Rewind to late 2017, when we first discovered the music of Black Suit Devil, a Toronto based acoustic soul ensemble who had just released their “The Freedom Sessions” album. Led by singer-songwriter Andy Du Rego, this incredibly diverse and well-polished album continues to earn repeated plays in our household, and was a new release that I was definitely happy to review here at GDW.
Fast forward back to the present day, and Black Suit Devil have not rested on their laurels. With the recent announcement of a brand new album currently in the works, Du Rego also added that the first single (and title track), “A Matter Of Time,” shall be released on April 25th. “I’m really excited for this one … [it’s] very Tom Waits,” he shares. “I really pushed to raise the bar from the last record.”
Spinning the single for the first time, I stopped dead in my tracks. Triggering those endorphins that were tantalized last time around, “A Matter Of Time” brought on an all-out assault of goosebumps just a few seconds into the song. And while any new music from Black Suit Devil will earn your attention quickly, those familiar with the atmospheric and slow, melodic folk-rock may be caught off guard here. Opening with a 35 second burst of horns and a great up-tempo soul vibe, it is only upon hearing Du Rego’s gravelly vocals that the listener no longer needs to check for confirmation that they are indeed listening to music from Black Suit Devil.
The content and style is true Du Rego, weaving his trademark observations and social commentary into this 3:52 single. Yes, you read that correctly. Clocking in at under 4 minutes in length, this reflects another significant shift from the epic track lengths we duly noted on “The Freedom Sessions;” although the run time is the only element condensed here for our listening pleasures. As for the lyrics, the groove, and the musical delivery, Du Rego is clearly incredibly confident in raising his game, and I for one cannot wait to hear all of his new music once the album is finalized.
We caught up with Andy Du Rego at a Black Suit Devil show this past weekend, and are grateful that he kindly took some time to discuss both the upcoming single and album with us.
We’ve enjoyed “The Freedom Sessions” immensely since the release in 2017. You are now wrapping up work on your sophomore album. How excited are you about sharing this new material?
Really excited! This one means the world to me! I think this is by far the best set of songs that I’ve written over the years, and I’ve gained my confidence as a singer-songwriter. The main theme of this one is to [add] influences that I grew up with over the years into “A Matter Of Time,” as I wanted to open up and not limit myself to just one genre. So yes, it’s one that I hold in a high regard, and I’m really excited about it.
The first single, “A Matter Of Time” is set for release on April 25th. This track demonstrates a slight change in direction from your past works. What can you tell us about the new single, and the inspiration for this sound?
This song in particular I wrote as I was recording “The Freedom Sessions,” [and] at the time I drew inspiration from two sources. I was watching a lot of documentaries about corporate greed and the injustice around the world, so I drew lyrically from that. And then, I got into a gentleman who was introduced to me, [and] now I hold him in a huge regard, Mr. Tom Waits. I was listening to a lot of Tom Waits at the time and tried to experiment a little and do something different, so was definitely inspired by some of his early music.
The horns and up-tempo introduction is amazing. How did you envision adding such instrumentation into your repertoire?
As I was playing along, I have this tendency [that] when I’m writing a riff, my mind immediately goes into outer space, and I start hearing all these segments. I know what I want to do, and then think of the artists from along my journeys and bring them into the fold, telling them in advance not exactly what to play, but of an idea I’m hearing in my head, and then have them come in and leave everything open for them to interpret in their own ways. I definitely heard the horn section straight away, and I knew I wanted to work with a brass band, so it was a change of pace for me. I actually dropped instruments that were to be on the record, as they no longer fit the direction of the song, hence the violin has gone from this first single.
I’m sure that many more boundaries shall be pushed with your new music. Without giving too much information away before the release of the new album, is there a particular element of this one that stands out for you?
Adding the electric guitar stands out. I’ve always been an electric guitar player, although I don’t play it myself on the record. I’ve introduced two individuals, Nelson Sobral, and Chris Staig, who plays on the first record, I bought them both in to do some electric guitar work and they knocked it out of the park. One of the tracks that Nelson’s on, “Firefly,” which will be the second single set for around July, has a very early Joe Cocker or Rolling Stones feel, with high energy guitar and classic rock feel; and then Chris, he brings an amazing Neil Young & Crazy Horse vibe to one of my songs. And adding the horns, and such, and expanding a bit on my previous sounds, really helps make each song stand out on their own.
You mentioned during your set tonight that you once played electric guitar in heavy metal bands early on in your musical past. How did those experiences inform and shape what you are doing now?
It gives me a different perspective, that I’m able to do a folk vibe with a bit of a twist. It keeps me in this oddball situation where I’ll apply to a folk festival, and they’re like, ‘well he’s not exactly folk.’ But it gives me a different viewpoint of music and to approach music of the past and give it a new twist. I have about three albums worth of material that I’m working on that will dig even deeper into my past and kind of mesh the two, and evolve Black Suit Devil into a different entity. It might alienate some fans, but I hope they all choose to grow with me. Not that I’d do everything electrically, I just want to be able to make a record with it’s own unique sound.
I’m not going to ask if you plan to tour with the new album once released, given that you are a true road warrior, always performing around the GTA. Any big plans to coincide with the new release as far as travelling?
The biggest change is going to be a lot more band-oriented shows. I’m planning to put together about a four-piece band to try and expand, and bring a closer representation of the albums to the live front, especially on the festival circuit. There will be a lot of touring coming up, as I want to break new ground with this one. I plan to take this one to Europe next year, and hopefully break new ground going coast to coast in Canada and, hopefully, the US next year.