In the South, making a name as a rock and roll band can be difficult. Creating music in a conservative Mississippi town takes a group effort — a lot of group effort. From booking shows and promoting the event to mixing, mastering and producing albums, dedication to the craft is necessary for success — especially considering all of the sideways comments sure to arise from older generations about “that Devil Music.”
However, those same comments are what fueled Marshall McKellar and bandmates to name their dream rock and roll experiment The Devil Music Company.
“It made sense to call ourselves The Devil Music Co. because we wanted to make everything from hardcore, hip hop and folk to rock and roll, pop and the blues — basically everything we grew up hearing people say was ‘that devil music,’” McKellar said.
Comprised of five members — McKellar, Austin Byrd, Aaron Holmes Huff, Cameron Hernandez and Mannie Anderson — the Devil Music Co. write and perform music they like with no genre limitations.
“I think rock and roll, or punk rock, are sets of ideals rather than a type of sound — at least for us. At the end of the day, I’d love to be remembered as an American rock and roll band that operated with a punk spirit and played whatever the heck we wanted,” said McKellar.
“It’s like a bag of skittles,” Anderson, drummer, said laughing.
The Devil Music Co. was created when McKellar was creating his solo pop-punk album Toil & Learn with producer, sound engineer and friend Justin Kay in Nashville. After releasing his solo EP, McKellar began working on a full length folk record and decided to call musicians he had been sporadically playing with since high school.
“Slowly but surely a band took shape,” McKellar said. “We had a dream of making as much music as possible in as many genres as possible. We wanted to create a space where artists of any medium could freely contribute and collaborate.”
Although the Devil Music Co. makes regular appearances in Hattiesburg, Hernandez is the only actual resident of the city. Scattered across the state, the members of the group set a goal to meet once or twice a month for practices — and sometimes just because they miss each other. But with full-time jobs, college degrees to acquire and families to love and tend to, even that random meet-up is hard to nail down.
“It’s honestly a miracle that we’re able to play together at all, so it’s a super huge blessing for me that the guys sacrifice time out of their lives for this project,” McKellar said.
For these five guys, music isn’t a source of income but a way of life.
“Music is what makes me feel the most alive and also the most connected to other people,” McKellar said. “I often have a hard time communicating how I feel with words. Music helps me process myself and also become closer with other human beings. It’s the universal language. Perhaps that’s cliche to say, but it’s true.”
When you listen to any song on the Devil Music Co.’s most recent EP, Stay Alive, you can feel that passion in the band’s lyrics. The words are real, honest and hit you right in the feels. And next month you’ll have a chance to fully devour another new album — Find Yourself EP.
“The Find Yourself EP summarizes a period of rebuilding and redefining. Things die, but new things will always spring up from the ground,” McKellar explained.
Catch the Devil Music Co. at USM, SoPro Brewery and T-Bones in Hattiesburg this month.
April 8 — The Devil Music Co. @ The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg
April 9 — The Devil Music Co. @ Southern Prohibition Brewery for South City Records Festival, Hattiesburg
April 16 — The Devil Music Co. @ T-Bones Records & Cafe for Record Store Day, Hattiesburg
May 7 — The Devil Music Co. @ Lander’s Center for Mississippi Music Awards, Southaven, Miss.
Meet the Band:
Marshall McKellar | vocals/guitar
Cameron Hernandez | keyboard
Aaron Holmes Huff | support vocals/guitar
Austin Byrd | bass
Mannie Anderson | drums