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Mat Devine

Chicago’s own Kill Hannah is performing this Friday for the NIN after party at the Double Door, and whenever they play their hometown you can expect intensity. I chatted with lead singer Mat Devine while he worked on Kill Hannah’s fourth album at the Chicago Recording Company, which Devine proclaims is “by far going to be our biggest and most important record.” While smooth jazz played in the background, Mat and I talked about everything from the “new romantic” sound of Kill Hannah to where you can catch him dining and drinking in the city. 

by Wilson Standish of BoyKings.com

Wilson: How are you? 
Mat Devine: I’m good, I’m at the studio. 

W: What are you guys working on right now? 
Mat: We are finishing up this new record. 

W: Awesome, do you guys have a name for it yet? 
Mat: For the record? No, not officially. I’ve been calling it Antarctica, but that’s just a total first draft working title. It’s coming out through Universal, and it’s by far going to be our biggest, most important record. 

W: What do you like most about playing in Chicago? 
Mat: For us it’s the center of our world. The first six years we were a band we never toured. We only played in Chicago. So that established the blueprint for how we put on shows, first here then the rest of the world. We love the dedication of the fans in terms of their ferocity and intensity. It all started right here, so we choose our Chicago shows very carefully, we only do like two a year, because we want to maintain that level of energy and significance. 

W: Would you ever use the term “alternative rock and roll” to describe Kill Hannah? 
Mat: I guess so. I think everything is alternative, which is why that word is meaningless to me. The very first time an “alternative” radio station played Metallica and Gin Blossoms, I realized it’s just completely meaningless. I refer to us as modern rock, which is what all my favorite bands from the 80’s were. Or I just call ourselves New Romantic. A term I came up with, kinda borrowing from the way bands like Duran Duran used to be described. 

W: You said that the name “Kill Hannah” stands for an “experience people can relate to.” Can you say more about what that means to you? 
Mat: Oh, Hannah was my first girlfriend to mess me up. [laughs] The first time in my life I ever felt devastated by a chick, was this girl Hannah. I went home and wrote a song about it, which was very literal. And it was this song itself that started to define a new sound for me and the band then. It was a revenge fantasy…I just wanted people all over the world to wear t-shirts that said “Kill Hannah.” I couldn’t actually murder her…legally. 

W: What’s going on with your clothing company Chicago Suicide Club these days? 
Mat: We just downsized the clothing side of it because the event promotion and social networking side of the company are doing so well—it’s become a brand in the city that’s got a great reputation for being involved in the best parties in the city. The most inventive and original themes, and all the people who are involved are actual members of the club. Membership in the city is really high, and it’s all like-minded people. We throw a lot of great after parties for shows. When Marilyn Manson was in the city we threw an after party for him. And when 30 Seconds From Mars came through we hosted one for Jared Leto, and on and on and on. We’ve established a really cool niche for badass underground events. 

W: When you’re in Chicago what are your favorite places to eat, see shows and to party? 
Mat: That’s an interesting question, because we’re all so different. There’s a time when I hung out wherever our friends…we’ve just become friends with so many bartenders and owners, like Angels and Kings, Debonair Social Club or Sonotheque whenever Greg does his Dark Wave Disco. Those are places where we more typically party I guess you could say. But in terms of real parties it’s really Greg’s loft in Wicker Park, and they start at three in the morning and go to the next day. 

I’m a little different because I live in River North, and it reached a point for me a year ago where I enjoyed my solitude and I started becoming more of a recluse, and now I personally hang out at restaurants where I’m usually the youngest person by 40 years, and I love that. For a while my regular night was I’d go to the Pump Room or Gibson’s. Lately I’ve been hanging out at Tavern on Rush. I live very close to Rino; a lot of my friends run Rino and Manor. Sometimes when I work on music I don’t leave the house until one in the morning, and by that time my options are pretty limited. I usually get food at Bijan’s and then I’ll end up hanging in the kitchen with friends at Rino. There are a ton of incredible restaurants. I love David Burke’s and any of Donnie’s (local restaurateur Donnie Madia) restaurants like Avec or Blackbird—I like a lot. 

I really don’t go anywhere north of North Ave. anymore. I have a scooter, and it just reached a point where I was driving drunk on the scooter too much and it got too dangerous. I even put that away and now I just stick to places where I can walk to.  

Kill Hannah performs the Nine Inch Nails afterparty this Friday, May 29th at Double Door (1572 N Milwaukee)

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