Jeff DeVito is set to release his new album titled ‘Acceleration Due To Gravity’ on October 23rd. And right now we have the premiere right here on Jammerzine. And what a premiere of things to come because this is a solid yet subdued album. Those are two good terms to combine because it says a lot about an artist’s caliber when you can fit a distinct personality into each of these eleven songs while retaining that collective feel.
Jeff’s voice is original and significant. It leads the music with a subtle swagger and an experience only the most learned artist can muster.
There is a signature way about ‘Acceleration Due To Gravity’ that gives it that quality that you will remember long after that initial listen. It is also, to me, an album that needs to be on vinyl, if its not getting press already (Jeff, if you’re reading this 😉 ).
‘Acceleration Due To Gravity’ drops this Friday (October 23, 2020) on most digital platforms (links below).
About Jeff DeVito
Jeff DeVito wrote his first songs on a Casio keyboard and vintage ¼” reel-to-reel in 1990s suburban New Jersey. When his uncle started teaching him the guitar, he embraced it as the perfect new tool for learning songs by his favorite bands and crafting more advanced works of his own.
DeVito started his first band in high school and named it after the title of a random physics textbook chapter. “Particle Zoo” has endured as the name of every incarnation of the band he’s fronted since then—as well as a reminder of the love of science he has maintained throughout his life. While plugging in at indie-rock clubs and delivering a steady output of original album releases during the early 2000s, DeVito also studied biology and worked a day job in the lab.
Early on, the local press often picked up on the scientist-by-day/rocker-by-night duality that continues to influence DeVito’s clever lyrics and thoughtful songwriting approach.
“He concocts lyrics the way a scientist might calculate steaming test-tube mixtures,” wrote The Record in 2003, while NJ.com observed: “There’s a curious coolness at the heart of the Particle Zoo philosophy that is unusual for a pop group.”
DeVito tested his early song ideas on high school bandmate Jon Dacks. The two shared a common bond of ‘60s classic rock influences and would dissect their favorite vocal harmonies and song structures together, applying what they learned to new creations of their own. Dacks eventually brought friend-of-a-friend Scott Greene into the mix on bass before leaving the band to pursue his own musical interests. After a rapid succession of “wrong drummers,” DeVito and Greene finally recruited a young hotshot named Jay Dodds and the chemistry clicked. The trio started hitting the NJ/NYC indie club scene and recorded their first EP using studio time earned as top prize in a local Battle of the Bands. Shortly thereafter, Dodds’ old schoolmate Jay Holler joined on keyboards, adding a new dimension to Particle Zoo’s sound, as well as another source of vocals and songwriting material.
The quirky foursome steadily built a buzz within and beyond NJ, releasing new studio albums every year through 2004 when Dodds left to focus on artist management. Without missing a beat, the remaining members brought in longtime friend John Christie to take over on drum kit, and when Holler announced a hiatus in 2008 to spend more time with his growing family, Christie filled the gap by learning to play drums and keyboards at the same time. Two years later another fellow scenester and multi-instrumentalist, Patrick Suler, replaced Greene on bass.
Despite the gradually morphing lineup, Particle Zoo was always known for their carefully evolving musical style and high-energy stage performances, with DeVito as its creative center and driving force. The Star-Ledger described Particle Zoo as “a band that has survived in the indie underground by updating and changing its sound,” and true to form, the band continued as a staple of the tri-state music scene until a gradual slow-down in touring after 2011’s Into The Fray LP.
In the years since DeVito married and started a family, but never stopped writing new material or refining his craft. He became a regular in NYC songwriting circles and pivoted from a performing musician to one who studied up on recording and production techniques instead. Over time, he built a home studio and tapped into his musical network to record all the elements of a project that would become his first solo album, Acceleration Due To Gravity.
“It started as an excuse to practice mixing, using old demo recordings and song ideas that had never seen the light of day with Particle Zoo because we always had so much other material to work with,” observes DeVito as he contemplates the origins of ADTG. “Then I gradually brought in some newer songs and it just took on a life of its own. I noticed, as an album started to take shape, that all the songs hit on some element of time or distance or weightlessness, and so the album title kind of just presented itself as a distillation of those concepts.”
When DeVito realized his labor of love might actually work as a record release, he tapped into past members of Particle Zoo to begin rehearsing for a tour. Christie, Suler, and even Dacks all signed on. With Holler now living on the West Coast, DeVito reached out to Fairmont drummer and longtime friend and fan, Christian Kisala, to man the keyboards. The quintet promptly started jamming the new ADTG material and their favorite PZoo songs until COVID struck and put live performance efforts on pause.
Until touring can start up again, Acceleration Due To Gravity will move forward with an October 23, 2020 release date.
“I put a lot into this journey and I still want to share the music with anyone who’s interested,” says DeVito. “There’s plenty of ways to connect these days and touring will come back into the picture at some point. Until then, I’ll focus on seeing through this album and maybe even get a head start on the next one. Or who knows…” the scientist-at-heart wonders. “Maybe I’ll get back into the lab and help make a vaccine for COVID—and of course write a song about it.”