DeVotchKa's Nick Urata talks romance and his band's European influences
DeVotchKa's European influence is abundant throughout all of their music, but one thing stands out with their recent album, 100 Lovers: Romance. Not the kind of romance that initially comes to mind; I'm not talking roses and rainbows, puppies and poppy-seed muffins. The type of romance that emits an emotion of heaviness, more akin to the Romantic period that inspired architecture, poetry, John Keats, Beethoven and Brahms, and Baroque literature.
DeVotchKa was thrust into the mainstream eye with the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack back in 2006 and their single "The Winner Is." The movie garnered four Academy Award nominations, and the soundtrack was even more positively acclaimed. Fortunately, long after the Hollywood buzz had worn off, DeVotchKa didn't fizzle out. In fact, they arose with a heavier hearted album and a wonderful new backdrop for courting all of your lovers.
Gimme Noise caught up with DeVotchKa's front man Nick Urata via email just a few days prior to their performance at First Avenue this Friday.
Gimme Noise: Do you think that it's an earnest description of your music to call it romantic?
Nick Urata: Yes I like that, I think its romantic, and the whole reason we got into this was to stimulate some romance.
How do you manage to insert so much European influence into your music?
I think it is part DNA and part exploration, we look for things that make our blood boil, this music seems to break down barriers with people, we learned that early on when we had play weddings and hostile bars and parties, it is one thing we could do well.
What did all of you guys do before seriously concentrating on making music? What were your "day jobs"?
We have all held a number of demeaning and hilarious day jobs, our last jobs were: I was a limo driver, Shawn was a "quit line" counselor, Jeanie taught tuba lessons, Tom was a security guard at the art museum.
How do you feel to be finally garnering the accreditation you deserve as artists, and knowing that's not simply stemming from Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack?
Are we garnering it? I don't know, we have a loyal audience, that we are most thankful for. That movie did save us, so we have nothing to complain about, every record company and booking agent in the US turned us down in the years before the film.
Do you all still reside in Denver, and would you ever leave?
We do but we don't get to be there very often. We fell in love with it there, it wasn't the easiest place to get noticed that's for sure, It is such a pretty place where the great plains meet the mountains, None of us were born there, we have lived all over, so it has some magic for us, I find myself constantly having to defend it, it's the wide open west, just read On the Road, Kerouac said it a lot better than I ever could
How is that you make even some of your saddest songs in lyric, sound so completely uplifting in musical prose? Does it have an immense affect on how you perform those songs live?
It gives me legs to stand on in front of a crowd I don't want to be a downer I want to co-miserate I know everyone has gone through this and when you look back at it, it is the time when you know you are alive and you have to soldier on and see how the movie ends.
Does the new album build on the last in an organic way or do you think it leaps further ahead or takes a different path?
I hope it picks up where we left off but our collective experience makes us a little different and we wanted to get that on tape. I don't know if we were successful but we had a good time making it, we were never a band that could calculate our sound or how we would fit in so we are just following the same path we always have and if you start thinking about it too much nothing gets done.
DEVOTCHKA plays with Scotland Yard Gospel Choir on FRIDAY, APRIL 1, at FIRST AVENUE. 18+. $25. 8 p.m.
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