NO HALF STEPPIN’: An Interview with Local Musician Demetrius Webb

Local musician Demetrius Webb is currently working on his debut solo EP.

Local musician Demetrius Webb is currently working on his debut solo EP.

Demetrius Webb is recognized for his unique acoustic music he performs under the name Pierce the Vegan. He recently also craved creating electric music, and thus, the new identity Beverly Valley was born.

Currently, Webb is working on his debut solo EP.

Photographed by Music Mark Z. Webb plays with a smile at 1860 Saloon in St. Louis.

Photographed by Music Mark Z. Webb plays with a smile at 1860 Saloon in St. Louis.

“I’ve played in other bands where we’ve done a song or two or whatnot, but this is the first full, serious thing that I’ve put out,” Webb said.

I first met him when he performed at an open mic in St. Louis, Miss., last spring. However, since he’s currently in the throes of the recording and tracking process, he won’t be playing live or promoting until he’s in a more finished phase of the album. Still, Webb definitely does not forget about his fans — check out his YouTube videos for proof. He graciously interacts with many commenters on his videos, often covering song requests. It’s no wonder Pierce the Vegan’s YouTube channel has over 100K views.

“I just think that the way that I cover and do things is kind of something new that I’ve brought to the table. People really wanted to hear their favorite things. I just simply love what I’m doing, and that’s it.”

There’s such a blissful energy radiating from Webb that when you listen to him speak, people can genuinely hear his smile. Even as he discussed some setbacks he has come across while recording, one can sense the dedication he applies to his work.

“It’s been a process because I don’t want to just settle on anything. At the end of the day, I’m going to know how much time I’ve put into it, and I just want it to be really ready.”

When, later, I asked what flavor of soda he’d be, he said, “I’d probably go with grape soda, because, have you ever seen a diet grape soda?... Ain’t no half steppin’, so grape soda for sure.” He laughed, giving credit partially to skateboarder and jokester Buttery Ass Donovan for his response. While he can credit Donovan for that, Webb himself is the sole person to credit for his new EP — from the production’s start to finish, he’s working alone.

“That’s all me, staying true.”

There’s no question that you need to keep an ear open for the upcoming EP from Beverly Valley, to be released on Spotify and iTunes, as well as in good ol’ fashioned CD form.

Webb's passion is clearly seen as he jams on percussion.

Webb's passion is clearly seen as he jams on percussion.

Anya Malley: Your new EP’s called “A Failed Marriage That Could’ve Meant the End of the World.” Do you have a story behind the title?

Demetrius Webb: Yeah! Basically, I named the EP after a song. That is a reference to a Pierce the Veil song called “Diamonds and Why Men Buy Them.” It’s a lyric that’s like “I saw the moon divorce the sky,” and I was just like thinking about that. “Hmm… ‘I saw the moon divorce the sky,’ and I thought, “That’s… a failed marriage that could’ve meant the end of the world!” I ended up, like, kind of rewording that inside the song… “There’s no ring on the moon’s finger — her and the sky did not work out.” It’s kind of like a little reference. It’s a crazy name you won’t hear anywhere else. I think it’s really cool and beautiful.

 

AM: That’s super cool! So, I understand you’re sort of [drawing inspiration from] Pierce the Veil, Paramore, Flyleaf. In what ways do you want to reflect their music into your own?

DW: One of the biggest things is that their music, or at least most of those bands — it just sounds different. Everything about it is exciting: all the guitar parts, the instrumentation, the vocals are always exciting and beautiful and dynamic. The writing, the lyrics — the meaningful parts of that. Also, they’re not just great songwriters, but they also have amazing stage presence and, looking at those bands, they taught me how to play with my heart and be passionate.

 

AM: When you’re writing, how do you find inspiration for music and lyrics? Do you plan it, or does it come when you don’t expect it?

Photographed by Wesley Adams Music

Photographed by Wesley Adams Music

DW: It’s kind of like a mixed bag I think. You know, sometimes I’ll just like sit down and make myself write some words or think of some abstract ideas. But then sometimes, you know, a random guitar part that I play might then cause me to think of some words. I do draw a lot of inspiration from mainly Pierce the Veil nowadays; their lyrics are so poetic and just really something different. I’ll sit there and write a paragraph or two, and then a lot of the times […] a couple days later I’ll come back to something I’ve previously written. It takes a while.

 

AM: I think that’s the coolest thing about music and art — it doesn’t happen in a day, usually. I mean, sometimes inspiration strikes, but I feel like, you know, it just keeps snowballing as life goes on and you learn more.

DW: Exactly.

 

AM: Do you work on other art besides music?

DW: Yeah, every once and then, I’ll, you know, pull out a pen and pad and I’ll draw. I’m actually a fairly good drawer. Other than that, I do photography. I invested in a DSLR and everything — got all the cool gear for it. So, I grew up in Springfield, Miss., and [was] introduced to skateboarding and got into the rock ’n’ roll and tight pants and whatever (laughs). And I started filming my friends, and then that has given me a love for cameras and things. I was the yearbook photographer for the final three years of high school — doing it super hard. And I’m pretty good!

 

AM: You’re still doing it today? You’ll break out your camera every once in a while?

DW: Yeah, it’s even to the point where, like, I’ll do some photos for myself for my artistry, and I’ll do the whole remote thing. I’m even trying to film my own music videos for songs.  

 

AM: Awesome! So, “Warm Soda Magazine” wants to convey the [consumption] of art — not just viewing it and existing with it but consuming it as a whole. How do you think that art and music affect people’s lives? Why can we not live without it?

DW: I think probably one of the more simpler answers is I mean, just, it truly does get us through happy and sad times in life. At the end of the day, you know, when it comes to music, I think people forget songs don’t always have to be serious. They don’t have to be crazy serious. I mean, as long as it makes someone move and dance and smile and kind of happy, at least for a little bit, I think that’s just the main goal: they connect with it. It gets us through things, and, actually, it inspires us to think differently. You hear a lyric and it might cause you to change things in your life and go for different things and change ambition. It’s also kind of like, you know, you meet fans of your favorite bands or artists, and you just have that connection sometimes — at least I’ve felt [like that with] Pierce the Veil fans. It’s a beautiful thing.

Webb working on some tunes with his guitar and laptop.

Webb working on some tunes with his guitar and laptop.

AM: In five years, do you see yourself doing the same thing, or do you see yourself creating different kinds of music? What kind of musical path do you find yourself on?

DW: I think I’ll probably still do the kind of alternative rock, post-hardcore. I might dabble or whatever in other things. I feel like I’m always going to be a musician, no matter at what level, whether it’s touring or whether it’s like YouTube covers or putting out solo records like I do. It’s literally my life and my life’s work, and I’m just always going to do it.

Check out Webb’s Facebook here and YouTube here

Written and edited by Anya Malley