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Devilskin – roast chicken for the soul. Lisa Scott talks to bassist Paul Martin before the red-bearded rockers’ Oamaru gig next month.

A man who once said he’d be a sociopath if he wasn’t a musician, Paul “Axeman” Martin has been in bands since forever, but finally found musical nirvana with Devilskin.

In a reversal of (good) fortune, the Hamilton-based hard rocker’s home audience will now get to enjoy them first, after a planned international tour got Covided and they decided to embark on a New Zealand-wide tour to support the launch of their chart-topping new album RED.

Oamaru, “the hospitality centre of the South Island” according to Martin, is a special place the band can’t wait to revisit.

“We have friends there now and we’ve missed everyone so much – we just can’t wait to catch up and party,” he said.

Formed in 2010, the band writes music together.

“Jennie [Skulander] and I do the lyrics and we both have our own ways of writing,” Martin said.

Devilskin isn’t afraid to be confronting. Take the song Endo, for example.

“We’d been playing the song for years before we had this title, Jennie drawing on her own experience with endometritis, and since then we’ve talked with so many women about their own struggles,” he said.

Sweet Release is about the suicide of a friend, and the band has just finished putting the finishing touches to a soon-to-be-released video.

“There’s a lot on this album [RED] that means much to us.

“Emotional, cathartic, we climb into the songs and take inspiration from real life. Our audience are pretty clued up, not afraid to confront their feelings.”

With an unusually wide demographic – mums, dads, those in their 60s and 70s, and youngies – they’re also musical big brothers. Devilskin took Alien Weaponry on the road when its members were only 11 or 12. They love being able to give other bands a hand up – “we’re all in the same boat”, Martin said.

On this New Zealand tour, they share the bill with Shepherds Reign, an all-Samoan hard rock band.

If Devilskin was a meal, what would it be? I ask, thinking the answer would be something involving chilli. But Martin said they’d be a good, old-fashioned roast chicken with all the trimmings – abig family meal.

“People always think Nail and I are brothers due to the red beards, which started as a tribute to Dimebag Darryl, of Panterra, and kind of stuck. In fact, Nic’s my son and Jennie’s my sister-in-law,” he said.

On stage, the band lives for absorbing the energy of the crowd and reflecting it back.

“We want people to have a great time, forget everything for a while and get back to music – find solace, take a deep breath and then make a hell of a lot of noise while enjoying the privilege New Zealanders have right now of being able to come together for a live show that’s pretty full-on.

“We don’t hold anything back and our stage and lighting rig are huge. We’re after a symbiosis between the band and the audience, a flow of energy. I’m feeling confident we’ll have an amazing night.”

WIN TICKETS

The Oamaru Mail has two double passes to give away to Devilskin’s show at the Oamaru Club on September 4. To go in the draw, email your name and phone number to rebecca.ryan@oamarumail.co.nz, with the subject line “Devilskin”, by noon on August 21.