Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Only some people find the devil to be something or someone to flee from at top speeds. Others are more curious, craning to see what the man looks like, how he acts, is he really all that horrible that he should be avoided/not trusted at all costs or is there a chance that this devil could actually be a swell drinking buddy, someone to blow off steam with? There is a history, in music and the written word, of giving the devil the benefit of the doubt, that all of his vocal detractors are simply misinformed and don't know the real him. Lots of people like to play with fire and lots of people like to drink stuff that tastes like fire and the three members of the Santa Cruz band The Devil Makes Three - guitarist Pete Bernhard, upright bassist Lucia Turino and guitarist/tenor banjo player Cooper McBean - enjoy indulging in both practices, or at least actively dreaming about doing so. We're taken into a world of getting kicked around and finding that the predominant line of general treatment is that of disgust and disinterest. On the fantastic number, "For Good Again," they admit to not being the best of people, but then again, offering that none of the other people in town were all too kind either. It's an ode to a forgettable place - though a place that was called home - and to the dumps that it can put you in. Even with that said, singing about adults drinking behind the high school, likely with the football field dark and staring at them - "Everything looked beautiful with enough booze and pills/Was nice knowin' no one in their right mind would walk by/Just bitch about some bullshit when the lights lit up the sky" - there is still magic in a situation like this one, where a handful of nightly beers, having some friends over for a BBQ and just shooting the shit makes the cares start to seem smaller. There could be the devil in being tempted or in being willing to entertain the idea that there could be an easier way of getting by/getting rid of those cares altogether and maybe that's the devil that we're okay consorting with. We bounce ideas off that devil and see how they play, see the reaction that he gives, the amount that his eyebrows cock up with interest at certain mentions. The Devil Makes Three take us into this place of the imperfect people - with their three-part harmonies and moonshine-y bluegrass - and make us feel that we could hang out in the devil's house, wear his clothes, sleep in his bed and drink his wine and brandy and it doesn't make us anything like a devil ourselves, it just makes us empathize a bit with the poor devil. It might get us a bit tipsy and it makes us believe in the goodness of the devil and his music.