Taking equal parts R&B, soul, funk, electronica, indie and punk rock, Long Beach–based group Devil Season is an amalgam of influences and sounds that won't be stuffed into one genre box. “We have a soul influence, but there is no classification to our music,” says Devil Season vocalist/songwriter Nate Jackson, an Orange County native. “We like hip-hop, funk, R&B and even hardcore punk bands, like Bad Brains, that mix it all together.”
Devil Season initially began as a one-person project, according to Jackson, who doubles as the music editor of OC Weekly.
“I’m a bass player and for years I’ve been writing loops on bass mimicking sounds and creating mini tracks and writing lyrics,” Jackson says. “When I got the job as the OC Weekly music editor, I got immersed in writing and the music scene, but I wasn’t writing music, which was a huge part of my life."
Then in 2015, Jackson took the bass loops he had written and went into the studio with friend C-Gak, the drummer from Long Beach band RX Bandits. “I admired RX Bandits before I had known him, but having him play drums on these songs brought everything to a legit status,” Jackson says. The result of the studio time was the album, Going South, released by C-Gak’s Headphone Music Label.
“Once the record was done, I didn’t have a band together yet,” Jackson says. “Headphone Music Label released the album on vinyl and digitally, and it was a push that I needed to get this thing out where I needed a band.”
Jackson reconnected with musicians and friends he had known and played music with since high school, and Devil Season formed with Paul Beville (bass), Rick Atallah (drums) and Chris Walker (keys/drums/production). The band features no guitarist and uses half electronics and half live instruments when performing songs. “The drum pad is the fifth member of the band,” Beville says.
“With no guitar and all the bass and percussion, this band is a rhythm player's wet dream,” Walker says.
“I think we are like a mix of Prince and Daft Punk,” Atallah adds.
Jackson says he initially wrote his bass loops thinking about a guitarist for his songs. “But with Devil Season, the more we got into it, where would a guitar even go?” he says. “It’s then that I realized we have all we need with the drum pad and live music mixed with electronically recorded music.”
Devil Season have been performing throughout the O.C./L.A. area at various venues, clubs and dive bars, and they are forming a local fan base with a sound that is all their own. “We are filling a void, a gap, in this sort of genre cluster that no one else is doing,” Jackson says. “We are going to just keep at it, and try to focus on the hometown crowd right now.”
Devil Season have performed in many such local places, such as Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, and even big-name venues like the Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, House of Blues in Anaheim and the Troubadour in West Hollywood.
The band’s next show is July 6 opening for Long Beach rocker Chief Lightning Thief. Devil Season also have a show booked for Aug. 11, at the Broken Drum Circle in Long Beach, as well as Aug. 26, where the band will take part in the free Happy Sundays Long Beach Music Festival.
Devil Season also just released a new song digitally on Spotify and YouTube, called "Ruined," which according to Jackson is the first song written as a cohesive band, as opposed to the songs from Going South.
Jackson says he respects and admires the greats from the OC punk and hardcore scene, and with Devil Season, he takes some of that DIY attitude and aesthetic to go along with the music the band creates. “I really respect those bands as a native from O.C., whether it’s The Adolescents or Social Distortion and so many more, whether it's a style of music I play or not, I grew up with those bands,” Jackson says.
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“But with Devil Season, we are doing our thing and making our sound bringing that vibe and mentality of punk rock translated through a different sound. It’s all about doing what you want to do with music — that is what Long Beach is all about.”
Jackson has high hopes for Devil Season and said the focus is on growing the band’s fan base. “A lot of people connect with our songs on an emotional level even if they aren’t into this genre,” Jackson says. “I hope they will like our new music because so far we have gotten good reception. People know lyrics to our songs at our shows.”
Jackson’s hopes are to take Devil Season on the road, first perhaps throughout the Southern California region, then throughout the state to perform for different crowds. “I think this project has the ability to go far. We are pushing ourselves and making great songs — that's what you need, regardless of genre.”