ESP Player Devin Holt (Pallbearer) on Playing Live

Devin Holt of Pallbearer. Photo by Johnny Hubbard.

We seem to catch Devin Holt when he’s driving places. It’s no surprise for this busy guitarist of doom metal band Pallbearer, who came out with their third album Heartless earlier this year and have been nearly constantly touring since then. We wanted to get Devin’s take on the challenges of touring for live shows.

Devin, how’s it going? What are you up to?
Oh, I’m doing fine. I’m driving through the Mojave desert right now.

The new Pallbearer album Heartless is excellent. Has the reaction from your fans met your expectations?
Absolutely, man. We spent a long time working on it and honing in. Outside of all the anxiety and pressure building up to its release, we pulled it off, I think. And we’re excited it’s out.

You recently came back from a series of live shows, right?
It was two weeks ago. I’ve been spending some time at home with family and my dog, and then we’re right back at it again.

Your last shows were down in New Zealand and Australia. A lot of American bands, even if they go outside the USA, never manage to get to that area of the world. How was the metal scene there?
To be honest with you, it might be my favorite place to tour. It’s exhausting, just dealing with the geography, which makes it necessary to fly in to every show. But once you get there, the people are so enthusiastic and excited to see you perform. One of our stops was in Perth, and the people were so into the music and non-jaded. It was great.

Pallbearer is about to start a huge US tour. What does a guitarist like you do to prepare for a tour?
When we’re touring so much, it’s important to get rest when we get home. You need to mentally prepare so you're in a good spot to stay well and be heathy, and get along with everybody.

What are the biggest challenges in a band while being on tour?
Staying healthy. Making sure you’re eating alright. Trying to avoid being ill. Being sick on the word is my least favorite thing ever.

How do you avoid that?
You have to pace yourself, and know your own limitations. Doing that makes it easier for us to play better shows. Sometimes you go to a new city and you want to stay up late, and go places, see other bands and so on. It’s smarter to get enough sleep and to get a nice meal.

How about touring with your guitar? Any specific considerations?
I try to keep an eye on where my strings are. I don’t like to play with brand new strings, but I want them to be fresh enough to get what I want out of them. Most things are pretty simple. I’ve learned to wipe my guitar and strings down after I’m done with a show. It’s a quick way to keep things in good shape. Little stuff like that goes a long way.

You've got some shows coming up with Gojira, and you also have other bands with you on the upcoming tour. Do you have a chance to hang with people in other bands on a tour?
It really depends on the context of the tour, and the personalities of the bands. Sometimes you do tours with bands who are already friends of yours. Our last tour with Gatekeeper and Inter Arma was like that, where we all were together and joking around and whatever. Other times, everyone’s cool but some people are quiet and keep to themselves. Sometimes it takes some time to warm up to people. Other times you meet someone on day one, and you’re already hanging out and having a good time.

When we last spoke, you’d been playing an LTD V-401B baritone. Is that still your main touring axe?
No, man. I decided to switch to seven-string guitars. I’m actually playing the signature model from the Whitechapel guy, the AW-7B.

Oh, the Alex Wade model. That’s a killer guitar.
It’s a fucking awesome guitar. I’m not really familiar with the band or their music, but he designed a killer guitar. It was the first seven string I’ve ever had. One thing I like about it is that it has a 26.5” scale rather than 27” like a typical baritone, and I find it to be a little more comfortable as a result.

Devin is playing the LTD AW-7B on this tour. It's a 7-string, 26.5" scale baritone designed by Alex Wade of Whitechapel.

Last question: do you ever feel confined by the genre you’re in? Have you done all the exploration of doom metal that a band can do?
As a genre, I feel like doom metal was our original basis. You begin working in a band, and then you use learn to develop a language among yourselves. As time goes by, you have subtle things that come up and you start forming your own sound. At this point in time, I’d say we’re not drawing from doom metal as much, but we’re flowering as a band. We’re not trying to sound like any one type of music or genre. There’s been more of a progressive strain that’s also emerging. We like to think of our music as its own thing, rather than an example of a specific genre.

Catch Pallbearer on their upcoming US and Europe tour dates. Check the band's web site for the most updated show and ticket info.

August 1 - Santa Cruz CA - The Catalyst Club
August 2 - Ventura CA - The Majestic Ventura Theater
August 5 - Anaheim CA - House of Blues Anaheim
August 6 - Las Vegas NV - Backstage Bar & Billiards
August 8 - Boise ID - Knitting Factory [Boise]
August 10 - Spokane WA - Knitting Factory [Spokane]
August 11 - Calgary AB - MacEwan Hall
August 12 - Saskatoon SB - O'Brians Event Centre
August 13 - Edmonton AB - The Brixx Bar & Grill
August 15 - Vancouver BC - The Cobalt
August 16 - Seattle WA - The Crocodile
August 17 - Portland OR - Bossanova Ballroom
August 19 - Missoula MT - The Top Hat
August 20 - Billings MT - The Pub Station
August 22 - Regina SK - The Exchange
August 23 - Winnipeg MB - The Good Will - Social Club
August 24 - Fargo ND - The Aquarium
August 25 - Iowa City IA - Blue Moose Tap House
August 26 - Dekalb IL - The House Cafe
August 27 - Milwaukee WI - Cactus Club
August 29 - Detroit MI - El Club
August 30 - Toronto ON - Lee’s Palace
August 31 - Ottawa ON - The Brass Monkey
September 1 - Quebec City QC - Bar L'Anti
September 2 - Montreal QC - Bar Le Ritz PDB
September 5 - Boston MA - Brighton Music Hall
September 6 - Baltimore MD - Metro Gallery
September 8 - Atlanta GA - The Masquerade
September 9 - Knoxville TN - The International - Knoxville

September 27 - Esch-sur-Alzette, LU - Kulturfabrik
September 28 - Herford, DE - Club X
September 29 - Copenhagen, DK - Pumpehuset
September 30 - Gothenburg SE - Sticky Fingers
October 1 - Oslo, NO - John Dee
October 3 - Helsinki, FI - Nosturi
October 5 - Uppsala SE - Katalin
October 6 - Karlstad SE - Nojesfabriken
October 7 - Aarhus, DK - Vauxhall
October 9 - Krakow PL - Kwadrat
October 10 - Brno, CZ - Fleda
October 11 - Bratislava, SK - Randal
October 13 - Belgrade, RS - Dom Omladine
October 14 - Zagreb, HR - Boogaloo
October 15 - Budapest, HU - Dürer Kern
October 16 - Vienna AT - Simm City
October 18 - Nuremburg, DE - Hirsch
October 19 - Frankfurt, DE - Batschkapp
October 20 - Saarbrucken, DE - Garage
October 21 - Geneva, CH - L’Usine
October 23 - Barcelona ES - Razzmatazz
October 24 - Madrid ES - But
October 25 - Bilbao ES - Santana 27
October 27 - Grenoble FR - La Belle Electrique
October 28 - Fontaneto D'agogna, IT - Phenomenon
October 29 - Munich, DE - Theaterfabrik
October 30 - Pratteln, CH - Konzertfabrik
October 31 - Paris FR - Le Trabendo
November 3 - London, UK - Electric Ballroom
November 4 - Leeds, UK - Damnation Festival
November 6 - Utrecht, NL - Pandora
November 7 - Tilburg, NL - 013
November 8 - Cologne, DE - Live Music Hall
November 9 - Berlin, DE - Columbiahalle