Scott Devours: From Here To The Who – Part 1
Drummer Scott Devours is currently on tour with The Who as they play sold out shows to huge audiences across Europe. A few weeks before he hopped on a plane to Dublin, we sat down for a very long conversation about his childhood, his various creative efforts, his role in supporting the local music scene, and how he came to play in one of the most iconic rock bands of all time.
Over the next several days, we will be presenting the entire interview in segments. This first segment focuses on his childhood, his move to California, the evolution of the underground music collective called The Space, and the rise and fall of Speaker, his first band to hit the big time.
Sander: Where did you grow up?
Scott: I was born in L.A., but moved away when I was four years old. I spent a year in Minnesota, and grew up in Maryland, believe it or not. A little, tiny town called Middletown, Maryland, and was there until I was like 24 or 25. Then I did the whole ‘I’m dissatisfied with my life, or my career or whatever.’ I never really jumped off the high dive. You can’t really connect with that many musicians in Middletown, Maryland , no offense to Middletown.
So I did the whole — I just drove my drums in the car. Just drive to the West Coast and lived out of my car. Sounds so funny and pathetic to me, now, because I would never do it again that poorly planned. But, you know, there’s actually a Dave Grohl quote that I just heard last week that’s brilliant. He said it in a movie, in “Sound City,” that documentary. He said like, “The unknown, when you’re older, frightens you, but the unknown, when you’re young and have nothing to lose, it just excites you.” You’ll dive into the most dire of circumstances, go on the road, no money, no way to get where you’re going, and I did that.
I crossed the country with my drums in the back of my Honda, and I didn’t have any money. All I had was a Chevron gas card. I didn’t even do the research. I didn’t even know if there were Chevrons across the country. So, I’m driving through somewhere like Texas and I need gas and I can’t find a Chevron station anywhere, and I’m like ‘Uh oh.’ I’d just be driving and driving until I found one, the gas down below the “e.”
Sander: Before you left, in Maryland, you were playing. So, how did you get started playing drums?
Scott: It sounds funny when I hear myself say it, but it was just from the time I was a little baby, and my mom tells the story because obviously I’m too young to remember all the details, but she said she sat me down in front of the stereo. She listened to old Motown stuff. I was maybe two or three, and she remembers me kind of rocking back and forth and playing drums on my chest. So she was like, “Oh, we should get him some drums. And they got me a pair of bongos. I don’t know what age, maybe three or four, something like that.
I played those, broke those. Then I got a Mickey Mouse drum set. Played the hell out of those. Broke those. Got a Snoopy drum set, same thing. Then I got my Ringo drum kit, which was actually a real drum kit, but it was an absolute piece of junk. I mean, it was tattered, the symbols were all bent, no peddles or anything. I had to play with my hands. I played that drum set for years. I didn’t even know you could use your feet for years. I was in bands and was hitting the kick with my hand. I must’ve looked like the little monkey-puppet you wind it and it has the cymbals that go ch ch. That’s how I played drums.
Sander: When did it actually dawn on you that there were pedals?
Scott: When I was 12. When I was 12 years old, my mom convinced my dad — my mom was the nurturing influence in my life. Not that my dad wasn’t, but he was much more, “You gotta have a career,” you know. He was the practical one. But my mom was always like “Be a drummer.” So, when I was 12 years old, she’s just wonderfully supportive, convinced my dad to get me my dream drum kit. This was the ‘70s, I want to say ‘76 or ‘77. So, that was the big KISS drum set, with the gigantic drums. I was a big KISS fan when I was a little kid.
So, on my twelfth birthday, this big van comes from the music store and knocks on the door, and he opens the van and there are all these big drums, and I freaked out. I couldn’t do anything except play drums every day, all day, as soon as I got home. I was just drum, drum, drum, drum, drum. It had a pedal. It had a high hat. I’m like, “Oh, what are these?” Instantly, I’m like, “Okay, it’s to learn,” and I played that drum kit forever.
Even before that, I think, when I was on that little Ringo kit, I had a really great — just to back up a little — it was a very poignant moment in my career. I was in forth grade, I think, and my music teacher, who I had a crush on, kept asking everybody, “Does anybody in the class play a musical instrument?” Nobody raised their hands and I was super shy. And she kept asking, so finally I was like “I sorta play the drums,” and she pulled me aside after class and she’s like, “You’re going to play your drums in front of the whole class.” And I’m like, “No way.” And she just kept saying, “No, you’ll be fine. You’re going to do this for me.”
So, I brought the drums in and I’m all “aghghgh!” You know, first time doing anything in front of anybody. And I had this nine minute instrumental song that must’ve just bored everybody to tears, but I was super proud that I could play it. No one had ever heard of it. It was like Edgar Winters, or something. And I played that song, and everyone was nice. They clapped. But I know now that they were just bored out of their minds because it was really long and really boring to everyone but me. Then the teacher pulled me aside, and said, “Do you know anything else?” And I really didn’t.
I didn’t have anything else prepared, but the Bee Gees were really big then, and that’s something my mom listened to constantly. It was on the stereo nonstop, which that’s like disco stuff, really basic stuff. And I was like, “I’m not going to play that stuff.” But she was like, “Do you know anything else, anything shorter?” I was like, “Well, I know that Bee Gees song.” She had the record. She’s like, “Play that.” So, she put on the Bee Gees, and I played my little disco beat and all the girls stood up and ran to the drum kit and screamed. And I just remember that moment, like hmmm, this is a good job. And it was that moment where I was like, “I know what I want to do.” Not because of the girls, but because of the excitement of like oooh, an audience liking what you do. And that has propelled me for 30-some years.
Scott: So, in Maryland, when you got your KISS set, how did you connect with bands? How did that come about?
Scott: Well, I would’ve been in middle school, and in these super- small schools there aren’t elaborate music programs. There was just orchestra/symphony music, which is really just orchestral instruments, no drum kit, no way to play that. No outlet for that.
My sister was in high school, and we fought all the time, and I used to sneak into high school, into her school, and peer into the jazz band because in the jazz band they were playing a drum kit. I didn’t know anything about jazz, but I just remember watching those drummers play jazz on a drum kit. I was like, “Wow.” So I just sat outside of those rooms and peered in the window and watched the drummers, who were my heroes back then. I realized the only way I was going to get to play a drum kit is if I play in the jazz band.
I, very early on, had a real trouble, a real hard time reading music, which is kind of embarrassing being a professional musician and admitting that, especially now. But I was just never able to read music very well. I could piece thing together, but I can’t just look at a sheet and go ba ba ba ba ba, like the greats can do. But a jazz band is all based on reading music. I had to find a way around that.
When I got a chance to audition for the jazz band, I wanted to do great. At that point, I was getting pretty proficient for a small-town guy on a drum kit, but I couldn’t read music, so my avenues were pretty limited, you know? So, I had to go in and audition and make it look like I could read music.
Very early on, I had to rely on my ear. I guess my best analogy is you know how they say if you lose one of your senses your other senses compensate? Like if you’re blind, your sense of smell is great, your sense of taste. That’s what I’ve heard, at least. Well, that was the closest analogy that I could give. I wasn’t very good at the music part of it, so I had to really refine my ear. I had to be able to listen to what they were doing.
I would listen outside that room. When he was rehearsing, I noticed that the band director would rehearse everyone in the band before the drums. So I would look at the page and listen to him go, “Alright, horns play this measure,” and I’d watch the paper and I’d hear them go ba do de da, and I’d go, “Oh, that’s where that is.” And I’d memorize what they played then just play what I wanted to play, too. And that has propelled me my entire career.
I walked into the jazz band and I didn’t even look at the music because I knew what they were going to play and I just rocked to it. And the band director loved me and I got first chair and I made all-state jazz band, whatever. It’s just high school stuff, but that was that confidence- builder when you’re coming up. When you’re a school student you don’t have a lot of social graces; a lot of social skills, but I knew how to play drums.
Sander: In your high school days, you didn’t hook up with any rock bands?
Scott: It started out as jazz. That’s where you knew — at least for me, that was the first way you knew you could play in front of people. If it’s a school-related thing, you played for the whole class; you played for your whole grade; you played for the whole school, sometimes. You played before basketball games, which there’s — I don’t want to say arena, but a huge basketball court; a thousand people, or whatever, which, when you’re 14-years old, that’s the Enormodome. That’s where your first sites are when you just want to play for people. So, once I started playing in jazz bands I was already playing in rocks bands, too. But you just kept your foot in closely; like cover bands, a few originals here and there. There were always bands. That’s all I ever did. That’s all I ever do now. Nothing’s changed.
Sander: After these formative years, and you were kind of fed up with the limitations of your environment, you came out to Southern California. Where did you land?
On the East Coast I was in original bands and we took them as far as they could go, within reason. We were the big fish in the little pond; sell out whatever venues we were playing, but they were limited venues or small clubs.
I did the domesticated thing, bought a house, had a decent job, whatever, made money, and I had my life dialed, so to speak, as far as like what my father would want me to do; what the typical parent would want you to do. I would just come home and do the occasional weekend gig. There was just no happiness, no passion, whatsoever. I had money. I had freedom, outside of work.
It just dawned on me that I’m not going to be able to go to my grave happy if I never tried; if I never dove into the deep end. So, that’s when I hopped in the car. And I actually didn’t move to Southern California first. I chose San Francisco first. I loved San Francisco. That was an eye-opening experience. That’s the first time I drove across country. I lived there. I was there for about a year, auditioned with every single band that ever put up an ad or something in the paper or something online. Things were online back then, ’93 was it?
I played with a lot of really talented musicians. And this isn’t a commentary on the Bay Area at all because there’s tons of fantastic bands from there, especially now, but I had trouble finding ones that were focused in that career path. Tons of talent. Absolutely no shortage of talent. I even played with Country artists and Metal artists, bands that sounded like Tool, which is not necessarily my forte.
That was my thing. I played with everybody because that’s the only way you’ll be certain that you’ve found the right people. Never write anything off until you’ve tried it, or until they’ve tried you. And I’m really glad I did that, although after a year, I just wasn’t in tune with their career path, not that some weren’t driven. They were driven in their own way. But I think they looked at success as, “Who cares?”
I wasn’t ashamed of my goal. I wanted to tour the world and I wanted to be successful and never work a job I didn’t like again. That requires a certain amount of success. It was almost embarrassing to have that motive or goal when I was in the Bay Area. It was almost like, “Ugh, it’s so LA to talk like that.” “Really? I’m from a small town, man. I don’t want to be poor anymore.”
After a year, I just never found the right opportunity. It certainly could’ve happened if I’d stayed longer, I could’ve found the greatest band, I don’t know, but when I hit that wall, right then my band that I left, the big-fish-in-a-little-pond band, were reuniting back east where I came from in Maryland, and they asked me to give it one more shot. I don’t want to negate that decision. I think I’m glad I gave it a shot or else I would’ve wondered. But I packed everything in my car, drove all the way back east, rehearsed one time and knew right then, big mistake. They were still weekend-kind of mentality. They didn’t have any desire to take it as far as it could go. And I just knew that I was way more focused on “down the line” than they were. They’d started having families, you know. Nothing wrong with that.
So, I was there for one day and I knew I wasn’t going to stay. After two weeks I was like, “I gotta get out’a here.” That was hard on our friendship to say, “Yeah, I’m going again,” you know. We even didn’t talk for a while because it was tough. But I wasn’t going to go back to San Francisco so I was like, “I’ll go to LA; the dreaded Los Angeles. If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.” I know that’s New York, but…And then I did the whole thing; threw everything in my car, drove to LA, and threw my drums in a storage facility, and lived in my CRX for two weeks. Sounds so dumb when I say it now.
Sander: It didn’t prove to be dumb.
Scott: Down the line. Right then, it didn’t seem smart. There’s not enough room to lay down in a Honda, not my Honda, there wasn’t. There must’ve been a million other smarter ways to do it, but that’s that Dave Grohl quote again; like the unknown was just so exciting I didn’t even think twice about doing it. I left on Christmas morning. There was two feet of snow and I lived up in the mountains when I came, and I left the deeds to my house on the table. I tried to give my house away to everyone I knew, like my friends, my sister, it was just up in the mountains, no one wanted it. Left the deed on the table, all my possessions in the house and just drove to California with my drums. So dumb.
Sander: So what happened when you got here?
Scott: Not a lot. I did the whole “Well, I’ll move to Hollywood. That’s where dreams…” You know. Of course, we all know — maybe in certain parts of Hollywood it’s a dream come true, but it’s pretty seedy where I could afford to live, really seedy. It was terrible. I think I was there two months when I auditioned for a Long Beach band, which is what got me here. No one’s going to know the band, but it’s a band called Speaker.
That was Matt Jacovides and Tom Gonzales. I auditioned with them. It was such a pivotal moment. It was such a volatile edge of everything. I auditioned with them, and they auditioned just unbelievably well.
That was the one ray of hope with the two months I was here where I didn’t have a job, didn’t have any money, but I was able to get this crap-hole apartment with these psychotic roommates, and it looked like nothing was panning out. I couldn’t even afford to live anymore. And the crime was really bad where I was living in Hollywood, and I auditioned with Speaker and we played one song together and, instantly, we all just looked at each other, “This is great.” We thought it was great. It just clicked. We liked the same music, we were all bitter about the music industry at the time. It was great.
This was in Long Beach. I didn’t even know what Long Beach was. But I had some time to kill and like five dollars to my name. So I went into Fern’s, and Jackie Hayden, [of House Of Hayden] she was the bartender there. I’ve told this story a bunch of times. It was my last five dollars, and even though the audition went really well, I didn’t see a way to stay. I couldn’t go back to that apartment, I’m broke, I didn’t have a job, I’m not sure I even had enough gas to get back up to Hollywood. That’s why I went and had a beer.
I sat at the bar, and Jackie was just the most wonderful person. She was so authentic and she talked to me. She was one of the first authentic people that I remember interacting with since I moved to the West Coast. I certainly didn’t get that vibe in Hollywood, at all. So, when I sat at the bar, I was literally thinking about hopping in my car, using my gas card to drive all the way back to Maryland. I didn’t have any other choice, really.
Jackie was so nice, and it was such a turn of events for me. I remember saying to myself, after I had that one beer, I was like, “Maybe I should give Long Beach a chance.” And Matt called me. He had come to my apartment in Hollywood and he saw how I was living. He was like, “You need to get out of here right now.” I mean, it was a bad, bad situation. So, he let me live on his floor here in Long Beach, on Obispo, surrounded by, I think, fourteen lesbians. It was a quadplex, and everybody was a lesbian except for him and I. Not that that’s anything, but I remember being like, “That’s interesting.” It’s so interesting for me to recall my small town family values. “Yeah, a house with 14 lesbians.” “What?” It was great to like blow their minds with that little tidbit.
Matt and I were close friends from that moment on. It’s not like we didn’t have all sorts of ups and downs. The Speaker thing had some really optimistic moments and good tours, but it never really took off. Of course, we would have loved it to. It was just kind of this dark horse, a write-off for the label, probably, more than anything else, which of all the things I’ve worked on creatively, that was the easiest. It just felt so good to interact with those guys and whoever had the best idea—It was kind of a Ringo line that he said about the Beatles. “Whoever had the best idea, that’s the idea we would use. Didn’t matter who had said it; could be the producer, could be whoever, could be the drummer, whatever.” That’s how I felt in that band. If I wrote something that sounded great, they’d say, great, let’s do it. No questions. And I haven’t had that as often as I would like since that experience, so that was life-changing for me, even though the career never… We never really got to do what we wanted.
Was Craig Roy in Speaker?
He played on the record. The previous name of Speaker was called Meat Nixon, and that was a four-piece. It was the guys in Speaker: Matt, Tom, and I, and Craig who played trumpet, rapped, and I think he just broke shit on stage. I think that’s pretty much all we would ever do. We would always break something. We played really hard. So Meat Nixon never really got to do anything, and Speaker became Speaker. It was just a three-piece. Then when we recorded, we needed a trumpet. Craig came in and did some awesome work, I think. Awesome work. So it was just a three-piece as Speaker.
Sander: Around that same time, there was the whole thing going on, it was known as The Space. You were involved in that, too, right?
Scott: Yeah. It was the brainchild, if you can call it that, of Brett Bixby, Jamie Christopherson; an old, dear friend. She was one of the roommates at Matt’s place, Nick Orlando, good friend of mine, and then the pieces kind of interchanged after that. Nick and Jamie eventually moved out of The Space and other members came in and stuff. We had a smaller space over by where Alex’s Bar is, in that building, until we got kicked out of that place.
The birth of The Space: Few people know or care about this, but that whole idea came out of frustration at Speaker’s career. We were on a basically a major label; Capricorn was with Universal, and they had at the time blown up and they were starting to make lots of money and they had some influence and major distribution. We were on that label, so we’d get really good tours, like 3-11., They were good tours to us, with big audiences.
We’d do these nation-wide tours then come home and we’d want to play somewhere and we couldn’t get a gig to save our lives. Nowhere. No one would book us. We tried all the clubs in LA and they were all pay-to-play. Back then it was “buy a bunch of tickets, you sell them, and that’s the only way you’ll get to play.”
I love this about Speaker, most specifically in Speaker, but some people had a real attitude about pay-to-play. We all did. All three of us did. But Tom, if you ever said, hinted at pay-to-play to him he would just get right in their face, like FU, buddy, you know? And it happened a bunch of times. Now I look back at that and I absolutely love it, but that actually really black-balled us. We couldn’t play, at that time it was the Coconut Teaser, Troubadour, name all the clubs, Roxy, Whiskey, everyplace. We couldn’t get a gig to save our lives.
We’d come off these big tours and couldn’t get a gig anywhere. And, in Long Beach, no one wanted us. We couldn’t play the Blue Café, we couldn’t play DiPiazza’s. I think, one time, we played there. Que Sera I think we did play. Benz, yeah, we loved her.
So, we got really frustrated. We’d play all these, to us, big stages, big venues, theatres, sometimes arenas, and we’d get used to the feel of audiences and nice stages and good sound, and then we’d come home and we’d have to wipe people’s asses to play shitholes. In no way am I calling any of the venues I just spoke of as shitholes. We were even being turned down by the shitholes. I won’t single out clubs, but…
So, we had this idea like, “Screw this. We need a place to rehearse anyway. We’ll just put on our own shows, and invite our friends.” That’s how it all started. We found that rehearsal space on Obispo and Anaheim. Sublime had a place in that building, too. They were right across the way from us. It was really a dilapidated, crappy warehouse but, you know, you get a bunch of artists, broke-ass artists and friends who have a vision but don’t have money and you get super creative.
We have all that space. We have all that time. We put a lot of love into that building. We quickly realized, at least for us and from our little perspective, we remember coming home and hearing all the musicians we knew locally talk about the Long Beach musicians, the Long Beach music community, but we weren’t very much connected to it at all. We were almost excommunicated from it. We wanted to be part of it, so I think we kind of headed up our version of that.
We thought of inviting as many bands as we were influenced by, we thought were talented, or as good as, or as big as, bringing them into our little, very little scene. At that point it was a tiny little building. And then we got this reputation. Bands would play. We’d even get calls from national artists asking if they could play. We had so many artist friends that they became small events, but still a thousand people.
To a little band like us, that’s way better than playing a little, tiny shithole, playing pay-to-play, and having your friends have to pay $20 a drink, you know? [Instead,] do an after-hours at your venue, go all night, make as much noise as you want, hang out with your friends, watch your friends play in your living room… Like, holy crap! Whenever I saw things that influenced me, I felt so lucky, like I wouldn’t have gotten to see this anywhere else. How can I see a band like Wash and Low-Fi Champion play in the same night? They just blew flames, just stage dived.
Sander: I remember the first time I walked into that larger room, the big one on the West Side. It was sort of like my head coming to a point. I was like, “What evil geniuses dreamt this brilliant nonsense up?” I mean, it was two full stages…
Scott: Three, actually.
Sander: That’s right! Three.
Scott: Four, if you count the one outside.
Sander: Right. But there was nobody within like ten miles of the place. It was completely isolated and cut-off from everything. It was just like this little island of beauty. I remember walking in and it was almost like they were pumping oxygen into the room. It was a packed house and people were just all smiling. It was such a beautiful thing.
I remember somebody saying to me, “Yeah, it’s like this all the time. This is like the scene.” I’m like, “Where have I been?” I was happy to have seen it in its full-flower, but at that point, I think it was sort of on the decline. I think because they were promoting some of the shows, the City became aware of it, and clamped down a little bit.
Scott: Yeah. It was a combination. That eventually had to happen, anyway. I mean, nobody unless you had the weight of that enormous building, to us, enormous building, because at that point no one had any serious money or anything like. We were dependent on twenty-some people on grouping their money together just to pay the monthly expenses; electric bills like $1,300 a month. That’s three times what the rent was at our old place. Generally speaking, we were just broke musicians. No one had some pot of gold we could just reach into to do whatever we wanted. Everything had to come from a creative angle. Everything came from a charitable angle. People put in time and energy, and people would come in who also didn’t have money, and be like, “You know what would look great on that wall? A mural of blah blah blah.” And we’d be like, “Go for it! Whatever! Who cares,” you know? Or someone would be getting rid of a couch. “Want this couch?” We ended up getting 30 different couches.
The old place on Anaheim and Obispo, where you had played, that actually got condemned, eventually. We got a notice to vacate. And that was heartbreaking because we were so proud of our little scene, and really, it was, comparatively, it was a little scene. We would be lucky to bring in 300 to 400 people. We thought we were the center of the world, artistically. I mean, if we got 30 people out to our show as a band, we were like, “Yes!” 400? I mean, we can’t even fit them into the room. So, when we lost that place we were heartbroken and I think we showed it.
We had to abandon everything. We pulled out all the stages and whatever we could pull off the walls. People came in and cut the murals that people had painted on the walls, broke and cut out dry wall so they could take pieces of art. I was blown away by that. I thought, “Wow, that art meant so much to somebody that they were willing to take the wall.”
Johnny Jones, who headed Dope America and many other things, he was helping us move out and I remember — It’s such a memorable moment for me — He and Matt could see on my face just how depressing it was, that we were losing our baby. We just kept saying to each other, “I guess this is it.” We were moving all that junk into storage. I lived there, so I lost my place to live. And he was like, “You need to talk to Deyo.” You know Deyo [Glines] from the Fuzz, National People’s Gang? An absolute hero of mine. I didn’t even know Deyo at the time, but I knew Johnny. I recorded with him. Best song on Dope America, in my opinion, on that CD.
So, I took Johnny’s advice. After moving all that stuff, I called him. I said, “Johnny told me to call.” He’s like, “Yeah, I wanted to just give you my two cents, here. What you guys were doing was really cool, but if you really want to take it to the next level, you can’t do it where you were, anyway. The City was going to eventually be all over you. You can’t get away with drawing people in that conspicuous location. You’ve got to go west of the 710. You could probably get away with murder over there. As a matter of fact, people do get away with murder over there.” That’s all he said.
Matt and I hopped in a car and went up and down every single street from PCH to Anaheim and, finally, the very last block, right before Wilmington, was Angel’s Strip Club. It was a shitty, terrible area. We didn’t care. We saw the sign on the building that said “available,” and it was The Space. Jamie, who I told you about, she was actually the one who could go look at it first, because I think we were all on tour, or something. She called me from the place. She was like, “Oh, my God, it’s got two fireplaces and six bathrooms and two garages…” She started naming everything, Central AC, and everything we couldn’t even imagine. It had a bathtub. We were just—I hadn’t even seen it and I was like, “Get it.”
We didn’t realize, at the time, that it was set for demolition. It had been vacant for ten years, I think they said, so the owner of the property who owned the steel mill, Tell Steel, he was going to—We found out later that it was set for demolition two months later. They were just going to level it, make a parking lot out of it. So, when we made an offer, we just low-balled him, because we were broke. I think they wanted $2,500 a month and we were like, “We’ll give you $1,500.” And they came back and said, “Sure, if you’ll sign a three-year lease.” And we were like, “They said yes.” And we signed, not knowing how much was involved in that monstrosity. That’s where it all started.
Sander: How did you connect with Johnny Jones?
Scott: Back when I first decided to stay in Long Beach, that was the beginning of Speaker/Meat Nixon, whatever—My introduction to the Long Beach scene completely outside of my little band was Johnny, who used to do those projector shows at what is now the Madison Steak House called the Vault bank building on Pine. Gorgeous building.
Well, Johnny did these — he’s a master of promotion — he did these beautiful posters. He would put all these local artists on the bill, mostly acoustic artists. And I went to that. They had security guards there, I don’t know why. There weren’t that many people there, but there was security working there because it was such an elaborate building. Zach Malner [of Thu Winners] gets up there and, while he’s on stage, one of the security guards walks by and Zach drops his pants and starts shaking his wiener at the guy. I’m in the audience just losing my mind, like, “What the hell?”
Both security guards come up and they try to grab him and, when they go to try to grab him — all the while, he’s singing in the microphone. Stopped playing the guitar completely, so he could shake his wiener in the audience—and when the security guards go to grab him, he puts his crotch closer to the security guards, and of course, they’re like—They don’t want to touch him. This goes on what seems like forever. That was my introduction to Johnny.
Johnny Jones, Zach from Thu Winners, all of those bands played in The Space and we started doing this a lot. But I just remember that moment, from Middletown, Maryland, Nowhereville, that moment where he was naked on stage, I thought, “How is that happening? That happens?” Maybe Woodstock, but it’s all a fantasy in your head, ancient footage of hippies, and here’s this guy that I thought was a genius already because of the way he played, and here he is dropping his pants on stage. Instantly, I thought I need to know these guys. I waited until he put his pants back on before I went up to him.
Sander: You played in Speaker but played in other local bands, too, didn’t you?
Scott: I played with, occasionally, or actually you could say “joined,” or been their drummer for a period of time. I was pretty big on dedication, like if I was in Speaker that was the priority over anything. But certainly, at our career, we had lulls, lots of lulls when we weren’t touring, lots of times when we had no work at all. From that time frame of when I moved to San Francisco when I auditioned with every band I could possibly get, I lost that bug. You give so much creative juice, especially when you’re younger and you’re super-eager, all you want to do is play constantly.
When you’re not getting to play the music you wrote or that you’re really proud of or with your band, I guess the one good thing about being a drummer — It’s kind of a drummer joke — There seems to be a lot a times when drummers are in need: ones that aren’t flakes, one that shows up, one that is at least a semblance of a professional, you know? No disrespect to drummers, in general. I love them. It’s just that’s where all the drummer jokes come from. They’re a select breed of a type of musician. No disrespect. I’m one of them.
It seemed like, every time I looked around, some drummer wasn’t there to fill their position or was working and couldn’t do the gig, and so my whole thing was if I had any passion for their music at all, the first question I would ask myself was do I think I can make that better. And if the answer was no, I would never approach them about playing. But if it was like, “They’re great. I wonder if I can make them any better or stronger or more powerful,” or whatever. And if the answer was yes, as soon as I heard that they didn’t have a drummer or couldn’t do a gig because their drummer was out or the drummer was out of the country, whatever, I would instantly be like, “Hey, if you ever need anything, hit me up.” I wouldn’t be disrespectful to their drummer at all, I hopefully wouldn’t be. But if they had a need, in a second I would—My whole thing with everybody was there’s always something to learn playing with Mention and Shave and Low-Fi Champ, God, so many. Jay Buchanan for a while. And every one of them taught me a ton. I mean, it was totally different; the way they wrote, the style of music, the way you need to kind of fit into their vibe. I was having to become a puzzle piece.
Sander: You played with Shave, too, didn’t you?
Scott: Yeah, I’ve recorded a lot with them recently, too. They’re my buds. Anything to help them. They’re royalty in my mind.
Sander: So, what happened with Speaker?
Speaker had pretty much just run-aground. We still had The Space. The Space kept me very much, like my hand on the pulse, I felt like I had my hand on the pulse of the local music scene, but I wasn’t much a part of it because we just weren’t playing anymore. I mean, every band has a beginning and an end. Speaker had kind of run aground. We lost our deal. We were done. At least on the national level, we were done. Financially, things were really terrible. Artistically, I was feeling down. You go back to the drawing board. I’d just crossed the country, I’d just signed my first national record, my first publishing deal, and all that was basically gone.
In the next installment, we will learn about Scott’s time in Oleander, IMA Robot, and how a one-off gig in a cover band got him an audition with Roger Daltry.
Read more: Scott Devours: From Here To The Who – Part 2.
Read more: Scott Devours: From Here To The Who – Part 3.
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