Prog rockers Deity’s Muse are known in the music circles of South Africa as the hardest working band on the scene. From getting vocal training to touring the international scene on the back of personal sacrifices, they’ve been forging ahead in the past few years with such impressive energy, that it is no wonder that some very good things have been happening for them.
They were one of the first bands I ever got to know well through reviewing their earlier albums. While some bands slowly die out, Deity’s Muse have not only kept themselves alive on the scene but dreamed bigger than just local. It was recently announced that they would be the opening act for the UK prog-metal masters, Monuments, and they’ve just released their latest EP which has been described by PureGrainAudio’s own John Morrow as, “a rebirth and new beginning” and a “testament to their workmanlike attitude to gigging and rehearsing they are tight, locked in, and focused like I’ve never heard from the ‘Muse.” (You can read that review right here.)
It was time we finally spoke to Deity’s Muse and got the low down on the future, but also the challenges of the past. Vocalist and guitarist, Wayne Boucher, spoke to us with his usual humility and honesty, and there is a lot to chew on!
Hey folks. It’s been quite a while since we last spoke, but so much has happened. New album, new tour opening for Monuments and all of those moments in between. How are you keeping your head above water with this new schedule?
Wayne Boucher: It has certainly been quite tough juggling our busy band schedule and day jobs of late, but it’s really been fun to watch the madness unfold and we’ve never been the type of band to shy away from a good challenge. But we just stay focused and we elevate each other for the greater good.
“Still In Hiding” is the just-released (and latest) music video to come from Lungs Full.
Your band biography could run for pages, but I am sure there have been some key moments in your long history that stand out. What would you say these are?
Boucher: We’re extremely grateful to have these moments to look back on, that’s for sure. I think moments that stand out for me personally include playing at the Viper Room in Los Angeles back in 2012, Euroblast Festival in Germany 2017, and Bloodstock Festival in the UK last year. Back home, getting to share the stage with bands like Seether and Karnivool are most certainly highlights. I also shake my head in disbelief sometimes at the thought that we get to work with Clint Vincent on our album productions, as Dead Letter Circus is a band we’ve looked up to for many years. It’s really quite surreal and we don’t take these special moments for granted.
You’re nearing two decades as a band, having formed in 2001. What keeps you going?
Boucher: The sheer joy we get out of creating and playing music together. Everything else is simply a bonus. We try not to take ourselves too seriously but we’re also big fans of expanding our awareness and becoming better human beings and musicians overall. When there’s no more enjoyment out of what we do, we’ll call this thing quits. But, I actually foresee myself dying on stage at this rate.
Is there anything you wish you could have changed along the way?
Boucher: I suppose if I look back and analyze the past then, absolutely, there are things I would’ve changed. Pointless looking back in regret though. We’ve got to live in the now and past mistakes should be treated as lessons to learn from. We’re hardly a bunch of dudes who make the same mistake twice, an ethos I wish governments and society would employ more often.
You’re known as one of the most hardworking bands on the scene. Besides slogging away at your talents, what do you think has been crucial to your growth?
Boucher: Ego death. When you’re in your boisterous 20s you tend to get super-cocky and arrogant like the sun revolves around you. The idea that every single day is an opportunity to learn something is what I think has been crucial to our growth; constant progression and soaking in everything the universe throws your way with mindfulness.
The Lungs Full EP was released on May 31st, 2019. Check out the rad cover art:
Things are really exploding for Deity’s Muse these days, touring overseas, but more importantly, being connected to a band like Monuments. I want to know more about the moment (or series of moments) in which you decided that this is what you wanted.
Boucher: We have hearts of explorers, like so many humans who came before us. I think we’re merely exploring these opportunities with complete curiosity at to where we’ll end up with this. We’ve become “yes men.” See an opportunity and we try our best to reach out and grab it. Up until 2010, I feel like we were simply going through the motions, rather aimlessly even. The penny dropped for us soon after that when we realized that we should make a proper effort at getting our name out there.
Getting to see so many international bands visit our country really drives home what makes them so damn professional. You look up to them and you wonder to yourself, “How can we get to this level?” It takes a lot of soul-searching and acceptance to realize that perhaps you’d been on a skewed path. When you reach that level of dissonance, you have two options: quit or change. We changed. It’s what we love and if you love something that much, you owe it to yourself to allow it to kill you in the best possible way. A calculated trust-fall of sorts.
Your new EP, Lungs Full, which we hear is the first in a series (yay), is, according to PGA reviewer, John Morrow, a clear indication that your overseas touring and your connections to bands like Karnivool, have rubbed off on you. Do you think this might be true?
Boucher: Absolutely. I think we really owe a lot to the guys from Dead Letter Circus who very nicely told us when they first met us that we weren’t the tightest band around and we had quite a lot to learn still. I’m not shy about talking about that moment. You’re not born an expert in anything and those lads whipped us right into shape. Their honest assessment of us lit a fire under our asses and for that, we are truly grateful because look at where we are now. You learn so much when you shut your mouth, stop all the talking and start listening. Really listening.
Get an up-close look at the band’s epic instrumentation in this music video for “Walls Down” from the Convergence record.
What that you have seen happening at the international level has been most interesting, disconcerting and/or important to you as a band?
Boucher: I guess I’m a little disconcerted by the U.S. scene lately, to be honest. It seems they don’t have many new bands headlining festivals. It’s all the same bands headlining the same festivals, bands that have been headliners since the ‘90s. Perhaps it’s a foreshadowing of things to come, as in, the over-saturation of acts out there vying for the same position but not having a captive audience that we once did back before technology started doing things for us.
The internet age, Netflix, never really needing to leave the house, makes this live music landscape less predictable than ever before. We almost have to be dragged off to shows sometimes just to get off our butts. We’re living in a time now that is truly interesting though. I have no idea, really, where it’s going to end up. I sometimes feel that art is more under-valued than ever before.
Back to your EP… I have seen nothing but great reviews and comments about it. What do you think sets it apart from previous outputs?
Boucher: I think it’s the most focused we’ve ever sounded. We’re really finding our very own identity now and our music is far more dynamic than it’s ever been before. We’re not trying to sound like our influences, we’re trying to sound like Deity’s Muse, and there are no rules.
Although you’re now making quite a few ventures into the international space, you’re still a South African band of South Africans. What frustrates and inspires you about that fact?
Boucher: Frustration: our shitty currency. It costs us more to tour than it would any band based in the U.S., UK or Europe. Inspiration: it’s really cool to tell a crowd in Germany or England that you’re Deity’s Muse from South Africa. I still get a kick out of that.
People have been trying to shirk all kinds of labels, how their genre is described, whether they are gendered, where they come from, but I wanted to hear your thoughts on this, whether we should be moving on from this or whether labels still matter?
Boucher: I think we should be moving on from this, or at least working towards a place where all these labels don’t have to mean a thing anymore. Why embrace such a limiting way of thinking? Open that shit up and let’s explore what it truly means to be human and experience all that this chaotic universe has to offer.
Here’s one more for you for “Satellites,” also from Convergence.
Over time you must have developed certain principles for how you work as a band, maybe something like musical development, teamwork, etc. What would they have been before and how have they changed?
Boucher: I don’t think we really had much in the way of focus and principles in the past, really (laughs). Now it’s very much a thing of making sure that we are truly listening to the music we’re playing and creating. Just because a riff is fun to play doesn’t necessarily mean that it sounds good to someone else. We’ve learned to take ourselves out of the music, step aside and really listen. We’ve also grown into a band that understands each other on an individual level now. One of our mottos is “elevate your bandmate.”
Back to more practical concerns, your tour to the UK looks like it’s going to be a riot, you even get to headline a show. What are you most looking forward to?
Boucher: Wetherspoons breakfasts! (laughs). They are really tasty and affordable for us South Africans (and) you can’t go wrong with free WiFi and bottomless coffee. We’re really looking forward to learning from an experienced band like Monuments. This tour has so much to look forward to! We get to tour as main support with an incredible band, we get to play a festival along the way, and to top things off we’re headlining a London show that I know will see a large amount of South Africans in attendance. Not only that, but the support bands at the London show boast some Southern Africans in their ranks. Temples on Mars has two South African members and Kamikaze Test Pilots has two Zimbabweans in their ranks. Lots to look forward to for sure!
Is there any part of being on the road that you find the hardest thing to do?
Boucher: Finding decent sleep can be a challenge. You don’t get much time to actually take in the sights because you’re constantly loading in gear and loading out gear from one venue to the next. As we all have day jobs, we also have responsibilities, emails that need to be answered and such, so staying on top of that is challenging. Not to mention staying in touch with family and making sure things back home are going well while you’re nowhere nearby to help should your loved ones need you.
Thanks so much for making some time in your busy schedules to answer these questions. As a final question, I wanted to ask, what are you hoping for next and how are you going to keep setting yourselves apart from what is already out there?
Boucher: I think we’re on a roll of sorts right now and we’re clearly doing something right. So our plan is to keep this momentum going. If we continue to challenge ourselves, then we’ll set ourselves up to be in the right place at the right time. We don’t like writing the same song twice so we’ll continue to set that as a goal. Thank you for the chat. These have been some thought-provoking questions for sure!
Upcoming Tour Dates:
07/03 – The Haunt, Brighton, UK
07/04 – The Waterfront, Norwich, UK
07/05 – The Flapper, Birmingham, UK
07/06 – UK Tech-Fest 2019, Newark, UK
07/07 – The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes, UK
07/08 – 229 The Venue, London (support TBA)