This Superfluous Conversation took place November 16th, 2012, in Mat Devine’s West Village apartment at about 2:30pm. Beyond being a generally hilarious and all around enjoyable human to waste time with, the oft-used phrase “jack of all trades” really does apply to this eccentric fellow. Mat’s band, Kill Hannah, has released six albums (and, according to Wikipedia, three DVDs). He frequently writes witty columns for Thought Catalog. He produces pop songs for Enrique Iglesias. He was in Spiderman on Broadway. He has a t-shirt line called Animal Royalty (I am sporting one of his creations above). He babysits Kat Von D’s er, kat, and, apparently, the man can host one hell of a tea party. So, over tea and scones, Mat and I discussed his copious undertakings and how to kill goldfish.
Have you ever hosted a tea party before?
Only once. It was on my roof and it was during horrible weather. It wasn’t relaxing, it was more the novelty aspect of it. This is what it’s supposed to be like.
This is pretty delightful.
Super chill. A little dusty vinyl in the background. You have to try this scone.
Fine. I would be a rude guest if I didn’t eat your tea snacks.
I grew up in Connecticut, and when I was a kid my mom thought there’s nothing fancier and more romantic than going to the Oak Room for tea in the Plaza. A few times during my childhood, my mom took me and my two sisters on a train to New York from Connecticut to go there just for the tea.
Their tea parties are probably fancier than this. They probably have little tiny sandwiches.
You know I write for Thought Catalog? The last thing I submitted to them was a total joke. It was funny to me but I’m pretty retarded. I wrote this whole intro about how as a parent educating your child, you can never have a conversation about life and death with them too early. You really should impart this wisdom on them that although death is tragic, it also is an opportunity for self-reflection and helps you appreciate the time you do have.
This doesn’t sound like a joke.
No, no, that’s the set up. You should have this existential conversation with your child and that’s why I’ve written this children’s book for 2-year-olds called 101 Ways to Kill Your Goldfish. So after that big set up, the book is literally a list. Like step on it, starve it, overfeed it, throw it off the veranda, feed it to your cat… and then it gets really elaborate. Like wear a cloak like a druid and burn it on a miniature funeral pyre.
This sounds like a really inappropriate book for children.
Oh, that’s the point. It’s not for children at all. So anyways, I submitted it thinking it would be a blog entry and they want to make it into an actual book. Why did I bring that up? Oh ya! One of the ways to kill it was to put it in Aunt Mary’s cucumber finger sandwiches at high tea.
So now you also write really disturbing children’s books.
It’s just one more thing that I can fail at. But I think it’s important to involve yourself in lots of things. Good parenting is all about forcing your kid to do lots of crap they don’t want to do.
My parents did that to me, I just ended up being mediocre at tennis, piano and karate.
You should combine all of those into a single sport. Full contact tennis.
Set to piano. Me and my friends used to play full contact duck duck goose at summer camp. What else are you up to these days?
A ton of crap. My main gig has always been Kill Hannah.
I like where the name came from. I Googled you the other day.
The name has limited us in a sense, because we don’t get the bookings for Hyundai’s Christmas Party. We didn’t get on Fuji Rock in Japan because the main booker has a daughter named Hannah. Or maybe it’s just because we suck. So that was my life, being on tour or being in the studio for eleven and a half months out of the year. You don’t even ask why or where you’re going, it’s just, here’s your tour, go. We’d say, “fuck yeah, see you tomorrow.” As we’ve gotten older we start asking a few more questions. Who are we going on tour with? Might I make money from it?
Cut to 2009 and we put our record out on Universal and we’re touring, and as that tour was winding up I got the opportunity to audition for Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. I went from never having acted once to being in the largest budget musical in history. It was a wonderful education for me and a sick chance to work with talented people, that has since has led to other acting stuff. Indie films and commercials. I did a Chevy commercial a few months ago and I just auditioned for a Marlborough commercial yesterday. Acting is a racket. It’s a lifestyle of rejection. And you wonder why all the famous actors are bat shit crazy.
But you’re a little crazy too.
I’m eccentric, but I’m really stable. I just make horrible decisions on a daily basis. Anyways, so I’m juggling lots of things. Musically I’m coming out with my first solo record on Valentine’s Day. I just shot a couple videos in LA. I shot one in Kat Von D’s house. She’s a really good friend and I was staying at her place for a week watching her hairless, alien-y cat, so I took the opportunity to shoot in her house. It’s a lot of taxidermy and melted candles—it’s what you’d expect. I also have a website called The Raccoon Society.
You mentioned you’re producing for other artists, too.
We don’t have another record coming out until next year, so I’m using this two year period in New York to do as many other things as I can. Being in New York almost feels like an activity in itself. Anyway, yeah, I’ve gotten into writing for bigger pop artists. It’s so different than what I do, It’s so fun. Like working on a song for Enrique Iglesias, which is hilarious, and Kelly Roland and The Saturdays. Deconstructing and reconstructing a pop song has become a new obsession for me.
What’s the last good piece of advice you got from someone?
I talk to my wine merchant a lot.
I don’t mean a wine recommendation.
He also gave me a jazz singer to listen to named Blossom Dearie. That was great advice.
That’s also a recommendation.
I’ve gotten good advice my whole life. My parents were very supportive. It was just basically go to a college I’ve heard the name of.
And don’t start a cult.
I tried to start a cult once. It’s so much harder than it sounds. Oh my buddy gave me advice! Rose gold. A little splash of rose gold catches the ladies’ eye.