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Musician Spotlight: Josh Randell of Low Level Devils

Meet Josh Randell, the bassist of the Oklahoma-based band Low Level Devils and Marine veteran. Josh didn't come from a musical family, but that didn't stop him from dreaming of playing the bass.

With a strong desire to not just play the instrument, but to master it, Josh has taken his passion to new heights. In addition to his love for music, Josh is also an avid pool player and former competitive weightlifter! Read on to learn more about this multi-talented musician!

Every musician starts somewhere. Everybody has their own motivations. So, what started Josh Randell on his musical journey?

"The desire to play. To play well. Not only did I want to be up on that stage rockin' out and all the fun that comes with that, but I wanted to really know my

instrument. It needed to become an extension of my heart, mind, and soul. That’s why I love music even in its simplest form, mathematical."

With such diverse experiences both on-stage and off, Josh credits his drive to pure ambition. Though he doesn't really have aspirations to be a solo artist, he certainly doesn't take "no" for an answer. If it's a challenge, Josh puts effort into rising to it.

"People said I couldn’t become a Marine, and I did. People said that I couldn’t graduate from college with a great degree that would set me up for life, and I did. People said I would never be good enough to play on the stages that I’ve played on. I did. I don’t let other people's fear be my own. Just because they can’t muster up the discipline to get the job done, doesn’t mean that I won’t."

Between his job, the band, and other obligations, it’s clearly evident that Josh means what he says. People’s negativity can be the greatest motivator.

While not buckling down in the studio (or running to and fro), Josh recalls his other interests. At 13, he became a competitive pool player.

"I became one of the better players at my age anywhere in OKC. I had a couple of guys that were like me, but for the most part, we had to play with adults."

No kidding on the diversity, Josh was also an accomplished weightlifter. He competed in the National Physique Committee (NPC)!

"I won my open class at 47 years old, beating out 20-year-olds for the championship. I take it seriously."

He credits his training with his drive to keep himself in stage-ready shape. The gym routine is an activity and passion that he shares with his wife of 24 years: "We’re a team in the gym. It’s something we can do together."

Josh has played bass for years. Before his current position in Low Level Devils, in 2008, Josh also played with the band Seed of Doubt.

"I used to play a lot of shows that Tony Proctor promoted. He was kind of coming into the scene hard, and he promoted the hard rock/metal bands."

(Tony Proctor is a music promoter who has been pretty instrumental in the music scene in Oklahoma. Tony was a mentor to many musicians in the area.)

At the time, there weren't many venues in the Oklahoma City or Tulsa area that catered to original hard rock and metal acts. Many would argue that this still holds true these days. Like many big cities, venues tend to favor cover bands.

"I don’t want to take anything away from those hard-working original acts out there, quite the contrary. I’m one of them, but I’ve never known it to be any different and I’ve been playing in this scene for 20 years."

As a kid, Josh would listen to mostly Country and Western, with a bit of Top 40. But his taste in music has obviously changed over the years.

Though starting with C&W, he discovered the eccentric greatness that is Ozzy Osbourne:

"That’s what really made me the musician and music lover that I am today. Ozzy, and all he has done and all the musicians he has done it with. Then, on my musical bass player’s journey, I discovered Jaco and jazz."

Josh heavily emphasizes the band Weather Report.

"If you haven’t listened to Heavy Weather by Weather Report, you’re musical taste buds have not known good tunes yet!"

(Weather Report was a jazz fusion band founded in 1970 which released more than 20 albums over the course of their career, gaining critical acclaim for their distinct mix of jazz and rock. They disbanded in 1985, but their influence on the jazz and rock scenes can still be felt today.)

That’s quite a leap from country and western to hard rock. One would assume that someone’s taste in music would remain somewhat consistent, but Josh’s preferences have evolved over the years.

“I listen to just about everything now. You name it, if it has a groove, I’m into it. That is, except for Rage Against the Machine. "It’s not their music really, because Morello is incredible. I think it’s just them. Another band that I absolutely can’t stand is U2. I can’t even listen to 3 seconds of any of their tunes. I just don’t get it really. I can’t relate to them on any level." Relatable.

Being in the business as long as he has, Josh has had great times with some talented musicians. One of his best experiences, he says, is working with Element. (Element is an Oklahoma-based band that has been playing together since the late 1990s. Their sound is a blend of rock, punk, and funk, and they have toured extensively across the US. They are well-known for their tight live performances and their powerful songwriting.) It's no wonder that Josh had such a great time playing with them!

Another super cool experience Josh has had is getting to play Rocklahoma in 2007:

"I got to meet so many people from bands all over the world. I hung out with the boys from KISS ARMY at the VIP cabin (and you don’t want to know what ever happened to those golf carts).

I met Steven Adler as we both stood next to each other backstage just before he went on. He was standing there and he just looked at me and held out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Steve”, and I simply introduced myself to him. (I didn’t know who he was at the moment). He then started signing guitars for some radio contest and we just kept talking. He saw my set earlier in the evening and he mentioned my performance which was really cool. I mean it’s Steve Adler and he remembered my crap. That’s just awesome for an up-and-coming musician."

Every musician who has played onstage has had an incident or two that they'd rather forget. Naturally, I had to ask about it.

"As a musician, I have never been more embarrassed for myself and my band who had to claim me."

Inquiring minds, Josh…

"Okay, so we were playing a show with Buck Cherry and we were having a badass show. I mean it was cool and we were kicking ass all over that stage. About halfway through our 45-minute set, we played our rendition of Pink Floyd’s, “The Wall”. We played this really well and it sounded badass. We had spent hours working it out just how we wanted to play it, and we had incorporated it into our set for some time already.

Well, we were doing this BIG intro with it where the band would literally die down to a whisper and then have the big booming vocal come with screaming “Hey Teacher!”, and that’s where I shit the stage.

I had a hot mic and I tried to match my singer’s vocal at that very moment, but I came into the part WAY too early and as loud as I could be without the sound of the band or anything at all!! It was horrible! I wanted to crawl off that stage and go into a hole. It all ended good though and the show was a success. All’s well that ends well, I guess."

Admittedly, that didn't deter Josh. But, surely he double-checked his mic from then on!

Every band has an origin story. How do complete strangers meet, jibe, and create a piece of music? Luck? Circumstances? Fate? I was curious. How did Josh end up playing bass with his band Low Level Devils?

"I met Stephen (White, lead guitarist) at “Downtown Crazy Dave’s Guitar Store, Apothecary and Fine Junk”. (What a name.) This was a little used music store on Main Street in Ardmore (Oklahoma). Dave used to invite all kinds of musicians over to play music and a good friend of mine invited me over to meet Dave and jam along with whoever would show up to play.

Well, one day I showed up and there was this Marshal combo amp with a Gibson SG leaning on it, and I thought, whoever is the owner of that rig is a player! Well, Stephen picked up that guitar and we proceeded to play music together and we made this kickass connection. We wanted to play music together.

A couple of weeks later, Mark (Pickering) came over and he sat in on the drums (this was still at Dave’s place). When we played together we made that magical connection that a drummer will make with his bass player. It was instant, and we knew a band was going to form.

This was the first of the Low Level Devils. Now we’re are a power trio that is just a fun, hard rockin’, ass kickin’ blues/rock band and we are ready to show the world what that's all about."

With such varied experience, I wondered what advice he could offer to new musicians. The music business can be jagged and dismal, sometimes despite the efforts of good people, the

cogs in the machine, who really do care about the welfare of artists:

"Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. It’s going to get hard. It’s going to suck. It’s going to cost you a lot of money, time, and effort, but IT’S WORTH IT. Music is your life. Keep it there. You’ll play with a lot of different artists. Some will teach you, some will annoy you. Most of all it’s not a sprint!!! It’s a marathon and treat it as such. Enjoy the journey, that’s where all the stories are made."

Clearly, Josh is no stranger to hard work, and his passion for music is evident in every conversation. He has a clear vision and ambition, something he hopes to pass on to other aspiring musicians. His story is one of perseverance, drive, and courage that serves as an inspiration. Find out more about Josh and Low Level Devils on Facebook:



Great article on a pretty great all around human being! Check out LLD and add em to your playlists PRONTO!

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