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Returning duo keen to show the Devlin in the detail

The poet Cyril Connolly once said that the enemy of creativity was the pram in the hall. Peter Devlin went off and got married and had three kids. His internationally successful band with his younger brother, Colin, appeared to take a back seat to fatherhood for a few years.

"It can also be the inspiration in the hall," laughs Peter now, as he takes a tea-break at rehearsals ahead of The Devlins' much-anticipated and almost sold-out show at Vicar Street this Friday.

"A couple of years after my first daughter Emelia was born," he continues. "We did a long tour across North America, which was difficult for me, so I decided to tour less and do more studio work. While I was recording and producing music for RTE, Colin started a solo record and one of the first songs he wrote was called 'Emelia' -- a very poignant piece about how quickly time passes when you're watching a child grow up. He shot a beautiful video for it in Buenos Aires, it's on the website thedevlins.com."

The creativity is palpably on fire at the moment for The Devlins. They have just released a barn-storming new single 'Julian' and are putting the final touches to their new album, which will be out next year.

"This is by far the most mature and introspective work that The Devlins have released to date and we suspect the new album is going to be massive," was Hot Press's hosannas from on high about the new single. The Devlins have illustrious fans too.

"I was quite impressed when Bruce Springsteen asked us to sign a copy of our album for him backstage at a concert at the Whisky [A Go-GO] in Los Angeles a good few years ago, that just doesn't happen every day," remembers Peter, who is married to TV star Lorraine Keane.

His earliest childhood memory growing up in Newry is, he says, "being terrified by an alien invasion of monster lobsters. Our dad had done some work for a fisherman from Kilkeel and was paid with a large bag of live crabs. When he called to the door to deliver them, he thought it would be funny to release them and let them crawl around the house. I was about three or four, I hid at the top of the stairs, relieved to discover that they couldn't climb".

His brother Colin, who has just joined us in their inner-city Dublin rehearsal rooms along with the band's drummer Guy Rickarby and guitar player Mark Murphy, adds that his own earliest memory was "sitting in my mother's car listening to The Beatles' Red and Blue greatest hits albums on the 8-track stereo tape machine and deciding that, although I loved them both, I preferred the later, more psychedelic, Blue one. I was about four or five".

Five years later, at the age of 10 Colin moved to Dublin. I ask him how the move effected him emotionally.

"It was a little daunting at first," he says. "But at that age you tend to adapt pretty quickly to what's happening around you. Dublin definitely felt like a different world coming from the restrictions of Newry, only in hindsight did you realise that a soldier pointing a gun into your car on the way to school every day at a checkpoint was not necessarily the way it had to be.

"I was 12 and at the time the thought of it was terrifying, devastating," says Peter.

"When we arrived in Dublin I got over it in about 30 minutes flat. No checkpoints on the country roads, no army patrols on the high street, no canes or straps in the classrooms and a hundred things to do and places to go at the weekend."

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Describe your respective personalities.

"Colin is the eternal optimist," says Peter. "I am the eternal realist. Working in the music business for nearly 20 years, you need a healthy balance of both."

"Peter is more practical than I am and definitely more organised," says Colin. "He's very creative in a way that actually gets things done and accomplished."

That sense of accomplishment was there almost from the beginning of the band. Lest we forget -- and shame on you if you have -- the band's debut album Drift earned them a well-deserved and hard-to-get four-star review in Rolling Stone magazine in 1993. Suddenly, they were the Irish band that everybody was talking about, and wanting to hang out with.

"We brought Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) on a Dublin pub crawl when they were over," recalls Peter.

"Once we had all the old, historical pubs out of the way we went to the rock clubs and music bars. The two lads weren't hassled by fans at all. Instead, on at least a dozen different occasions, small packets, usually wrapped in tinfoil, were discreetly offered with a knowing wink by fans, who were too cool to get excited or engage in conversation. Comments from most of their unobtrusive Dublin admirers amounted to nothing more than, 'great band. That's for yerself'. Each time it happened, Dave just laughed and said, 'Man, I love Dublin'."

I ask them to describe the music The Devlins make now as opposed to the music they made on the first album almost 20 years ago on Drift -- they also released Waiting in 1997, Consent in 2002 and Waves in 2004, as well as having their songs on a lot of box-office movies in America like Closer and Batman Forever over the years. "I think it's very similar actually, in its emotional connection with the listener and in the overall atmosphere it creates," answers Colin, who is engaged to Irish actress based in Los Angeles Sonya Macari.

"I've always tried to write for my age so I would hope that the lyrics reflect this and in turn that the music perhaps feels more mature in a positive sense. It doesn't matter what age you are, it's about accessing and articulating an emotion you're trying to convey through the music and the words."

Peter says: "To be honest, sonically, I don't think it's that much different. We learned a lot on our first album, working with Malcolm Burn (Neville Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith) and Daniel Lanois . . . we got some invaluable insights into music production, sound, engineering and that has stayed with us. We probably do less 'live' improvisation now than we did then and we all have our own home studios so we spend more time working alone on our contributions to the songs."

He adds that the new single 'Julian' is "quite representative of the sound and we're working with the producer Pierre Marchand again. Pierre produced our second album, Waiting". So, what's the biggest misconception people have about The Devlins?

"That we're related to Barry Devlin (Horslips) and Janet Devlin (X Factor) and Devlin (East London grime MC/ gangster rapper). I wish we were, it would make for an interesting family Christmas album," the brothers both laugh in unison. Somewhere the ghost of Cyril Connolly is laughing too.

The Devlins play the Button Factory, Temple Bar, Dublin, Friday, September 30. Tickets €28.70 including booking fee. Doors 7.30pm.

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