“Rock ain’t dead … as long as there’s some kid with a piece of shit drum set in his garage, it’s gonna keep going.”
The Cape Cod bar scene is currently home to three brothers who look like they travelled from the Sunset Strip in ’85 back to present day New England in Doc Brown’s DeLorean. Their goal: keep iconic rock and roll alive.
Welcome to Club 9-Ball. Formed in 2018, the trio of brothers sport long hair, aviator shades, and bushy beards. Despite their metal band appearance and the fact that none of them were born when any of these hits were charting, their repertoire is rooted in everything from high-energy ’80s hair rock to Led Zeppelin, all mixed in with their originals.
“I don’t even think it’s intentional … we’re three people and we try to make as much sound as humanly possible.” Seamus Devine, who plays drums, explains their schtick. “Oftentimes even if we play a 50 [Cent] song, it comes out sounding like that grittier heavier thing, because we’re all just making as much noise as we possibly can.”
Paddo Devine, the 24-year-old guitar and lead singer of the band, got his first guitar when he was seven as a gift from his father. Seamus, now 22, got his first drum set two years later at the same age. The boys practiced and performed with each other all throughout their childhood and adolescence. By the time Paddo hit 15, the boys were already playing clubs.
“It was very much a collaboration because, like, you want everyone to be the best they can,” Seamus said.
Mackline Devine, the band’s 17-year-old bassist, only recently picked up his instrument. His passion was acting, not music. When Club 9-Ball lost their bass player during quarantine, Macklin joined his brothers playing the music they all grew up on. He ended up being the final piece to the chemistry and sound.
“I kind of got thrown in the deep end of things, from going from nothing to being like hey you’re in a working rock band now, so that air kind of gave me a good platform to be like okay, I need to be at this level, so I’m just going to get to this level,” Macklin said.
From AC/DC to Oasis, it’s nothing new for brothers to be in a band together, or any siblings for that matter. Sometimes the arrangement fosters chemistry, while in some notorious cases it leads to fighting. For Club 9-Ball, it kills egos.
“There’s no fight for status because we grew up together,” Paddo said. “We already kind of know where we all sit.”
Currently riding the summer tourism on Cape Cod, Paddo, Seamus, and Macklin expect their music to resonate most with an older blue-collar crowd, but the brothers are always pleasantly surprised when younger kids walk into their shows and leave with a newfound appreciation for old rock songs.
“We hit the older generations in a sentimental place,” Seamus said. “But we hit the younger generations in the, I get it now. We had people stop us after every show being like, I’m into hip hop or I’m into some other genre, but now I understand what it’s like to be a rock show.”
While their sets are cover heavy, Club 9-Ball is no cover band. Paddo and Seamus have been writing original songs long before Macklin started on the bass, releasing their first EP, Tomorrowland, back in 2019. The brothers spent their quarantine tightening their performance and writing their first concept album, which they plan to release in late fall or early winter.
“As for the writing process, it’s really fascinating because, on any given day, someone could just be like ‘hey I wrote this riff,’ or ‘hey I got this chorus,’ and then we’ll just sit down and kind of work it out,” Macklin said. “As horrible as the lockdown was, it was kind of a blessing when it came to work because with the three of us living together, we got to write and practice and continue to work in a time when a lot of people didn’t have that chance.”
The Devine brothers received an early education in the arts from their parents. Their mother, Maura Hanlon, is associate artistic director for theaters in Cape Cod; their father, Art Devine, is a resident playwright. Paddo and Seamus’s first jobs were in technical theater, helping their parents out with lights and sound. It not only gave them an understanding of how to run their own show, but also what it took to be a successful artist.
“Constant constructive criticism,” Seamus said. “It really forced us to get good at the basics and get good at what followed that instead of just riding our hey we have some young talent.”
As for the name, Club 9-Ball comes from one of Art’s plays about his experience in the Vietnam War. To mimic the feel of being in Vietnam, Art didn’t use the traditional backstage, but opted instead for a locker room-style backstage they called Club 9-Ball, as in a billiards lounge.
“We want to create something that’s bigger than us,” Seamus said. “[We] want to be kind of like, I know it sounds corny, but [the] people’s band. We want to be something forever accessible to people. We want everyone to have a good time and know that rock ain’t dead and it can’t die because as long as there’s some kid with a piece of shit drum set in his garage, it’s gonna keep going.”
Emilee Klein is an intern at DigBoston who writes about science and technology issues and their connection to Massachusetts communities, though she will occasionally explore trends and vintage topics. Emilee is a journalism student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and currently holds the podcast editor position at the Amherst Wire.