Interview: Mat Devine (Wrongchilde, Kill Hannah)

Interviews / June 17, 2014

Modern Vinyl recently had the chance to speak with Mat Devine, best known as the vocalist of rock band Kill Hannah, but now launching a new solo project Wrongchilde. We spoke about his infatuation with the vinyl format, along with the perks of contributing to his PledgeMusic campaign, which is funding the debut LP from the project, titled “Gold Blooded.” You can check out his PledgeMusic page and all the interesting associated perks of donating, here.

Modern Vinyl: Wrongchilde seems to mark a definite stylistic shift from Kill Hannah’s music. What caused this change in focus?

Mat Devine: It’s interesting you ask this, because Wrongchilde brings me back to the beginning of Kill Hannah’s career. We started out as a shoegaze band. Our very first EP sounded a lot like Ride or Slowdive — it had long, crazy textures, wispy vocals, things like that. We evolved into this heavier band in response to some expectations set for us about what we needed to be, which may or may not have to had been because of our name or the rise of more aggressive, active rock radio. However, even at our most commercial, our influences are still there, and so is uncompromising purity. All of us listened to Sigur Ros and Wilco more than Linkin Park anyway.

MV: The title of the new record is “Gold Blooded,” and I noticed that after a successful funding, the PledgeMusic campaign is planning to donate 5% of all proceeds to the American Red Cross. Was this a happy accident?

Devine: Gold Blooded is a reference to youth and always maintaining the curiosity and tendency to take lots of chances that comes from it. I moved out to Los Angeles to start work on this project, and the title track for the record was written the day I got there. I was living in this tiny little house, and all the windows were open and light was coming in from all directions. I knew this was exactly what being “gold blooded” entailed.

As for the Red Cross donation, I originally was going to give out lockets of my own blood as incentives for the PledgeMusic campaign, but this is apparently a no-no according to the government agencies that had contacted me. I’m actually terrified of donating blood, so we’re sticking with more symbolic blood instead, as one of the revised perks in the campaign includes a liquid-gold necklace.

MV: Other goodies from the PledgeMusic campaign include the “Illegal Picnic Package” and even the “Procreation Package,” where you’ll sell off the rights to the Devine household name and have one lucky lady (with one million dollars in hand) bear your first child. These are some of the more outlandish perks I’ve seen in the crowdsourcing world. What’s the deal for some of these admittedly unique ideas?

Devine: Things like the “Burn Notice Package” (currently valued at an affordable $5 million) could result in some interesting scenarios. Giving someone my identity and basically starting from scratch would make for a crazy life experience. I’d probably have to grow a beard and I don’t know, shuck oysters for the rest of my life. As for the “Illegal Picnic Package,” I honestly haven’t gone on one in a while. I like getting some wine, packing a knapsack and (with preferably a cute girl) finding some place I’m really not supposed to be. I’ve seen sunsets on the top of skyscrapers and it’s really unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. There are definite memories to be made when breaking the law — some of the best I’ve ever had.

MV: The music of “Gold Blooded” is loaded with special features, too, as it’s already seen an appearance from former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way on the first single, “Falling in Love (Will Kill You).” The album is slated to also pack in guest spots from Morgan Kibby, of M83 fame, and Sierra Kusterbeck, from Versa/VersaEmerge, too. How did their input help shape the final product?

MD: I’m proud of my friends for being on top of their game in their respective careers. I’d invite them over and hope they’d want to sing in the booth for a few takes. Now that these features are part of the record, I can’t imagine any of these songs without their input. My lawyers have a lot of paperwork to get different labels’ signatures and they think I’m insane, but their work sent me to a new level of appreciation for their talent. I usually have to warm up considerably before I sing, but they (Gerard especially) can belt out a take without any preparation. It’s crazy.

MV: The album is also headed to vinyl on its release date. What are the options available for PledgeMusic contributors at this time?

MD: There are two main options for vinyl listeners with Gold Blooded. I wish there were more! I felt like I was a kid in a candy store when I was dreaming of what to do for this release on wax. The full-length record will be pressed on classic, 180-gram black, while the Gerard Way track will be released on an one-time heart-shaped record, essentially cut from 12″ size down to a custom 7″. It’s a really special accompaniment to the song, and the B-side will include an unreleased song from the recording sessions. It’ll be housed in a clear PVC sleeve with a sticker affixed to the package. It’s meant to be displayed.


MV: If you could collaborate with any artist (besides the ones you’ve been fortunate enough to already make music with), who would you choose?

MD: I’d have to make it a three-way tie between Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and Trent Reznor, working together on a soundtrack for a Michael Mann film. That’d be incredible.

MV: What’s your personal record collection like?

MD: Growing up listening to Hotel California a thousand times with my parents, I was taught from an early age to revere the vinyl format. It’s definitely not the most economical way to consume music, but it’s an artful one. Unlike a CD, a 7″ record is something I can actively treasure. There’s so much that goes into creating an album — an unique portrait or message — that is definitely preserved with wax. I mean, even the sequencing of an LP is important, as it can determine whether a listener flips over a record to hear the next song or not. Before I started in Kill Hannah, I geeked about everything in the process of being an artist, down to the album covers that would ship alongside the music. With vinyl, that whole experience remains intact.

I have a lot of shoegaze records in my collection. Some highlights include a split 7″ between Ride and Slowdive on transparent blue, a 7″ box set of four Suede singles, and an effort featuring Jimmy Eat World and Jejune. That record had one of the first songs from Jimmy Eat World, I think. I also have a fair amount of Smiths singles, U2 quadruple live albums, and a ton of albums stemming from being a kid of the ’80s (and moving past my parents’ sounds of the ’70s). I grew up obsessed with The Cure and went as far as to pore over Robert Smith interview records. As for newer releases, I’m really impressed by the sound and vinyl quality of Circa Survive’s Blue Sky Noise.

MV: Are there any records that you’ve been itching to add to your collections but haven’t been able to for whatever reason?

MD: There’s some certain releases from David Bowie I’d love to have. I found a 7″ single from him which had the song “Up the Hill Backwards.” The B-side was this track, “Crystal Japan.” It’s instrumental, and my favorite Bowie song. If you listen to it, you can definitely hear that’s it’s been ripped off by Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. I’d like to see what other gems his discography has.

Modern Vinyl would like to thank Mat for his time and stories behind the recording of his first solo record under the Wrongchilde moniker, “Gold Blooded.” This record can be picked up as part of his PledgeMusic campaign (on 180-gram black) or in conjunction with the heart-shaped single for “Falling in Love (Will Kill You)”. You can view these options, as well as the rest of the pledging perks, here.

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James Cassar
James Cassar is Modern Vinyl's Managing News Editor and a co-host of The Modern Vinyl Podcast. He is also an artist manager, co-owner of the record label Near Mint, and can be found in bed before 9 p.m. James lives in Philadelphia and no, he won't check out your band if you add him on Facebook.

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