Handsome Devil Biography
It’s the dawn of another hot, smoggy day in Orange County. For some, it’s time to head down the I-5 to work at Disneyland or some mammoth aerospace plant, but for the four young men of Handsome Devil, it’s the morning after the night before, having rocked the house all night long. These guys won’t be getting up until noon or so, when they’ll start gearing up for another night of rock and roll, devil-style, leaving "blood on the stage," as they like to say. It’s the rocker’s life, and the members of Handsome Devil live it to the hilt. For proof, just check out the band’s Dirty Martini/RCA debut album LOVE AND KISSES FROM THE UNDERGROUND.
"We knew what we were aiming for," says lead singer/ guitarist/ songwriter Danny Walker. "We wanted our record to sound huge and, at the same time, still have the raw energy of our live show." Mission accomplished, as Handsome Devil teamed up with producers Jeremy Popoff of Lit, and Ed Stasium (Ramones, Smithereens.) "They really zero in on what the band is all about and help us focus on getting the job done," adds guitarist Billie Stevens. Recorded with minimum overdubs and maximum intensity, LOVE AND KISSES FROM THE UNDERGROUND is a snapshot of Handsome Devil live. "When there’s a sense of urgency in the studio, a certain element of excitement is generated, and it comes across on tape," says Jeremy. "That’s exactly what happened here."
The album’s decadent debut single, "Makin’ Money," exemplifies what Handsome Devil is all about: engaging, unabashed, visceral, and hard rocking. Recounting a journey through the lower depths of Hollywood, "Everything" lampoons new millennium materialism, while the southern flavored "Hard Living Clean" is a paean to a slovenly but sober existence. Songs like "Tonight" and "Bring It On" show the band’s ability to create and deliver timeless rock anthems with a classic punk attitude, no matter what the meter reads. "Our songs are inspired by personal experience," explains Danny. "It’s important to have them tie into something real so when we’re playing them live, we truly feel it and the fans believe it."
It always comes back to the stage for Handsome Devil. Indeed they live and die by their performances, as evidenced by the blinding speed at which they’ve progressed. The band formed in the spring of 2000, and after only seven months, they were signed. Of course their story goes back much further, when all four were growing up in various O.C. bedroom communities. Each was a confirmed rocker before even leaving grade school, with Keith Morgan perhaps the most zealous of all. "I was into KISS by kindergarten," recalls the self-taught drummer. "I used to dress up like Peter Criss for Halloween."
The Clash, Ozzy, The Beatles, The Descendents, Elvis (Presley and Costello):
all were diverse heroes to the various members of the band while they were coming up and performing in a string of local bands. Danny and Billie have been friends for many years, and being that the O.C. music scene is a tightly knit family, it wasn’t long before all four were not only acquainted with each other, but with other Orange County success stories such as Lit, No Doubt, and Social Distortion. "The first time I heard this band, I was blown away," says Jeremy. "I told Danny that we had to work together." So began several months of phone tag and Fed- Ex as the two exchanged ideas and planned their next move.
As soon as Lit came off the road, Jeremy signed Handsome Devil to Lit’s Dirty Martini label, produced some demos with the band, and walked the music into RCA Senior VP, Bruce Flohr, who gave the thumbs up to take it to the next level. Things began to move with lightning speed. "It felt like magic," remembers Keith. "We all knew this was it, which was a feeling none of us had ever had before."
Handsome Devil hit the road, opening for such acts as Zebrahead and Sprung Monkey, and began rallying up support from crowds along the West Coast. The band’s mission was, as Danny puts it, "to go out and kill every night - the way I always wanted to be killed when I went to a show." Adds Darren, "Even when they didn’t know who the hell we were yet, we would win them over by the end of the show, and we felt a lot of love from the crowds." When the band returned, they immediately entered the studio to record their debut. And in a few short weeks, LOVE AND KISSES FROM THE UNDERGROUND was complete.
"We’re not looking to change the world," says Danny, "but if someone can take something from our songs and feel great or better, then that’s cool." Adds Billie, "We’ve tried hard to focus on what our band is all about, and the biggest part of that is going out there every night and kicking everyone’s ass." That’s exactly what the band looks forward to doing in support of their new album, and tonight, you better believe there will be blood on the stage.
"This band, in my opinion, is what it’s all about," sums up Popoff. "They’re real, they’re honest, and I think they’re going to inject a long needed shot in the arm to the current assembly line of safe, sterile, and one dimensional Rock n’ Roll." Once LOVE AND KISSES FROM THE UNDERGROUND finds its way, Handsome Devil will be looking better than ever.
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