“You do something because you believe in it and you feel like it could be successful,” says John Allen, lead singer of the Baltimore-based Charm City Devils. “At that time, I was so young...I didn’t realize you had to write. I always thought we were a great live band.” The royal “we” John mentions is his first band, Child’s Play. John stayed active in music well past his Child’s Play days, drumming with SR-71 and continuing to write and record while waiting for his next opportunity.
That next opportunity came along a few years ago in the form of Charm City Devils. The band - first known as both Forty Acres and Chosen Son – were later renamed by Motley Crue bassist and Tenth Street Entertainment President Nikki Sixx. “The process of coming up with a name was excruciating,” admits John. “We wanted something to point to Baltimore. ‘Charm City’ is a nickname for Baltimore. I don’t know why or where it came from – probably a city elder years ago. [Nikki] put it together with “devils.” He said ‘You guys are like a gang. A rock band.’ I liked that it was putting a dark twist with the light – it gives it a balance,” adds John.
With more time behind the kit than a mic, John is still working on his stage moves as the band gets ready for Crue Fest 2. “I’m still really learning my craft out there as a front man and lead singer,” John laughs. “You get out from behind the drum kit...it’s not as easy as I thought it would be! There’s a lot of things to think about and do out there. You know, like not tripping and remembering the damn lyrics! That’s tough! Engaging the crowd...and singing on key is a big one,” he continues.
In the end, Charm City Devils produce basic, blue jean rock n’ roll – and that’s fine with John. “Musically I’m coming back to my roots. You’re talking about street level, blue collar, straight up rock – stripped down.”
Charm City Devils will play Rock on the Range next month in Columbus, Ohio.