BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
Nestled in the Buckeye State commonly known as Ohio is a band that is hotter than hell and aptly goes by the name Devilstrip.
Quite simply, Devilstrip is quickly being recognized as a band with more heart and talent than the other 99 percent of those currently contaminating the airwaves. Thanks to the catchy, hooky metal music and driving vocals, people are remembering this band. The trio – comprised of Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Marc Wasmund, Bassist Graig Lindgren and Drummer Jimmy Gray – are pretty satisfied that things finally seem to be coming together for them.
Stateside tours have seen them opening for the likes of Buckcherry, Steel Panther, Red Sun Rising and Jackyl, and the band recently did a stint on the Spike cable television show “Bar Rescue,” featuring the make-over of fellow Ohio musician Tim “Ripper” Owens’ club. Jon Taffer, host of the show and a musician himself from way back, loved Devilstrip and told the band members that they would likely get the call to play in even more episodes.
“We were honored to be selected to play the bar relaunch,” Lindgren said. “We had a blast filming and hanging out all day with the cast and crew of the show. The entire crew ended up staying way longer than they normally do,” he added, “because they felt so comfortable with the bar and wanted to keep rocking out to Devilstrip. The mixologist, Phil Wills, told us that in his business he sees new bands every week and that we are one of the best he’s ever heard!”
They even have a fan in Don Jamieson – who, along with Eddie Trunk and Jim Florentine – co-hosts VH-1’s “That Metal Show.”
“Devilstrip is a modern sounding band with a strong classic rock foundation and a unique lyrical/vocal take,” Jamieson recently enthused. “I could see these guys out with any of the modern bands but also touring with someone like Buckcherry. My faves are ‘Kill the Headlights’, ‘Go,’ and ‘Not What You Need.’”
But Devilstrip has taken all the attention in stride, merely seeing it as a natural progression of years of hard work and knowing what the band stands for: basically a 100-percent-in-your-face rock outfit, a “say what you mean and mean what you say” antidote given to the audience straight with the power of the music speaking for itself.
“We’re a ‘what you see is what you hear and get’ band,” Wasmund stated. “We have no image; it’s all about the music. It’s something that has worked for us all these years, and we really see no sense in changing anything. People know that when they come to see us, they are going to get a show with three working class guys who give them music that leaves them with their ears ringing and begging for more!”
Like many bands, Devilstrip was formed out of the ashes of a cover band.
“Being a cover band is kind of fun,” Gray noted, “but there always seems to come the time when you just want to do your own thing, your own original music. We just found ourselves looking at each other, like, it’s time.”
The newly formed band began rehearsing immediately and played their first show soon after.
“What came out and the response of the fans proved we were right,” Gray added, “that our songs were just as good, if not better, than what we were covering.”
The outfit has even begun to garner international media attention based on the band’s debut album Rise, which has received mostly positive reviews in Europe. Rise, which was independently written, recorded, and produced by Devilstrip, contains 10 heavy-hitting songs that the band self-describes as “heavy, melodic rock…classic hard rock soul with alternative rock sensibilities…all killer, no filler!”
“I love this album,” said Gray. “The more we play together the easier it gets to write songs that exemplify the core of the band. The album covers a lot of ground musically and I think it gets across what and who Devilstrip is. We’re very diverse – not a straightforward rock band.”
The members all take part in the songwriting efforts, according to Lindgren.
“We always have the same process of songwriting,” he said. “It’s a group effort; everybody puts their little bits in. We try to write about true life stuff, things that have happened to us that people can really relate to. Hopefully somebody will listen to one of our songs and go, ‘wow, I know what he’s talking about.’”
“On the other hand,” Wasmund jokingly interjects, “sometimes I can be singing something so irrelevant but it’s the driving, pounding music that makes the audience go, YEAH!! THAT’S IT, BABY!! EFFEN ROCK ‘N ROLL!!!”
While acknowledging the laborious efforts of being in a band – promotion and otherwise – the success Devilstrip has encountered has exceeded all expectations.
“There’s no guarantee about how successful a band will ever be,” Wasmund stated. “You have to pull your weight and give it everything you’ve got.”
Compared to cities such as Los Angeles and New York, Akron, Ohio might not appear to be the most musical state to establish a band. The members of Devilstrip, however, strongly disagree.
“Ohio has a very thriving and diverse music scene,” Gray stated. “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Ohio! Doesn’t that say something? You also have The Black Keys, Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor, Mushroomhead…Chrissie Hynde is from Akron! A lot of genres to choose from and enjoy. I can’t imagine Devilstrip being from anywhere else.”
This diversity is also reflected in Devilstrip’s fanbase.
“We have hardcore 14-year-olds to 65-year-olds,” Wasmund said. “Our band is proof that we appeal to a wide audience, both young and old. Good music just naturally spans generations. It’s because of who we are. We’re not a party band or a grim, overly serious political band. We are just about having a good time. Take whatever you can get out of us, it’s all there.”
The members of Devilstrip see themselves as a band with longevity, no matter what the course of their careers.
“We just have to keep on doing what we believe in,” Wasmund finished. “That way we don’t disappoint ourselves. And if people seem to like what we’re doing, that’s great. We know that what goes up must eventually come down. The true test has always been: are we going to crash into a million pieces or bounce back?”
Bets are all on Devilstrip.