* I'm going thru the PV archives and realized since I took all the editorial off PlanetVerge.com, and this interview never made it to print, it won't see the light of day it deserves... So without further adieu....
Interview by Joelle
Mat Devine is leaning against a sink in the dimly lit women’s room of The Starland Ballroom, sending a text message with chipped white-polished nails. “I can text really rapidly,” he proclaims pre-interview. His time managing skills must be a result of the constant demands on him, as the singer for Kill Hannah, one of indie rock’s most wanted.
Mix The Cure’s Robert Smith, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore in a blender with The Smashing Pumpkins and Psychedelic Furs, and you’ve got the dirtied up, American cocktail for your ears Kill Hannah exudes.
Thanks to the single, “Lips Like Morphine,” off their sophomore Atlantic Records release, “Until There’s Nothing Left of Us,” Kill Hannah have broken back into the public eye. There was a time when perhaps no one thought that would happen. After all, it’s been four years since the band’s debut, “For Never and Ever,” which spawned the smash hit “Kennedy.” But now Kill Hannah are finally getting the push they deserve.
“For Never and Ever,” according to the band, was eleven songs of basically untapped potential. “10 More Minutes With You” and “Boys and Girls” could have taken on radio chart-toppers, if released then, or even today. They’re that good. But there’s no use dwelling on the past, as Devine has learned.
“If you allow things like that to frustrate you, you’ll never get out of bed,” he says, holding the tape recorder close to his mouth, as he doesn’t trust recording devices.
“The way major labels work is so irrational and so hard to comprehend. It used to really drive me crazy until I realized that I can’t change it and it’s just getting upset for a hurricane or something that you can’t control. I’ve always believed that if I could run a record label for a month, I would probably save them about $25 million. I think there are a lot of crappy bands that get a lot of attention and labels waste a lot of money on really horrible bands. In a perfect world, the most powerful people would have the best taste and the best common sense, but it’s just not that way.”
He does, however, make sure Kill Hannah is projected in the way the band wants.
“We do everything. We design our own merch. We did the last album cover and CD packaging, a lot of our Web site, our MySpace page… We’re very hands on.”
Devine has lived and breathed his band since it first formed ten years ago. “We’ve stayed together the first half of our career because it’s all I ever thought about,” he reveals. “I was probably the driving force behind it. I was so focused on it that nothing could break up the band because I did almost everything.”
He continues, “I had really good friends and really talented people around me helping, but as other things came up, whether its relationships, work, family, travel or whatever, we started to take the band more seriously. The members of the band became much more professional from the musicianship to the dedication. For the second half of our career, we stayed together mainly through because it took so long to assemble the right band, that’s just really it. We didn’t compromise. Everybody in this band is essential and we lean on and inspire each other.”
Then he smiles and says, “Also, we’re fucked now. We don’t have jobs and we don’t have insurance, so there’s no where else we can go. So I guess it’s a combination of being really into our band and also having no choice. We trapped each other.”
However, feeling trapped is hardly the driving force behind Devine. It’s rather a genetic predisposition, he says, that propels him to create art, whether it be working on a film or writing song lyrics.
While in college, Devine majored in English for two years, then art/photography, followed by film and video. It was also there that he met Hannah Ekberg, the girl who broke his heart and inspired the band’s name.
Today, the tables have turned and girl’s hearts flutter and sigh every time they see him on stage, ask for an autograph and then must bid him adieu. Devine laughs when told that when Planet Verge sent out a bulletin asking fans to send in their burning questions for Kill Hannah, every single one of them was along the lines of “Ask the singer if he’ll marry me/wants my number, etc.”
However, fan interaction is vital in the Kill Hannah camp. Devine and his band mates (Greg Corner- bass, Jonathan Radtke- guitar, Dan Wiese- guitar) believe that maintaining a relationship with their fans is everything.
“It’s been really important since day one. We have kept printed e-mails going back to the late 90s that kids sent us. From the very beginning, we responded to everything very personally and we took so much time and effort. Now it’s really impossible to do that. But, with MySpace comments and if they’re sincere, we write them back. If it’s not someone in the band, it’s someone who works closely with the band,” he confirms.
Kill Hannah are also relying on the good ‘ol Internet to pave the way for their next single, “Crazy Angel.” Devine promises the concept for the video is “awesome,” and if all goes as well, the song will prove ten times bigger than “Lips Like Morphine.”
He describes the plan starting with “The single gets pushed first through Internet marketing, then to Internet radio, then commercial radio and hopefully the video will begin getting some air. If it’s done well enough, hopefully it’ll be a viral video. If people stick to the marketing plan that I just saw a week ago, then three months from now, people will start talking about the song “Crazy Angel,” whether you’ve seen the video or heard it.”
For now, Devine is focused on finishing up this tour with Papa Roach and It Dies Today. Tomorrow will be the last day and a lot of pranks are planned. But those won’t be the highlights when he looks back on these past few weeks. His favorite part of touring is actually outside the venue. “When I go wander by myself and find some weird part of town, weird stores or restaurants and meet someone cool,” he explains.
One recent city that really struck a chord with Devine is Asbury Park, New Jersey. “You can’t wander that far in Asbury Park without a body guard or something,” he half jokes.
“But that place is just a music video waiting to happen. Decrepit old scary buildings… A place that was once designed for amusement is now a hotbed for crack trade. It’s such a bizarre contradiction. And plus, it’s on the ocean. Where else is beachfront property worth nothing?”
Next month, Kill Hannah will embark on a UK tour and they’ll be plenty more streets to wander. While Devine hints that another really big tour is being worked out, one thing is for certain, Kill Hannah will capture everyone in their path.