Having only recently left our shores following their stint on Aiden’s World By Storm Tour, Chicago’s Kill Hannah are heading back in June to make their debut at Download and lead singer Matt Devine caught up with R13 to tell us how he feels about the band finally getting recognition in the UK, what it was like sharing Aiden’s tour bus, just why Slash can be seen in Kill Hannah t-shirts and why he won’t be stuck for interesting conversation should he bump into Gene Simmons.

R13: Even though you’ve been a band since 1994, things have only just really starting taking off for you in the UK making it seem to many that you are a new band. How does it feel to be viewed as this or do you find it exciting to be winning over new fans all over again?
MD: I feel like the last 5 years of constant touring back home in the states has all been preparation for what’s happening in the UK right now. It's weird to say, but even as a kid, when I imagined what 'success' would be like; my vision of it was always landing at Heathrow and playing Top of the Pops or the John Peel Show. It's more than exciting ... our fans here are out for blood. I need to take a self defence class before I can go anywhere near that crowd at Download. I hope Security are in good shape, cos I’m certainly not. My body looks like Golum from Lord of the Rings.

R13: You’ve said in the past that many of your influences are from the UK such as The Cure, does this make it seem even better that you’re starting to get recognition over here?
MD: Yeah. If I found out that Robert Smith saw our poster in Kerrang! I would probably pass out. In the early days, we would get attacked for referencing any band that used keyboards. To me, aside from Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins, virtually all my favourite bands are from the UK -many of them we've been lucky enough to know personally. We will always be an American band but this is truly starting to feel like a second home for us.

R13: You’ve been to the UK a few times now, what are your favourite things about touring here and are there any parts of the UK you still want to go to?
MD: In 2007 we came out to the UK 5 different times. Some people back in America thought we moved here permanently! I love so much about the culture. I love the fact that Kate Moss could be on the front page of a major daily newspaper simply because she left her house wearing a short skirt. I love that really old men drink in pubs up until the day they die, saying things like “fucking lovely” or “fucking marvellous”. I love that our fans bring us thoughtful gifts. On our last tour I was given Vivienne Westwood jewellery, paintings, books, poetry, I even was given a tuxedo jacket. I love the 24hr Tesco so I can buy wine at 5am. I love the history of places like Oxford and York. I love the ocean and the hot married women driving Porsches in Brighton and the nightlife in London. By now we've played something like 25 different cities in England alone. I’m sure we'll get to all of them eventually.

R13: You were recently here with Aiden as part of their World By Storm tour. How did that go?
MD: That was one of my favourite tours... we had just begun getting serious radio play and press and it just made me feel so proud to see our army of fans grow so quickly. The Aiden guys are like our little brothers... cute and little and sarcastic as fuck - never have any of them ever passed up an offer for a free tattoo.

R13: Is it right you were sharing their tour bus? Any tour stories you can share or are you sworn to secrecy?
MD: Yeah. In the bus we had 10 band members, 6 crew, and 2 chicks. It was like an ongoing reality show. Unfortunately the lower lounge became a place to store stage clothes, so after a month it smelled like a hamster cage. There were nights of excess to be sure, but more DVDs were watched than anything else. I think I saw Casino Royale like 20 times... Hey there's something else I like about the UK - Bond. More specifically the Bond girls.

R13: You’ve toured with a variety of bands in the past, everyone from 30 Seconds To Mars to HIM to Velvet Revolver and Alice In Chains. Do you find that your style of music allows you to adapt quite easily to slot in with these bands?
MD: I don’t know what our 'style' is but we do have a large repertoire of songs so we are able to tailor a set list that's appropriate for the bands we're touring with. When touring with good friends in like-minded bands such as 30STM or HIM, we can just be ourselves, because all of their fans are compatible with ours. However, when we share the stage a band like Velvet Revolver, we definitely step up the testosterone and adrenaline. Shorter set, higher volume, and no clever chit chat between songs.

R13: Having played with Velvet Revolver, did you find it intimidating being on tour with someone like Slash who many see as being a rock icon?
MD: In my experience, it isn’t the person themselves who intimidates you, it's their bodyguards. It also adds to the mystique that he was touring in a personal bus that was wrapped with advertisements for Guitar Hero III. So every day he would step out of the door next to a 10 meter computerized image of himself. Once the crew realized that we were actually on the tour and not there to stalk anyone, Slash warmed up immediately. He grabbed a bunch of Kill Hannah shirts for his family. Every now and then I get an email that he's wearing a KH shirt on some TV show or something. I can’t blame him. I have to admit, our shirts are pretty fucking soft.

R13: You’ve said in the past that your early tours in the UK were funded by the band and yet you are able to pull off shows with a professionalism that few other bands in position even attempt to recreate. With this in mind how frustrating is it when people criticise you, claiming you put your style before your music?
MD: They've obviously never seen us live.

R13: Do you find it annoying that people see you as following the current scene? For instance it’s all too easy for people to tag you lazily as an emo band and sandwich you in with the current influx of such bands when in fact Kill Hannah’s style has been relatively the same since the band first started.
MD: Yeah. We've weathered so many storms. One month it's 'cool' to do something, the next month you're crucified for it. We are frankly too busy recording, touring and surviving to understand the current scenes let alone follow them. We are either super fashionable or super unfashionable depending on who you ask and in what country and on what day of what year. Personally I don’t give a shit. The only people I care about are my band mates, our fans, and people out there who aren’t afraid to stand up for the bands that matter to them.

R13: You have a strong fan base who calls themselves the Kill Hannah Kollective. How much of an important role do they play in the bands life and have you had any over zealous fan experiences?
MD: Kill Hannah fans redefine the word 'overzealous'. I don’t know where they get the energy. The KHK are tireless soldiers. They remind me of soccer hooligans... only they tend to have cooler style - and instead of bats and knives their weapons are blogs and flyers and phones. Official members of the KHK tend to behave professionally, so the experiences you might be asking about are most likely with non-KHK. Those include spastic breathing, hyperventilating on cue, fainting upon contact, and the occasional 'please sign my boob and my baby's head'.

R13: For the UK ‘Until There’s Nothing Left Of Us’ is the first Kill Hannah album we’ve been able to get hold of easily and yet its been out in the US for a few years now. Having had to promote it all over again in the UK, is there ever a point when you feel its becoming too repetitive and you just want to get on with recording a new album?
MD: Well the album is actually still just under 2 years old here in America. Plus, we go into every recording session with the mentality that we will be playing it live for many many years to come. If the songs feel old after 2 years, then we haven’t done our jobs. They still feel totally fresh to us, and each time we play them they take on a new life in the context of a new crowd.

R13: ‘Until There’s Nothing Left Of Us’ saw a change in the way you wrote songs with you no longer being the sole song writer. How has this changed the whole writing process and is it something you intend to stick with now?
MD: It's really cool… it's a refreshing exercise for me to collaborate with the guys, and the outcome is always something I never would have come up with independently. Certain songs on the next KH record will certainly use this process.

R13: You’re back in the UK in June to play the Download Festival. How did it feel to be asked to play?
MD We've known about our spot at Download for a long time, but we were forced to keep it a secret. Now it's public and we couldn’t be more thrilled. It's one place for the fans from all over England to converge at the same time. Plus, I mean, KISS? This is surreal. I just saw the Gene Simmons sex tape too, so there's an icebreaker if I end up standing next to him at catering.

R13: Download is traditionally seen as a metal festival and the crowd are quick to vent their criticism of a band with My Chemical Romance bearing the brunt of bottle throwing last year and Aiden the previous year actually started to encourage the crowd to throw things at them. Are you slightly worried about the crowd’s reaction and have you any strategies on how to win them over?
MD: That seems a little extreme. If you're a hard core metal fan, and you throw bottles at any band who doesn’t fit your narrow definition of 'metal', then why are you at Download? Just go to Norway and watch Nihilist all year long and don't risk a sore arm. Otherwise, respect the choices that the Download staff made, and open your ears to some new sounds. All I know is, I don’t care who you are, everyone wants to get laid in the summertime and even the most evil of all metalheads has to realize that being receptive to Kill Hannah will 100% help you get chicks. Also, where I grew up, empty bottles were worth 5 cents if you returned them to the store. So it's win/win.

R13: What bands would you recommend people check out at this year’s Download?
MD: Kill Hannah, HIM, Jimmy Eat World, Lostprophets, Black Tide, The Subways, Ash, Madina Lake, Pendulum, Children of Bodom, Brigade.

R13: Lostprophets are closing the festival on the main stage on the Sunday, you’ve toured with them in the US in the past and now they’re headlining a festival. How do you think they’ll handle it and are you hoping to catch their set?
MD: They are no strangers to huge festival crowds. They'll be a smash as always. I will for sure try to catch their set. Maybe try to steal one of Ian's jackets.

R13: Given the chance to run your own festival, who would be your ultimate line up?
MD: NIN, The Cure, Radiohead, Muse, Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, Catherine Wheel, 30STM, HIM, Prodigy, MCR, and Kill Hannah. Oh and Kate Moss solo acoustic set.

R13: What else is planned for the band for the rest of the year and are there any more UK festivals planned or will be the winter before the UK sees you again?
MD: We play a couple more festivals in Germany and Austria around the same time as Download, with some European dates in between. Then we headline a US nationwide 40-date tour. After that we come back in the late fall to headline our own proper UK/Europe tour, which may possibly take us as far east as Russia. I've heard rumours of Japan and Australia but that's unconfirmed.

R13: And finally, if your band mates were cartoon characters who would they be and which character would you be?
MD: Cartoons? Like an animated movie or like a Simpsons character? All I can think of is Aladdin the Disney movie, and I guess that would be me, cos we both have dark hair and narrow skulls.