Toronto Maple Leafs centre Boyd Devereaux will never lead the National Hockey League in scoring, but there's a good chance that he's at the head of the pack when it comes to music knowledge. And now he's using it in a business venture called Elevation Recordings that will bring you a Blood Meridian EP on Nov. 20.
Devereaux and former Dirtbombs member and current Warner record executive and artist manager Joe Greenwald met at a concert in Detroit when the 29-year-old forward was playing with the Red Wings. They hit it off and kept in touch and, when Greenwald wanted to start a new boutique label, he asked Devereaux to be involved.
"It was a great opportunity for me because Joe's been there and done that and had everything pretty much teed up," says Devereaux. "He had a lot of experience, which left me to do a lot of the fun stuff as far as talking about bands we might reach out to."
That led to the creation of Elevation, which bills itself on its website as "a new psyche/nopise/freakout/pop/heavy label dedicated to nothing more than the love of this kind of music." OK, maybe spelling isn't their strong suit. And they don't like dealing with big numbers either, as their first three releases are all being limited to 2,000 copies, with no more to be reprinted if they sell out.
Elevation is distributed in Canada by Sonic Unyon, in the U.S. by Revolver and Matador, and in Europe by Forte and Conspiracy. It has already released a four-song EP titled Guilted By The Sun by Toronto doom/drone rock band Nadja and a sprawling 20-minute psychedelic EP called Firsts by Santa Cruz, Calif.'s Residual Echoes.
Next up is the eight-track Liquidate Paris by Blood Meridian, a psychedelic/alt.country group led by Black Mountain's Matt Camirand. Devereaux says he had input on the cover art for the EP, which will be limited to 1,000 copies each on CD and vinyl.
"When I first heard the record, I thought that it was a perfect fit," says Devereaux, who plays guitar at home but has never been in a band.
While hockey remains first and foremost for Devereaux, he's reached out to a few other bands he'd like to add to the Elevation roster, including New Zealand noise punk outfit Die! Die! Die! and San Francisco psych/garage rockers Wooden Shjips. The imprint might also do something with Wellwater Conspiracy, a side project by Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, since Greenwald manages them. Devereaux would also love to work with Dead Meadow and Black Mountain, who once stayed overnight at his house in Phoenix after a concert.But Devereaux's music tastes aren't as narrow as the Elevation catalogue might suggest.
The Constantines invited him into the studio to listen to the new album they're working on (he says it sounds great) following a recent game against Pittsburgh, and he's on a friendly basis with Cuff The Duke's Wayne Petti and The Hylozoists' Paul Aucoin.
When asked to name his favourite Canadian acts, he recites a list that includes The Sadies, Rick White, The Unintended, Do Make Say Think, Broken Social Scene, Joel Plaskett, The Besnard Lakes, Arcade Fire, Buck 65, Priestess, The Cape May, Chad VanGaalen, Jill Barber, Junior Boys and last, but not least, Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
"I'm a huge fan and my number one goal is to catch them if they ever tour again," says Devereaux. "I'd road-trip to catch them live."
One band that Devereaux says he didn't have to travel far to see when he played for the Red Wings was Grinder, a garage rock band led by rugged winger Darren McCarty who released a CD titled Gotta Keep Movin on Rubber Road Records two years ago during the NHL strike.
"I saw him play a couple of times during training camp. They played Stooges covers and stuff, so I was pretty keen on that. It's not an easy thing to do to get up there and try be a frontman and try and put on a show, so I thought he was good for doing it."
While Devereaux says there was a good music scene in Detroit, he's more impressed with Toronto and can often be found checking out bands at clubs around the city.
"So many great shows come through here. I always look through NOW to see what piques my interest. I love the Horseshoe and Lee's Palace and all sorts of great venues."
Since Devereaux is so into music, you'd think that he'd always be trying to expose his less educated teammates to cool sounds in the dressing room. But he doesn't. While they know he's a big fan, he says they're not aware of Elevation (until they read this, that is) or how deep his passion runs.
"I might take a stab here and there and get some stuff on, but it's more important for me to have the other guys fired up and in the right mindset than me putting on tunes that I want to hear. They're playing early Metallica records right now before the games, and I'm more than happy with that. I would never argue with Master Of Puppets. Sooner or later, I might try to throw some stuff on, but it definitely won't be too deep into the underground.
"Kanye West gets played in the dressing room. Hal Gill's iPod gets used a lot, and it's all over the place. He likes to play Sam Roberts, which is cool with me, and Bruce Springsteen. He always switches it up and keeps it interesting. Guys are all over the musical map, pretty much. [Bryan] McCabe and [Wade] Belak are a couple of bangers who like their stuff heavy, and I like that."
While I was hoping that Devereaux would tell me that Leafs captain Mats Sundin is into Scandinavian death metal and that former Red Wings leader Steve Yzerman was a mod, he'd only offer that the big Swede "likes to chill out a little more before games" and that he used to pass music along to Yzerman and Brett Hull "because they'd ask me every now and then about stuff."
Devereaux and his wife welcomed a second child into the world this week as he returned to the Leafs lineup after recovering from a back injury, but it's not hard to tell what his priorities are after his family and team.
"I love all types of music," he concludes. "If it's got something unique and appeals to me, it doesn't really matter. I can appreciate anything that's really good."