The devils you should know

17:00, Jul 30 2014
Devilskin, from left, Paul Martin, Jennie Skulander Nick Martin and Nail.
Satanic verses: Devilskin, from left, Paul Martin, Jennie Skulander Nick Martin and Nail.

For the second week in a row, rockers Devilskin, who play Wellington on Saturday, have the country's No 1-selling album. Mike Mather and Steve Scott discover that the band have even bigger goals. 

As album titles go, rock band Devilskin's debut release, We Rise, certainly proved prophetic. Released on July 11, the 14-track album was immediately elevated straight to the top of the charts, selling record numbers in its first week.

Holding the top spot again this week, Devilskin now sit ahead of international superstars Ed Sheeran (2), Sam Smith (3) and Disney's Frozen soundtrack (4) - a great feat for the band and a substantial coup for an independently-released and distributed recording.

At some stores like Hamilton's JB Hi-Fi, pre-sales of We Rise outpaced previous record-setters such as One Direction.

But conquering the charts is just the first step in Devilskin's plans for world domination, says vocalist Jennie Skulander.

"We are already trying to get international recognition. After we finish our New Zealand tour we are lining up some Aussie gigs, and are looking towards breaking into the United Kingdom, Japan and the [United] States."


The four-piece metal group formed in June 2010 and in the ensuing four years have gained a solid reputation with fans thanks to their intense, sonically-empowered sets.

Having amassed more than 450,000 hits on YouTube, the buzz surrounding the band is growing by the day, thanks to the popularity of singles Little Pills, Never See the Light and Start a Revolution.

Devilskin have just embarked on a nationwide tour, which includes Masterton, Palmerston North, Wellington and New Plymouth.

The group could be described as a heavy rock all-stars ensemble. Skulander, who is increasingly being hailed as one of the best female vocalists in the country, is already well-known in music circles as the face and voice of her earlier band, the Rotorua-based Slipping Tongue.

Another member with a high profile is bassist Paul Martin, who is perhaps better known as The Axeman, the host of the Axe Attack show on The Rock radio station. His son, Nick, plays drums in the band and completing the lineup is lead guitarist Nail, known to his mother as Tony Vincent.

Nail is also a familiar face to Hamilton audiences, having played in the popular band Chuganaut, who won the New Zealand Battle of the Bands and the World Battle Of The Bands in 2004, played the Big Day Out in 2005 and opened for Iron Maiden at Auckland's Mt Smart stadium in 2009.

After four years playing together, Devilskin is becoming family, Skulander says.

"I've known Nail for close to 10 years now, from the days when Slipping Tongue played alongside them in Hamilton. It's kind of the same with Paul. My partner is the brother of Paul's wife. And Paul has known Nail for so long as well - he says Nail is his evil twin brother."

In 2003, Skulander sent a demo tape to Martin in the hope he would play it on his show.

"The song was called Hypocrite and it was a crappy little demo but Jennie's voice was amazing, it gave me chills and goosebumps, I knew she had the X factor," Martin says.

"When I heard that Jennie wasn't in a band any more or doing anything musically, I was hard out in stalk mode to chase her down to get her back into music." Nail also helped pin her down.

"When she saw how serious Nail and I were, and our history, she was into it and there's been no looking back."

Having his son in the group is no obstacle, Martin says.

"Nick is 18 now and he joined the band when he was 15. We replaced a 50-year-old drummer with a 15-year-old drummer.

"The pressure was on from day one but Nick stepped up really well. He is an incredible musician and I couldn't be more proud of him."

Championing heavy metal for more than 30 years, Martin says he is fairly happy with its present state. "There are some incredible musicians around Hamilton but the scene hasn't really got any better.

"Hard rock and heavy metal music still doesn't get a fair shake in this country, but having said that, Devilskin is making an exception. We are all really surprised how much it has taken off and how well people are embracing us."


Devilskin play King Street Live, Masterton, tonight; The Royal, Palmerston North, tomorrow; James Cabaret, Wellington, on Saturday and The Mayfair, New Plymouth, on August 9 as part of their national tour. 

The Dominion Post