Featuring ex-members of Killswitch Engage, Bleeding Through, Fear Factory, and All Shall Perish, the four men behind Devil You Know come from a pretty well established and lustrous musical history. As you should already know, the boys are coming back to Australia for Soundwave 2016. But, before then they drop their sophomore album, ‘They Bleed Red’, in November. We recently chatted with the band’s friendly singer, Howard Jones, about the new record, his love of fishing, and his thoughts on streaming.
Hey Howard, Alex here from KYS in Australia, how are you doing?
Hey man, I’m doing all right thanks. How are you?
I’m doing well thanks. It’s a nice Spring morning over here.
Oh yeah, I know it’s early over there, so please say something really goofy, and I’ll just hump on it.
Yeah, don’t plan it out, just talk, and cause it’s early most people don’t function well in the morning. So anyway, I love Australia, yeah [laughs]. You are not ready for my energy right now, are you tough guy?
[Laughs] No, I’m really not. I’m really not dude. A lot of people and critics label the band as a supergroup, but do you yourself think of Devil You Know as being a supergroup?
Well, I agree with the ‘group’ part, but for the ‘super’ part…. I’m a little on the fence on that one. We’ve all been in some bands that are quite well known, and if people are into what we’re doing now, then fantastic. if it’s just the name that brings people in and they like us, that’s great. We’re just trying write music that we like and what others like, period. We don’t focus on what we’ve done in the past.
This band has been one of the fastest rising new acts that I’ve seen get off the ground this quickly, do you think the strong pedigree behind the four really helped out with that?
You know, if it helped, then that’s great. Also: pedigree? Nice use of the word for so early in the morning. Sorry I’m in a goofy mood, but yes. We were all very lucky to find each other I think. We’ve got John [laughs], who’s from Australia. We’ve got Fran [guitar] who’s originally from Italy, and Ryan [bass], from Bleeding Through, who lives over in California, and I live in Ohio. Just the fact that the group of us managed to all get together, all get along, and be able to do this is awesome. If somehow what we’ve done in the past brought us and other people to this band, then hey, no problem. Hopefully we’ll prove ourselves and make something you can enjoy.
Right on, Howard. Just curious, are you a fan of your bandmates’ prior bands?
Come on man…these dudes are super talented. Honestly, what they brought to this band, and to their respective bands. Just going from Blood Has Been Shed, to Killswitch, to this. The guys that I worked with, like, how lucky have I been, you know? So thank you to anyone who took a chance on a weird black guy who likes to fish.
You’ve had a solid career so far man. When listening to ‘They Bleed Red’, I can hear four distinct sounds behind each member. Your melodic and heavy vocals, John’s incredible breakneck drumming-
Hey before you even finish, let’s just address that. That guy is insane. I don’t know how he can keep that up and still do it. I love the guy. We got along from day one, and man, he’s a machine. I just don’t get it. How does he have that much energy? Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt, well I did, but anyway.
[Laughs] it’s cool man, no problem. So with this record, there seems to be four distinct personalities behind it, but not in a shoe-horned manner, and that made it all the better for me. Would you agree with that sentiment?
We really wanted to make a much heavier album, that’s what we were gunning for. With everybody being so distinct, it does merge really well. I think we just got really lucky with that. A few other people among yourself have pointed that out to us, and we didn’t even think that way. I didn’t even realise that until today, and I know that’s kind of easy for me to say, as once I was done with my parts, I was out fishing you know? I was done. But that’s the best compliment you could give me man, alongside telling me the album’s awesome and that you’ll show it to every person you know. So if you do that that’d be great [laughs].
Yeah, I can only do my best man. You’ve mentioned fishing twice now, I take it that’s a big hobby of yours?
Oh yeah. I’ve been talking to a bunch of you guys lately, so all I’ve been thinking, “I can’t wait to go there a couple days before we play Soundwave cause I have to go fishing”.
It seems like a massive jump from touring and writing in a metal band to just chilling and going fishing, it’s like the polar opposite.
Dude, when I’m not touring, I’m fishing. When I am touring, I’m fishing. When I’m hanging out with friends, I’m fishing. When I’m not fishing, in my mind, I’m fishing. For me, it’s my hobby and my obsession. It basically helps me turn my mind off and relax, even though I do start thinking and because of that silence I do start to think of lyrics, melodies, and harmonies, and all of that. Just that feeling of having something on your line, and you don’t know what it is. You reel in this beautiful fish, take the hook out, throw the fish back in the water, and see what else you can get.
That sounds pretty cool actually. Have you been fishing your whole life or has it been something you’ve picked up in the past few years?
I was five or six, then I took a break, and then I was about 17 or 18 when I picked it up again. After another break, I picked it up again and it’s been non-stop since. I love it.
Are you aware of a band from here called Thy Art Is Murder? Their vocalist, CJ, is a big fishing guy, so maybe you should try and get in contact with him and have like a fishing “date” or something.
Number one: that band is brutal! Number two: he fishes? Now I love them even more. Number three: let’s do this.
I strongly remember last year when they played Soundwave, there was a competition running where you could win a fishing trip with him. Probably one of the weirder competitions I’ve seen.
[Laughs] that’s amazing. I would have actually entered that competition. Still, a guy in a band who likes to fish? They are officially now my favourite band. Don’t get me wrong, they’re brutal, and that new album is insane. They also bring it live too. You know Alex? Let’s make this happen, you’ve talked to me, you talk to him, make it happen.
I will do my best Howard. (I have since reached out to Thy Art’s manger/guitarist, Andy Marsh, about this but sadly that band will be touring overseas come January/February next year).
[Laughs] You now have a task ahead of you, my friend. Do you have any other questions before I completely take over this conversation of ours?
I do actually. For my final question, Scott Ian of Anthrax was on Jamie Jasta’s podcast recently, and he stated his distaste for streaming services, and I’m curious about what do you think of it? Do you see it as a necessary evil?
This is a funny question for me. Firstly, meeting Scott, I didn’t know what to think as he’s this legend, but he’s a great guy. Secondly, with the streaming stuff, it’s big part of life for a lot of people. Yet I’ve never been on Spotify, or any other streaming websites. Because I still support the bands that I like. I still buy the CD, no joke, I do. The only thing that sucks for me is when people get a hold of the album of a band they like, and they don’t support them in other ways. If you streamed it, it cost you basically nothing, or you downloaded it, then you’re still not supporting them, even though you like it. It’s not like watching TV. If you love a show, there’s always commercials, and shows make revenue off that, but it’s not the same for bands. If you like the band, go support the band. Give back to what you like, do something to help, because when it becomes something that you do day in and day out, you want it to mean something. Just give a little bit more thought.
Well said, man. I agree that if you can’t support something in one way, support the artist or creator in another way to sort of balance it out. With that Howard, thank you so much for chatting with me today. Hopefully the rest of your interviews go really well today.
[Chuckles] no worries man, bye.
‘They Bleed Red’ is out November 6 via Nuclear Blast Records.