Over a couple of beers backstage at The Legends Of Rock Festival, Photogroupie are having a chat with Devon Allman; singer, songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire with The Royal Southern Brotherhood. We are still in awe thinking about one of the best gigs we have ever seen.
Watching the Royal Southern Brotherhood performing is simply breathtaking. They are so cohesive it's like watching a well oiled machine, their energy is stratospheric and their musicianship otherworldly. They must be one of the best bands touring at the moment. PG are curious to find out how much time these guys spend rehearsing to sound and perform the way they do. They are as tight as a ducks derrière. The majority of bands would have to spend hours and days to get even close to resembling the synergy and chemistry that the Brotherhood have. Devon’s answer is not what we expected, but we're not too surprised. " We play 275 shows a year in 25 countries. The rehearsal is really the sound check."
Coming from musicians of such a high caliber we accept this answer with ease. " Being tight is about being a good listener. It's four years of listening to each other." Watching their show up front you can see the synergy between them and how hyper focused they are. Their objective is to play good music and nothing is going to stand in their way. Take bass player Charlie Wooton and Grammy Award winning drummer, Yonrico Scott - the awesome rhythm section who are so empathetic to each others playing you'd have thought they'd been playing together a lifetime. "You can be instinctual and trust each other to know where it's going to go, how the dynamics are going to rise or drop because you've played together for so long." Just then Yonrico pops his head round the door. He and Devon have a chat about the drum kit he was using before revealing that tonight everything that could have gone wrong did. By all accounts there were problems with the kit and the drums were being replaced as Yonrico was playing, Devon’s amp went and three songs later his effects peddles went out. You wouldn't have noticed. "We're lucky, it doesn't happen very often, but when you've had a year with no incidents, you know it's coming." He laughs, giving a wry smile.Devon appears pretty chilled for somebody who's just had a stressful show beset with technical glitches, even it was only the band who were aware of them. "You can't let one thing that's going wrong interrupt you're performance. We're still going to give it Hell because that's what we do. "
One thing that is great about the band is the distinct lack of ego. There would be many performers who would throw a hissy fit and storm off at the first sign of trouble. "You never cheat the crowd!" He's deadly serious now, and rightly so. " It would be selfish to freak out and cut the set short. That's selfish and it doesn't belong in music." These Prima Donna rock stars could learn a thing or two here. "The quarterback who goes out to play the Super Bowl, to play the Super Bowl wins. The one that goes out to play and makes a head trip out of it loses. Every time you hit the stage it's got to be like it's the last time. You don't bullshit the crowd, they've paid to see you. If there's 5 people in the audience or 20,000 you have to be ready to come and play."The Royal Southern Brotherhood are certainly a band that come ready to play and perform as if their lives depended on it. Giving 110% every single time, must be painfully draining but it's an effort and energy that makes them stand apart. Devon is again philosophical and humble about the work he does. "Being on stage is the 2 hours that makes the bullshit all worth it. All the sitting in the airports, the crappy bed and food you might get, missing you're loved ones, all of that is worth it because of those 2 hours." Devon is a tremendously generous performer and relishes being in the moment. "It's about the whole; The band, the crowd, the sound guy, the people that work in the venue. We're all in that experience." They give so much passion to their shows you can't help but feel that you are part of something very special.
Being the son of the legendary Greg Allman means that music is of course in Devon’s blood. However, not meeting his father until he was 17 meant that Devon didn't grow up in that backstage environment and have his fathers musical influence to guide him. "I found music on my own. It might have been tough as a kid, but I’m grateful for it now.” He's pretty philosophical about everything and relishes the fact that it was all part of his personal musical journey and the development of his sound."I grew up listening to The Doors, Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Santana then I got into heavy metal ( he's a huge Iron Maiden fan too) and alternative music - when it really was an alternative to something, The Cure, The Smiths, The Clash. I listen to everything, Nigerian Jazz, thrash metal. I love all types of music." For Devon, his love of trumpets and brass is incorporated in his guitar playing and he tries to phrase his guitars like the horn playing of Miles Davies, Buddy Guy and John Coltrane whilst being influenced by the guitar styles of David Gilmour, Djando Reinhardt, Lindsey Buckingham and Jimi Hendrix.
After 15 years of having his own projects and touring the idea of forming a new band came from Thunderbird Management who also handle Cyril Neville. “During a conversation one day the question was posited why the Allman Brothers and the Neville Brothers never toured or jammed together considering they were from huge southern musical families.” As they were both signed to the same management agency the idea came to get them together and see what happened. That rare musical spark was ignited and the Royal Southern Brotherhood was born. “The most important part is that it works. It wasn't forced, it wasn't a boardroom decision. It's just a couple of guys from a couple of musical families who took a chance because of the chemistry."As the band continue to tour, Devon is looking forward to some down time at home with his son to reflect and refuel before heading back into the studio to make the next record (which should start recording in January and be out in the Spring) and set off on the road again. Photogroupie make an attempt to get some more information about the new album, a title, a song, anything, but Devon is not going to budge. "You'll have to wait and see. I'm not gonna tell you nothing. "He pauses, gives a cheeky smile and says. “I'll tell you something...it's the best stuff we've done."