Singer/songwriter Kevin Devine rose through New York’s indie rock and emo circles in the early years of the millennium, first as the frontman for emo band Miracle of 86, and later as a solo act. Thanks to albums like 2003′s Make the Clocks Move and 2005′s Split the Country, Split the Street, his introspective and emotionally urgent songs about love, life, and politics won a loyal fan base that followed him through a brief stint as a major-label act. Following his 2009 standout Brother's Blood, Devine collaborated with members of Manchester Orchestra as Bad Books, a project which went on to release three albums over the next decade. He continued releasing solo albums throughout the early 2010s and in 2015 began a split-single series called Devinyl Splits which over the next four years saw him working with artists like David Bazan, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Jesse Lacey. He also released another solo full-length in 2016′s Instigator.
Devine was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 19, 1979. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Fordham University to study journalism, but in 1999 his priorities turned to music; he began performing solo at coffee houses and open-mike nights, and soon he and Chris McAllen, a friend since high school, formed the emo band Miracle of 86 (the name came from the unexpected World Series victory by the New York Mets that year). Miracle of 86 earned a potent following on the New York/New Jersey indie rock scene, but it didn’t take long for Devine to begin thinking outside of the band’s boundaries. In 2002, he released his first solo album, Circle Gets the Square, and began playing solo shows in addition to his dates with the group. In 2003, he would drop a three-song EP, Travelling the EU, and a second full-length solo album, Make the Clocks Move (informed by the death of his father and the 2004 presidential race), before Miracle of 86 finally broke up.
In 2005, Devine released his first post-Miracle of 86 album, Split the Country, Split the Street. Produced by two of Devine’s former associates from the group, Chris Bracco and Mike Skinner, the album moved back and forth between uptempo rock and quieter, more contemplative songs. In 2006, Devine scored a major-label deal with Capitol Records and, working with producer Rob Schnapf (who had collaborated with one of Devine’s key influences, Elliott Smith), made Put Your Ghost to Rest. The album earned enthusiastic reviews, but several months after its release, a merger between Capitol and Virgin Records scuttled its marketing, and Devine was dropped from the label. However, the album soon gained a second life when it was reissued in 2008 by the indie imprint Junketboy, and Devine toured in support of the new release. In 2009, he returned with his next album, Brother's Blood, released by Electric Gentlemen Records; he toured in support of it backed by his occasional touring ensemble the Goddamn Band, and with the group Manchester Orchestra as an opening act. The tour went so well that Devine and members of Manchester Orchestra formed a side project, Bad Books, who released their self-titled debut album in the fall of 2010.
In the fall of 2011, Devine returned as a solo act with the album Between the Concrete and Clouds, produced by Chris Bracco and mixed by Schnapf; it was also Devine’s first album in a co-release arrangement with Razor & Tie and Electric Gentlemen. In 2012, Devine reunited with Bad Books for the concisely titled Bad Books II. In early 2013, Devine joined the growing number of artists who turned to crowdfunding to finance their recording projects rather than rely on record labels; he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 in order to produce two albums, and the target figure was reached in less than a day. After raising $114,000, Devine completed and self-released two albums in the fall of 2013: Bulldozer, a solo album produced by Schnapf, and Bubblegum, a collaboration with the Goddamn Band produced by Jesse Lacey. Along with extensive global touring in support of the two albums, Devine also found time to take part in a handful of reunion shows with his Miracle of 86 bandmates, one a benefit for survivors of Hurricane Sandy. From 2015 into 2016, Devine released the six-part Devinyl Splits series, collaborating with artists like Matthew Caws, Meredith Graves, and Cymbals Eat Guitars. In late 2016 he issued his ninth LP, Instigator. Following a brief stint as the touring guitarist for Brand New, Devine issued an acoustic version of Instigator titled We Are Who We’ve Always Been. Collaborating again with Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, the trio issued Bad Books III in June 2019. ~ Mark Deming