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Social Songbird Exclusive: Josh Devine of One Direction Talks Fans, Followers and Twitter Triumphs

Waking to mundane Monday mornings no more; with a collective audience across the social networks totalling a staggering, fan-strong 5 million, the former most followed drummer on twitter, Josh Devine, has taken the time to share his story with us, here, at Social Songbird, offering to shine a light on the role social media has played in his ever blossoming, percussive career.

Young and thump-fuelled, Josh has harnessed the power of percussion to splash his name upon the modern music scene, literally beating his way to a break through. Alongside an ambitious, amicable attitude, Josh's steady talent and sound work ethic have granted him the freedom to live, doing what he loves.

Currently drumming around the world with One Direction, here’s what he had to say:

Now before focusing too heavily on social media, I just wanted to say, 1D or no 1D, you are an impressive drummer. I remember hearing that you started playing from the age of three?! To have 20 years’ experience at such a young age is a rare thing. How do you think this unusual combination of youth and experience has directed your career? 

Do you still love it as much as you did back in the day?

"Thank you so much! Yeah I started playing at the age of 3, my dad is a musician, he sang in a band when I was young so I was always around music! Yeah, I suppose it is a combination of both, most people didn’t expect me to have the experience behind the kit that I did when I first started professionally, which I feel really did help kick my career off; so I would say that was definitely down to starting early and sticking to it religiously growing up.

“Yeah, honestly I still absolutely love it, at times the stuff that comes with it, or has to happen around it, can be tiring and a bit tedious, but actually playing, writing and performing music still excites me, even after all the years!"


"Skepta got us all in as his band to play live shows and radio live lounge stuff and all that, it was just an awesome break into the industry!"

So, tell me a bit about your musical journey to 1D, you’ve toured with Skepta too, right?

"Yeah, so I started really trying to get out and into the attention of people as soon as I left school at 16. I took a short college course in music tech to get my head around the physical aspects of music in order to improve my ability as a musician; in doing so, I learnt to record and mix myself into an (almost) listenable sound so I could start filming covers and sticking them on the internet! haha."

"I heard through some friends at school the year before that there are these competitions that run nation wide in the UK for drummers, so I thought why not try enter some of those! I entered a few and ended up somehow winning them, so people started taking me a bit more seriously in the drumming world, which started, by word of mouth, spreading to companies and different people in the industry, which at 16 was the coolest thing ever; to actually feel like I had achieved something good with what I loved!"

"I then started putting out a few covers and just throwing myself out there, contacting as many up and coming artists and singers and bands as possible using my new found status as leverage to try and get to rehearse or record with people. It got me a few sessions down in London and onto some tours around the country and Europe with various bands etc."

"I played a lot with an up and coming singer called Charlee Drew. I played a few shows with him and recorded a few tracks as well, and then he ended up getting contacted by Skepta asking to do a track for his album; Charlee asked me to play drums on the record and it just kinda spiralled from there! Skepta got us all in as his band to play live shows and radio live lounge stuff and all that, it was just an awesome break into the industry!"

"From there it was word of mouth and I ended up being asked to do a random TV performance with this new boyband on the TV show Red or Black, and it ended up being 1D, who since then I have been touring with pretty much non stop, which is honestly all I dreamed of since I was a kid, so I’m very Fortunate!"

How does your current lifestyle compare to your early career?

"Haha, it’s very crazy now. Obviously back before all the 1D stuff I wasn’t known at all by any fans of anyone because in a normal world, session drummers don’t get any ‘Fame’ as we're just hired help. But ever since the 1D hysteria happened, the fans just wanted to know everything to do with the whole package, which led to this crazy world that I never in a million years could have predicted happening to me. I mean it can get crazy at times when I’m out and about in the street or even just relaxing on a holiday in the middle of nowhere and people are coming up and freaking out and asking for pictures and stuff, it is surreal! But I honestly wouldn’t trade it for the world, I get to live my dream doing something I love, so there’s pros and cons to it all, but overall its an incredible and abnormal life haha!"

"...the fans just wanted to know everything to do with the whole package, which led to this crazy world that I never in a million years could have predicted happening to me."

Rumor has it that you are the most followed drummer on twitter, with a staggering 3.5 million followers. Did you ever see that one coming?

"I think I was, but Ashton from 5 seconds of Summer I think must be on slightly more now...Damn it hahaha! But yeah I never ever saw that coming, I used to get so excited when a notification came up saying ‘You have a new follower’, now I cant even have the notifications on cuz it just breaks my phone! There's crazy amount of social power at the end of my finger, I love it!"

In terms of followers, that must mean that you’ve over taken your drumming idols, how does that feel? Do you put it down to being the right age at the right time?

"Yeah, its funny often people will tweet me and say 'Damn you have more followers than this person or that person' who is waaay more famous or more awesome than me, and of course that makes me smile, I find it funny because I could never have dreamed of being known by that many people, especially growing up loving their work! The best part is that it has allowed me to contact and actually become friends with some of my life long heroes and inspirations. So that in itself is worth it!"

Do you ever start feeling a bit power crazy having the ready eyes and ears of so many people? 

"Nah, I suppose that saying from Spiderman ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’ comes into effect very loosely... I realise that I could completely abuse it and spread a lot of negativity, but I try my hardest make a conscious effort to always be polite and humble with it and just try and spread positivity and love through it all, because that's what I feel social media definitely needs more of. Too many keyboard warriors hating on everything just because, and spreading negative stuff and I hate that!"


"...I try my hardest make a conscious effort to always be polite and humble with it and just try and spread positivity and love through it all..."

Do you think that twitter/social media helps transform bands into brands?

"Yeah, I suppose all forms of social media do that, and I think that’s the whole thing with people of influence these days; they are becoming brands! I personally have branded myself using social media to help grow my own career and be able to keep going doing my stuff too, so yeah I suppose if social media wasn’t around then the industry at the moment would be so different; everyone uses social media to grow bands and brands alike. It’s the way of the internet!"


How does a twitter conversation compare with the intimacy of encountering a fan face to face?

"Twitter conversations will never be near to the same as a face to face conversation. I find that, generally speaking, people are a lot braver online and will maybe say things that they would never have the courage to say face to face; this is great for the people who struggle to come out of their shells, but on the flip-side, it can also be pretty bad, as there are a few people I call ‘Keyboard Warriors’ who decide to try and pick battles online, whereas 9 times out of 10 they would never say or do it in real life!"

Social networks such as Facebook and twitter have rapidly grown into daily necessities. How do you think the evolution of social media has impacted your and the band's rise to fame?

"Yeah, it has had a tremendous impact on my rise to the little fame I have. I saw twitter as a way to make a name for myself as a musician, artist and person, so that more doors would open and different opportunities arise through it all in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened if my social media wasn’t strong! Back in the day you really had to be on TV or radio or on a huge platform and that was much harder to do, which made it so much harder to be in the public eye in order for people to notice you. Nowadays anyone can get on social media and try and grow their own personal brand or personality online!"

Because of the huge demand for your music, you’re constantly playing massive venues; it must be hard to really personally connect with the audience in the way you would at a smaller gig. Do you feel that social media has helped to rediscover that lost intimacy?

"Yeah, I think it definitely has, as proven by the various Instagram pictures I, or anyone else involved in the shows, post. The huge venues really do make it hard to connect with everyone, so when people see the tweets from my point of view, its like a slight insight into that particular show, or it can just help people connect, even if they weren’t there or if they were so far back they didn’t think they were seen. Those stage shot pictures just prove to everyone that they all play a part in that big picture so its something that people do love to see."

Your phone can’t stop buzzing! With your fan-base spread across so many time zones, is it hard to find a good moment to switch it off for a bit of a quiet time?

"Haha yeah, I always find there’s someone to reply to or something to do on the phone, especially social media wise; I think it is important to have some time during the day where you can just put it down and leave it for a bit. It's good to have some time just to yourself, sometimes the phone can make you feel like you’re constantly at ‘work’, it can stress you out or even stop you enjoying it which also isn’t great! It’s all about finding the right balance."

I had a listen to the new track, great video! It’s definitely worth a watch! What inspired you to have a go yourself? Do you think you’ll miss your drum kit at live performances?

"Ah thanks very much, glad you liked it. I love creating music; over everything I am a musician at heart so no matter what I do I’m sure I will always create music. Whether people take to it or not, I'm not really that fussed, I just wanted to put out some of the creativity that’s in my head and hope that someone somewhere digs it, haha. I guess if I did it live, yeah, I would feel quite nervous or very out of my comfort zone, but it’s the same as anything, the more I do it then better I will get, so yeah, I’m sure I’ll still jump on the kit."

If the time came where you felt like moving on from 1D, do you think you’ll stay in touch with all the guys, or is that too far off to think about?

"Yeah definitely, they are all really lovely people, despite being some of the most sought after guys on the planet. I’m sure its way to far off to think about, but I’m sure if the time came, we’d still be friends for years to come."

I’ve seen your signature drumsticks, how are the sales? Have other drummers started complementing the weight, width and length of your range?

"Yeah they are doing really well thanks, people seem to love them, so it's all good! It's one of those sticks that just ever so slightly differs from the others out there, so when people try them they can actually feel, even the slightest differences, from the weight to the length. They pack a hell of a punch, but are still light enough for a long set. Obviously they're not for every drummer on the planet as they're slightly thicker than your average stick, but you know what they say, it's all about the girth! Haha."


Obviously I’m very familiar with your home town, which, as we know, is a very peaceful place. Do you use your time at home to take a break from what must be a pretty frantic lifestyle?

"Yeah its lovely and small which is nice after a full on long tour, but to be honest, I still don’t get to spend a lot of time there at all. My parents still live there though, so it's nice to go back and see them and my friends that are still in the area. But not for too long though, it’s a weird balance, once I'm there for a while I'm itching to get back out into the busyness of touring!"

Have you formed many personal friendships through any of the social networks?

"Yeah I have formed some really great relationships all thanks to social media, one of which is actually one of my childhood heroes and now one of my great friends, Brendan Brown from Wheatus. We got connected through Twitter and have started playing music together, hanging out and just chilling for years now. Its just great because I have some really good personal friendships with a load of people from completely different walks of life, half of which originated with the click of a follow button. It seems strange to say it, but its awesome!"


Have you got any more collaborations or solo projects planned for the future?

"Yes, I currently have a few more tracks with Wheatus and my musical brother and fellow 1D band mate Sandy Beales being mixed and finished, and almost a full EP of tracks with Ollie Green so there should be more than enough to keep me busy. I’m also working on some other slightly more personal stuff but its in early stages so I cant say too much about it!"

Has your experience changed your view of the concept of fame? Any wise words about how society treats the famous?

"Yeah, I feel like I’ve really seen and experienced the good and the bad side of it and I do feel like it's changed my view on ‘famous people’. People seem to forget that these ‘Famous’ people, are still just people! They aren’t some superhuman breed, they are just like the rest of us, that’s something that people don’t get their heads around easily, they just run after them hysterically!"

Now I did see a video posted by LovetheDevine, some very intense and heartfelt messages, how do you get your head round having such big impact on the lives of people (I assume) you haven’t met?

"Ah yeah I remember seeing that, I’m not gonna lie, it still hits me when I see stuff like that. To me, I don’t see the things they see, so it can seem crazy, but I am so grateful that people would take time and effort to reach out to me with positivity. That is the best thing that I can do on social media; if I can inspire people and give them some sort of hope and guidance in whatever good way I can, then I'm happy. Its just a bonus when people that have had good experiences because of anything I have done or said have taken the time to let me know :)"

I know it must all be a whirlwind of fun, but what’s the best part about travelling the world and performing with your friends?

"Honestly the best part for me is seeing the different countries and cultures in the world and doing what I love; playing music; doing what I feel I was put on the earth to do. It’s just a massive bonus that I can make my living doing it too. I am well and truly blessed."

Thanks a lot! Really appreciate it.

"Thank you, Leo!"

Here are to play us out, all the way from 2008....(drum roll please)...Josh Devine:

Leo Donnelly 
Ever wondered what would happen if you gave a half-crazed, semi-concussed, unstoppable maverick a platform to write about social media? Follow him 

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Social Songbird Exclusive: Josh Devine of One Direction Talks Fans, Followers and Twitter Triumphs Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, May 29, 2015 Rating: 5

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