Devin King has had one hell of a summer.
On the heels of wrapping the nearly 5-month-long Vans Warped Tour, his band, The Color Morale, released their fifth studio album, The Desolate Divine, on August 19th.
While the metalcore/rock band’s new album is grounded in rock, the sound is more grown up, more vulnerable. (King admits one of his favorite songs of all time is “Fix You” by Coldplay.)
We caught up with the busy guitarist, who is currently moving into his new apartment (while house training a new puppy) and prepping for his next worldwide tour with The Color Morale, to talk the evolution of his band’s sound, how the Van’s Warped Tour is the best/worst tour ever, and his guilty pleasure on Instagram.
Where are you currently located?
I am living in Milwaukee, WI with my girlfriend and new puppy!
What is your occupation?
I’m a professional musician, and currently play guitar for the band, The Color Morale.
How did you get into music, and specifically the guitar?
I originally started out as a drummer, but my cousin showed me a few songs by Weezer and Nirvana on guitar, and I took to it right away. I couldn’t believe that in 30 minutes, I was able to play songs that I heard on the radio! A few months later I had a really bad break in my ankle from skateboarding, and ended up having to spend a couple months in a wheelchair. Since I wasn’t able to play drums at all anymore, I focused more on guitar, and have never looked back. It was definitely a much better fit for me.
You’re on the road a lot for your band, The Color Morale. Do you bring anything special with you to remind you of home?
I have recently been trying to pack lighter and lighter as time goes on, and take more of a minimalist approach to traveling, so I don’t bring all that much to be honest. When we are on a bus, I do try to bring my French press so I always have decent coffee. And then most importantly my phone and headphones, so I can FaceTime back home as much as possible!
You just finished the Vans Warped Tour! What’s it like being part of the largest traveling music festival in the US?
We always joke around that Warped is the Best/Worst tour ever. In terms of exposure, it’s the greatest thing in the world. Kevin Lyman has created such an amazing environment for underground and larger bands alike.
Everyone is on the same level. Everyone stands in the same lines at catering. Everyone has to deal with the 100 degree temperatures. You might play at 11 am, or you might play at 8 pm, and you won’t know until that morning. It’s pretty much like being in a punk rock traveling circus. We’ve played the entire thing twice now, and it still blows my mind how it all comes together every day. It’s the most grueling and stressful tour we’ve ever done, but it’s also the most fun and rewarding. Once you’ve done Warped, you feel like you can accomplish anything!
Your band’s sound has evolved a lot since it began in 2007, starting off as metalcore and now incorporating more refined elements. How would you describe your current sound, and where is it headed?
The Color Morale has changed quite a bit over the years. We’ve gone through several member changes, and I feel like that really helped shape the current sound we have now. I was the original merch guy for the band, and toured with them for years until joining officially in 2012.
We changed up the writing process and Garret changed up his vocal style and I feel like The Color Morale became a brand new band with its release of Know Hope in 2013. After that record, I feel like it has been a very natural progression into the more “rock” sound we have now.
We all got older, and learned how to focus on writing actual “songs” as opposed to just writing the coolest guitar parts we could think of, and throwing them all together and calling it a song. I feel like our latest record, Desolate Divine, is the greatest example of that. We couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. It feels like it is finally the sound the 5 of us have been searching to create over the last 7 years.
Where do you and your band get inspiration from?
Our band is 5 very different musicians, with favorite bands ranging from Jimmy Eat World, to Misery Signals, to Sigur Ros. We all bring something different to the table.
For me, when it comes to writing guitar leads, I like to take an approach based on emotion. One of my favorite songs of all time is “Fix You”, by Coldplay. The lead guitar comes in about halfway through the song and is mainly just 2 notes going back and forth, but the way it’s played, it just makes you feel something incredibly powerful.
I try to use that idea, to capture more with less. Yes, it is impressive if you can sweep up and down the fretboard, but I would much rather write something memorable, that anyone in the world can hear and be intrigued by. I think music is more about creating an emotion than technicality, and that has been our main focus as of late.
What’s one interesting thing about yourself?
Other than music, my second love is the Green Bay Packers. I’ve been obsessed with football since I was a little kid, and am a Packer Shareholder. I even have their logo tattooed above my heart.
You have an amazing beard! Who/what influenced you to grow a beard? How long have you had a beard?
Thank you! I guess I would probably have to say my family. My dad, my uncle, and my brother. We all have beards, and have had them forever. I grew mine as soon as I could when I was about 17, and since then have only been clean shaven once in the last 12 years! I honestly have no idea what my face looks like anymore.
Do you have any tips for beard growers?
I get asked this a lot, and the easiest tip is pretty self explanatory…don’t shave. I know, it’s itchy at first, but just power through, and give it time. You have to come to terms with the fact that it might look like shit for a while.
Patience is key, and in just a few short months you will be wondering why you ever bothered shaving in the first place.
What is your greatest fear and have you conquered it?
Well my greatest fear is probably spiders, and I have not come close to conquering that one! Crawly bugs and me just do not mix, haha.
But on a more serious note, one of my other fears that I work on conquering daily is public speaking. I can play guitar onstage in front of 10,000 people, and be completely fine. No nerves, nothing. It feels totally natural. But then if you ask me to talk in front of 10 people, I’ll freak out. I get so nervous and usually sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
I believe part of it is that onstage I have a guitar to hide behind, but if it’s just me, then it’s a totally different situation. Over the years, it has gotten better, even with doing interviews like this one. I think when you really find what you love to do, it helps you become a more confident person throughout every aspect of your life, and can help with many fears. Except for spiders though. Fuck spiders.
Where do you see yourself in the next year?
This next year will be an amazing and exciting one. My girlfriend and I have been long distance for 3 years, and we are finally getting our first apartment together! I can’t wait to start our life together with the addition of a new puppy (a miniature dachshund named Biscuit) as well!
Then on top of that, The Color Morale just released our new record, and we will be touring all over the world to promote it! I’ll also be turning 30 next summer, so definitely a big year of adulting and continuing to pursue my passions.
Right now, I’m obsessed with:
Fantasy Football. I have seasonal depression from February - September, and when football season starts, I’m finally happy again haha. I listen to podcasts, and have even started doing live streams on our band Facebook, attempting to give my best advice.
The first website I log onto every morning is:
Chorus.fm. It used to be absolutepunk.net, and it’s been my homepage for years. Lots of news and updates from bands in our scene, always keeping me up to date.
My favorite Instagram to follow is:
I mostly just follow friends, guitar companies, beard companies, and dogs, but one that always keeps me coming back is @basketballvines. I’ll end up laying in bed watching sick dunks for hours. It’s the greatest!
I’d love to visit:
Either Ireland or Japan. I’ve been very fortunate to tour all around the world, but these are the 2 places that are still on my bucket list.
If I wasn’t doing this job, I would:
Probably either be building guitars or opening a coffee shop/bar.
Follow Devin King on Instagram @devinhasabeard. Learn more about The Color Morale at TheColorMorale.net.