Type.Tune.Tint.

Not Karaoke: Making Waves with Fake Pockets

May 27, 2022 Devon Alana Season 3 Episode 3
Type.Tune.Tint.
Not Karaoke: Making Waves with Fake Pockets
Show Notes Transcript

Finding your voice can be a lifelong journey. This is the story of a young woman who found hers in an unusual place in her early 20s, embraced it and is taking it to the next level. Devon Alana is the lead singer, lead composer and guitarist for the New Jersey indie band Fake Pockets. In this episode, she talks about her journey of self-discovery, her inspirations and her songwriting process. With creativity rooted in real life, Devon and Fake Pockets are destined to make it big, and this is your front-row seat!

Magnolia Street album
Mint 400 Records

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:00 (music full, Maybe by Fake Pockets, then under)

:10 Tom Kranz
You’re listening to one of New Jersey’s rising indie bands, Fake Pockets. My guest today is lead singer, composer and guitarist Devon Alana, a native of Freehold, New Jersey and an artist who found her voice in an unexpected place. Here’s the original song Maybe from their album on Mint 400 Records, Magnolia Street. 

:29 (Song up full)

4:09 Tom Kranz
That was Maybe, one of my favorite songs from the album Magnolia Street by Fake Pockets and I'm joined by composer lead singer Devon Alana. Devon, are we awake?

Devon Alana
Yeah, I'm mostly awake. Thanks for having me.

Tom Kranz
Good. Good. So Fake Pockets is kind of the latest iteration of bands that you've been singing with for the past couple of years or so. Tell us a little bit about who's in the band and what the instruments are.

Devon Alana
Yeah, so Fake Pockets is myself on guitar and lead vocals and I'm also the primary songwriter. Then on also on guitar is my, I always say my better guitarist, that's Ahren Henby, he's great. And then on bass we have Bill Lambusta, and then on drums, Jake Resnick. So, all these guys are people, you know, I've just known throughout the years and when I was starting a new band, they were just, like, we're in, and it all kind of felt together very nicely and surprisingly easily. 

Tom Kranz
You know, I'm a fan.  Your current album is called Magnolia Street and it's on, there's a record label involved here, right?

5:30 Devon Alana
Yeah. Mint 400. They're like a local jersey, you know, record label, they'll help with distribution things like that. Really nice folks over there.

Tom Kranz
You guys all sound like you actually belong together. I've seen you live and this album is great because a lot of times in live music no matter what the band is you don't actually hear every single word, you don't hear every single nuance, but on the album, I do hear everything. You know, the highlight for me, of course, is your voice. It's, you've got an incredible singing voice, you got a great range, you sound. I'm not gonna compare you to anybody but let me ask you who your influences are.

Devon Alana
That's a great question that I never know how to answer. It's just kind of like, whoever I'm listening to at the time and it's funny like I don't know that I listened to anybody growing up that I feel like influenced how I ended up singing just because I started doing it so late. I don't really know where my initial influence came from. But when I'm writing it's I find that I'm inspired a lot by whatever I'm listening to, you know, at the moment, like whatever my I'll when I like an album, I'll listen to it over and over and over again, so...

Tom Kranz
That's fair enough. So you said you hadn't been singing until later in life.  So you're 30ish now, I guess, right? But you didn't start singing until, what, your mid-20s, early 20s. And how did that happen?

6:58 Devon Alana
Yes. So, I always was a big music fan, you know. My family's very musical, you know that. So you know, everybody's always music appreciators and I played guitar when I was younger because my brother played and so he taught me.  Okay. I played a little guitar, but I never actually considered myself a musician at all or knew that really I could sing. So, I started going out when I turned 21 to these karaoke nights with friends of mine and I wasn't singing. I was just going to drink and hang out. And then they're like, oh come on, just sing,  go and try whatever. And so I started singing at karaoke and after all this time, I've been like, oh, I don't sing, I can't sing, whatever. When I finally started doing it, they were like, you jerk! Like this whole time! And I was like, no I really didn't know that I could sing it all. So we did that for quite a few years. And then I eventually started my YouTube channel of basically just covers. I still update that every once in a while. But yeah, I started just playing covers on ukulele and singing and stuff. And, you know, those got a little bit of traction. So I was like, okay, maybe I can do this, and it just turned into the band and eventually the first band.

Tom Kranz
You know, it just, it boggles my mind. I mean, you never even sang like in the shower or while you're washing the car?

Devon Alana
I mean I guess I did for fun. I like to sing along with stuff but I didn't know could sing, if that makes sense. I didn't know I was any good at it.

8:25 Tom Kranz
 Well, you are good at it, obviously, and you've been doing great for the past few years here. I'm still waiting for, you know, your big appearance on, I don't know the Today Show or Lettermen or, there's no Letterman anymore.  So, when it finally dawned on you, with the help of a little help from your friends, that you could sing and that you actually sounded good, how did you feel about that? Was that like kind of an aha moment? Was there like a white light or did you continue to deny it for years?

Devon Alana
Yeah, that was more of "this sounds fake." No, this is fake. But eventually, I guess I--It's funny, being self-conscious about something like that, but still doing it anyway. That was where I was at when I started making the YouTube videos. And when I was doing karaoke, it's got this level of no one really cares, right? Everyone's just hanging out and getting drunk and screaming on a stage. Like, there's this level of, okay, they think I'm good by karaoke standards. But then I had friends who were actually singers who were like, no, you can actually sing. So when I started the YouTube channel, I still was like, I don't know, you know, they're probably just blowing smoke, whatever. So it took a while. I mean, at this point now I'm like, okay. I can sing. You know. I got there eventually, but it did take a long time and learning to to take a compliment is a whole other thing.

Tom Kranz
You know, that's a problem for a lot of people not just people, you know, I, I know lots of people including me and people just don't, you know, they don't want to say, yeah, okay, I guess I'm good.

Devon Alana
Yea fine, people like me. (laughs)

Tom Kranz
And, so now you do, you perform at venues all across North Jersey. You've been in Asbury Park places many times, I guess you've been into New Hope, Pennsylvania as well. And then you did a gig at Newark Airport one time also, a solo gig.

Devon Alana
I was just talking about that story the other day? That was such a weird show.

Tom Kranz
The airport?

Devon Alana
Newark Airport had opened an airport bar and they bought the rights to the CBGB name. So, it was like an airport bar in the middle of Terminal C. I had to go through all security and everything. Get everything checked out to get in. I couldn't go to the bathroom by myself. Security had to come with me and stand outside the bathroom. Yeah, it was very strict but it was just funny, like, this airport bar taking the CBGB name and pretending that it was some CBGB affiliated bar and making the decor look like it. It was kind of cool that they would have musicians come but it was very weird--

Tom Kranz
That was a solo thing, just you and your guitar?

Devon Alana
Yeah, that was a solo thing. Yeah.

Tom Kranz
And was the audience in that place receptive?

Devon Alana
Surprisingly? Yes. Yeah, I made lot of a lot of tips, too from people. I didn't even bring like CDs or anything because it was such a weird, I wasn't sure how security was gonna go, so I didn't have much stuff, but they did put out like a tip jar. And there were people just on layovers and stuff. And yeah, people were surprisingly invested.

Tom Kranz
That's interesting. So, I know you as a very confident person. You're confident, I mean, I've  known you for a couple years now, and I just want to know if that's the way you feel when you go in front of an audience

Devon Alana
No! (laughs) No. Not at all. I joke a lot that it's like that's not me. When I'm up there, I'm a little bit dissociating when I'm performing. So that's why people get this idea that I'm so, like, oh she must have no problem with public speaking. She must have no problem with this and that I'm like, no, it's totally different. For some reason I've been able to channel this just autopilot mode when I'm performing and I think I come off confident, which is great, that's really all  "got to fake it till you make it" or whatever.

12:09 Tom Kranz
So you get into a zone kind of thing?

Devon Alana
Totally. Yeah. And then, I'm just kind of, yeah, I'm just kind of like, on autopilot. 

Tom Kranz
I've seen interviews with other performers who say the same exact thing, people who are, I wish I could think of one off the top of my head, but they are like, they get this whole stage fight thing and then once they get out there, it kind of goes away and they get into the zone and the audience is just kind of there, but they're not there. That interests me. I'm, we're gonna talk next about songwriting and like, how you do that and where you do that and why you do that. But first, we're gonna play another song from Magnolia Street. This is another one of my favorites and this one is called Darling. I also want to talk to you about, kind of, the theme of these songs. There's a little bit of a theme that runs through them as far as I can tell and we'll talk about that. So folks here from Magnolia Street Devon Alana and the tune Darling.

13:02 (Song Darling up full)

17:04 Tom Kranz
All right. That was Darling by Fake Pockets with my guest today, Devon Alana.  Devon, what was behind that song? Was that about anybody in particular or any particular situation?

Devon Alana
You had said you noticed a theme throughout the album. I had written most, I think all of the songs from that album while I was living on Magnolia Street in Highland Park with a couple of friends of mine. It was right after a breakup, a very long-term relationship breakup. So, basically, that theme that you're sensing throughout all of it, yes, yes. It was kind of all about the same situation. But you know I kind of will sometimes think of a theme or an idea and then by the time the song is done, it's not really reality anymore. It's just this kind of, either I thought one thing sounded better than another, but I feel like these songs at the end, I don't know. Music always ends up more dramatic than real life. And the art form more dialed up than when you start writing it or the feelings that inspired it. So yeah.

Tom Kranz
Well, some of the authors that I've interviewed for this podcast have written from places of recovery. They've written from places of trauma. They were bullied as a kid. They learned to write as a kind of an escape and then took it into later, life, as inspiration. Did you find that, I mean, a lot of the themes of these songs are, there's like, there's kind of betrayal. There's loneliness. There's "I'm not quite sure what you're about," etc. It seems like not just for you, but for music going back, you know, generations that seems like fertile ground for inspiration and for songwriters. There doesn't seem like there's as many songs about, you know, happiness and living happily ever after. 

Devon Alana
Nope. It's impossible! I've never written a love song in my life. I don't know how to do it.  I don't know that I've ever written a happy, fully happy song. I just feel it doesn't, I don't know. It never comes out natural or seeming right, you know? I actually have a friend of mine and other local musicians, Jeff Linden, shout him out really quick. He has a song called Sad Bastard Song. And it's literally about that exact concept of like, well, I guess I'll wallow in the saddest parts of my life so I can continue to write it songs, you know? So I can continue to do this.  He's talked about that a few times. I thought it was very cool to kind of write a song related to that. Because it's so true. You just end up, like, you're not pulling from the positive or happy things really. You're pulling from, you know, maybe things in the past or maybe whatever negative things are going on your kind of latching onto that. It definitely is a bit of therapy, I would say, you know, songwriting, for me anyway.

Tom Kranz
So, aside from the subject matter, what for you is the mechanical process of writing a song? Do you sit down and, you literally sit down and write lyrics and then worry about the music later? Do you dream about them? Do you sing a tune while you're driving? How does it, how does it start? And how do you actually do it?

20:18 Devon Alana
Yeah, a little Column A, a little Column B. But most of the time, I would say, 99% of the things I have written, they start off as maybe one line or two lines that I think of, and I'm like, oh that sounds nice. That's a nice, you know, pairing of words or whatever. Sometimes it could even be just like two or three words. It might not even be a full line and I just write it in my phone and then I forget about it for anywhere from three months to two years. And then eventually I go back to it and go, hey actually that's pretty good. That could go with this other piece that I have over here and then forget about it again for another little bit of time. And then eventually that comes together into a full song at some point. It's rare that I sit and write lyrics and have a whole song done by the end of a session.

Tom Kranz
And then do you think, does the music come later or are you thinking about melodies and notes while you're writing the words?

Devon Alana
It goes either way. A lot of the time I'll know kind of what the meter should be or where I, like, where I want emphasis to be or where I want the breaks in the, the line breaks I guess in the song to be. What should be the chorus. Sometimes, maybe I'll have a little bit of what I, what I want the hook to feel like, but I won't know what it's supposed to sound like yet.  I don't have a lot of music theory background, which I think sets me back a little bit with some of these things because it takes me a lot longer to kind of put what I'm thinking into actual musical sound. I'm grateful to have, you know, half of my band is very, big music theory guys. So I can like bring a song to them and they'll be like actually you know, this would sound better if we did that. Okay, maybe let's try this, so that's always nice. But yeah, it's usually lyrics first and then music, and then I'll bring it to the band to make it like a full song. I don't write their individual parts or anything. Like I never think about--I only write the melody and select the key and what chords but you know as far as the lead guitar in the base parts and the drums, we just kind of all figured out out as we go.

Tom Kranz
Okay. And do you when you're doing the melody in the music part, do you sit with your guitar and pick stuff out, pretty much?

Devon Alana
Yeah. Usually. Like sometimes I'll just start like playing chords and just like, I don't know, I'll just kind of start playing around with stuff and be like, does this fit?  Does that fit? Because again, I'm like, even if I have something in my mind, I can't always just pin down what it's meant to be. It takes me a little bit longer to kind of suss it out once I have the guitar in my hand. But yeah, that's usually about how it goes.

Tom Kranz
And so, you kind of leave it up to your band members to do their thing to round out the song. That reminds me so much of the way--this sounds really, really presumptuous--how Stanley Kubrick directed people. One of my favorite movies is Full Metal Jacket. And Matthew Modine, who's one of the stars of that, he wrote a book about it, kind of a scrapbook of his experience doing that movie with Stanley Kubrick. And Stanley, Kubrick did the same thing.  He basically would tell the actors the night before, do you know what you're gonna do tomorrow with that scene. And they would say yeah and he'd say okay, fine. And that was the length, the extent of his direction. He basically left it to the actors. And I guess a lot of directors do that to fill out his concept and it always worked for him. So that sounds like, I mean you're basically delegating major parts of your song and your vision to other people but if you guys are Sympatico, that's a good thing obviously. 

Devon Alana
Yeah that's the thing. I kind of brought these people together because I liked what they do on their instrument, right? So I'm like, I know some people who they think of a song or they write a song and they really want to be in charge of every single part and they'll write the parts and then just give it to their bandmates, which is fine, there's nothing wrong with that. But A, I don't have the music chops for that and B, like, I just trust them to write something that's going to sound better than anything I could come up with like that's why, you know, I try to I basically surround myself with people who are better musicians than me and hope that they'll take something I wrote and I'm like, here's a shell of something.  Let's make it a full song so.

Tom Kranz
Well, you've also known a couple of your bandmates for, like a long time, right? Haven't you known Ben, your drummer? That's his name, right? Ben?

Devon Alana
Close. It's Jake. His brother is Ben.

Tom Kranz
Sorry. All right. Jake Resnick. Right? So you've known him like for ages, right?

Devon Alana
Yea, him and his brothers are in a band called We're Ghosts Now, and ever since my first band, we've all been playing together and we've gone on a couple tours across the country together and things like that, so I've known Jake for a long time.

25:00 Tom Kranz
And so at this point, you guys must know your styles a little bit...

Devon Alana
Totally.

Tom Kranz
...and the way you play, right? So that's a help.

Devon Alana
Yeah, exactly. And so it's, like, we all know each other well enough that like they know if I don't like something, I'm gonna be, like, nope! Axed! But, you know, we're all but we work well together in that way.

Tom Kranz
Well, that's cool and swish-pan to the other Devon who has a day job. So everybody who I've interviewed ever for this podcast, pretty much, has a day job. What's your day job?

Devon Alana
Yeah, I work at IT company. I am a customer success manager for data center integration projects. So basically like my company builds out other companies' data centers.

Tom Kranz
You work from home like the world does now?

Devon Alana
Yea.

Tom Kranz
Beautiful. And I guess, now that COVID is winding down, is the band getting back out there again now and doing live stuff for summertime coming up?

Devon Alana
A little bit. It's been hard to get fully back in the swing it that you know at least for me I find it a little bit difficult to readjust now after COVID. But I think a lot of people are going through that and we do have some shows lined up. We've played a few things since the world has opened back up more. We do have a showing in New Hope in a few weeks and a show in New York, and I think something in Asbury later in the summer, but I'm not totally sure on that yet.

Tom Kranz
All right, so if people are interested, they can look up Fake Pockets. I guess Fake Pockets The Band or Fake Pockets Band, either on Google or on Facebook?

Devon Alana
Yup, exactly. Fake Pockets Band is you know, our tag on everything. That's our website, fakepocketsband.com and, you know, once there's more information on those, the New York and New Hope shows, they'll be posted like, you know, we put the event on Facebook and then that'll post everywhere and, and all that. 

Tom Kranz
And Magnolia Street is available at all, the usual places, I guess?

Devon Alana
Anywhere you want to get it.

Tom Kranz
Okay, that's beautiful. So, we're going to end with another tune from Magnolia Street. It's a song called Stay and just give us a brief thumbnail sketch of what this song is about.

Devon Alana
Yeah. This song is kind of about--god, everything sounds so grim when I talk about--but being in a relationship where you're like, I don't think we should be doing this anymore, but the other person's like, come on, we can keep doing it. And so you keep doing it and then you're just like, why, why do I keep doing this? So, that's it.

Tom Kranz
So, it's a song of introspection.

Devon Alana
Yeah. Why the hell do I keep doing this to myself?

Tom Kranz
We'll call it a song of introspection.

Devon Alana
(laughs) Yea, that sounds a lot less grim, Tom, thanks.

Tom Kranz
So all right, excellent. So Devon, thank you very much. Devon is the lead singer, primary composer and guitarist for the band Fake Pockets. They're Jersey-based but watch for them soon at a venue near you. We're gonna hear the song Stay from their album Magnolia Street. Devon. Thanks so much.

Devon Alana
Thanks, Tom

27:58 (song Stay up full)

32:15 Tom Kranz
You've been listening to Type. Tune. Tint., a podcast about creativity and creative people, formerly the Independent Author. I hope you'll subscribe and join me next time.

32:25 End