"We learned from the last record that the best way to record our band is the Sun Records approach; everybody gets in a room and we play," says Bernhard. "We don't overdub except for harmony vocals and occasionally a solo, but what you hear when you listen to our record is all of us playing live."
The other departure was the utilization of an incredible guest list. Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien, Chance McCoy from Old Crow Medicine Show, Emmylou Harris and many others provided brilliant cameos, which the band accommodated by keeping the arrangements loose.
"We knew all the changes but we left these songs fairly open ended and didn't set anything in stone in case anybody had some good ideas," says Bernhard. "We went into the studio rehearsed but keeping the song structure really open. We basically said, 'What do you want to do? How would you change the song to fit your part, or would you write a new part?' And we arranged the song with them, then just hit the record button. It was really cool, and I think it allowed them enough space to stretch out and do something they enjoyed doing."
Bernhard credits producer David Ferguson with a lot of the guest appearances, thanks to his connections through his Butcher Shop studio and his voluminous Rolodex. The band had toured with Harris - McBean had sung with her onstage on that circuit - and they were acquainted with most of the people they called, but it was Ferguson had the digits and the pull.
"We put it in a lot of people's ears; 'Hey, if we ever make this record, would you want to do it?' And everybody said, 'Sure!," says Bernhard. "We didn't really think we could pull it off, but it just happened they were all in Nashville at the same time, which is one of the great things about recording in Nashville. If you schedule it right, everybody might just be home. David had a really great list of numbers and anybody we could think to call, he was like, 'Sure, we'll give 'em a ring.'"
With "Redemption & Ruin" out, The Devil Makes Three is already thinking ahead to their next projects. Given that the trio didn't create original material for the new album, they've already begun work on its follow-up, and Bernhard, who has released two solo albums to date, the last being 2009's "Straight Line," is knee deep in what will be his third album.
"The songs I play by myself are a lot quieter, it's more like a singer/songwriter approach, and I think they're more personal," says Bernhard. "A lot of songs I write and I think, 'Man, that's a great song for the band.' There are others that just don't fit and those usually end up as solo songs."
"I think I've got seven songs that we're going to sort of road test on this next tour. We won't do all seven every night because obviously we have a lot of songs at this point, but we're going to start working those into the set and see how they go. I have probably seven more that need work, and when I finish those seven, I'd say we'll be ready to go. I would love it if we were in the studio next year recording new Devil Makes Three stuff. I'm excited to get back in the studio."