s what ‘Permanence’ is about: building something new.

“It’s to make sure the families in the future have a legacy because they don’t have that from their old band, they don’t have a legacy anymore. It got erased. That’s always been my intent is to help these guys find something good, something real, something meaningful, something that’s worth being proud of. They’ve lost everything they have ever worked for and all that we do now is all that they will be remembered for, so that really been the intent of this record.”

While it’s an important milestone for the band, Geoff hopes that it can also provide an escape for the listener. “I think this record is my favourite to just tune out the world and drift through space, listening to this record and losing yourself, being in a totally beautiful moment – that’s the thing I do when I listen to music. It’s a really enveloping record.

“People really getting to experience the record like that, to just turn it up and get lost in it is all I could really hope for. “

Taken from the October issue of UpsetNo Devotion’s debut album ‘Permanence’ is out now.

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