Devin and the Dark Light
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Devin and the Dark Light

Orangeville, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE

Orangeville, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Rock Alternative




"New Album 'more straightforward'"

By Adam Martin-Robbins|Dec 10, 2009 - 1:48 PM|

New album ‘more straightforward’

LOVING THE MUSIC. Local indie band Devin & the Dark Light — Justin McDonald, Devin Hentsch, Justin Castator and Ian Lilley — have released a new album Loud to Live With. Contributed Photo
Local indie musician Devin Hentsch says his band’s latest release took a little more time and effort than the two previous discs.

“Loud to Live With took about two years to do,” he said. “We wanted to do it properly.”

Part of that time was spent assembling a group of musicians to record with, said Hentsch, whose first two efforts were largely solo projects.

“Over the last two years, I got a solid band together for this album,” said the 35-year-old. “I was looking for people I get along with more than anything.”

That band is comprised of Justin McDonald (drums, vocals), Ian Lilley (bass) and Justin Castator (keyboards). Hentsch handles guitar and vocal duties as well as playing piano, horns and organ on the disc.

Lilley, who hails from Collingwood, has fixed some of Hentsch’s equipment over the years and the two eventually became friends.

“He’s the only person I really asked to be in the band,” said Hentsch. “He learned to play bass for the band and became a great player.”

McDonald and Castator both have their own bands and knew Hentsch from the local music scene.

“Those guys said ‘I’d love to play in your band’,” he explained.

Hentsch says a lot of effort was also invested in learning to mix so he could put together the 12-track CD, which also features a video for Animals.

“I taught myself to mix and worked at it four or five hours a night after work,” said the Centre Dufferin District High School teacher.

A self-described control freak with a do-it-yourself punk rock aesthetic, Hentsch said it wasn’t just the music that took time to nail down.

“We spent a lot of time to get the art right for it,” he said, noting they enlisted a company from Portland, Oregon.

Hentsch grew up in Orangeville and now lives on a farm out near Hillsburgh. He started playing music at the age of 12, and although he took a few lessons, he says he primarily self-taught. He played in a band in high school and recorded songs while attending McMaster University in the early 1990s. Hentsch then spent some time travelling in Europe where he busked on the streets of Prague for three to four hours a day to earn money for food and accommodations.

After returning home, Hentsch played trumpet with The Haymakers — an eight-piece rock band, which stayed together for about three years. When that band split up about eight years ago, Hentsch went out on his own and recorded his first full-length disc.

“That album was just called Dark Light by Devin Hentsch,” he explained. “It became a project idea, a vehicle to have the music grow and it eventually became a band.”

A few years later, Hentsch released the follow up album Summer Vampire.

Songwriting has been an integral part of his life for a long time, he said.

“It’s something I need to do,” said Hentsch, who teaches English and guitar. “That’s how I unwind when I get home from work. … Melodies will come, I grab them … and write them down.”

He’s written enough tunes that he was able to put together a three-disc box set of 60 songs he recorded between 1993 and 2008 that didn’t make it onto an album.

“It was a bit intense but it was really, really worth it,” he said.

Stylistically, this latest effort is a bit of break with the past two discs, he said.

“It’s rock ‘n’ roll but it’s more like independent rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a bit varied. On the album there’s some folk elements … there’s some jazz elements to it as well,” said Hentsch. “It’s less experimental than my first one. The first album was a bit psychedelic, this one’s a bit more straightforward.”

The musical influences for this album are as varied as the music on it, said Hentsch noting they ranged from Arcade Fire and The Shins to artists like The Cars and Harry Nilsson.

“Really good 70s songwriters are pretty important to us,” he said.

The band held a concert to launch the new disc last weekend downstairs at Rebekah Sushi in Orangeville.

“It’s loud, but we work in a lot of dynamics,” said Hentsch of the band’s live act. “We’re into the whole loud, quiet thing.”

As with the album, Hentsch said the performance is carefully crafted and includes a variety of elements.

“We do set design when we do our shows,” he said, noting there was a giant light sculpture designed especially for the CD launch gig. “We try to make it a complete experience.”

The band intends on doing more shows starting in the New Year, likely in Toronto and Guelph, before hitting the festival circuit in the spring and summer, he said. Plans are also already in place for the next album, which they hope to record next fall. And it will no doubt feature something to set it apart from the current album.

“For every - The Orangeville Banner

"Summer Vampires LP"

Devin is a wordsmith who has a clever and amusing way of putting across a message. The arrangements are either impeccably thought out or randomly brilliant…There’s a little Roger Waters vs. Herman’s Hermits happening that I love…Very catchy and, I say, easy to love.

Lisa Watson
In the Hills, November 2007
- In the Hills


Dark Light - LP

Summer Vampires - LP

Dead Sense - 3 Disc Box Set

Loud to Live With - LP

Fake Spring - LP

The Shining Maze - LP... coming soon.



Devin and the Dark Light began as a solo project by Devin Hentsch that encompassed lo-fi folk, spacey country, emotional punk and Beach Boy pop/rock recording sensibilities.

Their self-titled seminal release in 2006 and sophomore release of Summer Vampires in the winter of 2007 echo their early and current influences:

Nick Drake, The Who, The Shins, The Cars, Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Wilco, Bob Dylan, Neutral Milk Hotel, Robin Hitchcock and Pink Floyd.

All share a similar heart with Devin and the Dark Light when it comes to capturing emotionally involved song-writing veiled in amusing and abstract lyrics.

Conceptually their music attempts to disrupt it’s own pop sensibilities by meshing tender moments of drone and twang with rise-above rock anthems. Not only does this idea wink at their Dark Light namesake, it is this same roller coaster of dynamics, the ebb and flow in their music and performance, that has resonated with audiences around Ontario and Quebec.

Band Members