The Devil Makes Three is one of those bands that likes to work out new material on stage — and a testament to that practice comes via the video for “Bad Idea,” premiering exclusively below from group’s upcoming new album Chains Are Broken, which was filmed on May 25 at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
“We work out a lot of our songs live for awhile before we get in the studio,” singer-guitarist Pete Bernhard tells Billboard. “On the last tour we played we were playing as many of the (Chains Are Broken) songs as we could, and some really came to life in the studio — not all of them, but a good few. That just happens sometimes.”
And the group, which has grown from a trio into a quartet with the addition of drummer Stefan Amidon, was, like so many bands, also anxious to document its Red Rocks experience during its second headlining date at the storied and picturesque venue. “It’s our biggest show in the whole country for us and just a really, really big deal,” Bernhard explains. “We recorded and did a video of the show last time as well, but this time just felt like it was a great show and we had a blast doing it. We’re always trying to capture our live shows in different ways, so this is just our attempt at giving the feeling of what it was like to be there. It was a really cool experience for us.”
Bernhard is saying the same about Chains Are Broken, the Devil Makes Three’s sixth studio album. Produced by Ted Hutt (Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly), it’s the group’s first to include Amidon throughout and a more overtly rocking set than its bluegrass-focused predecessors. “It was really great,” Bernhard reports. “We had a lot of fun recording it — and I say that as a band that sometimes doesn’t have as much fun in the studio. Something about not having that live feeling, I think, affected us in the past. And this album was not like that at all. Having the drums be part of it was huge and really opened up a lot of possibilities.
“I think we just finally figured out after all this time how to record as a band. We were like, ‘OK, that’s how it sounds live,’ which was big for us because we’re such a live band. We wanted to capture something more, and I think when we left the studio we were like, ‘God, we did it,’ which felt great.”
But Bernhard is quick to refute the notion that the Devil Makes Three — which heads to Europe first before returning to tour North America during the fall and winter — is suddenly turning into a rock band.
“We’re always trying to be a rock band,” he says. “Our approach to string band music has always been sort of punk rock; We’re playing string band music, but not in the traditional way. But, yeah, with the drums it definitely lends itself more so to that direction. This album is a lot heavier, even than our last album, which had drums on it. And who knows what we’ll do next; It’s just important for us to feel like we’re doing something we haven’t done before.”