“I feel like the people who appreciate this for what it is will be the ones who love it as much as I do”
No Devotion have just released their long-awaited new album ‘No Oblivion’ via Velocity Records.
Seven years in the making, it is a record of immense depth, beauty and care created by a set of musicians dedicated to their craft. A set of songs that coat you like the darkness cover the land at the end of the day, it’s a masterstroke of melancholic songwriting from a band who are enjoying making music together in the way that every band should.
To find out a bit more about it, and what the band means to him in 2022, we sat down with vocalist Geoff Rickly…
How does it feel to finally have a second No Devotion project out in the world? It’s been a long time coming, but it must feel special to finally be able to share something so personal for so long?
“In the last few years of having this record ready to go, because it was ready just before the pandemic started, I have just fallen more and more in love with it. Having it as my personal record that I got to be a part of has been a special thing. So now, to release it, it is beautiful. It’s also something that means so much to me in it just existing that now it’s like, ‘Okay, this is kind of weird that other people will decide if they love it or now as well’. But even if it had always just stayed as something that only I heard, I would still love it as much as I do now. We knew that doing a record like this wouldn’t be an immediate smash hit in any way. We have made a dark, moody, intimate headphone record. The smallest and most personal thing that we could have done. But I feel like the people who appreciate this for what it is will be the ones who love it as much as I do.”
Looking back on the first album, it was clear just how much that record meant to the people involved. It was a big moment, but the world has carried on, and life around us has also carried on. Do you feel that the way things have settled into place, and with the people involved as well, has affected what sort of album it has ended up being?
“When we were considering things after ‘Permanence’, I didn’t know whether the other guys were really ready to be in a new band yet or not. I think it was a tough time for them. I think everybody needed to walk away a bit when things calmed down, and for some of them, it was a real reckoning that maybe they were at a different level than they thought they were at. It was a little bit different for me. I have been influential but never been famous, so I have never had to think about some things. I have been able to continue my life and career as a private person. So the band has felt different. I have been able to decide what I wanted to do with considering some other elements that others would have to.
“The only reason we really started making this album and working on the band again in the form it is now is because we realised we could do whatever we wanted with it. It can just be something completely new and different, and it can end up being some of the best music we have ever made in our lives. I think that many of the setbacks we have come up against have allowed us to rethink the paradigm of what this band is and what the cycle of a band is. We started having more conversations about what we want to do from an artistic standpoint.”
It shows within every element of this – the artwork, the visuals, even the length – that you have carved out a universe for the music to exist in and for yourselves too. It’s about creating a feeling and an atmosphere; when you succeed in that, that’s one of the most significant victories you can have…
“This is a record that we could only make at our age where we are now. It’s funny, when you’re younger public perception influences the way that you see your own work. At some point, hopefully, you get to the point where you are so sure of what you are trying to make and can see so clearly how far outside of the ‘mainstream’ it exists, and you can say, ‘This is a piece of work that I am proud of’. It has its own life, and it will still exist no matter what, and the things you have done in the past will also exist. Those are the artists that I have always admired. Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, people who are moving their music as they get older know that it doesn’t matter who is paying attention because they are being true to themselves. The transition is the hardest part of that, but once it’s been made, it makes things a lot easier.”
To even think of the next stage of what this could be following this album, does it give you clarity and balance for what the next five years could be for No Devotion, and yourself as well?
“This record is just the clearest representation of who I am as a person. I’ve been involved in hardcore and aggressive music my entire life, but I am much more of a dark room with headphone kind of guy. My first love with music was how it was a soothing thing that could take me into myself and wash my system with chemicals that made me feel better. I grew up on The Cure and Bauhaus and Joy Division, a lot of stuff that I love more than anything. Then with Thursday, we brought some of that sensibility into hardcore and, at the same time, made a bit of a blueprint for what modern emo is now, what with all of the contemporaries who came a few years after we broke out. That was my work, but a softer, more romantic sensibility informed it.
“So when you look at what No Devotion is now, it is a much purer facet of what we were doing then. This record is exactly who I am and who I have been and who I will be. There are many things that I have sacrificed in my life to be in the arts, and not just in the making of it. Being a part of the social environment that is art, and help and tutor people to feel like they are worthy and good in their own pursuits. That’s been my whole career, and it’s something that I want to continue. I just want to show bands have great they are, because when you’re starting out, you don’t always have someone there to say that. Having a strong mentor tells you that you aren’t crazy and that you should keep on pushing. My whole life has been art, and I want that to continue. If you do things with a pure enough heart, then it is never about what people think is good or bad. It’s about knowing how devoted to it you are, and how much that helps you to trust yourself.”
To still feel the love and resilience that allows you to want to keep on searching, keep on helping and keep on learning is such a special thing and shouldn’t be taken for granted. But without that love, then art is nothing, and to exhibit that via No Devotion makes it even more poignant…
“Working with Lee and Stu on this record, I just love making music with them. We have an intuitive bond when it comes to music. A lot of other creative situations I have been in become fruitful when the fight starts. But it is never that way with No Devotion. It’s all three of us going in the same direction and wanting the same things. We all know precisely what we want to do. Watching them create has just been a joy, and it is something that I will appreciate at every opportunity that we have.”