Since the late 60s the name Allman has been synonymous with great music. The original ‘jam’ band, the principle architects of southern rock, Allman Brothers Duane and Gregg took the world by storm when they arrived on the scene in 1969. Now, almost forty years on, another Allman is set to do the same.
Raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Devon fell in love with music at an early age, a love that was stoked by his relationship with his father later in life. Throughout his twenties he tried to sound anything but like his father, trying different styles and sounds to distance himself from the obvious comparisons. However, now 31 years old, Allman has realized that the music is in his blood, and he should just play what comes naturally.
Devon Allman has a voice reminiscent of his father, Gregg, and a guitar style that conjures images of a young Carlos Santana, yet he blends his influences, and impressive musical heritage into a style that is unique. In his new band, Honeytribe, and with their aptly titled debut record Torch, Devon is taking up the mantle of his forefathers and giving the name Allman a whole new meaning.
Just to get us started, could you talk us through how and where Honeytribe came about?
Devon: Honeytribe came about originally in the year 1999 as a group that would be something of a throwback band, attempting to re-visit the vibe and feel of classic blues-inspired rock music. Growing up on Santana, the Stones, the Doors, Allman Brothers, etc, it was a pretty natural road to want to walk down. We disbanded for a few years and came back together in 2005 to start Honeytribe's path as a career, making records and touring.
Where do you all come from musically within the band?
Musically I feel Honeytribe comes from the place that matters most, the heart. From the bluesy guitar, back beat feels and rhythms and soulful vocals; we've really tapped our sound from the source of what we grew up on and the type of music that makes us feel. It's not a cerebral approach at all. If the riff feels good, we work it. If the song can't be sung from a soulful place, we pitch it.
Is there a story behind the band’s name?
I was driving with my drummer, Marko, one day and we were trying to think of names. A big part of the Honeytribe sound is dynamics. We can be super smooth and delicate and also big, bad, and fierce. I told Marko that we really needed a name to reflect that dichotomy. First thing out of his mouth was "Honeytribe?", and I was like, "Yeah! Sweet like honey, fierce like a tribe, it's perfect!"
Obviously, I have to ask the inevitable. What was it like growing up with Gregg Allman as a father?
My parents divorced when I was an infant. I actually got to grow up in a very normal suburban American existence. I didn’t meet him until I was in my teens, but we formed a bond instantly. Luckily, I didn't have to grow up amidst the insanity that they went through. He is just one of many heroes of mine… those who sing and play from the heart. Those who overcome insane odds to still do what they love to do. He really lets me do my own thing with no meddling.
What effect did your family’s prestigious musical history have on you, musically? Did it spur you on or hinder you in anyway?
Musically I really found my own way in at age five listening to the Beatles and Kiss and kind of taking it from there later on to start to learn guitar. Later in life, meeting my Dad and getting to see what was involved definitely inspired me to get better at my craft so that I could have my shot.
Although there are moments on the record where you could cite the Allman Brothers as an influence, it is very much your own sound. How did you go about honing this sound and making sure that you stepped out from the shadows of your family’s legacy?
Once again it's a very natural approach. There was no making sure that it didn't or did sound like anything. The writing of the songs for this record was a totally organic flow. At the end of the day I'm really happy that the overall vibe, and tones of the record nod to the past while forging ahead into the future. Therefore it's a win/win situation for Honeytribe. I'm proud of my heritage, but also proud that Honeytribe can make a record or hit the stage and totally hold our own.