Payin' Dues: Little Devils

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Little Devils formed in 2010, and are built around the nucleus of bassist/songwriter Graeme Wheatley and vocalist Yoka Qureshi, with the line- up completed by drummer Sara Leigh Shaw and guitarist Big Ray Qureshi. They call their music, “new shoots from old roots” and their third album, The Storm Inside, recorded at Deptford’s The Music Complex over a two-week period, is 21st century call-to-arms British blues. “It’s the reflection of our life and times, up close,” Graeme Wheatley says.

**Tell us about the songwriting. **The inspiration behind a lot of them is just what life throws at you. That can be general things like lying in bed hearing the emergency sirens with blue flashing lights and thinking, “I’m listening to the birth of the blues” [hence the song The Birth Of The Blues] or it can be more personal, such as thinking that sometimes you can find yourself in a cage, a prisoner of your own design. This is the theme on Wounded. A lot of the imagery on that song was inspired by the poetry of Maya Angelou.

I’ve never heard a voice like Yoka’s

**Music is in the blood, isn’t it? **Well, my dad was a musician as was his mother, so music was always a feature in our house. As a boy I loved The Beatles. Paul [McCartney] is the reason I took up bass. I started to get into blues via Cream. One of my happiest memories is my dad giving me an album by Jimmy Witherspoon and years later, meeting him in Fat Tuesday, a bar in New York.

Rory Gallagher made a big impact on you as well, didn’t he? Rory filled you with the joy of being there in the moment. When I first saw him aged 15, a friend and I took the train from Hartlepool to Newcastle. To get the return train meant missing the encore. Rory played five encores, the last one to about 20 of us, and he shook everyone’s hand. I was grounded for a month.

**Yoka is an amazing vocalist. What went through your mind when you first heard her sing? **I’ve never heard a voice like hers. Ray and I would be in the control room and Yoka would be putting a vocal down and we’d just stare, jaws dropped. The scat vocal on I Still Want It Back was done in one take, with the precision of a laser.

**What does the blues mean to you? **It’s the source of some of the best music of the last 100 years. It’s profoundly affecting and inspiring. You can stick close to the origins or you can muddy up the water, it’s all good so long as you put your heart and soul into it. That’s the key to the blues. Feel it, live it, love it.

The Storm Inside is out now via Krossborder Rekords.