How did you get your initial start in music?
Being given my Grandad’s old Dansette record player when I was about 4 years old (he had acquired a newfangled stereo system), along with some old 45’s and 78’s by Buddy Holly, The Beatles, Elvis, The Everlys and Johnny Duncan. I learned how to sing harmonies to The Everlys and The Beatles (with some direction from my Mum) and it’s been fairly constant ever since. At some point later I picked up guitar and things, started playing in pubs, had a couple of bands, sold some CD’s and wrote a TV theme but given a distinct lack of consistency outside of playing live, there were probably more stops than starts, if that’s possible.
What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?
To write and record as much material as I can which is good enough for me to want to listen to it, and ideally for it to be popular enough to allow me to keep doing it. My / our only ambition has ever really been to make records that stand up to our own scrutiny, as it were, but you have to hope other people like them too or you’re somewhat shouting into a void. With previous releases we had some really nice emails from people all over the place, from Kuala Lumpur to Hawaii, saying how much they enjoyed particular tracks. One woman said she played our first CD on repeat over a 400 mile drive when she decided to finally get away from a bad relationship. Thinking about it now, I’m not sure what that says about the album, but all these things make it feel like it was worth it. That you’ve connected somehow.
How long have you been writing your own music?
Dominic (Hudson) and I started writing songs at school in about 1746, when The Smiths were still an actual band and George Michael ruled the world, but we were at first not so good, then better, then occasionally quite good, but always far more adept at writing things than actively seeking to play them to anyone else.Things got in the way I suppose. We did finally release an album in 2001 when home recording technology got decent enough at a price we could afford. It was pretty basic but we sold almost 2000 copies and got 6/10 in Uncut magazine, despite our pre-Myspace, unsigned status, so we were quite pleased.
Who are your top three influences and why?
Top three is too hard… Once it would have been The Beatles, Tom Petty and The Smiths, or Bob Dylan, Dexys and The Pogues, but I think now people like Leonard Cohen, Suzanne Vega and Paul Simon, just for the sheer craft of what they do. The others still play a part though. We like to do some things with a little more oomph where we can.
Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?
Yes. It’s very hummable, it has a chorus it’s hard to get out of your head, it’s a bitter-sweet reflection on Christmas, it’s two and a half minutes long, it has some lovely guitar and bass playing, a cracking fiddle solo and sleigh bells, obviously. Oh, and it’s called ‘Father Christmas’.
Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?
The musicians in the band are based all around the South-East, but more specifically I’m about half way between London and Brighton on the edge of the Ashdown Forest. The local music scene is limited but a very nice man called Dave Phillips organises a regular showcase at The Dorset Arms in East Grinstead and there are a few others around Tunbridge Wells, Crawley and Horsham. For larger scale things you have to go further afield.
Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?
My knowledge of local artists is embarrassingly limited I’m afraid as I rarely see anyone play, but I’d have to recommend Mailman (Mailmanstan) as an interesting one and I have a soft spot for Simon Wells, who writes some lovely 60’s flavoured pastoral pop.
Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.
facebook.com/jonmcdevittsongs (for regular updates, songs and videos)
‘Father Christmas’ will be available on Amazon, I-tunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby etc from November 23rd 2016.