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DeVotchKa – From The Beginning to How It Ends

Nick Urata: vocals, theremin, guitars, piano, trumpet
Tom Hagerman: violin, accordion, piano
Jeanie Schroder: sousaphone, upright bass, Vocals
Shawn King: drums, percussion, trumpet

After what seems like forever, DeVotchKa has finally released another amazing album, How It Ends. In a world full of war, politics and hardship, one thing is for certain: they will be there to give you the heartbreakingly beautiful music you’ll need when it all gets to be too much.

Currently launching a U.S. tour, the band is converting unfortunate non-listeners all across the country to new fans of the gypsy-rock genius that is DeVotchKa. While headlining for the likes of Marilyn Manson, as well as headlining some of their own shows, Kaffeine Buzz caught up with vocalist Nick Urata to swap some electronic curiosities about current matters-at-hand.

Kaffeine Buzz: So you’re off on another tour…aside from the new music, how is this tour different from others? You’ve utilized burlesque/belly dancers and aerial artists before…can we expect that again?

Nick Urata: On this tour we had to put our visual spectacle on the back burner due to the fact that we are the opening act for many of these shows. Why are we the opening act you ask? Well it has allowed us to play with some amazing bands like the Gogol Bordello and Marilyn Manson, and this has exposed us to some very large crowds of music lovers in some cities that we have never played before.

KB: Your live shows are as much of a visual as an aural spectacle, making your live performances a great experience for the audience. What’s YOUR favorite part about playing live shows?

NU: OK well that makes my last answer kind of a let down ‘cause we have no visual spectacle this time. Jeeze, maybe I better get some visual spectacle together, I hope it will still be a great experience for everyone. It will be cheap at least, I guess my favorite part is all the energy that is directed at the stage, and it does things to us and sometimes gives us superhuman adrenalin-driven powers. I feel very privileged to connect with total strangers through music, it illuminates the idea that we are all connected and basically we are all in this together. If we can lift some spirits or stimulate some romantic activity, then our existence is briefly justifiable.

KB: I read that a sense of transport, escapism is one of your musical goals. Obviously music is a great tool for doing this, but what is your process for achieving this – how do you relay this to an audience?

NU: I don’t really have an explanation for this one. There is no premeditated process, other than a lot of arranging of songs and practice. It is very cool when I meet strangers and they tell me that the music has taken them to exotic destinations.

KB: You have a sound that has been coined as “eastern bloc indie rock.” Do you think this is an accurate description? How is it that this eastern/gypsy/exotic element has been implanted in your sound? How did it all come together?

NU: I think it works, we love Eastern Europe sounds and we have found acceptance in the indie rock world. I think it is implanted somewhere deep inside us and it has brought us together musically. It is where I have always gravitated to and it is what stirs me up, and it is also in my bloodline. I like to think fate drew us together, but a love and dedication to this music is what has made it happen. There are many long hours and much heartache involved.

KB: Totally off the subject, but do you ever get asked if you took your name from the movie A Clockwork Orange?

NU: Yes. At almost every interview.

KB: Is this new release a concept album? It seems to tell a life story…loss of love, rebuttal, rebound, reunification and the sad realization that love is based on circumstance (“You only love me ‘cause I’m leaving…”). Sort of a sad, cyclical journey. Is this accurate or intended?

NU: Yes it’s a concept album, and it [tells] the story of a young Ranchero who survives going to war, only to find his childhood sweetheart has married a rich man for the love of money…

KB: You were named the #1 unsigned band by CMJ…are you hoping to sign to a label? Do you think that will change your band dynamic at all?

NU: We are taking a truly “indie stand” with are first few releases. I can say that there is hope, and not everything has to be run by a huge corporation. I am very proud to report that just today we turned down a McDonald’s commercial and our album was the only one in this month’s CMJ’s top 50 that wasn’t backed by a large label.

KB: How was the CMJ showcase and what happened in New York?

NU: This year’s CMJ was great. We have been in the past, but this year we were actually welcome and there were amazing bands all over the place. We got to do a live broadcast from the museum of TV and Radio, and play at the Crash Mansion, with The Presidents of the United States [of America].

KB: Are people consistently surprised to hear your band is based in Denver?

NU: Yes, but people who have experienced Denver are not surprised.

KB: If you could play one town/city in the world that you haven’t played yet, what would it be and why?

NU: Funkytown.

KB: There are things to be said for planning ahead, as well as living in the moment. What do you foresee for your next album or future plans in general? Or is that even a state of mind that you’re taking on right now?

NU: I see a hot bean based beverage and advanced nicotine delivery system in the band’s immediate future. Looking further ahead I see wine. Thanks, I like your website.

Oh no, Nick, thank you! And thanks to DeVotchka for giving the world a much needed overhaul in sound; something new and interesting and divinely wonderful to see and hear.

DeVotchka will be playing the Fox Theater on Saturday, November 27th. 21+, tickets are $10 ADV.


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