Devil You Know: Straight Outta Hell
With a new collective popping up every other Tuesday morning, it seems as though we’re well and truly in the age of the supergroup uprising. Most of them only stick around until the hype fizzles out (we love ya, Dave!) but Devil You Know are still kicking and screaming, with the LA shredders gearing up to release album #2 in just a couple of weeks. Take it from us: They Bleed Red is a jaw-dropper and a half. It’s heavy, it’s melodic and it’s all kinds of crazy – but of course, that’s to be expected from a band whose line-up boasts talent as impressive as ex-Killswitch Engage vocalist Howard Jones, ex-All Shall Perish aguitarist Francesco Artusato, ex-Bleeding Through bassist Ryan Wombacher, and ex-Fear Factory drummer John Sankey. It comes as a bit of a surprise that the new album is dropping so soon, since the quartet released their debut LP – The Beauty Of Destruction – just last year. An impressive slew of headline tours and drop-ins at some of the world’s biggest festivals cemented the band’s first full-length as a cracking success, and with a heavier emphasis on collaboration and, well, a heavier sound overall, their second is set to take them even further. BLUNT caught up with Sankey to get the low-down on how They Bleed Red came together so quickly, why it’s such an important record for Devil You Know, and why their rapidly-approaching sets at Soundwave ’16 are going to be their best yet.
The new album They Bleed Red is hitting shelves November 6, so there’s still a bit of time before it’s out… How is everything going in the band as you guys gear up to launch this beast?
It’s been great! We started working on the record earlier this year; we were talking about going back on the road and continuing with touring for the first album, but we had a fair bit of downtime, so we thought, ‘Well, let’s just start writing’ and once we started writing, everything just came together really quickly. We spoke to the label, we were like, ‘Y’know what? Why don’t we just get into the studio and do the second record? Then we’ll have two albums to promote fairly quickly’.
One thing that really stands out on this record is how much tighter and more fluid everything sounds the second time around. How did you go about approaching this one?
When we did the first record, we’d never even been on a stage together. Between then and now, we’ve done so many shows and toured in a bunch of places all over the world, so the band has just naturally jelled; we’ve kind of found that cohesiveness, as far as just being in the one place and actually playing together, jamming together and all of that. We found out what worked from the first record, and what maybe didn’t feel so comfortable. When we did that record, we were thrown into it all very quickly and we had a lot of industry people involved, telling us how the band should sound and what we should do. That influence became a bit frustrating, so this time around, we basically just told everyone to fuck off. It was going to be us, and that was it. Nobody else got involved and the label let us do our thing, so [They Bleed Red] is definitely a lot more organic, and for me, a lot more representative of how this band is supposed to sound.
So what were some of those ideas or concepts that you couldn’t really explore on The Beauty Of Destruction?
I think just making a heavier record. Living in Los Angeles and being a part of the music industry there, there’s always that promise of, ‘Do this and you’ll be on radio! You’ll be huge!’ and just all of the bullshit that comes with it, and none of us were buying into it. We had some people come and tell us that we should make the band very accessible and go for the whole ‘radio aspect’ and all of that, and that just felt completely uncomfortable and wrong to us. The first record is obviously a metal record as well, but not to the point that it is with this one.
Back when you started Devil You Know in 2012, you had put together a solid 30-40 song ideas for the project. Did any of the tracks on this album come from that heap, or are all of these tracks completely new ideas?
Nope, these are all completely new songs. When Francesco [Artusato, guitar] and I originally started writing together, there was some really, really heavy stuff, but we also wrote some stuff that had a lot more… I don’t want to say ‘commercial’ or ‘accessible’, but because both he and I have played that technical death metal style of music for years, we wanted to try different things. So we had a huge range of different sounding music, and then once Howard [Jones, vocals] became involved, we had a little more direction as to where we should go. We knew what we could do vocally, so we definitely wanted to have some melody there. But even he was like, ‘I have no interest in doing anything that sounds like Killswitch’ and we were glad to hear that because we didn’t want that either. Just for him naturally, he has the voice to do so many things, and we wanted to utilise all of that – but I think we do that in a bit of a different way than any of us have with any of our previous bands.
So of course, the other big announcement to come from your camp recently was that you’re coming back Down Under to melt our faces off once again at Soundwave! How stoked are you all to be coming back?
I actually just flew into Australia at the end of last week, and when I landed, I turned my phone on, and they had just announced it… I didn’t even know [we were on the line-up.] I knew there was a strong possibility that we were going to be doing it, but I didn’t know it was going to be announced, so I was just as surprised as anyone! Being from Australia myself, it’s huge! It doesn’t get any bigger or better. Talking to all of our friends in other bands about festivals, Soundwave really is the one that every band wants to come out and do. Everyone loves Australia, it’s in the summer, it’s a great festival! This time around, we have two albums’ worth of music that people actually know, whereas the first time, we had nothing – I think we had one demo song online.
Do you find touring Australia to be much different from touring in other parts of the world, seeing that you have your family and friends onboard here?
Yeah, in that regard it is. From touring all these years, in quite a lot of the places we go, we’ll see some familiar faces and catch up with people that we’ve kept in contact with from other countries, but y’know, Australia’s always going to be that special place for me. Overall, I mean, tour is tour, man. You move constantly, you travel and do what you have to do, talk to some people, chill out for a bit, play a show, chill out for a bit longer, and then you travel again. And that’s it, so you don’t really know where you are or what you’re doing – it becomes this one big blur, I guess.
A lot has changed over the past two years – what can we expect to see from your performances this time around?
Dude, we have fun onstage. All of us like to mess around and joke around, and it’s definitely not the most serious show that anyone is going to see [laughs]. On the music side of things, obviously we want to be on point. We want to sound great and we want to give people a good representation of the album, but that’s the fun part of the day. There’s so much downtime and travelling on tour, and it’s all very monotonous, so when we get up on stage, we love it. We want to be able to laugh and we want everyone to have a fun experience with us. It’ll be a huge difference for anyone that saw us the first time around; we’re all so much more comfortable onstage now, everyone knows what they’re doing, so now we can kind of just mess around and have fun, get all crazy and enjoy it.
Back in January, you put up on Facebook that you were working on some new Devolved stuff. Is that still in the pipeline, or is Devil You Know your strict focus at the moment?
There’s been a few times where I’ve sat down and gone, ‘Alright, I’ve got a bit of free time here, I’m going to start working on some Devolved stuff’. I’ve always got ideas and I’m always working on little bits and pieces, but I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I’m able to really commit a good amount of time to it. I love the Devolved stuff – it’s my thing and I can do whatever I want with it, so I don’t mind if I have to hold off for a while. Devil You Know is keeping me real busy and I’m loving that, but at some point, as soon as I can, I would definitely love to do another Devolved record. Who knows, maybe I can squeeze in a couple of shows in-between these Devil You Know shows. That would be a blast!
They Bleed Red is out November 6 through Nuclear Blast.
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