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The Devoted Few - Interview With The Vampire

Author: Andrew Weaver
Monday, March 16, 2009

3D’s Andrew Weaver chats to the much-loved Sydney group The Devoted Few’s Ben Fletcher about their long-awaited third album.

It seems to have taken them half a decade (probably because it has), but Sydney troupe The Devoted Few have finally released their third album, Baby, You’re A Vampire. Delayed in no small part due to frontman Ben Fletcher’s extra-curricular activities as part of Sarah Blasko’s touring band, the sextet were also adamant that they wanted to get this release ‘just right’ – with everything exactly as they wanted it, from the tones to the mix to artwork.

But it also, Fletcher outlines, had to do with ‘music business’ alone. “The biggest thing for us with this record was to own the sound, and own the masters, and have ownership over something we created,” he explains. “With that comes a lot of touring to save money – we basically paid for this record ourselves. We had to tour non-stop for 2006, 2007, and we played over 100 shows a year to fund us making this record.”

By doing so, a lot of the songs found on Baby, You’re A Vampire went through a major process of evolution, from early stages through to the final product found today. “Things happened slowly and naturally,” Fletcher explains. “There’s six of us in the band so at any given time there can be a lot going on. The biggest thing for me for this record was to take the six people in the band and tell people that sometimes you won’t be playing anything – to not get too dense.

It seems that the main aim for Baby, You’re A Vampire was allow plenty of space within the recorded tunes, to give them room to breathe. “We’re still guilty of it,” he admits, referencing We’ve Been Through This. “There are moments in that where there’s too many people doing too many things. For playing it live some people not playing with big for me – a big part of the evolving was that of people not playing.”

It doesn’t sound like anything The Devoted Few have done before – it’s an album that paints with broader brushstrokes than either debut Sleepless or follow-up Billboard Noises. The four-year evolution of creation – from the 2004 release of their second album through to the completion of recording Baby, You’re A Vampire in 2008 – meant that, as a songwriter, Fletcher’s influences have grown and been moulded by different things.

“The last album was written while I was still in Bluebottle Kiss,” he says of his time in the Sydney group, “and when I left Bluebottle it changed me as a songwriter – I didn’t feel like I had to write in reaction. It was a very natural way to evolve songwriting for me.”

A lot of Baby, You’re A Vampire is much more embracive than anything The Devoted Few have done in the past – stacks of voices appear here and there (the influence of Arcade Fire is clear to hear).
“I wanted to capture the sense of ‘one for all and all for one’,” Fletcher agrees. “That’s the way we are as a band; we run on that ideology. A great way to capture that is to sing along in a drunken bar sing-along. There’s a song called Ocean Beach Park that captures the spirit or togetherness that I wanted to translate on this record.”

Even the song titles themselves seem to be about community, with numbers such as You and Me and Everyone Else We Know, The Death of Us and Don’t Listen to Us.

“The last album I was looking mostly inwards and writing songs from my point of view about people that had lost their way, but on this record I’m looking outwards more,” he says. “We’re all pulling in the same direction musically.”

WHO: The Devoted Few
WHAT: Play Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle / Annandale Hotel / Baby, You’re A Vampire through Laughing Outlaw / Inertia
WHEN: Wednesday 1 April / Saturday 4 / Out now