By Gary Wright

Devin Houser, 30, is the vocalist and bassist of Oskaloosa punk/rock band Black Star Alliance. The band's most recent performance was on Saturday 31 October, Halloweenapalooza 6, held at Hotel Ottumwa, 107 E 2nd St, Ottumwa.

Q: How did Black Star Alliance first come together?

My brother Derek Billick and I created BSA in October of 2012 with our cousin Patrick McPherren, and mutual friend Brandon Williams. Just shy of 2 years with that line up, it started to fall apart when differences of musical direction arose. Brandon eventually left the band to start a family and Derek left shortly afterwards and moved to Texas. Colton Junjohan, our current guitarist, used to play for the band Half Past Dawn, a band that we had played quite a few shows with. At the second to last show Derek and Brandon were to play with us, Colton was also playing one of his last show with HPD as well and approached me about joining the band. He was the best fit for us, not only musically, but he also shares numerous interests that Patrick and I share outside of BSA. We had tried adding another guitarist, but another ever seemed to work out. After a few shows we decided we were happy as a three piece.

Q: You say that the band plays a blend of punk and hard rock, can you tell us a bit more about that?

It really comes down to the wide musical influences we all have. Most of mine are punk bands who started out in the late 80's/early 90's. Colton grew up on 80's hair bands. Patrick has a lot of 90's pop punk and 80's. We all share very similar tastes in hardcore/metal bands as well. When we write music we are never mindful of genre. We just write what ever we want, you know? It just usually comes out fast and loud, and we are more than ok with that.

Q: You have recently played some shows in Nebraska and Wisconsin, what were your experiences like there?

Omaha was a straight up punk show. I felt like a teenager again. Which was a good thing. Playing a floor-level gig in a small bar with the audience right in your face, makes for a very personal show and you get to really connect with fans. After the show we grabbed some breakfast and headed to Greg's house to crash. Greg is one of the guitarists from the band 'The Shidiots' out of Omaha. We really owe him one for saving us from sleeping in the truck bed at a rest stop or Wal-Mart parking lot.

The other show was at Jimmy's Juke Joint in Bloomer, Wisconsin and was the second time we had played there. Wisconsin really knows how to party. Both times there have been extremely fun and we will be going back that way for sure. After a kick ass night of music we proceeded to drink until about four or five in the morning. We slept in a tent that was provided for us behind the bar. The bar is outside city limits so it was cool to just sit outside on a clear night under the stars, downing beer (and a bottle of 'blueberry pie') and swapping stories with Jimmy and some of the musicians from the area. I'm sure more hazy memories will be made in Wisconsin.

Q: You have a new album coming out soon, titled 'Commercial Failure'. Can you tell us a bit about it and when we can expect it?

The album is going to be our very first full length and we are very excited to get it finished. It keeps getting pushed back due to scheduling. Colton is in the guard and Patrick is currently finishing up his college education which makes scheduling studio time slightly difficult. Top it off with me working two jobs and having a family to take care of as well, we only find small chunks of time to work on recording. Thankfully Curtis Morgan at CM Sound is easy to work with and makes the process fun in a very relaxed environment. We are hoping to have it finished sometime before the start of next year. Our schedules will be freeing up more by next summer so we can put more time on the road to promote the album, but we are also hopeful to write a bunch of new songs during the coming winter months as well.

Q: Who is your favorite local band right now?

This is a really tough question, as I am fond of many of the other bands we have played with over the years. I really don't have a favorite. Most members of these bands are good friends of mine and I enjoy each of their music in some way. Every band is different, and have something I find appealing.

*** I'd like to thank Devin for taking the time to do this interview. ***
*** Special thanks to Blitzcreek for the permission to use their photo of Devin. ***




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