Catching up with Devon Williams from Osker

Osker’s Devon Williams told me that he does not like MEAN STREET MAGAZINE.  And, no matter what I write, I have a feeling that he will not like this article very much, either.

An old press release issued by Epitaph Records, who signed Devon and Osker in 1998 when Devon was sixteen, makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to Osker as being the most hated band on the label’s roster.  After talking to Devon for a few minutes, though, I knew exactly what the press release meant.

Devon, who is Osker’s singer and guitarist, seems to go out of his way to insult people and piss them off.  And naturally, I believe a lot of people really dislike Devon because of this.  But, I also think that Devon is totally misunderstood.  During our short phone conversation, Devon was extremely polite and sincere.  He was not at all rude or angry or argumentative.  So, I do not think he says what he says as some kind of show or act.  Instead, I honestly believe that Devon insults people and uses negativity as a way of defending himself and his band from phoniness and harm.  I kind of look at Devon as a mixed-up idealist—his intentions are right-on, but his execution is way-off. 

“The people at Epitaph don’t really hate us at all,” Devon offers as an explanation for both his behavior and the meaning behind the old press release.  “Maybe one person at Epitaph hates us, but that’s it.  And that’s because of his own personal problems.  The point of [our behavior] is to isolate ourselves, as a band, from what we do not want to be involved with.  The only way to do that is to intentionally alienate ourselves.”

And yes, Devon, you are very good at alienating people.  But you are a very talented singer and songwriter, too.  And with the upcoming release of Osker’s second full-length album, IDLE WILL KILL, Williams is going to find it more difficult than ever to wrap himself up in a protective blanket of negativity and then expect everyone to go away.
 
From the first chords of the tender, acoustic guitar-driven opening song, “Patience,” IDLE WILL KILL proves to be a huge and unexpected step forward for Devon and Osker, at least musically.  From now on, writers like myself will be forced to find labels other than “snotty,”“teen,” and “pop punk” when describing Williams’ music.“I think I put more time into writing better music [for IDLE WILL KILL],” Williams says, thoughtfully choosing his words. 

“I think I have grown into my mind.  I know who I am, and I have an identity.  I know how I work.  [IDLE WILL KILL] describes me better.  The underlying theme of all the songs [on IDLE WILL KILL] is about me being my own person.  The songs are a realization that I’m all I have.  And all of these other people are excessive, and sometimes, they are really disappointing.

“If people pigeonhole [Osker’s music], I will alienate them.  I will isolate [Osker] from those people and terms.  I push myself to write different kinds of songs because I’m not satisfied with appealing to just a ‘punk’ crowd.  Appealing to just one group of people is not satisfying to me at all.”

This interview first appeared in Mean Street Magazine.  Please check out www.meanstreet.com.  Photos are courtesy of “The Greatest Unofficial Osker Page.”

Interview date: Apr 1, 2001

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