Back before Bar Deluxe was Bar Deluxe, it was Shaggy’s Living Room. Before that, it was Egos. That was in the early ‘00s. DeVotchKa used to play Egos at least once or twice a year. The shows never sold out. They’d play to a small, lucky crowd, they’d drink with the crowd, they’d sometimes play their instruments from the crowd. To the lucky audience, DeVotchKa was a very well-kept secret.
“We’ve been coming there for years,” Nick Urata, frontman for DeVotchKa, says. “[Salt Lake City] is one of the closest places on the map to us. It definitely means a lot that we can come back there and play.”
But now that DeVotchKa is scoring movie soundtrack deals and being nominated for Grammys, they don’t drop by as often. Rather, their tour schedule more often takes them overseas and along the eastern and western seaboards than to Utah.
“It seems like we’re still kind of a well-kept secret in the grand scheme of things,” Urata says. “We’re not playing an arena or anything.”
They aren’t a well-kept secret from movie producers. Urata and company scored Little Miss Sunshine and I Love You Philip Morris. They have other soundtrack gigs on the burner.
But penning a soundtrack is quite different from a traditional album. In soundtrack work, “you have to write so much that gets thrown out,” Urata explains, “the process is really different than something we’d normally do.” Finding agreement among a four-piece band is difficult enough. Throw in a movie producer, director, soundtrack advisor, and “there are just lots of cooks in the kitchen.”
Despite the sometime tedious process, DeVotchKa is used to combining music with visual arts and they’re happy to be writing movie scores.
Their soundtrack work is on the backburner, however; DeVotchKa is currently focused on promoting their new album, 100 Lovers, which will be released on March 1, the same day as their SLC show.
The new album retains the DeVotchKa sound, but it adds some components not present in previous releases.
“We have some new influences that we wanted to bring in,” Urata says. “There are tango influences and some great Brazilian percussion that we’ve always wanted.” The tango influences, with heavy accordion lines and rhythms, are perfect for DeVotchKa. Brazilian rhythms, however, seem conflicting with the DeVotchKa sound. But, somehow, the Brazilian rhythms fit right in. “We just kind of bring it into our own world,” Urata says. “We wanted to make a step forward with our music and take it somewhere else.”
To support this album, DeVotchKa will have a busload of people including musicians, dancers and stage crew. “There’ll be performers,” Urata says, “We’ve tried to expand the visual show a little bit.”
Urata only alludes to the visual performance without giving too much detail. “It’ll be a step up from the last time we were there.” The last time they were here, they had aerial acrobats performing along with many of their songs.
With live acrobats and sold-out shows, today’s DeVotchKa shows do not have the level of intimacy that the old Egos shows did.
“Those days were fun,” Urata says reminiscing about the Egos shows. “The upside is that it’ll sound a lot better than at Egos.”
In the Venue
219 S. 600 West
Tuesday, March 1, 7 p.m.