Allman Talks About the True Soul of the South

Friday, May 11, 2012 13:12

An Interview with Devon Allman

by Casey Pukl

I’m pretty sure Devon Allman and I were at one point the same person in another life. It’s rare that I pick up the phone to interview someone and instantly find myself pouring out my heart about my favorite place to eat in Nashville, TN and what I think of co-writing. So truthfully, this interview has far less to do with music than usual, but it has everything to do with who Devon Allman is, what he’s all about (hint— barbeque may or may not be a key player), and just what we can expect to see from his latest project.

Did I mention he’s helping kick off my new favorite blog feature ever? You’ll have to read to the bottom to find out just what it is, but I’ll give you a hint— it’s DELICIOUS!

Royal Southern Brotherhood is the latest project that Allman (yes, son of the legendary Gregg Allman) has embarked on, and this one is not to be missed. The line-up itself should be enough to grab your attention. Think of this group as a supergroup of the swampy blues persuasion. Teaming up with Cyril Neville (yup, The Meters. Are you listening yet?), Mike Zito (winner of a 2010 Blues Music Award), Charlie Wooten (he jammed with the Woods Brothers), and drummer Yonrico Scott (heavy hitter from the Derek Trucks Band), the project just looks too good on paper to be true.

Yet Tuesday morning, the record dropped, and there I was hitting the gym rocking my face off to what I think might be in my top 5 albums of 2012. Did I mention that it’s only May? Can you tell how excited I am about this? DO I NEED TO START WRITING IN ALL CAPS? Let me just stop typing and let you dig into the interview to read for yourselves.

CP: I’m really looking forward to hearing about this new project because the album preview I saw on Youtube looks awesome, and I would love to just get right into it. How did you guys decide to start this band and start this project?

DA: My manager was sitting around and somebody said, “Why didn’t the Allmans and Nevilles ever do anything together?” He just kind of laughed and said, “They might not have back in the day but we could make it happen now.” That was pretty much the genesis of it. From there, it was like let’s see if we can write some songs and we wrote some really good songs. And then we were like, “Let’s see if we can actually jam,” and then, “Let’s see if we can go do shows,” and then thirteen months later, we had a record coming out.

CP: That’s awesome. It’s a pretty quick turn around too.

DA: Crazy quick, it’s pretty unbelievable.

CP: Tell me about the record. Did you guys start working together, and then just realize you had all these songs that could make a great record, or did you set out to make a record?

DA: I think we really took a methodical approach to ramping up this band. Obviously to a music lover, and even not just for musicians, an Allman and a Neville together looks great on paper. But you don’t know if you’re going to be able to write a tune together. It can look great all at once but if you can’t write songs together, you don’t gel, and then you have nothing. So we went methodical. We took it one phase at a time. We wrote, and then we rehearsed, and then we wrote more upon our first meeting. And then we were like, okay, let’s book a couple rookie shows, went and killed those, and then I was like alright, this is for real. It was kind of like going on a date with somebody that you’re interested in and you’re like, wow this one’s great, but let me check this out a few times. You know, you’ve got that cautious but optimistic attitude that you can’t just dive in here, you need to take it seriously and see how it plays out. The record came together very very quickly after taking that approach. It was like song after song after song because we had developed trust and we had developed something that had a lot of sync.

CP: Did you guys co-write the entire album? Or did you bring in some songs, and he brought some in, and you just kind of worked with that?

DA: It was a mixture of all of that. There’s a couple where the one of us brought in the tunes and the rest are all co-writes. It’s a very equal mix.

CP: Awesome. And what was that writing process like? I know you said you guys really developed a trust and clearly you worked well together. Was it kind of awkward at first? Was there ever that moment of like, “Oh, I don’t know how you work.”

DA:  [Laughs] Um, the first tune was crazy because Cyril, I hadn’t even met him and he sends me over some lyrics. And I pulled up the guitar, I wrote a couple things really quick, and it came together like in ten minutes. Then I emailed it right back to him and he was like, “Damn! That was fast and it was exactly what I pictured.” And I’m like, “Cool.” And that was the first time I knew we had something special where we were putting the song craft above any ego or any self-serving desire. It was like what can we create together, what’s bigger than us. It wasn’t awkward at all. After we wrote those first couple, we went down to New Orleans, got a studio, and we wrote the half record right there just there on the fly. Like, “Alright let’s jam,” or “Hey I got this one little part; let’s expand on it.” It was very organic, and it just flowed.

CP: That’s awesome. I feel like co-writing can either be a slam dunk or it can be this horrifically awkward experience.

DA: [Laughs] This was my first real co-write. And my first real co-write is with Cyril Neville!

CP: And it went well and smoothly! That’s the hardest part.

DA: I know! I was waiting on that email response and was like, “Oh yes he loves it, alright now we’re good.” It was amazing.

CP: Is there any one song on the record that was the most meaningful for you guys writing together, or is your personal favorite?

DA: I mean, I like them all. But I think the standouts are near the top of the disk. I think that “Fired Up” is a really cool song. Its got poetic Carlos Santana sounding guitar lines, altered up the tune, and I think Cyril just sings his nuts off. The next tune is called “Left My Heart inMemphis.” That’s one I just wrote by myself. It means a lot to me. It definitely got a lot of feeling and a lot of history intertwined into the vibe of that song. I think the whole record, and honestly I know it’s kind of cliché to say start to finish its great. But you know, we really went after making an album, not a couple hit songs and fillers. We’re in this craft.

CP: You can hear it in the previews and the little clips I’ve heard so far. I’m super, super excited to hear the show.

DA: You need to hear the whole record! This is a record where you need to slide it into the CD player of your car, be able to burn it and jam out with it.

CP: Love it. I just wish I drove more out here! When I lived in Nashville, I was in the car for an hour a day, and I kind of find myself missing that since I listened to so much music that way. But I can’t say that I’m complaining about San Diego; it’s a pretty rad place to end up.

DA: You lived in Nashville? I used to live in Bellevue with my dad for a while.  When the Allman Brothers reunited, he obviously was a part of that. He hadn’t owned a home in 5 years. He was fully in gypsy mode. He bought a house in Bellevue, and I went and lived with him for a year. It was a crazy, crazy year (laughs), but I actually love San Diego, like big time. I’ve been there so many times.

CP: Have you been to Anthology yet?

DA: No I haven’t. I’ve played at the House of Blues there. I’ve played at Humphreys, I’ve played 4th and B. But I’ve never played at this place, is it cool?

CP: Oh it’s awesome; it is such a unique venue. I’m still in awe when I see shows there which is kind of sad and I feel a little dorky for saying that. I’m so in love with this space it’s ridiculous. People come in and they’re dressed up and there’s upscale food and everything, but when the show starts people are getting down! It’s amazing. And the food is pretty ridiculously awesome. And that’s kind of hard to find on the road, I’m sure.

DA: Definitely. I’m from the South, originally from Texas; that whole southern-like soul food and Creole and all brings it out.

CP: That’s one thing that I miss about living in Tennessee, that barbeque is ridiculous

DA: That is the one thing about the west. You can find your frou-frou restaurants and they do a decent job. But when it comes to specialty foods, like soul food, like the Cajun and island inspired food, they don’t fucking get it.

CP: Yeah there’s something missing there. I could talk about food all day long.

DA: Don’t get me started. I love to cook, so that’s my whole other thing. Yeah, don’t get me started on that. 

CP: [Laughs] Actually, you know what we’re trying to do, and if you’re interested in this that would be really cool. Because we are a full service restaurant, we want to incorporate into some of the artist interviews if there’s any favorite dish that you like to cook that you’d like to share with our readers?

DA: I just put out my own brand of hot sauce. I cook my balls off. Like constantly. When I’m at home, I’m cookin’.

CP: Going back to your music, what are your future plans? I know you’ve got Honey Tribe, are you guys working on a new record? What’s kinda the status with your side projects and everything you have going on?

DA: We go in in August to make the third Honey Tribe record. So I’m looking forward to that. I think it’s going to be whole new chapter. Especially now that I’ve been in Royal and have been touring all year, I’ll kind of have that whole experience inside of me. I’m looking forward to it.

Special thanks to Devon not only for his time to chat, but also for kicking off our brand new blog feature— Artist Recipes! We have so many artists that share our love of food and cooking, that we thought it would be incredibly fun to have them share some of their favorites with our loyal readers! Check out Devon’s recipe for one of his home cooked favorites, and as always, you can grab tickets to the show and the preview link on Spotify at the end of the article!

Devon Allman’s Slammin’ Shrimp Tortellini Alfredo 

“This is a wonderful and very quick tasty dish. I serve this with garlic cheese bread and carrots cooked in butter and honey. Delish! Hope you like it.” Devon Allman


1 lb. peeled and deveined medium sized shrimp (unfrozen)
1 jar Paul Newman’s Alfredo sauce (hey all proceeds go to charity & it’s all natural!)
1 package of your favorite tortellini (I use the multi color Buitoni in the refrigerated section)
Couple gloves of garlic
Ground black pepper
2 tbsp Lemon juice
Olive oil

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins

Boil the water and cook the tortellini according to package directions. When there is 4 minutes left on tortellini cook time : Heat a skillet to medium heat with olive oil, once skillet and oil are hot, spread oil around and lay in your shrimp. Coat shrimp with generous amounts of pepper, add garlic amount to your liking and add the lemon juice. Cook shrimp 2 minutes and flip them all over. Cook other side of shrimp 2 mins more. Shrimp should be crunchy like a pickle when done.

Strain the pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Add the sauce straight from the bottle and add shrimp , mix it around and enjoy.

Royal Southern Brotherhood on Spotify

WHAT: Royal Southern Brotherhood
WHEN: Thursday, May 17, 7:00pm
TICKETS: $10-$39 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile