American metalcore five-piece The Devil Wears Prada have evolved from their fledgling origins into respectable young men. Their newly released fifth album, ‘8:18’, epitomises the band’s ethos of deep spirituality and a hardworking conviction to musical perfectionism, continuing to push the boundaries of contemporary metalcore and embracing a more cohesive writing approach. Guitarist and clean vocalist Jeremy DePoyster speaks to Killyourstereo.com about ‘8:18’ and the evolution of The Devil Wears Prada.
How was the biblical passage that the album is named after reflected in its overall message and the mindset of the band during the writing process?
It’s funny, because in the writing process, it was more of an individual thing coming from our singer Mike. He was the only one who knew about the title. At that point in time, he wouldn’t even tell us until we were almost done with it. I think that was a personal thing for him. For us, it’s more about writing music and trusting him that he will find the right words for it.
Is there deeper meaning behind the album artwork?
I don’t know if there’s a meaning, but there is a little bit of a story. Mike was in Chicago at this art gallery and really liked the guy’s work – droopy, sad stuff – and Mike said it would be awesome if he could work on the album artwork. We didn’t think he would actually do it, but we hit him up and found out he was a fan of the band. He ended up making the cover, the inside panels, everything. It was really cool.
‘8:18’ is the most marked divergence from the band’s metalcore bedrock to date. What drove the decision to pursue a progressive metal sound?
I don’t even know that we would even call it that. We really did what it is that we do, I guess. We write songs differently depending on each song. Some of them are written primarily by Chris on his computer and some are jammed out by the band. Sometimes we’ll try and get a more metal song out or try to do something more jammy – I think we’re getting more in the jammy stuff as we’re getting older – but we still love the riffs and the heavy stuff.
There have been quite diverse comparisons to the album’s sound made by critics of late, ranging from Linkin Park to Saosin. Do you consider these fair assessments?
It is kind of funny to me to make a Linkin Park comparison. It’s probably something that’s been going on since our first album. They’ve always been Chris’s favourite band. Obviously I can speak for him, just because I know him so well. He really doesn’t listen to much music, except a few different bands at any given time. I don’t think we really sat back and said "Let’s write a Saosin part a Linkin Park part" or anything like that. We’ve been playing music for so long together that we know what we like and don’t like already, and we try and go off that. I guess you can make the comparisons, like anything.
Are there any specific influences, though, particularly with your contribution to the band?
It’s really varied. It’s difficult to say what comes from what. I really like Sigur Ros and Jonsi and anything with like jangly guitar and leads and things like that. That’s pretty much where I am in the band. I just really try and do something that I haven’t done fifteen billion times before.
The band has previously described the album as emphasising good songs rather than presenting a succession of good parts. How has this cohesive approach to songwriting impacted on the quality of your music?
I think that as we get older, it makes more sense to make a good song as good as it can be. There are some ridiculously heavy bands that Mike listens to and normally I would never get into, but they have some really, really good songs. And then there’s other bands from all types of other genres, whether it’s pop or anything. I think as we go along, we want each song to have its own identity, we want each song to have its own theme, and its own colour and aesthetic. That’s the way I look at songs, as having their own colour or smell to identify them. As you listen to an album, you should be able to pick what song it is from each one rather than looking at a tracklist.
The band hooked up with Killswitch Engage alumnus and producer wunderkind Adam D to record the album. What was it like working alongside him again?
We love him, man, we really do. We love working with Adam. I’ve said so many times that he really is a genius. He really is a phenomenal when it comes to song writing and song structure. We’ve learnt so much from him. He’s really good at pushing Mike and myself, knowing what we want and being able to get that from us. So much of recording is trying to get that one perfect take or performance. Live, there’s a little bit of forgiveness. You get lost in the atmosphere and we’re all in the moment, so it’s okay if everything’s not right. But on the record, it’s going to be there forever, so you want it to sound how you want it to. He’s very good at breaking my vocal chords (laughs), but I love him and I love working with him.
A lot of fans and critics consider the ‘Dead Throne’ era to be a major turning point of the band. Do you think working alongside Adam D had a major part to play with that?
I think so. I think it’s a combination of just us getting older and continuing to a different part of our lives at that time. We had really grown up by then, whereas before, we were just boys. Working with Adam taught us what we were good at and what we needed to improve on. He’s really methodical when it comes to making records. A lot of people only see the silly side of Adam, but he does not mess around when it’s time to work. I think that attitude is something we share.
How drastically did the departure of keyboardist James Baney impact on the resulting album?
Pretty drastically, I would think. We had a lot of input from keyboards on our last few records that our friend Joey Sturgis produced, and he produced the keys on our last record so that’s always been a major aspect. Now that we have a guy that plays keyboard on the album, John, who’s so talented and so good at working with us, it just made it so much more of a valuable asset.
With the exception of Baney, it’s a testament to the band that it has managed to retain its founding lineup for the entirety of its career. What keeps you guys together?
I think it’s really just a common goal. We are an extremely spiritual band. We all know how to do what it is that we do, and I think that’s the glue that really holds us together. We set out a common goal a long time ago. I think that also, we know how to do this, and we’ve grown up learning how to do this together. We’ve spent so much time together in vans and hotel rooms for years now. We went to high school and middle school together. We also consider each member to be an equal part, and at this point know who is good at what and how to delegate it.
There has been an obvious evolution of the band into a more serious, mature act in recent years, both in its image and musical output. Has this been a conscious reinvention or simply a natural evolution?
Maybe both. I think that we matured as people and then decided to mature the band because of that. As we matured as people, I think we got tired of what we were doing before, with the cover songs and the imagery, everything like that. We decided we wanted to do things differently, and we’re lucky that our fan base is very accepting of that. We move in different paths and they follow us the whole way. We aren’t 18-year-olds anymore and we aren’t a Disney band. We don’t write music for 13-year-olds. Maybe there are 13-year-olds that like us. I liked a lot of cool bands when I was 13, like Metallica and all kinds of stuff. We’re just not in the business of saying, "What do the people want, what’s gonna sell and let’s do that." That’s just not who we are.
In what ways do you see the band continuing to evolve in the future?
That’s tough. I really don’t know. I had no idea how this record was going to turn out. I really never do. I never know how it’s gonna go or whether it’s going to be any good. I think we worry throughout the whole album process about whether it’s going to be worse than what we did before or better. I really don’t know. I have ideas already of stuff that we can do. I want to work on the media side and try and get as much video content from our end as possible. That’s pretty exciting and we have some pretty big projects coming up involving that.
What do you say to fans who suggest the band is betraying its lineage by ignoring its earlier material?
I really don’t know what to say. I think we felt that we had written really good songs at that point that were deserving of being played, but I don’t think that any of them were our ‘Raining Blood’. I think that we were young then and trying to figure things out, and I think the era that we grew up in forged the way towards who we are now. We still play quite a few songs from our last few albums, but in terms of our first two albums, I can’t imagine the vast majority of our fan base wanting to hear them.
When is the band planning on returning to Australian shores to promote the album?
As soon as humanly and physically possible. We had a blast on the last tour. I love Australia, I love the environment, I love the atmosphere, I love the energy, I love everything about the country. As soon as we can go and play, we will. We actually got the call for the A Day To Remember tour when we were recording the album, and we were told that they needed to know within the next hour if we could do the tour. We’re like, "Ah, put us down as a yes." They said, "What? Don’t you want to hear about money or anything?" We’re like, "Nah, we’re good" (laughs).
With five albums and an EP in eight years, are the band’s eyes already set on a new release?
I don’t think so yet. I think this one especially was pretty draining, and at the same time, there’s so many events going on in our lives. I got married two years ago and our guitarist Chris just got married. We’re not wanting to jump onto the next thing right now. We just want to keep touring and pushing this album as much as we can. I’d say Chris already has four songs on his computer, so don’t listen to anything I say (laughs). He’s probably already working on the next record.
Thanks for your time. Are there any comments you’d like to finish on?
We appreciate the support. We appreciate anybody checking out the band. We really do everything in our power to keep putting out stuff that is worth checking out and listening to. That’s going to be our goal moving on into the future. I think as we get older, our fans are getting older and they work harder for their money and their schedule is harder to work around, so we take it very seriously when we come out to a show and understand that it means a lot for them to get value for their dollar and when they buy a record, they want to get value for their money, so that’s what we’re gonna keep trying to do.