Given The Devil Wears Prada’s seven-year history, the most surprising thing about their new CD/DVD ‘Dead & Alive’ is that the metalcore quintet waited so long to document their ferocious live show. The discs showcase one of the band’s concerts on last year’s tour in support of their latest and heaviest album, ‘Dead Throne.’ The devastating set should easily silence any naysayers and keep longtime fans satisfied until the next tour rolls into town.
As The Devil Wears Prada were gearing up for the start of this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, guitarist/vocalist Jeremy DePoyster was kind enough to chat with us over the phone. Check out our conversation about keyboards, the festival, and the band’s future plans below.
How’s it going?
It’s going good!
You guys just released ‘Dead & Alive’ earlier this week.
That must feel good to have that out.
Yeah, very much so.
What inspired you guys to release your first live album, especially since you’ve been a band for a while now?
Really, the big thing was just putting together a DVD — it’s something we’ve wanted to do for quite a while now, and it just seemed to work out with this tour and with our first big headlining tour and bringing the big production and all that jazz. We filmed it and put it together, and it kind of made sense to do a CD with it too. I think it just gives people a glimpse into what the show is.
Definitely. Why did you choose to shoot it at the Palladium in Worcester [in Massachusetts]?
There were a couple of different locations we were debating between, kind of like hot spots for us, where shows are usually really awesome. We did the record up there, probably about two hours away from Worcester, and shows at the Palladium are always really good. It’s a big room, a nice room, and a lot of kids.
Did you guys have footage from other shows, or did you decide to do this one only?
We just filmed this one. The bonus content that’s on there is just something I put together, and that has footage from a bunch of different shows and different things that we filmed on our own and put together. The main show with the audio and everything is just the one.
Cool. Looking back on that show, on that one concert that’s documented on the DVD, how do you think the songs from ‘Dead Throne’ have changed in a live environment, if at all?
I don’t think they really have at all. We write songs the way that we would play them. Most of our stuff is just two or three guitar tracks, and if we don’t need one of the parts, then we’ll just have one of the guys do it, or if there’s a harmony, then maybe change it up and stuff like that. We’re a real keyboard-driven band, and we have a live keyboard player, so that element stays there when we play live. That allows us to have him do some sampling stuff and background pads and things that really add to the record that we can still bring in live. I don’t think they really have changed a whole lot.
Okay. Were any of the songs unexpectedly challenging for you?
[laughs] I could see how you could see that, but honestly not really. Every time we get into the studio, we’ve played the songs so many times. Especially Dan [Williams], our drummer, just hammering out the songs. It took him, I don’t even know how long, maybe ten days or something to nail the drums, 15-hour days and stuff. By the time you get through the studio, and you’re playing each song 25 times apiece, or 50, or 60 — however long it takes you to get it on the record – you know them pretty well. [laughs]
I feel like there are a lot of metal bands that do the whole reverse engineering thing where they record the album, and then they’re like, “Okay, well now we have to learn how to play it live.”
A lot of bands, I think, have just one guy who programs all the drums and plays all the guitar parts and does all this stuff, and that’s not really how we are. A lot of our stuff is written on a computer by our guitar player, Chris [Rubey], but before we ever head into the studio, we’ve played through every single track as a band and learned it. That’s really the only way for you to learn it on drums and guitar and stuff like that, to actually play through it. We’re still very much a rock band and want that feeling of it.
That’s very cool.
You gotta have some of that live energy, even if it’s not recorded live.
You were talking a little bit about the keys before. Who’s playing keys for you now, now that James [Baney] isn’t in the band anymore?
We have a friend that we’ve known for a while — he’s actually a sibling of one of the guys on our crew — that’s playing for us. He’s a really talented guy. He’s filling in on that, and then we’re actually piecing together a lot of the stuff for the new record, getting a bunch of synths and going down that lane. For the last few records, a large part of the recorded stuff has been at the hands of Joey Sturgis, who produced all of our records except for the most current, and he did all the keyboards on the new one. So even on the records, for the last few at least, it’s been a large part of Joey making that sound. We’re not really worried about it; we’re moving forward. We’re still going to have him involved. I wouldn’t be too worried about it. [laughs]
Awesome. Yeah, I was wondering how that was going to work out.
Yeah, everybody kind of freaks out, like, “Oh man, they’re not going to have keys anymore!” Yeah, it’s been in that process for a long time.
Would you ever consider just dropping the keys completely?
I don’t think we would just because there are so many cookie cutter bands out there now, especially doing similar stuff to the stuff that we’re trying to do. I think, not even the keyboards themselves, but the way we use them can set apart different parts that might feel kind of empty without them. Maybe on a few songs or something, but I feel like there’s always texture that can be added into a song in some way, and I’d hate to put that on and not be able to replicate it live.
Definitely. In other news, you guys are kicking off Mayhem Fest tomorrow.
Yes, we are on the premises now. [laughs]
Are you stoked for that?
Very much so. We’ve done Warped Tour so many times, and that’s always a good time, but there’s just so many bands and so much stuff going on at all times that you almost get dizzy. The fact that this tour is super focused on just a few stages and really heavy metal bands and actual metal bands — we’re very, very honored to be a part of the lineup. We have some friends out here in Whitechapel. It’s the biggest names in metal, you know? It’s half of the big four. It’s awesome.
I know that you guys did play on Warped Tour, but I still can’t bring those two together — The Devil Wears Prada and Warped Tour. It just seems like you guys would be a bit of an anomaly there.
[laughs] The first few years we did it, it was kind of like that. There was us and As I Lay Dying and A Day to Remember and Chapel and a couple other bands who were holding down the heavy stuff, but really, that’s what people want, and it’s really turned into that. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all quality. [laughs]
Exactly. You mentioned some of the big names that are going to be on Mayhem. Are you really stoked to meet anyone new or hang out with anyone?
I’m not really trying to fanboy out or anything, but I’m excited to watch and see Slipknot and Slayer and Motörhead and Anthrax. We know the As I Lay Dying guys and the Whitechapel guys. I don’t know, man. It’s cool. I’m not going to be on their butts, knocking like, “Hey! Do you guys wanna hang out?!” [laughs]
Like, “Hey, Lemmy [Kilmister; Motörhead bassist and vocalist]! Let’s jam out some time!” [laughs]
Yeah, exactly. Lemmy doesn’t want to hang out with me. It’s all good. [laughs][laughs] It’s good that you accept that.
What I do like about Mayhem Fest is that there is that fusion of the old bands and the new, and I can’t think of too many other places where that happens.
Well, the older I get and the longer that we’re in a band, the more I start to hate all newer bands, so I can’t say I blame any of those guys if they really, really hate us. [laughs] Yeah, I’m not expecting them to be buying the newest record or anything, but hopefully they’ll check it out and see what’s up.
Yeah. I also mean just from the fans’ point of view.
Oh, the fans! Yeah. Obviously, when you throw in Slayer and Anthrax and Motörhead, you have the diehards, and a massive amount of people who are coming out to this don’t care about us or any of the other bands on it. Hopefully, there will be a few people who will give us a chance, and maybe they already have a preconceived notion about we’re all about, and maybe we can change their minds. I would probably hate our band if I had never seen us or heard us before either. Hopefully, we can shed some of those things away.
That’s a very negative attitude about everything. [laughs]
Oh, no, I’m just saying that if I heard of a band called The Devil Wears Prada, I’d be like, “Okay…” [laughs]
I guess a lot of people equate it with the movie.
When I was telling my friends about this interview, they were all like, “What? The movie?” [laughs]
We were all very young when we made the band, yeah. [laughs]
I mean, I like your interpretation of the name, though. Isn’t it kind of like an anti-materialism thing?
Thank you. Yeah, exactly.
It makes sense. That’s what I would think of. That’s what I thought the movie was going to be about when I heard the name of it.
It was significantly different. [laughs]
Yeah. So what else is in store for you guys later on this year? Do you know what’s going on?
Right after this, we’re taking a couple weeks off, and then we’re going out with August Burns Red and Whitechapel in Europe. We’re doing all of Europe and the UK and all that good stuff. That will be a fun time. We’re homies with all those guys, so that should be a loud and crazy tour. We’re still blocking out the rest of the year, as far as the road goes, but I think that this summer we’re going to start diving into some new material. Chris, our guitar player, has already been writing some stuff.
Yeah. You can never stop.
That’s a quick turnaround, though.
Yeah, it probably won’t be out for a while, though. We’ll at least be working on it. By the time you get done writing a record — we were done with ‘Dead Throne’ well over a year and a half ago, if not more. By the time it comes out — and we’re almost coming up on a year of it coming out — it’s been a long time since we finished writing those songs. Gotta do some more!
I didn’t think about it that way, but it makes a lot of sense.
Yeah. You do the record in May, and then it doesn’t even come out until September. You have half the songs written before May. We had most of the songs written back in January or February. I think we had all the tracks written, so it’s been a long time. It’s been over a year since we wrote anything.
Gotta move on.
Exactly. Keep it fresh.
Pick up The Devil Wears Prada’s new CD/DVD, Dead & Alive.
For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their official website.