INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Demi The Daredevil are an alternative rock/art pop outfit from the American state of Texas.
In the decade the band have been in existence, it is fair to say they have had their share of ups and downs.
Having experienced some initial success, they were dealt a huge blow in 2009 with the sudden death of original frontman and primary songwriter Jovan Ortiz.
With the departure of Marc Martel soon after, it was left to drummer Jeff Azar to take on the mantle of creative lynchpin.
Bringing on board some new faces, including his brother Thomas, Azar set about evolving their sound into a mix of bright alternative rock, dark theatrics and deeply psychological lyrics, influenced by an eclectic range of bands and artists.
All this, as well as the assistance of respected producer John McCracken, has resulted in Demi The Daredevil receiving much acclaim and a growing following worldwide.
With the success of their recently-released EP ‘The Secret Schizoid’, it was time to have a chat with Jeff.
How did the band get together initially?
It all started in our hometown of El Paso,”El Chuco”.
Our original lead singer Jovan (RIP) and Marc started playing guitar together, and a mutual friend of ours brought me into their mix.
I started off on the drums in this band, and we used to play in my grandma’s garage.
How did the name Demi The Daredevil come about?
Demi is short for demigod, which is a half man, half god.
Marc and Jovan chose Demi the Daredevil over the alternative, which was The Rootbeer KamiKazis.
To somebody who is discovering your music for the first time, how would you describe it to them?
Art pop with a dark theatrical twist. Think Queen meets Genesis meets Chicago if you’re an oldie. Think My Chemical Romance meets Twenty One Pilots meets Panic! At The Disco if you’re a youngen.
What are the band’s musical influences?
Minus the above mentioned, Green Day, Blink-182, Muse, The Used, Prince, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, David Bowie, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Danny Elfman, to name a FEW.
I don’t feel like I’ve chosen X amount of bands to take inspiration from. There’s a lot of stuff I listened to as a kid that comes out in the music now, like Savage Garden for example, my first cassette tape.
What is your approach to songwriting?
Who comes up with the initial ideas started from Jovan to Marc to my brother Thomas to me, and everyone’s approach is a bit different.
For me, I need to start with an emotional chord progression, one that grounds you in the present moment. A good progression is a like a true sentence, that is most important to me.
I try out syncopated rhythms with the core instruments, I blurt out melodies with my mouth or make them on the keyboard. I then tie separately written lyrics to the melody.
When recording comes around, I usually change the lyrics to be more like I’m shouting them TO someone, not just talking to myself, and the melodies change to ones that have more oomph to them.
Where does the inspiration come from for the band’s lyrics?
Lyrical inspiration starts from what I think is a big realization or feeling, like a fainting spell or burst of rage or a sad feeling after a reality check of some kind, then it takes a while to get a more of a bird’s eye view on it and to say it better than when I would try to describe it initially.
Your EP ‘Secret Schizoid’ came out recently. How has the reaction been to it?
Well, to the people that have taken the time to hear it, it’s been great, because they have been citing influences that I know have influenced me, so it affirms what Demi is doing.
As far as press, well let’s just say you’re the fourth person to give us the time of day, so thank you for that!
What is the band’s experience of playing live?
It’s had its ups and downs! Right now, I’m trying to have more fun and play with less inhibitions, which makes it more entertaining for people I think, in a different way than being purely a good instrumentalist.
What have you got lined up in the near future?
Well, just before speaking to you, I was at an Austin Music Foundation panel in regards to touring, which is going to be what we’re focusing on again now that we can promote the recent EP.
So, we’ll promote to our niche audiences in surrounding cities, and try to win over the bartender if no-one shows up.
We are still going to release singles I think, the next one is currently being mixed by Matt Neveskey from Blue October.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
Having fans in select cities across the globe who we’re playing shows to, and getting songs licensed out for the love of God, I mean, by the grace of my lucky stars, get a publishing deal and license some songs out.
DEMI THE DAREDEVIL’S LATEST EP ‘THE SECRET SCHIZOID’ IS AVAILABLE NOW.