With nearly 20 years under its belt as a band, it’s rare that Americana trio The Devil Makes Three faces a new challenge. But when it kicked off its winter tour this week, it did so with a brand new member: When upright bassist and vocalist Lucia Turino, an original member of the band, decided to step aside from the touring life, Pete Bernhard and Cooper McBean had to decide who would be able to step in and fill 33 percent of the group.
While some bands would panic, lead singer Bernhard explains it wasn’t that difficult of a decision to invite MorganEve Swain into the fold.
“I’d say one cool thing with MorganEve joining the band is her band The Huntress And Holder Of Hands and before that Brown Bird were up there as far as our favorite groups that we ever played with, and we toured with Brown Bird extensively,” he says of the musician who had also previously sat in with TDM3 on cello and fiddle.
He adds Turino “is just wanting to do something different with her life and doesn’t want to spend as much time on the road.”
“She’s welcome back anytime,” Bernhard says. “I’m not going to say she’ll be back on the road with us, but I think me and Cooper are just playing more than she wants to. We were more on the same page when we were younger. There’s no bad blood, and she’s still involved with the recording projects.”
The band released its latest album, “Chains Are Broken,” in 2018, which debuted in the top 10 of the Bluegrass Album Charts. A new album, Bernhard says, is targeted for release this year.
Bernhard’s lyrics have been praised as a unique element in the band’s music. He says blues singers like Willie Dixon have been a major influence on his work, as well as Texas writers like Townes Van Zandt and Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.
“Growing up was pretty varied,” he says. “Lightnin’ Hopkins was my first blues record, through my father. My brother was into rock n’ roll, Southern rock. Early on we met a guy who me and Cooper used to play music with and he introduced me to a lot of the Texas stuff because he was from Texas. … I definitely grew up listening to Bob Dylan as well, a favorite of my father’s. And when I was fairly young I got interested in punk rock: Dead Kennedys, Subhumans, a lot of British bands and reggae as well.”
The Devil Makes Three will perform at Penns Peak, in Jim Thorpe, Pa., on Saturday and White Eagle Hall in Jersey City on Sunday, two venues the high-energy band has never played before despite its extensive touring history, Bernhard says,
“It feels really good” to play to a new audience, he says. “We’ve been playing music a really long time but I still really enjoy that. We play a lot of places in Europe where we haven’t even been to the city before. There’s an element of challenge to it to play to a new audience.”
The only states the band hasn’t played in are Hawaii and Alaska, and that will change on June 20 when it plays in Anchorage along with fellow Americana act Trampled by Turtles.
While TDM3 is considered a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based band, Bernhard and McBean grew up in Vermont. Bernhard now lives in Nashville and McBean is based in Texas.
“I think every place you live has a different musical scene and different musicians you can learn from,” says Bernhard, who notes that he’s working on a solo album that will be released on the band’s own record label. “Me and Cooper kind of went west wanting to play music. We both went to Olympia, Wash., first and things didn’t really work out, then California. … Every place has contributed somewhat to the musical influences.”