The Devil Makes Three

Pete Bernhard of The Devil Makes Three says that the trio has grown accustomed to its sound.

"We do anything we can within the parameters of being a string band without a drummer," Bernhard says. "I think working with a percussionist would take something away from what we have now."

When guitarists Bernhard and Cooper McBean and stand-up bassist Lucia Turino formed The Devil Makes Three, they worked with drummer Boaz Vilozny. Vilozny provided percussive sounds for the group using brushes and a small drum kit.

"He was more than a drummer," Bernhard says. "He was a talented singer and songwriter, and he brought a lot to the group. When he left, we couldn't find another who was a good fit. So we just didn't replace him."

The Devil Makes Three's sound is influenced by punk, hillbilly, bluegrass, blues, ragtime, country and gospel music.

"It's all true," Bernhard says. "Even though those influences sound mismatched. Especially with the way that Cooper plays guitar. He's really into alternative ragtime and country music."

Bernhard, McBean and Turino also bring an unrestrained style of playing to their shows. The three drive their three-part harmonies with rhythm, playing ragtime like its rock music and keeping dancers on their feet.

The Devil Makes Three will start its second national tour behind its new album, "Do Wrong Right," with a show Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Historic Ashland Armory.

"Do Wrong Right" was released in May on a Los Angeles-based recording label, Milan Records. The national distribution afforded by the label has generated interest in two earlier independent releases.

"It's been encouraging," Bernhard says. "The 2009 album is doing well. We've had a lot more support with a label."

Between the independent releases and the Milan releases — "Do Wrong Right" and a live album — The Devil Makes Three spent much of its time touring to get the attention of fans.

"We toured a ton," Bernhard says. "Our first recordings sold well. They were available in record stores between Seattle and Los Angeles and wherever we played. But now you can go into a any record store and get our recordings. With the label's help, we'll probably get a new album out sooner."

Folks can expect to hear new material along with songs from "Do Wrong Right" at the Ashland show. As the lead singer and main songwriter, Bernhard stays busy writing tunes for The Devil Makes Three and his solo work.

"I draw ideas for my songs from reading," Bernhard says. "Most of my songs are inspired by theology, old stories, nonfiction and biographies. Those are my favorites."

On "Do Wrong Right," the song "Johnson Family" is based on a book titled "You Can't Win" by a writer named Jack Black. Black wrote it in 1926, an autobiography of his days as a hobo and honorable outlaw. Another song, "Help Yourself," is Bernhard's interpretation of a story out of the Bible.

"I like to take subjects and ideas like those and bend them into three-minute songs that sound right for the band," Bernhard says. One of the songs on "Do Wrong Right," called "Working Man's Blues," was penned by Vilozny.

When The Devil Makes Three isn't touring the country, its members make their home in Davis, Calif., so that bassist Turino can study animal science at the University of California at Davis.

"I usually work on the solo thing when Devil Makes Three takes time off," Bernhard says. His solo album, "Straight Line," also came out this year on the Milan label.

"They're songs that Devil Makes Three would never do, but I didn't want to lose them," Bernhard says. "I had a bunch of songs that sound really good with drums. They're similar to Devil Makes Three material, but they're more rock and folk. I felt that the songs would work better with a different lineup, so I sort of rebuilt the original group by getting some friends together. 'Straight Line' was a fun record to make."

Justin Gordon and the Wrecking Ball, an Ashland-based acoustic, alternative music group, will open the Ashland show for The Devil Makes Three. Afterwards, the trio heads to Seattle and then to the East Coast for a loop around the country.

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