Words Wal Reid

Jennie Skulander is New Zealand’s newest ‘rock n’ roll mama’. She is also the lead singer for Heavy Metal band Devilskin, the typical Skull and tattoo image she is known for or screaming explicit lyrics, a visual far removed from the mollycoddling mother image she now finds herself sporting, not exactly a trade-off but a marriage of sorts.

“No, I had to read a book, I kind of had no idea”, the new mother confesses. “You can do it if you are in a band, or if you are a female musician and you don’t think you can continue because you have a baby – you actually can.”

The successful Kiwi band are about to embark on a new nationwide tour of Aotearoa, bringing their incredible live show to New Zealand towns from October 5 – October 21. However, being a new parent means Skulander must do more prep ahead of the tour, including catering for her daughter.

“It was hard at times,” she says. “I first took her on tour on the NZ/Aust Halestorm Tour so I had a few baby sitters and I had my fiancée come along and help for a few dates for that, so it was a lot easier for that one.

“She was four months when we took her over to Aussie and then we went over and did seventeen dates in Europe – that was a lot harder. She was at the point where she’d try and crawl, it was very difficult. There were a lot of sleepless nights between my partner and I, because he came plus we did a lot of our shows back to back.”

The band’s tour announcement comes on the back of their fourth UK tour which included sold out gigs in Ireland and playing at the legendary Rock + Metal festival Download. It was a time to bridge the gap for European fans to meet the band, but at the same time, was scary with the recent spate of terrorist attacks happening there.

“We had just got to Camden I believe.” She recalls. “The one on the bridge the first one, and I think the last one we did two weeks after the Manchester bombing. It was pretty scary but the fan base is building up every time we go back and we’re also going pretty well in Germany too.”

She jokes about the time the band were in Belgium and overheard some locals drinking shots yelling, “Tequila-boom-boom ZZ Top,” as they pointed at Devilskin guitarists Nail & Paul.

Next months tour will be the first gigs in NZ since the legendary tour earlier this year with American hard rockers, Halestorm and the most recent gig at this year’s Rock the Park in Auckland playing to an estimated crowd of 14,000 people.

“Compared to a lot of tours we do it’s a short one” Skulander admits. “Only seven dates but we start in Invercargill and end in Auckland. We’ve already got Wellington which we’ve sold out, but we’re bringing over a band from Hamilton, Ontario called Sumo Cyco, we toured with them earlier this year in the UK so we decided we’d bring them over to New Zealand and do some gigs.

“I always enjoy playing Auckland’s Powerstation and were playing there on the 21st October so that’s cool. We’re playing our hometown and playing Baypark stadium again, that was a lot of fun last time. We’ve played Invercargill before, but the place we played last time isn’t there anymore so we’re playing a place called Tillerman’s this time. Invercargill was awesome last time, it really went off. “

Devilskin’s second studio album, Be Like The River released last year debuted at #1 on the Official Album Chart was certified for gold sales, with all this success the band can’t wait to bring their explosive new set and as Skulander hints, maybe try out a few new tunes as well.

“We’ve been working on some new material, and will have new songs to play on this tour” She tells. “It’s going to be a matter of what songs to play because we’ve already got songs from We Rise and Be Like The River to perform. Songs like Animal from Be Like The River and Start a Revolution seemed to go off in Europe because we released it last year there and they have the music video. We had people singing along to that at Download Festival.

“We’ve just released Believe In Me and that was filmed in the UK at Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire. We filmed the video for two days and had Kiwi producer Shae Sterling come along and do the video for us. He was already scheduled to be in New York to film a music video for fellow Kiwi musician Louis Baker and we were like, “Hey, do you want to come to the UK on the way?”

Jennie is coy about divulging too much about the new album, only to vaguely answer “Definitely next year. I’m going to say mid to end next year” regarding its release date. For now, she is happy to be a ‘rock n’ roll’ mum and will be in explosive form in time for next weeks tour opener in Invercargill – plus a little confession on the side.

“We obviously want to get into the studio for the new album, we’re going to keep writing more & more. We probably would’ve had a longer tour, but sorry, I’m getting married in November so it will be kind of short. My hens party happens the day after our last show, so that’s going to be interesting.”

The mind boggles just thinking how that will play out.