Life is hard. And no one knows that better than The Devil Makes Three, a trio of bluegrass musicians hailing from Santa Cruz, Calif. Their music is steeped in folk and roots music influences, and they continue that tradition by crafting powerful songs about heartbreak and hard times from simple components. They’ll be at the Majestic Theatre April 29 for what’s sure to be a floor-stomping, shit-kicking good time.
Their sound is founded on stomp-ready rhythms provided by guitarist Pete Bernhard and upright bassist Lucia Turino, infused with rowdy energy by Cooper McBean’s furiously melodic clawhammer tenor banjo picking.
TDM3 was in Madison almost exactly a year ago, and they’re back for round two, touring in support of their new album, I’m A Stranger Here, released in October 2013. The album finds the band working with a producer for the first time; it sounds more polished and musically complex than their previous work without losing any of their ferocious energy.
In an email, Bernhard talked about the recording process and influences behind their newest album, most of which he attributed (jokingly?) to Waffle House.
Known for their killer live shows, the band tracks live in the studio to bring that dynamism to the records, according to Bernhard. Working in the studio has been a learning process for the band.
“We used to hate it but over the years we have learned to tame the studio and now it will do tricks for us. We command the studio, and the studio obeys us,” he said.
He also spoke to the influence extensive touring has had on their music, evident in the weary despondency of tracks like “A Moment’s Rest,” or the jaunty pessimism of “Mr. Midnight,” and expanded on the allegory of the fast food chain.
“We travel so much these days that writing travel songs is inevitable, and this most recent album has its fair share. Traveling can mean adventures both good and bad, and adventures can lead to stories, stories can become songs, songs lead to playing live shows which eventually leads back to late night visits to Waffle House. It’s the circle of life,” he said.
Life may be hard and full of troubles, but sometimes the best thing to do is to take those troubles and pound them into the floor. If anything, the show should be an experience to remember.
“Expect to get your face irreparably melted by tenor banjo fury,” Bernhard said. “Expect true stories from Waffle House and beyond. Expect to catch a glimpse of Big Foot, get abducted, wake up in a cave, drink tiny dew drops from a mountain fern and to run naked in the pale light of the biggest brightest full moon the human eye has ever gazed upon.”