7 Deadly Sins, 7 Cosmic Connections: A Conversation On Kitchen Dwellers’ New Album ‘Seven Devils’

Guitarist Max Davies detailed the band’s new LP inspired by Dante’s classic work, The Divine Comedy.

By Nate Todd Feb 28, 2024 10:54 am PST

Bozeman, Montana-based bluegrass outfit Kitchen Dwellers are set to release their new album, Seven Devils, on Friday. The introspective LP was inspired by towering literary figure Dante Alighieri and his classic 14th century work The Divine Comedy. Like Part I of the narrative poem — the aptly named Inferno, which sees Dante and Roman poet Virgil journeying through the Nine Circles of Hell — Seven Devils explores the Seven Deadly Sins.

Heavy? Absolutely, most good albums are.

Kitchen Dwellers’ own epic journey began with the Seven Devils title track, written by banjo player Torrin Daniels.

“We’ve had the song ‘Seven Devils’ for a few years now,” Max Davies said when JamBase recently had a chance to catch up with the KD guitarist. “That was actually written during the pandemic. The song almost went on our previous record Wise River. For whatever reason, we decided to hang on to it. We thought that it would be better served for a future project.”

Seven Devils (Limbo) Video

Just as Dante has revelatory experiences in The Divine Comedy, so too did Kitchen Dwellers and they were no less cosmic. The first being, as Davies explained, that for some reason they didn’t include “Seven Devils” on their previous album Wise River.

While the quartet — Davies, Daniels, mandolinist Shawn Swain and bassist Joe Funk — had the song “Seven Devils,” the idea for the album was not yet fully formed.

“So then we started writing songs for this new album,” Davies said. “We just knew that we wanted to come out with another record. We thought that if the previous album was about the natural environment, on this new one, we wanted to dive a little bit deeper within ourselves. Coming out of the pandemic, the world is an ever-changing place. So I think we really just kind of wanted to dive deep and think about the human condition.

“Everyone in the band writes songs. All four of us write music and lyrics. So it was a fun thing to work on together. [Then] Torrin had this thought of — I think it just popped in his head one day — he was like ‘Dante’s Inferno, The Seven Deadly Sins,’ because some of these songs already had elements of that.”

What Max is describing is a great example of coupling talent with a pulling back of the veil — tapping into the font of artistic creation. Dante wrote in The Inferno, “O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!”


The third cosmic connection came in the form of Glenn Brown, who helmed Billy Strings’ Grammy-winning album Home, several Greensky Bluegrass LPs and now Seven Devils. Max detailed Brown’s skill in conjuring the best from the band.

“There’s one song, it’s the last song on the album, ‘Unwind.’ Glenn has a certain vibe that he’s like, ‘I want to make this song powerful and impactful. It’s gotta hit you in the face. It’s got to be right there in front of you and it’s got to be interesting.’

“Torrin had some of the words and maybe a couple chords, but on the last day of our first session with Glenn, this song was right in his wheelhouse. He wanted to have a song on the album that sounded like us live because he didn’t think we had necessarily captured that quite yet.

“So we’re all just sitting there, the four guys in the band, inside his room at his studio and he’s in there with us. You’ll play something for him and he will latch on to one thing and be like, ‘Oh, I can hear so many different ideas.’

“He’s like, ‘what do you think about this? I want to hear yours first.’ And then he’ll rattle off. He’s a never ending idea machine. He also has an amazing ear and he’ll say, ‘you can do that better.’ I think one time he said ‘this is your Super Bowl. This is your album. You need to kick the shit outta this.’”

Brown made instrumental contributions to Seven Devils as well including sitar and electronic elements. He also secured bodhrán (a traditional Irish drum) player Dermot Sheedy on Davies’ song “Waterford Son” — which tells the remarkable story of Irish nationalist and American Civil War veteran Thomas Meagher, the fourth connection.

“We even had a guy in Ireland, he played the Irish drum,” Davies said. “We tried to have somebody in the states, the guy Glenn knows that is really proficient in all the Irish instruments, but he wasn’t able to do it. So Glenn was like, ‘I think I found this guy in Ireland.’”

The fifth connection also pertains to “Warterford Son.” After he led the Union Irish Brigade in the Civil War, Thomas Meagher was appointed Territorial Secretary of State of Montana, Kitchen Dwellers home state, and also and served as an acting territorial governor. Davies was turned onto Meagher’s story by a neighbor.

“Within the band, there’s a few history nerds, especially with the West,” Davies said. “But I had never heard this story and I read this book by Timothy Egan. It’s a story about America and the formation of the West and just kind of this guy who lived such an adventurous life.”

Adding to the mystique are the murky details surrounding Meagher’s death, which came (or didn’t) when he fell overboard a steamboat on the Missouri River. “Waterford Son,” named after Meagher’s hometown in Ireland, fittingly has a Celtic feel with Sheedy on the bodhrán and Doug Berch on penny whistle.

“Meagher’s Reel,” the prelude to “Waterford Son,” features talented fiddler John Mailander, while “Waterford Son” itself includes Mailander and boasts an appearance by stellar singer-songwriter Lindsay Lou. The stars seemed to align in securing the guests on the record — the sixth connection.

“This album definitely had a lot more guests than we’re probably used to,” Max said. “And it’s cool because it’s all within this little circle of music that we’ve been a part of. Lindsay Lou, we’ve toured with her a bunch, played a bunch with her, and are just huge fans of hers. So for her to be on it is very special.

“[Cellist] Kaitlyn Raitz, she’s world class. We feel very lucky to have her on. Mike Shimmin on drums, he’s a longtime Michigan drummer who we were so fortunate to have on. And John [Mailander], we’ve been wanting to get John for a while and it worked out this time around. We’re just super, super grateful.”

The record also sees guest turns from pedal steel guitarist Drew Howard and violist Patrick Monnius.

The seventh and final connection — and perhaps the most important — is with the fans, whether it be a live audience or listeners at home. Max related a story of performing Seven Devils track “The Crow and The Raven (III).”

“[It’s] a very different song for us,” Davies said. “It’s unlike any other song we play live. It’s kind of a slower, quieter song. It builds at the end, but we just played that for the first time in Telluride and it was really interesting. Our shows are usually pretty rowdy and loud. And then we started playing that song and all of a sudden the room became silent. We were like, ‘this has never happened before.’”

The Crow and The Raven (III)

You can catch the cosmic Kitchen Dwellers on the road this spring and summer as well as at their two-night Seven Devils release celebration at The Elm in Bozeman, which begins tonight. The album arrives on March 1. Pre-order Seven Devils. Also, check out KD’s full tour itinerary with ticket info below:

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