Charm City Devils

An interview with singer John Allen
by Tommy Rage
January 2020

Charm City Devils

Charm City Devils

Ten years can go by before you know it. With three albums to their credit and a new four song EP: 1904, Charm City Devils have never looked back. Named Best New Rock Band by iTunes in 2009; the band’s debut single, “Let’s Rock n’ Roll (Endless Road)” reached #40 on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Signed to Eleven Seven Music by Mötley Crüe’s bassist Nikki Sixx, who suggested the band’s current name: Charm City Devils, the band released their second album in 2012, titled Sins. Recorded at Sound Kitchen Studios in Nashville and produced by Grammy-winning producer Skidd Mills, Sins allowed the band to continue their classic rock influenced sound which continued through to their third release, Battles in 2014. Releasing their brand new single “Skipping Stone” last September, John Allen looks back at how it all began for the Maryland band, and what brought about the inspiration for their new hit single.
 
John Allen laughs at the origins of Charm City Devils. “We were signed to Eleven Seven Music and Nikki Sixx was the president [of the label] at the time, and he actually named the band. What people may not know is that ‘Charm City’ is the nickname that the city fathers came up with for Baltimore when the town had a bad reputation. Back when they were trying to appeal to tourism and shake off the bad rap. So, we were signed to the label and I was down in my basement working on some tunes and I realized my voice mail had a message. Nikki had left a voice mail, and it was cool, because he wanted to take us on Crüe Fest 2, but we didn’t have a band name [laughter]! So, I said, ‘Sure, call us ‘Shit Sandwich’ for all I care, just take us on the road with you [laughter]!’ But Charm City Devils sounds better than ‘Shit Sandwich’ [laughter]!”

Thus, a band was born. With Ted Merrill (guitars), Jason Heiser (drums), and Rick Reynolds (bass), John knew that the road to success wouldn’t be an easy one. “It’s been up and down. We really jumped out. I’ve been in different bands for years, playing drums, and it was my first time being out front singing. It was all pretty new to me. I hired a couple friends; a couple of guys who had never been in a band. It was their first big tour, and it was Crüe Fest 2 [laughter]. I told them, not to get used to this; that we would be in a van in a few months, eating fast food, and that’s exactly what happened.” 

In September, John and the Charm City Devils took the radio airwaves by storm. Releasing the first single from their new EP, 1904, which has since had over 100,000 downloads. John shares how the song came about, and where he got his inspiration from. “About a year ago or so, I was working on a side project with my guitar player, Teddy. We had started a side project last year, but this song really sounded like a Charm City Devils song. I started thinking about this fan we have in the area who uses an old Charm City Devils song as a fight song before he goes into surgery for his brain cancer. He has had several surgeries now, and he uses “Unstoppable” to fight through it. He is the impetus for the song, and I wanted to do something for him. He is always sending me notes and hoping good things for my career and meanwhile he is fighting for his life. It touched me. I wanted to do something for him. So, I put an EP together and the project grew, and we packed it all together. I recorded and mixed it in my house, but because we didn’t enough material for a full record, we went with an EP because it’s what all the kids are doing.”

Enjoy the success of the last ten years of hard work, John looks forward to getting out on the road with the Charm City Devils crew in 2020. “We are working on stuff right now. We have East coast dates on our website now, just to warm up. But we are working on putting some dates together for later in the spring. But stand-by, and we will let you know. Wisconsin will definitely be a stop. Our drummer is originally from Kenosha, so we have to get up there and say ‘Hey’ to his family. So, there’s is no doubt we will be hitting Wisconsin.”

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Charm City Devils
CD: 1904 Record Label: Broken World Records
Purchase 1904 on Amazon
Download 1904 on Amazon