Devil Met Contention
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Devil Met Contention

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF | AFM

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Rock Art Rock





Matt Wild February 24, 2015

Ehson Rad has lived in New Mexico, Texas, Michigan, and now Milwaukee. That mileage, and plenty more, permeates American Times, the new EP from Rad and his pitch-black southern gothic outfit Devil Met Contention. Full of glowering, manic-eyed tales of fire and brimstone and sin and redemption, it’s a record that threatens as much as it invites, and one that represents a bold stylistic shift for a promising, still-young band.

Indeed, calling the five-song American Times new is a bit misleading: one track (“Silver Dagger”) is a traditional folk ballad, and three others (“Arclight Worship,” “Blood Boil Slow,” and “Snakeskin Blues) are reworked originals from Devil Met Contention’s 2012 self-titled debut. The differences between old and new couldn’t be starker. The 2012 version of the band wasn’t really a band at all, but simply a moniker for Rad’s minimal, moody, slow-burn acoustic dirges. Fast-forward three years and an appropriately doom-laden band is now backing the singer-songwriter: bassist Max Nemer, guitarist David Schuyler, and drummer Nez. Their work on the jagged “Arclight Worship” and the Frank Black-esque “Snakeskin Blues” reinvent Devil Met Contention as a barking-mad bar band, grinning gleefully as one half of the crowd calls for one more song, and the other calls for the group’s blood.

But the biggest makeover for 2015 is Rad’s voice. What was once soft and hushed is now gravely, shouted, and theatrical. In an interview with WUWM, the singer claims he’s finally singing “like himself,” perhaps indicting himself for affecting a too-bluesy drawl on his 2012 album. Rad’s new voice, although clearly indebted to roughshod singers like Nick Cave and Tom Waits, suits the band well, even if it takes some getting used to it. It’s over-the-top (and honest) in a way few vocals. Stick around for when Rad turns down the heat on the lovely “Silver Dagger” and the languorous title track, however, and it becomes clear that Devil Met Contention’s American Times is an album worthy of a soul-staking deal with you-know-who. Listen to it now, only at Milwaukee Record.

Devil Met Contention celebrates the release of American Times Thursday, February 26 at The Hotel Foster. Thriftones and Zach Pietrini And The Broken Bones open. - Milwaukee Record


Last month turned out to be one the city’s coldest February’s on record, astonishingly worse than the seemingly endless frigid spell during the same period last year. The local music scene didn’t show any signs of frost bite, as February turned out to be another productive month of shows, releases and music videos. Check out the top picks from last month below:

10. Devil Met Contention conjures the spirit of the Southwest on American Times EP

The dark, musky aroma of the Four Corner states infiltrates the new five-song EP from Americana group Devil Met Contention. American Times EP finds lead singer Ehson Rad at his most brooding, following along the same dusty back roads as Tom Waits and Nick Cave. - Milwaukee Magazine

"Devil Met Contention: Garden of Eden to the Devil’s Back Door"


If you find yourself becoming weak within our mainstream musical pandemonium and questioning who will either tempt you or bring musical salvation I encourage you to gather around the men of mystic, Devil Met Contention.

This 4-piece band is a blend of Americana, Folk to Southern Gothic styles of melody and narratives. Singer/ songwriter Ehson Rad channels and plays their music in intense tonic along with Bassist Max Nemer, Guitarist David Schuyler and Magic Man Nez on the drums. They not only make their listening audience recognize there is more to music than love songs but expresses their own sense of self and what is going on around them with many intricacies and honesty.

Yearning to constantly challenge themselves and their listening audience there is a raw sense of tension like daring to clutch at an apple forbidden.

“All the songs that I like or find myself singing along to are probably not songs about just being in love with someone, they are always about lost, hurt or desire.” Rad said. “So I probably just don’t gravitate towards something like just being in love because it is always more complicated at least I’ve come to understand.”

With inspirations stemming from notorious musical figures such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits to Jack White, you can start to sense that they not only look at our 21st century society with meticulous eyes but search for the inner saint and sin within every action taken.

So if you find yourself among the chaos of today or the paradise of tomorrow or somewhere in between, these songs will help you define it.

Please check them out on bandcamp to indulge yourself or follow them on Facebook to stay current for upcoming shows: - UWM Post

"Devil Met Contention: Songs From The Crossroads"

“People say, ‘You should sing like you’ and at this point I’m happy saying I sing like myself,” says Ehson Rad, lead singer of Devil Met Contention.

The Milwaukee four-piece celebrates the release of their new EP, American Times, February 26th at Hotel Foster.

Rad was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico and has lived in Texas, Michigan and now Milwaukee. The musical heritage of those places and his transient upbringing inform songs like “Snakeskin Blues.”

“I lost my heart in Santa Fe/The Midwest got the best of me/They got my soul in some East Coast bay/Pack my home, be on my way,” Rad howls out.

Rad and band spoke with Trapper Schoepp about the influence of the late Martin Jack Rosenblum, finding a voice and their southern gothic sound.

On “Blood Boil Slow,” Rad says he utilizes elements of voodoo and chanting to ward off “problems, enemies or whatever is plaguing you.”

Rad, who initially used Devil Met Contention as his songwriting moniker, has developed a full band to execute his dark, menacing ballads.

“It’s like the difference between coming to where a campfire was and you can see that there was smoke there. You turn around a second, come back and the whole thing has totally blown up into to a fire,” drummer Nez says of Devil Met Contention’s musical evolution. “We’re helping him burn the fire a little stronger, deeper and hotter.”

Devil Met Contention performed the following off American Times:

1. “Blood Boil Slow”

2. “Snakeskin Blues”

3. “Silver Dagger”

For more information visit: - WUWM

"Listen Back: Local/Live with Devil Met Contention"

Local/Live this week featured Milwaukee’s Devil Met Contention, a former solo project of band leader Ehson Rad.

Rad gathered up a solid crew to help him flesh out his songs filled with lots of Cash-esque swagger and Waits’-inspired gravel and growl. The band’s latest EP, American Times, is filled with twangy guitar and sneaky percussion, portraying its stories of boiling emotions, both blustery and sun-soaked, nicely.

Devil Met Contention played a bunch of these songs on that EP on Local/Live last night, here at the WMSE studios; enjoy a track from their session — “Used To Be” — below. - 91,7 WMSE

"Give It A Spin: “Ferguson” by Devil Met Contention"

Maggie Iken July 23, 2015 give it a spin, interview, music

Milwaukee’s Americana/rock group Devil Met Contention has been making itself known in the 414 area by playing a multitude of shows at a variety of venues. Having played at prominent locales such as The Rave, Shank Hall, and Cactus Club, this four-piece has seemingly found their groove. This could be attributed to the release of their first EP, American Times, earlier this year. Neglecting to take a reasonable amount of downtime, they have released their new single, “Ferguson,” with another EP in the works. Speaking to frontman Ehson Rad about the song, I was able to gain more insight into his songwriting process.

MA:The story of racial injustice and police brutality throughout the country, and namely in Ferguson, has been a massive topic of discussion in the US. Was there a specific event or point in time that inspired you to write this song, or did it start from the time the story broke?

DMC: I had been following the stories about shootings, and subsequent debates on gun control, like many others. I watched with a certain unconscious distance from each story. I felt so disappointed in the justice system and our country after the killing of Trayvon Martin and surprised that there was such strong support for the gunman and what felt like minimal action by a gridlocked political system. Even after President Obama’s re-election in wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre, nothing felt like it was moving towards lasting positive change. In 2014, I was writing and just felt so disillusioned by “America”. I had seen the horrifying video of Eric Garner being killed, and then came the verdict in the Michael Brown case in Missouri. It became overwhelming.

MA: Songwriting is an emotionally-taxing experience. Because of the nature of the song, what was the composing process like this time around?

DMC: The night of the Ferguson riots after the verdict, it was hours and hours of the national media spotlight taking advantage of the strife, frustration of the people of Missouri. It was the last straw of injustice and flame and tear gas and sensationalism. I picked up my guitar, but nothing happened. After I went to work the next day, I overheard people talking about the riots and police response like it was the best action movie they had seen in a long time. It was sick. It was pure complacency. I drove home, sat down near my lamp, and wrote the whole song 10 minutes.

MA: Can you tell me a little bit about the other song on the bandcamp page?

DMC: We’ve recorded a full new album that will include the song “Ferguson” for release later this year, so for the single I thought it might be interesting to include content that might bridge a listener to the eventual album. The raw recording of “Holy Ranger” is one of the very first times we played the song as a full band. If you listen to the ending, you can hear us say something along the lines of “What the hell was that?!”, while we laugh at our first attempt.

MA: Rad also wanted to stress that Devil Met Contention isn’t necessarily a political band. “Not all of our songs involve political issues,” he stated. “We’re just trying to express narrative and emotion through our music, hoping that in the end the songs do the talking.”

Stream the tracks today on their bandcamp. Devil Met Contention will also be performing tonight on 88.9 RadioMilwaukee as part of their 414 Music Live series. You can also follow the band on Facebook and Twitter. - Midwestaxn


Catch up on the best releases from the local music scene this past month with the Top Picks of June. Featuring Direct Hit!, Mike Regal, Vincent VanGREAT, El Shareef, Devil Met Contention, Trapper Schoepp, IshDARR, Sat. Nite Duets and more.

3. Devil Met Contention gallops through the muck

“Life’s some unreliable maze with no foreseeable end,” Ehson Rad sings on Fuel the Lights closer “Holy Ranger.” The southwestern-imbued folk album from Devil Met Contention inhabits some pretty dark space but that line feels particularly hopeless. It’s a testament to the band’s performance that the mood remains somewhat spiritedly despite the heavy thematic elements. - Milwaukee Magazine

"Devil Met Contention: Look to the Past"

The first thing you notice about Devil Met Contention is that they match. In a nod to the classic country and blues acts that inspired the band’s dusky roots rock, the quartet dresses in matching shiny suits, though singer/songwriter Ehson Rad admits they’re beginning to lose a little bit of their attire.
“I’m pretty sure they’re a little less shiny than when we got them,” Rad says. “I have a garment bag and you can see there’s a little bit of gold that’s been wiped off from the fabric. We’ve been wearing these same suits for quite a while, so we’re not quite sure how much longer they’ll last—minus the dry cleaning we’re just hoping they don’t fall apart. But hopefully we’ll be able to get another year out of them.”
The suits, Rad explains, are mostly a gesture of showmanship. “It makes me feel like we’re a band when we’re all standing there matching—I think it helps the performance,” he says. “I don’t know if anybody else in the band agrees, but when I put on my white shoes I know it’s time to play.” But they’re also a manifestation of the same desire to connect with the past that drives Rad’s songwriting. The group’s debut full-length, Fuel The Lights, of ravaged small towns and cities left behind. Some songs tell of decades-old traumas, while others detail wounds that are all too fresh, most notably “Ferguson,” which captures that city’s civil-rights protests via a squalling, Dylan-esque rock number.
“I think I started writing songs out of interest in the American folk tradition, but I wanted to show how the struggles people were writing music about in the past are the same struggles we have today,” Rad says. “If there’s any anger or frustration or love or less in the songs, it’s because everybody can relate.”
Recorded over a couple weekends with Shane Hochstetler at his Howl Street Recordings studio in Bay View, Fuel The Lights kicks a little bit of the grit off of Devil Met Contention’s sound. Where their previous EP, American Times, leaned harder on the growled disquietude of Tom Waits, Lights is at once softer and more self-assured. It even makes time for a waltzing gypsy jazz song, “Dark on the Horizon,” which adds accordion, melodica and trombone to the mix. Rad credits the rest of the band—guitarist David Schuyler, bassist Max Nemer and a drummer who simply goes by the name Nez—for being open to new sounds.
“Everybody in this band is really accepting of change,” Rad says. “In the past we focused on gruff, rocky songs, but the first song on this album doesn’t even have drums; it’s more of a quiet ballad. Our guitarist David has changed a lot. He still has ripping guitar solos but he’s exploring other ways of playing. We’re always looking for ways to expand our sound.”

Devil Met Contention play a Milwaukee Boat Line concert cruise with The Mighty Deerlick on Friday, July 15 at 8:30 p.m. - Shepherd Express

"It takes two to tango in Devil Met Contention’s longing “Used To Be” video"

Since last year’s short-but-sweet American Times EP, the perpetually-suit-clad gentlemen in Devil Met Contention have been routinely bestowing their genre-melding construct of “dark Americana” all over town. Despite being among the city’s busiest and most active acts, bandleader Ehson Rad and company have fortunately found time to write and record songs for a new full-length that’s due out in May.

Prior to tonight’s Boone & Crockett performance as part of Arte Para Todos, Devil Met Contention wanted give listeners a sample of what they can expect on the next record. Better yet, they’re doing so while also granting a glimpse of the sultry video for the single. “Used To Be” is an unabashed song of longing. The Jessica Farrell-directed and Quinn Hester-shot video and its terse, tragic concept perfectly matches the song’s lyrics in ways that are both figuratively and literally moving.

“The concept is based around the movement and energy we’ve experienced at our live performances, and we’ve tried to combine the old school American rockabilly concerts with romantic samba and dance,” Rad tells Milwaukee Record.

Between the deconstructed folk-meets-Chris Isaak song and the dreary dancing captured on film, “Used To Be” surrenders to movement and, in doing so, manages to say so much using so little. - Milwaukee Record

"Watch new music video from Milwaukee's Devil Met Contention"

Devil Met Contention took home a Radio Milwaukee Music Award for “Best Disc We Missed” last year. We don’t want to make that mistake again, so we’re sharing the new single from the “Gothic Americana” band and corresponding music video. - 88Nine Radio Milwaukee


Devil Met Contention cut a distinctive figure in the Milwaukee music scene. Catch them live and it’s impossible to miss their impeccably styled suit-and-tie aesthetic, cribbed straight from the dress code of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. But beneath the sweet threads lies a just-as-distinctive musical sensibility: On 2015’s American Times EP, frontman Ehson Rad growled his way through five tracks of pitch-black southern-gothic rock, casting himself and his fellow musicians as a “barking-mad bar band, grinning gleefully as one half of the crowd calls for one more song, and the other calls for the group’s blood.” Now, on the band’s debut full-length album Fuel The Lights, Devil Met Contention stretches its legs and eases into a more relaxed, confident, and cool style. It suits them well.

Plaintive opener “Before The Horse” perfectly embodies that newfound grace, scoring big with a piano, harmonica, and Rad’s surprising Springsteen-esque croon. The singer’s ever-malleable voice may be the band’s biggest change this time around (largely gone is Rad’s Tom Waits-inspired howl from American Times), but it’s not the only one. Recorded over two weeks at Howl Street Studios, Fuel The Lights is the first Devil Met Contention album to be performed and arranged by all current members, including guitarist David Schuyler, bassist Max Nemer, and drummer Nez. That collaboration effortlessly shines on the album’s more somber tracks—”Horse,” the gorgeously sepia-toned “Die Easy”—but it translates well to the its livelier moments, too. The giddy-up clip of country rave-up “Thunder & Lightning” (inspired by the 2013 Ryan Gosling gem The Place Beyond The Pines) feels affectionate and warm, while the whiskey-soaked “Dark On The Horizon” tosses in an accordion, a trombone, and a melodica for good measure. “Used To Be,” meanwhile, is a haunting slab of dusty Americana, and the self-explanatory “Ferguson” is a powerful protest song in a musical landscape sadly bereft of them.

Splitting the difference between the Devil Met Contention of old and new are the glowering “Holy Ranger” and the perfectly realized “Burn That Bridge.” The latter, says Rad, is about “preparing to leave a place that was your home, only to realize that the thing you want most is to never return.” Likewise, the album’s title, taken from “Bridge,” “is a way of saying, ‘Prepare for a journey through the dark unknown.'” Those are potentially lonely roads, to be sure, but Devil Met Contention navigate them expertly, barreling ahead and looking good in the process.

Before Devil Met Contention release the digital version of Fuel The Lights Tuesday, June 28, listen to it now, only on Milwaukee Record. - Milwaukee Record

"5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To"

2. Devil Met Contention – “Before the Horse”

Breaking up with someone can be a really isolating thing. Like…that is the definition of breaking up with someone. You are being isolated. I think that that’s kinda like what hurts the most about breaking up with someone. I think it’s hard to forget that breaking up happens with everyone and it happens to everyone.

I always think of this story from “This American Life” that I heard and Ira Glass is talking to this woman. Her name is Lauren Waterman and she says this about breaking up.

“Breaking up with someone is literally the most common thing. Like, everyone you know broke up with everyone they ever dated until maybe the person they’re with right now, if they’re with someone right now. But when it happens to you, it feels so specific, like…its, you know? I don’t wanna say that I can’t get over it, but like in a flippant way, you kinda can’t get over it. Like you’re like, “What? This is what’s happening? Its so shocking!”

And because its such a common thing, I think that’s what makes listening to break-up songs really cathartic; knowing that its happening to other people too.

And I think that’s what Ehson Rad really hits in this song. Especially with his lyrics “Before the Horse” and just the name of this song is like, “Before the Horse;” its this phrase that we have for messing things up. It’s like its happened so many times and so many people have made this mistake that we have this cultural shorthand and this phrase to indicate that you are doing things wrong. And I think it really works in this application to a break-up where its happened to everybody and it happens to everybody. It’s a normal thing and we’ll get through it.

Devil Met Contention’s new album, “Fuel the Lights” is out now.
Listen if you like: Johnny Cash, Ending piano bits in Tom Waits songs, Nick Cave - Radio Milwaukee



Devil Met Contention has announced their highly anticipated studio single ‘Take a Chance’ will be released Spring of 2018. 

Take a Chance was recorded and mixed by Daniel Holter of Wire & Vice in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Sonically, the single finds the band in a very different place in 2018 than where they were at the release of their first full length album in 2016. Through explorations in genre, process, and perspective, Take a Chance signals the bands evolution and from it emerges a brand new group. 
Musically, Take a Chance sounds like the work of veteran musicians at the top of their game going full throttle. Performing as a four piece ensemble, Devil Met Contention’s single recalls, Moody Early 80s New Wave Rhythms, Cinematic Sci-Fi Soundtracks, arranged around thoughtful, contemporary narrative songwriting reminiscent of Springsteen and Bowie-presented in a colorful overture full of energy and confidence. 

Listen to the new Single ‘Take A Chance’

Band Members