Putting these blogs together, it’s not uncommon to talk with a local band on Monday, a different one on Wednesday and another on Friday. What’s less common is, in that same week, having each of those bands mention an entirely different Houston band as a favorite, one that’s been influential in some way. But that’s what happened recently, as musicians we talked to kept bringing Devil Killing Moth into our discussions.
Maybe it’s because the band is closing in on ten years together, or because after all this time it continues to grow in exciting ways. Maybe it’s because the group remains unapologetic in its approach to creating original music that defies categorization. We decided to just ask the band its thoughts on the matter.
“First and foremost, we’re fucking humbled, considering that Houston has such a unique, amazing and flourishing music scene. Mad respect to Houston bands!” says Dan Oviedo, DKM’s lead vocalist and co-founder. “We all grew up in Houston, and seeing our friends play and influence us is inspiring. These guys and gals are truly why we love to play music.”
Devil Killing Moth will be doing what it loves tonight at La Playa, opening for New Orleans’s soul-folk songstresses, Hestina.
“We first experienced Hestina as a band named Sirens, [and] their harmonic melodies were captivating," says Oveido. "Listening to their sounds of Southern folk rhythms has us looking forward to the show at La Playa. Playing with bands from out of town and local artists has been an awesome experience. Crowds are full of musicians these days, and the cultural exchange is priceless. Every city has its own flow of sound.”
Oviedo and his cohorts have contributed to the flow of Houston’s sound for a while now. As many bands do, DKM formed when two of its members first formed a friendship. Oviedo says he and the Moth’s co-founder Anton De Guzman met at the University of Houston in 1999. By 2006, they were performing shows as an acoustic guitar duo under the Devil Killing Moth banner. They released The Battle of Three Bands in 2009, but by then were looking to evolve into a larger outfit and added drummer Ryan Galbraith around that time. They wrote and recorded 2012’s Once I Used to Dream and have since added bassist Chris Dunaway and Hector Oviedo, Dan’s brother, on djembe (hand drum).
“For the past two years, DKM has been simultaneously performing and writing; we have had a lot of growth starting as a two-piece and evolving into a five-piece band,” says Oviedo. “As we stand, DKM is working on our third album at RBI Studios. This is the first album with Hector and Chris.”
Let's return to those bands who kept bringing up Devil Killing Moth for a second. They noted things like smart lyrics and passionate playing as reasons to seek out the band.
“I write emotionally from my only perspective," Oviedo says. "I fall into a certain state of mind, and wander through melodies and chords. Those moody chords and melodies become words, then stories, then a song. I share those stories with the guys and we take it from there. This upcoming album has definitely been a group effort and vibe. Chris brought a song he had previously written to the new album, called 'Get Up.' Chris is an excellent songwriter, so we just added the DKM twist to the tune, and it came out great.
“My brother Hector contributed a piece he wrote that helped us craft the song 'Chuey Khabluey,' he continues. "This new record is a co-op of songwriters. I write most of the lyrics, but have written a couple songs with Ryan for this album, and Anton has always been the core of the band, writing melodies and bringing soundscapes that make the songs complete.
“We represent who we are through our music,” Oviedo explained. “We’re not trying to adopt towards any genre; we're writing and performing for our own journey. It has been dope! Houston has so many unique artists and musicians that inspire us, so DKM is truly a Houston experience.”
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Oviedo reeled off the names of at least a dozen Houston bands Devil Killing Moth considers favorites and has shared stages with at venues like Fitzgerald's, Notsuoh and Rudyard’s, the light the Moth just keeps fluttering back to as a favored venue. As they eye a tentative release date in September for the new album, they’ll stay busy. They’re one of the acts on this year’s Grace Note benefit concert at Pearl Bar on July 5 and one of the bands playing Avant Garden’s Jeff Fest at the end of July.
Oviedo and company feel the love, Houston music community. They’re grateful, too, and want you to know how reciprocal that love is.
“We all struggle with each of our schedules to get together, but our community of friends and fellow musicians have made it easier to enjoy life," he explains. "We all get together with the same interests and love for the music scene booming in H-town. There is so much energy and effort that groups put into promoting this scene, and we are glad to be a part of it."
Baltazar Canales and Devil Killing Moth open for Hestina tonight at La Playa, 2719 Alabama. The show is free, but donations are suggested for the touring band.