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Published on February 13th, 2000 | by Gerry Galipault


full devil jacket wears it well

Could Jackson, Tenn.’s full devil jacket be the Creed of 2000? They’re sure looking to make a lot of noise, one way or another.

Island Def Jam has pulled out all the stops for the hard-driving rock quintet, releasing its self-titled debut LP on March 7, shipping the first single “Stain” to radio and MTV, landing tracks on the “Scream 3” and upcoming “Heavy Metal 2000” soundtrack albums and sending it out on tour with Type O Negative and Coal Chamber.

Drummer Keith Foster can’t believe their run of good fortunes.

“It’s awesome, man,” he said. “It’s a dream come true. It sinks in a little bit more every day. It’s pretty weird. Not bad for a bunch of good ol’ boys from Jackson.”

The “boys” – Foster, singer Josh Brown, guitarists Jonathan Montoya and Mike Reaves and bassist Kevin Bebout – teamed in 1995 and quickly developed legions of fans in Jackson, Memphis, Nashville and St. Louis, before catching the attention of Island Def Jam during a performance at WXTB’s Livestock festival in Tampa. That led to an appearance on the emerging-artists stage at Woodstock ’99 and a spot on last year’s Warped Tour.

It makes all the hard work worthwhile, Foster says.

“It was really tough in the beginning,” he said. “We all had our day jobs, but we had to quit them and start recording and go on the road before we even actually got a record deal. Like I said, it was really tough, but we knew we had to take the bullet and go with it. We all still have our heads above the water and knew everything was going to work out fine, and it did.

“We met Malcolm Springer, who produced the album, he came in and worked with us, did about a year of preproduction. Then he started shopping it around. We would work eight, 10, 12 hours a day and then go into preproduction at night and on the weekends and also do some showcases. Getting the deal was probably the turning point, because we worked so hard. When we finally nailed down the Island deal, we thought it was perfect. Our A&R guy, he just loves straightforward rock ‘n’ roll, and I suppose that’s what they were looking for.”

From top to bottom, “Wanna Be Martyr” to “Cardboard Believers,” the album is awash in a wall of sound, punctuated by Brown’s searing vocals and razor-sharp lyrics.

“We just wanted it to come out and come out from the heart,” Foster said, “because it’s what we believe in, and not make it too mechanical sounding. We put the songs together, went in and turned the lights off, lit a lot of candles and spanked it out till we got it where we wanted it. I knew when I hit the perfect track when I would get goose bumps and would just close my eyes and go off into another little world playing. We felt if we did that, then we would emerge coming across that way to our audience.”

Now comes the true test: Will consumers buy it? Foster likes their chances.

“I think it’s going to do well,” he said. “Nowadays, some of the rock ‘n’ rollers out there, we feel like it’s hitting a broad range of people it needs to. Some of the older fans, from the mid-20s to early 30s, they’re not having a whole lot they can listen to anymore. They’re still listening to the old classic rock, and we think we’ll fit right in there.”

THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “Kiss’ ‘Double Platinum.’ I’ve always been a big Kiss fan, though I wasn’t in the Kiss army. That would be another dream come true, to go on the road with those guys. They’re still rockin’ and rollin’. I’m hoping that if I’m alive at the same age as they are, that I’ll still be playing too.”

THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “Kiss again, at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, like ’85 or ’86. I can’t remember the name of the tour, but White Lion opened up for them. I remember it like it was yesterday. I spent the whole time daydreaming about being onstage and playing.”

THE LAST CD I BOUGHT: “Staind’s ‘Dysfunctional.’ I’m a big fan of those guys. It’s awesome. It has some good production and feeling behind it. It kind of reminds me of us, where they can get down low and melodic and then start hitting you over the head with some massive guitar riffs.”

BWF (before we forget): Cozy up to full devil jacket on the Web @

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Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.

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