The Devyl Nellys

After spending time behind the scenes writing hits for record labels like Interscope, Mercury, and Relentless, lead vocalist Nelly Levon couldn’t contain the funk any longer, and in 2011 struck out on her own to carve her own soulful path. Along the way, she met up with a host of like-minded artists, including guitarist/vocalist Max Feinstein, bassist/vocalist Ben Scott, keyboardist Will Kienzle, drummer John Roccessano and backing vocalist Aja Nisenson. Needless to say, The Devyl The Devyl Nellysa03c46_5189d91884ea4c1eb87a30d22d65a509Nellys were formed (and formed with an amazing collection of nicknames such as Bass Daddy Bean and Mother Ship). The Devyl Nellys released their first LP, Too Much Information a few years ago, but today we’re here to discuss the newest LP, Delicious Business including the latest single, “Funk is Free”.

Max told us about the work, stating “The Cosmic Accordion will be prominently featured in the hook.  Oh, and there’s a lot of bounce to it. We found ourselves often in the studio singing out and jamming out with a 1980s R&B pop bounce…We’re always interested in getting people moving, providing a place for our audiences to go and leave reality. Feel things the conventional life can’t make them feel.” Click to to check out Delicious Business – you’ll be dancing in front of the computer monitor in no time (imagine what a live show is like!). Get into the pop funk even further, by continuing to read the answers to the XXQs below.

XXQs: The Devyl Nellys (PEV): What kind of music were you all into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

Sparky Feinsteen aka Max Feinstein (SF): Early seasons of The Simpsons were a big deal to me because there is a diverse representation of themes and genres in Alf Clausen’s arrangements. Having a cool weird older sister and open minded but decidedly pop minded older parents I ended up being exposed to a lot of music.  I really liked a lot of what was on the radio in the 90s because it was kind of weird, but still polished and catchy even if you couldn’t figure out why.  My first concert was Joe Williams when I was in my third trimester.  I count it because my folks told me I was moving around so much that my mom’s belly was noticeably moving too.

PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene in your hometown, when you first started out as a band? What was your first show like together as a band?

SF: I kind of did my own thing for a while, so in a lot of ways I’ve just broken into that scene.  It feels good though!  Flecks of love, glory, comfort on the nose, and a finish of gratitude and cherries! Most of our friends were in music so it was like working with your friends, around at different locations, working and playing for a few bucks, chicken wings and PBRs.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Devyl Nellys show?

SF: They can expect to dance, they can expect to laugh, maybe pee their pants. They can expect us to grab them by the hips and shake ’em around until their problems fall out of their heads and they feel good about life and everyone around them.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

SF: I have the feeling that I left the stove on. The show is a spirit, a wave, a feeling. I start feeling the show when I wake up in the morning and it just keeps growing and growing. A good celebration that lasts the whole day and then we collapse by the last tune. And sleep well…

PEV: How has playing in The Devyl Nellys been different from working with other artists or projects in the past?

SF: It feels like TDNs codified a lot of things I was doing in the past and a lot of things I’d been thinking about and experimenting with.  And it feels like I’m using those powers for good. The energy and the family element is there. Its a Brotherhood and Sisterhood.

The Devyl Nellysa03c46_b337efdad1fa4389adf93249726b6a78PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music? Where do you get your best ideas for songs?

SF: Whatever makes me feel inspired.  Whatever feels like a good time too.  Usually I’m most confident in the ideas that make me laugh and feel clever…they kind of run away with me. Revelations and new curiosities account for our best song ideas.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

SF: Oh yeah. It’s like a schooling going from concept to concept and improving as a musician and a writer. It’s easy for me to look back and remember what was on my mind during about any point in my career. It’s probably still on my mind today. Toting an acoustic around, singing my confused head and heart out, in Brooklyn and Hoboken.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Devyl Nellys?

SF: The most common one for me is having the last name Feinstein while not actually being Jewish. We’re nerds and comedians.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, featuring “Funk Is Free” from your latest LP, Delicious Business?  Tell us about the writing process behind this work.

SF: The Cosmic Accordion will be prominently featured in the hook.  Oh, and there’s a lot of bounce to it. We found ourselves often in the studio singing out and jamming out with a 1980s R&B pop bounce…We’re always interested in getting people moving, providing a place for our audiences to go and leave reality. Feel things the conventional life can’t make them feel.

PEV: What is the feeling you get after a song or album is complete and you can sit back and listen to it in full?

SF: The process is exciting from start to finish for me, so being finished with it also makes me feel drained because I can finally let up. We live with the tunes, songs, concepts, melodies, lyrics, for so long. We live with them for a long time. I imagine its like having a child graduate high school or college. Hoping it will fly, fly for a long beautiful time.

PEV: What would you say is the biggest challenge for musicians trying to make a name for themselves these days?

SF: It can be hard to structure yourself and it can be hard to work with others or even ask for help sometimes.  I’m reflexively proud, and it can really get in my way sometimes.

Not filtering out enough of the noise. Its a careful balance between having laser focus, discipline, with an appreciation to be nimble when the opportunity is right.

The Devyl Nellysa03c46_c382ac0d94e54d04881ce331c4ac6dd4PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

SF: Colorado would be cool.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play in your hometown?

SF: Unconditional support.  I’m grateful that people I care about are willing to listen to what I’m up to.

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

SF: I’m an avid reader.  I’ve always got something primed on my Audible account. Reading…Listening to music…Rescuing animals and being caregivers to those who need.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?

SF: Present – Nile Rodgers.  Past – Les Paul.  The reason for both is the same; for the thrill and curiosity of it. I feel like I’d really learn a lot.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

SF: As a band we’ve been obsessing over Johnny Showcase for the last few months.  Will on keyboards got us into him and I can’t put it down. Ben and Nelly found Hannah and the Manimals which are a good time, cool and talented.

PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what do you think each of you would be doing for a career?

SF: Probably comedy.

PEV: So, what is next for The Devyl Nellys?

SF: Pouring out more original material. Kicking up the notches at our live shows. Expanding out our designs and creations of art – we draw, paint, design clothes. And getting land to take care of all our animals, in a sanctuary country environment.

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