Through fire and fear9/9/2015
Full Devil Jacket has been through hell and back. Formed in 1993 as the Voodoo Hippies, the band experienced a bit of mainstream success with two releases on the Def Jam label. But shortly after the release of its self-titled album in 2000, lead singer Josh Brown overdosed on heroin and nearly died. That led to Brown’s leaving the band and taking much of the project’s heart and soul with him.
Full Devil Jacket carried on briefly with a new front man and a new guitarist to replace outgoing Michael Reaves, but the fire was gone, and the band split up without releasing any new material.
“I got out of the music business completely,” Brown recalled in an interview shortly after the band’s reformation. “I thought I never wanted to be in it again and didn’t want to play music anymore. But I always kept in touch with the Full Devil Jacket guys. What I learned over the past 10 years was no matter what happens in our lives and in business, when you spend that much time with people you
love, it is real.”
The band reunited for a one-off show in 2010, which led to talks about a permanent reunion. Just when everyone got on board with the idea of new Full Devil Jacket music, fate dealt out another cruel hand, when Reaves — back in the fold but fighting cancer — died.
With Full Devil Jacket seemingly done for good, Brown committed himself to his other project, Christian rock outfit Day of Fire, but that fizzled out as well.
“I was living in Texas, working at a bar,” he said. “I realized no matter what, I wanted to continue playing music. A couple years after Day Of Fire ended, I called up my drummer, Jeff Foster, and I told him I wanted to start doing music again. He really pushed for bringing back Full Devil Jacket to try it one more time. I said, ‘It was never going to work; we tried three years ago.’ He said, ‘Well, let’s try it one more time.’ So, I committed to another Full Devil Jacket record. I said, ‘No matter what, you and I are doing this record.’ And that’s what happened.”
It has not been a short road, and it has not been an easy journey. But now, 15 years after the release of the band’s last full-length, Full Devil Jacket is finally back in the saddle with “Valley of Bones.” It is not always an easy thing, finding a band’s groove after so long away from the game, especially when half the band is new to the material. But Brown remained committed to the concept and feels like this new album is the band’s best foot forward.
“I have been cultivating my song writing since I was 15 years old,” he said. “I wanted to bring some truth. I wanted to say some things in my songs, and I wanted my music to be about something.”
“When it came to doing this record, I said, ‘I am going to be brutally honest with the people who love my music and be brutally honest with my life.’ A good friend of mine who produced the last Day of Fire record, Roger Masson, he said something that always stuck with me. He said, ‘The greatest song that you can sing are the words that you are almost afraid to tell your friend right next to you. If you are afraid to tell it to me, and you can put it in a song, you have something.’ That’s where my writing is now.” CV