You might know Devon Graves from the Alt-Metal
band Deadsoul Tribe - or you might be more familiar with his real name,
Buddy Lackey. He spent 11 years working as front man and singer-flute
player for one of the original Prog-Metal bands, Psychotic Waltz. After
leaving Psychotic Waltz in 1997 he began to compose in solitude.
Basically he shut himself in a room for months with a multi track
recorder and a lot of instruments. The music he created and the
subsequent record release from InsideOut spawned the need for a live
band, which he formed with local friends who had the right hair. They
began to tour and support the albums of Deadsoul Tribe which he
continued to compose and record alone. Throughout the journeys of
touring Devon met many musicians who really stood above the crowd. One
day he began to wonder: “What would it be like to play in a band made of
the very finest players I have met along the way?”
So like Dr. Frankenstein did, by sewing together the
greatest, strongest pieces of the greatest, strongest men and then
adding a sick and demented brain, Devon created his monster THE
SHADOW THEORY who are featuring some of the finest musicians that
Devon could possibly gather.
Four years in the making, THE SHADOW THEORY will
be releasing their first studio album through Devon’s long time home
InsideOut Music. “Behind the Black Veil” is a sinister roller-coaster
ride of sound and lyrical imagery combining elements of Thrash,
Psychedelic and Symphonic Metal fused with Folk and Prog-Rock
undertones. Devon’s first “concept album” ever, tells a horror story of
a man who wakes from one nightmare into another, into another until he
can no longer tell where the dream ends and reality begins… Or if he was
ever dreaming at all.
THE SHADOW THEORY’s
“Behind the Black Veil”, both frightening and compelling is sure to be a
standout amongst the vast myriad of music releases this year. So to get
to know this band a little better we contacted vocalist and leader of
the band, Devon Graves. Here you can read what he had to say to
the readers of Metal-Experience.com
First of all, how are you doing? Congratulations with
your new album ‘Behind The Black Veil’ which will be out soon, so of
course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it!
Could you start this interview off with an introduction
of the band, how did you get this band together and where does the name
I met most of the guys while on tour with DeadsoulTribe.
Arne (the guitarist) was the first. He supported DST on our “Murder of
Crows” tour with his band Complex 7. I was really blown away by him
because he played amazingly but also had passion in his performance. I
met Johanne James when DST co-headlined with Threshold. I was really
knocked out by his live presence and vibe. I met Kris Gildenlöw when I
produced an album for his band Dial. I loved his playing and his
friendly personality. I met Demi Scott through email. He sent a letter
introducing himself as a professional musician who was about to quit the
business and asked for my advice since he admired my work. I asked to
hear his music so he sent me a CD. I loved his compositions so my advice
to him was to make a band with me! I introduced him to Arne and they
both collaborated on compositions via email and file sharing. Meanwhile
I kept making Deadsoul Tribe albums and slowly collected a body of
material which would comprise the first album for The Shadow Theory. The
name, by the way, just came to me one day. I don’t know why or from
where. It just popped into my head and I really liked it. I sent an sms
to Arne and Demi and they also thought it was perfect. There is no
reason or meaning behind it. It just seemed to fit.
Which approach did you choose to create this album, did
you go for a more raw exposition.. Or something more reminiscent of your
previous other works, or something all together different?
There was no conscious method. The only objective was to
make it kick ass. I wanted to just make a huge impression with this band
and the efforts went in accordingly.
Was your experience with you previous band Deadsoul Tribe
helpful in creating this album?
It was in that I met all the guys either directly in
touring with DST or as an indirect result, such as meeting Liselotte
Hegt, who asked me to help with the Dial album.
How did you launch into writing material for ‘Behind The
Black Veil’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?
It took a bit of time for me to get my head into what I
wanted to do as a singer. Once I made the leap and found how I wanted to
sound in this music, it all came pretty quickly. I spent about a year
writing my parts from the first song to the last. Some of the songs I
wrote three or four times and completely started over melodically and
lyrically again and again.
How can we imagine you worked on these songs, what's the
typical writing process like for The Shadow Theory? For example, did you
write all of the material by yourself or was it more of a group process?
Demi and Arne basically wrote the musical compositions. I
would choose the material I liked the best. These 11 songs are the
chosen few among about 200 that are still on the shelf. Then I take the
raw compositions and arrange them in a way that makes sense to me. The
songs are often completely re-arranged by me in the process of writing
my vocals. For example the intro may be turned into a verse. A middle
section might become the choruses. Some parts might be thrown away
altogether. The first track on the album “I Open up my Eyes” was
actually comprised of the best riffs of two separate songs, formed into
one new song. Occasionally I might pick up a guitar and create a section
or add some keyboard textures of my own. Then I would write my vocals in
solitude. In the end, the guys were very happy with the end result, even
if the songs were unrecognizable from the original versions!
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them
down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Musically the work comes effortlessly from Demi. It is
amazing what that guy can do and how fast he can do it. I just say “I
want a song like this, or like that…” a few hours later comes an email
with something just incredible. Arne is the same. He and Demi really
complement each other stylistically. They have a perfect chemistry. My
parts are quite a bit more agonizing.Basically I push myself until I
have something that takes their great work to a higher place.That is not
easy to do, and I throw away my ideas and erase and replace my melodies
and lyrics until I feel I have accomplished that. Writing, recording,
listening, erasing, re-writing and recording again. Going back to the
drawing board until I feel I did something really special. It is safe to
say this is my most ambitious effort of my whole career so far.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
record ‘Behind The Black Veil’, any elements you definitely wanted to
include on the album?
As I said, I just wanted it to be kick ass. My goal was to raise the bar
for myself artistically and bring something really grand.
Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?
Yes it was.
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song
according to you?
Inspiration and emotion
Could you please describe the implications of the title
‘Behind The Black Veil’, what does it stand for and is there a special
meaning behind it?
It is a ghost story. The black veil is in reference to
what one may wear at a funeral
How did the recording process proceed, I can imagine that
it wasn’t easy as you all live in different countries. Did you work
differently than on previous albums?
We all came to my studio here in my home individually to
lay down our tracks. The only exception was Kris, who did his bass
tracks in his own studio and sent me the files, which worked perfectly.
It was different than my previous albums in that I didn’t have to play
all the instruments. This allowed me to enjoy the production process
more and let me focus on the engineering side of things most of the
One of the most typical songs from the new album I think
is “A Symphony of Shadows”, a diverse, powerful and bombastic song with
a lot of changes, some parts even remind me of the “Nightmare Before
Christmas” movie. Is this an influence you wish to develop more in the
future, or do you prefer the uptempo, thrash orientated songs on the
album like “Snakeskin”?
I like to think of our style as “cinematic” I would like to explore
music more in the epic direction such as “Symphony of Shadows”, but I
feel that contrast is very important to keep things exiting, so songs
like “Snake Skin” have an important place, as do more episodic pieces
What are the main differences between Dead Soul Tribe and
The Shadow Theory in your opinion?
The caliber of musicianship is much higher in The Shadow Theory. Also,
the fact that Deadsoul Tribe is really my solo project where I write and
perform pretty much everything. The Shadow Theory is a collaboration.
Have you received any feedback on the album yet?
Only a little bit since the album is not yet released. We
are very pleased and encouraged by the little bit of feedback so far
which has been very flattering.
Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your
music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that
First, we have to be happy with it or else we can’t
expect anyone else to like it. But we certainly rely on our audience to
like it. Otherwise it would all be for nothing. Naturally we would like
as big an audience as possible. That is what making records and playing
concerts are all about. It’s about making that special connection where
the band and the audience experience that indescribable magic together.
Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or
would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective? Which
element of the CD are you most proud of?
I must say I am really really happy with it. I can’t
think of anything off-hand that I would change. I worked on it until all
those moments were gone. That is the job and the art of a producer and I
take that job very seriously.
Do you have any favourites on the album?
“Selebrate” “A Symphony of Shadows”, “Ghostride” come
first to mind.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?
I want to be the Edgar Allen Poe of Rock and Roll. I want
the words to fit gracefully into the music, yet also stand on their own,
Which song is your favourite one to play live? Which song
do you find is the most challenging one to play live?
We have never played live yet so I don’t have an
answer.”Symphony of Shadows” should be a challenge since there are about
24 voices singing different parts at once!
What were the highlights and low points throughout your
I consider right now to be a high point since I have this
new album with such an amazing group of players, plus I have rejoined
with my original band Psychotic Waltz. The lowest point was the four
years between quitting Psychotic Waltz and forming Deadsoul Tribe, where
I basically had no career at all happening. Still, at the time I was
full of hope and ambition and I didn’t see it as a low point. Looking
back though, I went through some of the hardest times I ever had to
What is your opinion on the metal scene these days? What
do you think about the overload of bands at the moment? Is there
anything missing in the scene?
I don’t relate with most of the metal scene. Most of the
metal out today is about pure aggression and little else. I come from an
age where melody and variety was part of the equation and now metal is
really categorized and sub-categorized where bands and musical style is
defined by a single drum beat. I would like to bring back variety to
metal where you can play an album and have many different emotions other
than simple aggression. Whether or not that is what the world wants is
another issue, but I guess we will find out soon enough.
What can we expect from The Shadow Theory in the near
future, any touring plans?
We are beginning to write material for the next album and
we certainly hope to tour and play all over the world. There are no tour
plans as of yet, but it is still too early for that until the album
comes out and we see what kind of demand arises.
Where do you see the band going within the next couple of
years and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the
We want to explore the outer realms of what we call
“Cinematic Metal” or “Rock Cinema” We want to stay in the metal vein but
introduce more and more colors to the palette. We would like to extend
that into stage performances which also involve cinematic nuances and
just really bring something new to metal music, without losing the metal
Any last statement?
If you love your music, support it. Metal music is only surviving by the
love and support of the fans, not by corporate hype. Whether or not
metal survives is all up to you. Music is silence without ears to
Thanks for your time and see you in March with Psychotic
You are very welcome. See you then!
Devon Graves - Vocals, Flute
Demi Scott - Keyboards
Arne Schuppner - Guitar
Kristoffer Gildenlöw - Bass
Johanne James – Drums
2010 - Behind the Black Veil