Former Vains of Jenna singer Lizzy Devine "I never planned on leaving the band…"
"I think it’s a dream for most Swedish bands to be able to do what we did. "
Lizzy Devine speaks for 1st time in almost 2 years on Vains of Jenna.
By: Neon Lights
Dec. 27 2011
Everybody’s aware of the Vains of Jenna story. The guys had gotten together back in 2005, recorded their rough debut ‘Lit Up/Let Down’ LP, released on the Bam Margera label, having gained them popularity among the fans of sleaze and endless extensive touring schedule. Then came the recording of their sophomore effort ‘The Art of Telling Lies’, a bunch of hit singles and videos, multiple positive reviews and ever greater popularity… and, like a bolt from the blue, – on March, 16, 2010 on most of the principal websites the news of the VoJ vocalist and main songwriter Lizzy DeVine departure appeared. In Lizzy’s official statement it is said of his ‘moving forward’ and the ‘possibility for the band to grow further without him aboard’, however, no true reasons of what had happened were given. At the same time, only 2 weeks later, the band announced their new frontman, who turned out to be the ex-vocalist for the Hollywood outfit Cast of Kings named Jesse Forte.
The VoJ fan base have since been in a total confusion, asking themselves how could the band so quickly find a new voice for them. Many have come to the opinion that the rest of Vains of Jenna had in advance been waiting for Lizzy’s departure.
A little later the same year VoJ released a cover album, containing mostly the rearranged versions of the 60s-70s songs, ‘Reverse Tripped’, and also a new ‘We Can Never Die’ EP, the track list of the latter consisting of several re-recorded with Jesse’s voice songs off the second LP and a brand new track. The band gave plenty of interviews and went on tour. In 2011 the second part of their EP was released, named ‘We Can Never Die, vol.2’.
Nobody had neither heard a single word of Lizzy DeVine ever since – nor a single word from him. Only recently, 1,5 years after leaving VoJ, on a couple of topical websites appeared the news of him recording a solo effort. And only today, in December, 2011, Lizzy gives us his first interview since he had left the band to clear things out and answer the questions that have long been puzzling the world.
So, ladies and gentlemen, here it is – Lizzy DeVine’s first interview in nearly 2 years. Enjoy.
Neon Lights: Starting from your departure from Vains of Jenna. What was the main reason for you to leave? The official statement said that you wanted to move on and let the band grow, I know, but it still sounds very indefinably. Was it your family, maybe you were just tired of all the concerts, something else? Can you concretize it?
Lizzy Devine: Well, I never planned on leaving the band. It all happened last minute. I won’t go in to every detail. It would take way to long. But basically our Visa’s were about to run out and we were going to Europe on a tour. The plan was to extend our visa’s here in the US then go to Europe, do the tour and then come back again. But no one ever looked in to this. So a couple of weeks prior to us leaving, we find out that we can’t extend the visas and we would have to go to Europe.
The other guys were okay with this, I was not.
I was the only guy in the band with an apartment, steady relationship and bills to pay. Leaving everything behind and not knowing if and when I would return was not a thing I could do. I also had plans on on getting married. But I had pushed those plans forward for a long time because of the band. The thing is, if you get married in the US as a foreigner you can’t leave the country until the application and paper works is approved. And because of us always touring, I didn’t want to put the band in a situation where I couldn’t leave the country.
So we had a 7 hour long meeting where I asked the guys if they were okay with waiting in Sweden for 2 months while I got married and got my my situation sorted out.
They said “no!”. They didn’t want to wait and they also said that they weren’t sure if the even wanted to come back to the US again. So we decided to go our separate ways.
It was all fine and dandy. They got a new singer, toured Europe for awhile, their new singer went back to the US while they sat in Sweden for two months waiting to get their new visas approved. That pissed me off for a little while. But I’m glad it all happened. We had such different ideas of what kind of music to play anyways.
Vains of Jenna – Photo by Mark "Weiss Guy" Weiss 2006
NL: I think you know VoJ have already released some brand new songs that can be heard at their EPs "We Can Never Die" Vol 1-2 and also a cover album "Reverse Tripped". What do you think about it?
LD: I’m not really a fan of it. To me it sounds like a different band. I wish they could have “rocked” it a little bit more. And hearing the re-recorded songs from "Art Of Telling Lies" didn’t go over too well with me.
NL: Are you still in touch with your ex-bandmates?
LD: I have not talked to any of them in about a year. But I don’t hold any grudge.
I’m glad they’re doing what they’re doing. But like I said, I wish their new sound was a little bit more “dangerous”. I was mad/upset for awhile and I’m sure they were as well but it’s all good now.
NL: Do you know Jesse Forte personally?
LD: I don’t know Jesse, but I’ve met him a couple of times. His band “Cast Of Kings” opened up for VOJ once. And in that band he was great. His voice was an awesome fit for their sound. They had a cool classic rock vibe, to me they almost sounded like a modern Aerosmith.
I don’t think he ever got to “shine” in VOJ because of the songs. The old songs were written for my voice, 110% raw scratchy energy and their new songs did not have the “swagger” his voice needed to rock.
NL: Are you going to start your own band soon? Do you have any possible members for that in your sight? If so, when can we wait for your full length album?
LD: I have no plans of starting a band in the near future, but you never know. If the right people come along things could happen. Right now I just enjoy recording stuff in my studio. Some of it will be released very soon.
NL: Will it be released by your own name or this will be the whole new band with some new title?
LD: I won’t release it as “Lizzy DeVine”. I would have to come up with a band name to use.
NL: Heard your new song "Stare at the Sun", fuckin’ love it! Just like the old VoJ stuff you know!
LD: Thanks, I’m in the middle of recording the final version of “Stare At The Sun” right now.
I held a contest to find a guitar player to play the lead solo on the song and I found this awesome Italian that lives in England. His name is Daniele Panza, and he’s beyond awesome. Can’t wait for people to hear it.
NL: Yeah, we posted the news about your contest too. I read at your facebook page wall that it was going to be on the album of some other artist but producers refused it. Does it mean you even were not going to release it by your name and just wanted to be a composer for other artists? And also do you have more new material?
LD: The song was originally written for James Durbin (American Idol). But it never made it to the album. The music industry is a crazy place. Too many good writers out there.
But I’m happy that I can use the song myself now.
I would love to be a song writer for other artists. That’s definitely something I would love to do.
I find it a lot easier to write if I have another artist in mind.
Vains Of Jenna & Bam Margera – "House of Blues" Hollywood California
NL: How did you first meet Bam Margera?
LD: We met Bam in Hollywood at the House of Blues. We talked for awhile that night. A few days later we ran in to him again on the street somewhere. He had no memory of ever meeting us, so we asked him to come to a show. He did and decided to start a record label and put out our first album. Crazy shit. We were at the right place at the right time.
NL: Was he doing something for your "Art of Telling Lies" album? Are you still in touch with him?
LD: Bam was not involved with “Art of Telling Lies”. But I’m pretty sure he played the some of the songs on his radio show. And as far as I know he liked the album.
I have not talked to him for a long time. But I do have his number. He does have some old VOJ amps at his house that I would love to get my hands on. So I might have to get in touch with him soon.
NL: What is the main idea/concept for "The Art of Telling Lies" abum? I think it’s much greater and deeper than the first VoJ longplay though I love the first one too. What meanings did you put into these songs, I think there is so much personal stuff that you wanted to say. «I Believe in Yesterday» sounds very special to me.
LD: When we recorded our first album we really didn’t have a clue what we were doing. We wrote the songs just for fun with no plans of ever getting signed. So some of them are a little cheesy. But we were young, we had fun and that was what came out of us.
I still love it and it got me to where I am today.
When we wrote and recorded AOTL we had done so much. We had been through good times and bad times. We had toured with big name artists. We had become better musicians and writers. And yes, most songs are more from the soul. Especially lyric wise. I wrote how I felt without worrying if people would think it was cool or not. I think the song “The Art Of Telling Lies” is the best song I’ve ever written.
My favourite lyrics ever are “Paper Heart”.
I’m glad I quit VOJ when we were on top.
Vains of Jenna – B&W Promo Shot
NL: What are you doing besides making music? Maybe some 9-to-5 work? I assume, music doesn’t help much financially.
LD: I do graphic design for companies and bands. That’s how I make a living these days.
NL: You know, Vains of Jenna represented their new singer in just 2 weeks after your departure and these days it seemed like they already had someone who would replace you and it all looked kinda strange. Was it surprising for you? I think it’s some kinda offensive….
LD: I was really surprised. I forgot to tell you earlier, two days before the “7 hour meetin”. I wrote the band and management an email telling them about my concerns and what I wanted to do. So I guess they called Jesse sometime during those two days.
I’m assuming that’s why they were so compliant with me leaving. To me they said that Nicki was going to sing for a few shows and then find a new singer in Sweden.
The show had to go on. No time to wait around.
NL: I know while being in the band, you’ve been in tour with Cradle Of Filth and I even remember some article* about your band fighting with members of CoF! Was it real and if it wasn’t – why you got kicked off that Viva La Bands tour with CoF, GWAR and CKY? We want to hear the whole story behind it!
LD: It’s funny now, but it was not funny at the time. We never got kicked off the tour luckily but it almost happened. Well to make a long story short. We had a shared dressing room with the other bands at that show. After we played our set, JP and Nicki got drunk and decided to bring some girls backstage.
CoF’s tour manager refused to let them in the dressing room. So JP and Nicki kicked the door in and jumped the guy. The only damage they had time to do was to break the guys index finger before they got pulled off of him by Gwar’s bass player.
Of course shit hit the fan. I had to deal with Tim from our record label screaming in my ear over the phone. I had no idea what had happened so when he called and started screaming about getting kicked off the tour and stuff I was all confused.
I couldn’t talk to the guys, they were wasted. Telling me “If you’re not on our side we don’t want to be in a band with you”. I was pissed and almost left the band right there and then. But everything got sorted out. The guys were drunk. Shit happens. They did not mean what they said. But at the time I was furious, a couple of weeks later we all laughed about it.
NL: Also I know you had toured with Ratt and Poison, how was it to share the stage with the big bands like these? Did you speak to their members, maybe drink some beer together?
LD: That was one of the best time of my life. When I was young, Rattand Poison were my favourite bands. I always had a dream to play a show with either of them. So when we got the tour I couldn’t believe it.
Both bands were super cool. I talked to all of the band members every day. And I got to see my child hood heroes perform every night for a whole summer.
I’m living proof of that dreams do come true. Everything I ever wanted to do with my life I’ve done. You just have to believe in yourself and take some chances. It might take awhile but nothing is impossible.
My problem these days is that I don’t have any dreams. Once I do, things will start rolling again.
Vains of Jenna – Live @ "The Whisky" Hollywood California 2007
NL:VoJ were accused in stealing the main riff of «Get It On» from the Italian bandCream Pie, 2008’s song «Whore». Have you ever heard about it?
LD: Haha. That was such a joke. I never ever heard that band. I wrote Get It On and I did not steal from them. When people try to say shit like that to promote themselves it just pisses me off. There’s way more clever ways to get your band name out there. Accusing people of stealing is not the right way. I thought “Vains Of Jenna” was a bad band name. “Cream Pie” is even worse.
NL: A question from and for guitarists. How do you set your amp frequencies, how many high, low and mids do you usually use? How do you generally create your guitar sound, on stage and in the studio (if it really differs)?
LD: I start by setting every knob in their middle position. Then usually raise the mids and presence up a bit. You don’t have to do much if you have a good amp. I love to crank the distortion to about a 7.5. When I was in VOJ, Nicki really liked to play with a Slash kind of a sound. So I used a little bit more lows back then on my amp to compensate his sharper tone. I never used a single pedal in VOJ. Just a Carvin amp. Recording is a whole different story. I love effects to make the sound tight. Live I prefer a straight out of the amp sound.
NL: There is a huge grunge influence in your music and in the band’s image and I think it’s one of the things that one day captured the attention of your fans – this fucking good and cool mix of sleaze and grunge, and your vocals, there was no any other band in the world before you that played the stuff like that. How did it come that way, were you listening to the grunge music really much or this is just the way it turned out naturally?
LD: I grew up with 80’s rock. The other three grew up with grunge/90’s alternative rock. We mixed it together and got our sound. But we’re all fans of so many different genres of music. My favourite artist these days is Dax Riggs. If you don’t know who that is. Please look him up. Best singer ever.
NL: Let’s imagine that one day Jesse Forte will leave the band. Is there any chance that you would be playing with the Vains again?
NL: What were the reasons for you to reside from Sweden to the States while there was the sleaze music scene growing in your own country?
LD: We got the chance to do it. I think it’s a dream for most Swedish bands to be able to do what we did. We got lucky and I don’t regret it.
NL: What were the heroes of your childhood?
LD: Guns N Roses, Rolling Stones, Poison, Motley Crue and Ratt.
NL: What’s your mind on some new wave of glamour hardcore bands like Black Veil Brides? They seem to be very big in States.
LD: Yeah, they seam to be big now. I really like their song “Perfect Weapon”. I’ve heard some newer songs that wasn’t as good. But they’ve got a cool image.
NL: Name some up and coming bands that you think will be big soon?
LD: Wow, that’s a hard one. I’m not on top of new bands like I once was. But people should keep an eye out for my wife’s band “Starzan”. It’s 90’s rock. They have not released anything yet. But it will happen. And check out Lecheryfrom Sweden. Great classic metal.
Vains of Jenna – Last Photo Together February 2010
NL: Do you have any regrets about your departure from VoJ? If we could just turn the time back, would you stay in a band this time?
LD: No regrets. But we could have been bigger if we would have just stopped being so damn lazy at times.
NL: What music are you listening to for the last several months? What are your musical tastes like?
LD: I listen to so much music. But for the last few months: The Black Keys, Those Darlings, Jeff The Brotherhood, Dax Riggs. I saw Guns N Roses the other week, Axl was amazing so now I’m on a GnR trip again.
NL: What musical style do you think can determine the future of music, what will be popular in next 10 years? Just your thoughts.
LD: Rock N’ Roll will never die. That’s all that matters. It will be around in one form or another.
NL: What are your plans for 2012? Are you going to tour some, maybe you’ll release something new?
LD: I will release some new songs. No plans on touring. But a year is a long time. A lot of things can happen. So anything is possible.
- Thank you very much for this interview in advance! Russia loves you!
- Thank you guys. This is the first interview I’ve done since I left VOJ.
I hope I get the chance to vist Russia one day.
Rock n Roll. Lizzy Devine