Debra / Devi
What if Sheryl Crow played guitar like Hendrix? Debra is the singer/guitarist for rock power trio Devi, and the band’s debut album, Get Free, is getting her rave comparisons to both artists.
Metal Hammer writes: “Debra has a compelling voice—a mix of Sheryl Crow and PJ Harvey—while her guitar playing reminds us of the incomparable Jimi Hendrix.” JamBase calls her “a supersonic fret-burner who writes hauntingly memorable songs” and Crusher UK praises her “deep, space-rocking guitar tone, furious unvarnished leads and soul-searching experimentation during her expansive guitar solos.” Guitar International editor Matt Warnock adds, “It isn’t often I come across an album that’s so good I have to listen to it multiple times in a row.”
Get Free bursts out of the gate with the powerpop gem “Another Day” and closes with a six-minute cover of Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” that shows off the trio’s fierce spontaneous jamming.
Debra met Devi drummer John Hummel in Hoboken. “I saw him playing in this tiny room and I knew he was the guy,” Debra says. She gave him a demo and invited him to rehearsal. “John told me later that when he came to rehearsal and saw just me with a guitar, he wondered where the lead guitarist was. It wasn’t until we started playing that he realized the lead guitarist was…me!” Bassist Dan Grennes completes the trio—and is also currently in Green Day’s American Idiot on Broadway. Live, the band is joined by former Black Crowes/Blues Traveler keyboardist Rob Clores, when he’s not touring with Enrique Iglesias.
Debra grew up in Wisconsin—where she was exposed to great Chicago blues guitarists like Son Seals—and moved to NYC, where she got into the punk scene and joined her first band. “The blues showed me I didn’t have to play fast to move people,” Debra explains, “and punk gave me permission to try.”
After touring the US and Europe with various bands, Debra moved to Jersey City, NJ and formed Devi (pronounced “Davey”). Debra recorded the guitars for Get Free at nearby SST Studios, which has a huge inventory of vintage amplifiers. “It was like being a kid in a candy store, only the candy was amps!” says Debra, who used a Fender Hot Rod Deville for her smooth slide solo on “Howl at the Moon,” and ran a Fender Bassman through a Leslie speaker cabinet for the eerie tremolo on “Welcome to the Boneyard.”
Debra plays a 1987 American Standard Stratocaster with a candy apple red finish and rosewood fret board. She’s modified her Strat with jumbo frets, a Fender Atomic humbucker bridge pickup, Seymour Duncan Vintage Rails, and a mirror pick guard. She enjoys using alternate tunings like drop-D, DADGAD and open-E and was invited to teach a workshop on alt tunings at the Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival in Montana this summer, featuring Pat Metheny, Lee Ritenour and Alex DeGrassi.