Written by Anthony Toto
The Devil Wears Prada is the unwavering dream pursued by a group of friends in creating a hook-laden sound of the heaviest proportions while growing up in the public eye.
While most bands rehash successful formulas into bland catalogs, The Devil Wears Prada set a standard for organic progression among a Metalcore scene often viewed with a limited ceiling.
Formed in 2005, the combative vocal attack of Mike Hranica and Jeremy DePoyster allowed a group of highly skilled musicians to explore sonic territories beyond its Metalcore roots.
The band continuously grows in popularity by touring with an array of groups ranging from Slayer, Motorhead, Saosin, and A Day To Remember. The band will serve as a major headliner on this summer’s upcoming Warped Tour.
Since signing with Roadrunner Records, The Devil Wears Prada ignored the commercialized path often taken by bands after joining a major label.
The Devil Wears Prada’s newest release, 8:18, showcases a melancholy heaviness and chilling somberness. As the album progresses, the darker tones find a shining light with uplifting vocal melodies and introspective lyrics revolving around topics such as faith.
In an exclusive interview with Pop-Break, Guitarist and Clean Vocalist Jeremy DePoyster spoke in-depth about The Devil Wears Prada’s continuous progression with its newest album 8:18.
Pop-Break: 8:18 really pushes the band’s sound into newer territories. This is your heaviest offering yet. What influenced the new direction on this album?
Jeremy DePoyster: It’s really just the kind of stuff we’re into. We like it dark and we like it heavy. That’s the most fun live. We have some stuff that’s a little more diverse like “Killmore,” “8:18,” and songs like that. Even those songs, I think they are darker if they are not heavier.
PB: What kind of lyrical content, inspiration, and messages were you trying to convey on 8:18?
JD: Mike [Hranica] is the primary lyricist of the band. I don’t like speaking for him on this, but I know one of the main themes is suffering. That’s something he delves into quite a bit lyrically. Some of the songs are narratives and some songs are his just thoughts.
PB: From a guitar standpoint, the low tuned guitars are sometimes reminiscent of Slipknot because they’re complex yet filled with grooves. Your playing still maintains its melodic phrasing that is a signature part of your style.
JD: We toured with a lot of metal bands like Slipknot, Slayer, and the As I Lay Dying guys. They really influence us as far as metal goes. I know for Chris [Rubey] especially, the majority of the stuff that he listens too is in the metal realm, so that’s what he writes. I try to bring in some melody here and there just to give it a little variety to the sound. Chris is very talented and a lot of the riffs he writes are really awesome.
PB: How do you two compliment each other as a guitar tandem?
JD: It depends song to song. Some of the songs are 85-90 percent him writing stuff until we to get to the vocals. Some of the songs are pretty half and half. A lot of the melodic stuff leans more towards my direction. It’s very fluid and moving.
PB: Vocally, Mike and you experiment and incorporate different styles on this album. Your singing remains a highlight of the band. On 8:18 or any of the past material, how have you balanced your vocal approach with Mike?
JD: We just try and do it naturally, especially as time goes on. We tried to be very formulaic with it in the beginning. We would go, ‘Okay, this is going to be a verse and this is going to be the lead singing part.’ I think we look at it now where if the part feels like it needs singing on it, it’s going to have singing. Sometimes we will even change it up from that. If it feels like it needs singing, we’ll put screaming on there just to see what it sounds like. With Mike, he’s finding his own voice more and more with a lot of variety. Even parts where we may have had to just sing, he could now do in different styles. The more voices the two of us come up with together, the more variety it gets on the record. It just doesn’t become the same monotonous thing for 10 songs (laughs).
PB: James Baney, the band’s longtime keyboardist, brought a distinct sound to the band. He’s no longer in the band. It’s been well over a year and it seemed like the band parted with him on good terms. What influenced the decision to part ways? Also, what’s your relationship like with Jonathan Gerring? Is Jonathan the official keyboardist?
JD: Jonathan is just playing and writing with us for now. He has his own stuff musically, stuff he did even before us. He does a lot of remixes and he’s also a producer that does a whole lot of electronic music. For right now, he is still just playing with us but yeah, that kid is so talented and out of control. I remember before the album thinking that we were going to have to guide him, hand hold, and push him through the songs but he just took off in a way that we would have never imagined. He is a very talented guy and everything he touches just gets better with his touch on it. As far as James goes, it’s hard to be in a band and it’s hard to spend your life on the road together, especially growing up like we did. We were 18-year-olds on our first tour and now we’re not. People change and as you become an adult, you change and your values and your tastes change. We all seemed to be moving in a similar direction and he seemed to be going in a different one.. That’s not to say anything bad, things happen like that. You want different things and if people want the same thing in an album and tour and you don’t, then it’s just not going to be a good thing. It’s just better to go different ways.
PB: When I listened to 8:18, I felt the songwriting really built off the sounds of the Zombie EP.
JD: Thanks man, I really think so. I think that album, especially with the fans, has been really well received. Every time we play those songs live, they go over really well. That album was really turning point for us as far as realizing that heavy music was what we were good at. Those were the best songs we had and we just moved from there.
PB: I find it interesting your band signed with Roadrunner, a huge major label. Some fans or listeners might have thought you would have gone in a different direction and created a more commercialized effort. In fact, you did the opposite.
JD: You know it’s interesting you say that, because especially being on a major label, you wonder how it’s going to go and how things are going to be. We have such a great team over there and those guys are so awesome. We’re not an easy band to work with by any means. We have our own ideas and we like to stick to them. We really don’t do things for the sake of money or fame, things like that. We do what we want to do and the guys have been really cool about letting us do that. Every time we’ve been in New York hanging out, or the guys come out to hear the record, it’s been a very positive relationship. I can’t give it up to those guys enough for not trying to tell us what to do, and not trying to put us in a box that we have to fight our way out of (laughs)! You’re not going to hear anything but raw talent out of us, I can promise you that.
PB: The Devil Wears Prada came up during a time where Metalcore became a massive sensation within the metal community. While your band incorporated elements of Metalcore into your repertoire, I always felt the band separated itself from its contemporaries in the genre. Reflecting back, what do you think helped you stand out amongst the scene?
JD:Ω I don’t know; I think that we came up in a generation where we learned a lot from the bands that we toured with. We toured with a variety of all kinds of bands from Silverstein, Chiodos, and bands that were nothing like us. We toured with Shadows Fall, Chimaria, and GWAR on the Sounds of the Underground. We did the Warped Tour and even that had a lot of variety: punk bands like NOFX to the more metal stuff like Killswitch Engage. We really learned that it’s not genre dependent, being a good band is just being a good band. You should be able to go see a reggae band, a pop band, and a metal band all one after the other. If the band is good, it should be a good show. We really took it to heart that being in a good band just means writing great songs, playing them well, and having a real fun and exciting show. That’s always been the goal. I think that allows us to branch out of genres. ‘You know, maybe these guitars are a little too melodic here for Metalcore?’ We don’t care; we’ll do it anyway. ‘Maybe this thing is a little too this or that. Maybe there is a little too much keyboard here or something?’ We don’t care and we do whatever we want. We’ve been really lucky that people like it (laughs). By now, it should’ve been over and nobody should care anymore but we’re lucky that they still do.
PB: That’s a great way to look at it. For whatever reason, I felt there were a lot bands that just seemed to copy or rip off your band’s sound. Do you have an opinion on that?
JD: (Laughs) I wouldn’t say rip off necessarily, I think it’s interesting to look out now being a little bit older and see the kind of influence we were able to have on bands. It’s exciting to me because there are so many bands like Underoath, As I Lay Dying, and all those guys that we listened too growing up that were such a massive influence on us. More recently, stuff like Slipknot, Meshuggah, Slayer, and even Interpol, different bands that sound nothing like us but have been a big influence on us. I think if anything, the only thing that is disappointing to me is that I wish more bands would take that and go somewhere else with it. Rather than just do the same thing that we tried to do for so long. Just be your own voice because there is a little bit too much pollution and there is not enough creativity coming in. People need to be creative, that’s the point of being in a band is to push the boundaries. Slipknot and Slayer, those two bands couldn’t sounds more different but those guys are able to go on tour together and have a great time. I think that kind of stuff represents the way things should be.