Dan Devitt – Virtues ‘Hitting Australia As Hard As We Can’

Gigs may be on hold for the moment, but new music is coming in thick. Brissie band Virtues just dropped a killer little EP last month and we had a lot of cool shit to say about it here. 

We also got intimate with guitarist Dan Devitt who lay down the narrative of how the band got together, and how the Queensland metal scene shaped them a little bit. Here’s what Dan the Man had to say…

How did you guys get together?

Well, Virtues have been together since about mid-2018. Our guitarist, Alex, and vocalist Wade, have been in other bands and have played together countless times over the years. I joined shortly after seeing an advert on one of those Facebook groups. We started churning out songs and our bassist Zeke and drummer Jack were added along the way.

It sounds cheesy, but we just clicked and the songs felt really good. We were really happy with how everything evolved, and we’ve been pretty mind blown with the reaction that we’ve had this early into our existence as a band.

Things are just so much easier when everyone is on the same page and luckily for us, we’ve all got the same goals and aspirations for Virtues.

You’re in Brisbane, so you’re surrounded by some big bands in our world as well as our head editor Browny, so instant respect. Who are some of the bands you look up to over there, and are there any influences?

Brisbane’s heavy music scene has been pretty solid the last few years and we’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with some absolute legends!

Our influences are pretty broad and our sound expands across a few sub-genres. We’re huge fans of Brisbane bands like Aversions Crown, Crave Death, The Brave, Splatterpuss, Uni/vs and Darkcell to name a few. We are definitely influenced by many of these bands and prefer to draw on influences from different sub-genres, so that we don’t get pigeonholed into one sound.

There are so many other incredible Australian bands that we’ve loved playing with and look up to as musicians, business operators and people and this includes the likes of the lads in Ocean Sleeper, Isotopes, and the good people in Saviour.

Speaking of influences, I’ve just given your EP a listen and it has so many familiar sounds on it – from Lamb of God, to Parkway Drive, even to technical prog bands like Periphery – is it a fair suggestion that you guys have a broad range of people in the band? It’s all come together very well, so genuinely curious to understand how you got to the sound that you did.

Oh definitely! We love that we all come from such diverse cultural and musical backgrounds and I think that really shows in our music. It’s such a fine line sometimes when it comes to drawing on influences and becoming a carbon copy, so we’ve done our best to ensure that we’re still creating music that is unique.

Previously, our members have been in a range of metalcore, punk, death metal and djent-ish bands, so our writing sessions and jams never get monotonous. We’re also lucky to have a very talented bunch of musicians as well, so we’re able to turn pretty much most visions/ideas into reality.

It’s also awesome to hear that our sound resembles such legendary bands. That’s never been our intention but we’re incredibly honoured to have that likeness. Our music is definitely technical and we pride ourselves on our ability to impress, but more importantly we just want to make music that leaves you with a permanent stank face and will hopefully become a staple in mosh pits across the country and abroad.

How has the response/reception of the EP been now that it’s been out for a month or so? Are you getting a lot of local love?

We are so stoked with how ‘Nothing Grows’ has turned out! We’re genuinely proud of our efforts and the reaction has been amazing. We’ve received so many touching messages and responses both locally and even abroad, which is absolutely mind blowing.

We hit the local scene pretty hard last year and have grown an incredible bunch of friends who seem to love the music. Their support has been invaluable and we take every bit of feedback on board, especially as we look to change up our live show a bit and write some new material.

What’s the touring schedule looking like this year?

Interesting question given the current pandemonium! But hey, Coronavirus or not we’ve still made 2020 the year where Virtues descends upon as many other cities as humanly possible. As I said, our Brisbane friends are incredible and we would legitimately be completely unknown without them, but we want to build on that family and introduce ourselves to the rest of Australia.

So far, we’re looking at doing a cheeky run down south probably hitting Newcastle, Canberra and Sydney in May. We’re so pumped to get on the road and just hope that the whole Corona situation doesn’t hinder that. Either way we have a few surprises coming up, the details just need to be confirmed.

Returning back to your influences, you guys deliver a bit of a ‘gateway’ record for old-school metal-heads dipping their toe into the contemporary sounds of metalcore and breakdowns etc. – is that how you would best describe yourselves in the changing world of metal?

Hmm, I suppose you could say that. We definitely prefer a slightly more “old school” approach to our writing and sound. These days it seems like it’s becoming more common to use less of your instrument. There seems to be a big trend lately, for example, of just chugging the first 5 frets on your guitar. We love the whole concept of crossing genre lines and again just striving for the ultimate stank face riff or breakdown.

I think our biggest aim is to firstly write music that we, as the band, enjoy playing and listening to – or else there’s no way we could expect anyone else to enjoy it. Secondly, we want to write music that I unique. So often you come across EPs or albums that get a tad monotonous, so you’ll notice that we’ve done our best to keep our EP interesting. Each of the six tracks are different and I think there’s something on there for everyone, regardless of the type of heavy music you’re into.

Ok, how about some fun questions – what is the most annoying habit of one of the band members?

Perhaps not quite an annoying habit but our guitarist, Alex, has an issue with hiding his thumbs in photoshoots. It’s one of those situations where a hilarious photo-shopped image has made us all very aware of Alex’s thumbs.

And also, what do you guys like to do together on tour when you’re not playing?

Well, this year we’ll be embarking on first tour but generally if we’re not practicing or playing shows, we actually hang out a lot as a band. We spend a lot of time yelling and laughing over Mario Kart, attending gigs or hanging out with cats Wade’s “Lucky Cat Café”.

We think it’s so important to bond as friends and we genuinely get along really well, so it’s very easy for us to lose track of time. We practice twice a week and have dinner together on those nights, whilst debating which song has the heaviest breakdown or how good old Bring Me the Horizon was. You know, the most important topics of conversation.

What have live shows been like so far? Are you feeling like fans are getting a feel for your live stage-show? And have you seen a shift since releasing the EP?

Our live shows are actually getting pretty rowdy. As we’ve built up our fan-base, we’ve noticed a lot more limbs swinging around in the pit. We have a small army of people who regularly come up for mic grabs and we even have a fan who made his own “Virtues Pizzeria” shirt, so that he could be our Pizza Guy (Tenacious D reference).

One of our craziest shows was definitely the night of the Good Things Festival comp. We’ve never seen a crowd like that come out to support us, let alone on a Tuesday! It was buck wild, and we’ve really picked up a fair bit of momentum since.

Since the release of ‘Nothing Grows’, we’ve seen our die-hard fans singing pretty much the whole set and breaking loose during breakdowns like they know exactly when they drop. It’s incredible! They are as a part of our performance as much as the actual band and we only see it getting rowdier as people become more familiar with our music.

Finally, what can fans expect from Virtues for the rest of 2020? The answer can involve anything you like!

Well 2020 will see Virtues hitting as much of Australia as hard as we can. We want to explore the country and take our music to cities that haven’t experienced what we have to offer. We’re so proud with what we’ve done and how far we’ve come on our own, but we know there are still many hard yards ahead and we’re so ready for the challenge.

Additionally, of course, new music! We’re going to give ‘Nothing Grows’ a solid run but we’ve already started working on new material. We’ll definitely have a taste coming to our live set pretty soon so if that tickle’s your fancy, come on down.

There you have it, Virtues gets “Stanky” with Wall of Sound.

Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90

Check the guys out on Facebook and Instagram

Grab a copy of Nothing Grows EP here

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Virtues – Nothing Grows EP tracklisting

1. Exist|Empire
2. Disillusioned
3. White Willow
4. Dread
5. Nothing Grows
6. Underhand

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