Devalued Releases Cassette, Talks Jamiroquai, Sludge, and Holly Hunt

Devalued is one of the newer, younger, and hardest-playing musical acts performing in South Florida. You probably saw Nico Suave singing and playing guitar, Matt Stoyka beating the shit out of the drums, and Conor Barbato breaking his bass at the County Grind showcase at Green Room in July. 

Fun to watch, these 20-year-olds are all based out of Pembroke Pines and Davie. The three left behind their sludge beginnings to regularly blast out more than one intense d-beat show a night. As drummer Matt puts it, "It all went downhill from there, and we got really crappy and ignorant." They may be young, but their self-deprecating humor, honesty about being fans of Jamiroquai, and generally fantastic stage presence make them a group worth following. 

Their cassette-release party takes place next week at Fox's Sherron Inn in South Miami. We spoke to the Broward boys outside Churchill's Pub, and over the intense noise blaring from inside, we chatted about earplugs, Mariah Carey, and crying during sex. 

New Times: [To Matt, drummer] You should wear earplugs.

Conor: I carry around a pill case on my key chain to keep earplugs in, and I constantly get stopped by police officers thinking it's drugs. I have to open it up, like, Dude, it's earplugs.

Matt: It's funny because me and Conor are straight-edge and Nico is impure.

It's good to be straight-edge when you're young, because you can always get fucked up for the rest of your old, sad adult life. You're all wearing band T-shirts. What are the bands and why are you wearing them?

Conor: I'm wearing a Buzzcocks shirt. I love this. It's actually falling apart and I refuse to get rid of it. It's a band I really like. We're all into really different music for the most part. They're just a classic punk band.

What kind of music are you into?

Conor: I'm really into techno rock.

Like Korn?

Conor: No. I've seen Korn. Like, Does It Offend You, Yeah?; and Crystal Castles, Outkast, and the Gorillas. Stuff like I listen to all day, and they don't get it at all.

I thought you were going to say Mariah Carey.

Conor: No, not too into Mariah Carey. Celine Dion, not. Terrible.

Matt: I am wearing my Holly Hunt T-shirt -- my favorite band in the 305. I listen to basically the same style that Holly Hunt plays -- droney, stoner sludge music. I've recently been listening to Neurosis, Isis, Sleep. The slower the better. How that influences our music or me, I don't know. I'm the most impatient person; I have to play as fast as I possibly can. I guess it kind of balances itself out. I'm really angry and impatient when I'm playing the drums, always, and I listen to the stoner music to calm me down.

Nico: I'm wearing a Despise You T-shirt. It's this old band. I didn't like them at first. They sort of grew on me. I listen to a lot of music that's out of this world. I like classical music a lot -- I'm a nerd with it. I took all of these classes in high school, and I fell in love with it. I listen to a lot of things that help me sing, easy shit like Bob Marley, which I actually enjoy. I love disco. The Bee Gees and Jamiroquai. I love it.
Conor: I think the band that binds me and Nico is definitely Jamiroquai.

Matt: I hate Jamiroquai.

When I tell people that I like Jamiroquai, they make so much fun of me. I remember when "Space Cowboy" came out. Nobody listens to it anymore.

Nico: He's actually really known in other countries.

Jay Kay?

Nico: He's huge in England. In South America he's huge.

Conor: He's not Auto-Tuned, so no one cares about it.

Nico: The musicians in that band are ridiculous.

Conor: He has the whitest bass player that plays the funkiest shit.

It's respectable that two of you like Jamiroquai and one doesn't. You'd lose all of your street cred as a band if you all liked it.

Matt: I'm going to be straight up -- I'm not hard at all. I listen to hard music, but inside, I'm a fucking pussy. I cry when I fuck.

That'll get you laid. You're working on an album?

Nico: We actually recorded everything for our first release. We're going to do tapes for now, and when we get enough money, we're going to do vinyl. My brother recorded it; he records a lot of bands. Moe. He used to play in Maruta. He's really smart and he knows how to record well in any environment. We actually recorded at his [Matt's] house and it sounds like a studio recording.

Matt: I live in a trailer.

Nico: It's shit acoustics, but it sounds amazing. We're really lucky.

Your favorite thing about performing? You play more than one show a night. 

Matt: Our second show was our second and third show, just because we went from one place to another. We went straight from the Talent Farm to Churchill's basically.  

Conor: I think, more or less, why I'm excited to play shows is we've created something. It's just fun to display what you helped make. And that people actually enjoy it, that's just a bonus on top of it. 

Nico: It's challenging in a way. Depends on how you look at it. I've played in bands with two guitars, and in this band, I play one guitar and sing, so it's like exploring them musical dynamics just to challenge yourself. Every time I join a new band, I try to join a new band that will teach me something new musically, even though it's usually punk and super ignorant. I have this other band I started with a friend, Nun Hex, and I play bass in it. 

You put on a really dramatic performance. How do you feel that affects the atmosphere of a show?

Nico: I think the more you get into it, the more you help evoke the emotions of what the music's trying to say. Especially, lately, we've gotten to the point as a band we need to sort of go to the next level. Try to focus on why you're playing. Make it a full performance and not just a set of songs. 

Conor: I feel like if we can't get into it, how can we expect other people to get into it. I enjoy the music that we make. To touch on what Nico said, about having that high energy to play, I use it as a decoy to make it seem like I'm playing good. (Laughs) It's like, you messed up a lot, but you're moving around. 

Matt: I would say that jumping to this next level of performing is pretty difficult for me. The music itself is tiring and then performing, and giving it your all and then putting on this front to show, hey, we're not just playing this hectic music, but we're looking super pissed off while we're playing it! The emotion as well as the playing is the most draining thing for me. The whole performance aspect is difficult, but I feel like we're successful at it because these last few shows that we've played, people have been like, some of the compliments we heard, have been pretty crazy. We stick out, so that's what I like. 

Not all bands stick out. Your performance at Green Room just made everyone smile. You guys write your own music. Do you have a process? 

Matt: The best way to describe this, is, from my aspect is, someone will come up with one riff and it'll be awesome, and then we find ourselves writing a bunch of riffs around this one riff and we can't believe how hard it is to write the riffs around this one simple riff, and we find ourselves writing the most complex riffs. And then we're like, this kind of just sounds like shit. We're doing all of this work for this one riff that sounds really good. 

Nico: We just write the song around it, trying to glorify this one riff. I want everyone to hear it as cool as I hear it in my head. 

Conor: I'm honestly surprised we're able to write anything the way we do it. I don't know how other bands work, because I haven't been in another band that I liked making music for. But, I'm sure they don't go like, this part's cool, that should be in a song somewhere. Or one of us will write an entire song, and then just show it to the others and say, fix all of the stuff that I couldn't and we kind of help each other build off of it. 

Do you feel like you have common musical language? 

Conor: I'll be looking at Nico and go like, make a sound that's kind of like (makes weird guitar sound) and he'll be like, oh, OK. We do that a lot. I don't know how Matt understands what I tell him when I say, play a drum beat that, and I just literally move my hands and not verbalize anything. 

Matt: The one thing I like. It's my job to read other musicians. When it comes to playing with Nico, I can read him, and when it comes to reading Conor, I can read him, cause I've played with them separately. Together, they're really good at communicating with each other, and at the same time, I have to follow one or the other. Their energy together, their playing is two different extremes. When they get together, it's a giant clusterfuck. 

Devalued Cassette-Release Party. With KDC, Black Mask, Cannabass, and Grit. 11 p.m. Tuesday, September 4, at Fox's Sherron Inn, 6030 S. Dixie Highway, South Miami. Entrance is $5. Call 305-666-2230.

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