Article by Lili-Anh Le Minh
When talking about today’s metalcore scene, The Devil Wears Prada is definitely one of the bands with a big following and a dedicated fanbase. Formed in 2005 with James Baney, Jeremy DePoyster, Mike Hranica, Chris Rubey, Andy Trick and Daniel Williams, this band has been pushing forward ever since and have released 4 full length albums and an EP. Their latest work, Dead Throne, debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200 last September and shortly after, they embarked on a North American tour to support the album, bringing along their friends from For Today, Enter Shikari and White Chapel. When the tour stopped at Montreal’s own Metropolis on December 15th, I had a nice chat with Daniel, the band’s drummer. After a quick mini tour of their bus that led me to their bathroom and to thoughts about having to brush their teeth with the not very trustworthy water supply, I knew right then that this was going to be a fun and interesting conversation.
Touring always brings new experiences, whether it’s meeting new fellow tourmates or even simply trying out local foods. The night before TDWP’s Montreal stop, the band experienced something new at the Paladium in Boston; they shot their first live DVD. “It was awesome! We didn’t really announce anything about it or tell too many people. […] The crowd was insane, such a good time! One of the better shows of the tour for sure.” After the album and the tour, here comes the Dead Throne live DVD in the near future! This DVD will mainly focus on the band’s performance, but there might be backstage footage and other stuff added in.
What started this whole pyramid of Dead Throne was of course, their album that was very well received. “The response has been a lot better than we expected. We put it out and there are always the people who like our old stuff better or whatever. This record got less of that than any of our old records. […] This time, it is a lot different than our previous stuff but I definitely think we still went the heavy aggressive route so I think that kind of helped make sure that people didn’t think we had sold out.”
But then again, isn’t it normal for a band’s sound to change and to evolve over time? “There’s always that progression that comes with playing with the same 5 other people every day for 6 years straight. Eventually, you’re going to get something different because you just get better as musicians or learn to vibe with those people more. […] I do think it obviously still sounds like us. It just sounds like a more polished version of us. We always try to write the heaviest music that we possibly could. It’s just that we were younger and we didn’t know how yet. Or we tried and it just didn’t come out that heavy. It just didn’t translate. And now, we’re able to get with a producer that could take what we wanted and translate it onto the recording and make it sound exactly like how we had it in our heads.”
That producer was Adam Dutkiewicz who is quite a big name in today’s metalcore scene, having worked with many of today’s popular bands. On top of feeding them chicken wings and lobster sandwiches (foods he is “obsessed with”), Adam D. also pushed them to become better at what they do.
Adam, chicken wings and sandwiches were not the only new additions to their writing/recording process though. “Our old records, we just got into a room together and wrote whatever we could. Eventually, when we started touring more, we had to have somebody that could sit down and write. And we have less and less time so Chris started taking it over more and more. That happened around With Roots [With Roots Above And Branches Below]. But Dead Throne actually, we wrote the songs in two different places. Half of the record was in Chicago and the other half was written in Kansas. And then, we demoed-out songs in both of those places and formed them into what we thought they should be but just a crappier version; a worse recorded version. Then we took those songs to the studio when previously, we never had demos. We just went in and hit record.” That’s when they handed them over to Adam so he could work his magic by cutting the songs and mixing them up a little. The end result was an aggressive and powerful new album.
“I would explain it as the Zombie EP but more melodic. When we went from With Roots Above to the Zombie EP, we wanted to drop all the melody and make it straight heavy, fast, aggressive, thrashy, punch in your face the entire 20 minutes because it’s only 20 minutes. This time, we were doing a 40 minute record and you don’t want to be punched in the face for 40 minutes. […] So we thought we’d mix that style with the melody and choruses and singing of all of our previous stuff. I think it came out well!”
When he mentioned singing, it led to my questioning of their dual vocalists. He told me they started off wanting to be all screaming but it eventually progressed and they ended up having a singer but it was never a conscious decision.
Their inspirations however, they are more conscious of, even though they are kind of all over the place. Chris, the main writer, listens to modern metalcore bands; “bands that are sort of [their] peers” whereas Mike, the lyricist and singer, is influenced by obscure hardcore bands. “And I listen to kind of indie rock and electronica. Jeremy listens to The Cure and stuff like that so it’s probably where he gets his vocal melodies. I think the collaboration is what makes The Devil Wears Prada sound like The Devil Wears Prada. But the influences are everywhere.” Which works out anyway, seeing as today’s generation is, for the most part, open to different kinds of music. Many bands use that to their advantage and mix things up as well, which Daniel agrees is beneficial as long as there is no country music involved.
We then moved onto a subject that this generation is submerged in; the internet. TDWP is one of the bands that got propelled into the spotlight thanks to MySpace and there are many who wouldn’t be at the top right now if someone hadn’t stumbled upon their MySpace or their YouTube. So how has the internet affected the industry?
“I think it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s awesome that it helps bands get their music out to the public out faster but because it’s so easy and so accessible, I think it’s made a lot of bad bands to become really big really fast. It’s also made for a lot of musical A.D.D. I guess I would call it? Where people have so many bands to listen to and it’s like an overload.” That is quite an interesting way to put it, but it does describe it well. “You just can’t focus; it’s depressing. But it definitely helped our band.”
That led to discussing about Twitter. From a fan’s point of view, Twitter is amazing; it lets you keep in touch with your favorite bands sometimes or otherwise, it’s a concise source of information about what’s happening with them. It does however, have its cons. “I think it’s a good way to connect to people but I often feel as if it almost let’s people get too close.”
He then told me about fans who try to get him to come out of the bus by constantly tweeting him. “I won’t load my Twitter for 6 hours and I’ll see that after the show but this person is now mad, unfollowed me, told me they’re never coming to my show again just because I didn’t see this within 6 hours and go out and meet them!”
I don’t think the majority of fans are like that, at least I dare hope they’re not. But it did make me think of today’s fans versus fans in the past who used to get all giddy just by getting a glimpse of their favorite band member. He agreed: “I remember going to Warped Tour and seeing the dudes from Taking Back Sunday, who I was obsessed with, and I was just amazed at seeing him walk near me and that was it! There was no expectation. But now, there definitely is an expectation. “
His face lit up as we started talking about Warped Tour, which was kind of a dream come true for him. TDWP got to play on one of its smaller stages back when they first started out. That year, he thought it would be cool to play the main stage and what do you know? The next year, they were on the main stage. “I just don’t even know what to ask for anymore!”
That led me to ask about the band’s biggest accomplishment, which is a future tour they landed but that he wasn’t allowed to talk about. Instead, he told me about Dead Throne and its tour. “It’s just gone over so smoothly […] everybody on the tour is awesome and everything is just falling into place and it’s been such a good time.”
TDWP had already toured at least once with each of their supporting bands. It must be fun, touring for months with a bunch of your friends but what about meeting new bands? Daniel told me that they like to give bands they don’t know a chance. However, they’ve also come along their share of people they didn’t get along with. He mentioned bands who don’t take their music seriously and how TDWP are fans of “bands that care about what they’re playing; the ones that are doing it for a reason whether it’s making music or getting a message out.”
I then brought up their first music video off Dead Throne: “Born To Lose” and asked if they had their next one in the works. He mentioned possibly taking some footage from their show in Boston but there were no concrete plans yet, though they had started talking about it; the guys always have a big input in the creative process of the videos. That made me wonder about his dream videoclip.
“I think it would be awesome to get all of my band members to skydive with their instruments, rocking out for 60 seconds and they film that into a video somehow. That would be awesome. […] A midair video! But they won’t go. Andy is the only one that would go with me.” The others could simply do it on a green screen right? That would make an original video!
We finished off the interview with my typical question that required him to draw something that represents him. “I eat a ton of these! What you see is fueled by this item. Actually, the reason this represents me is because everyone else in my band is super cultured. Every time we go somewhere, they always want to eat local and get whatever culture there is in their system. But see, I’m not that way. I’m the type of person that likes eating the same stuff, every single day. I like knowing exactly what I like; I don’t like trying new things. I like going to Taco Bell and ordering a Cheesy Gordita Crunch because I know for a fact that I like it.”
Talking of local foods obviously brought up poutine, something he just can’t eat and as I stopped my recording, we were debating the goodness of the cheese and the whole poutine mix.
To stay up to date about The Devil Wears Prada, to listen to some of their songs or to learn more about them, check out these sites:
Official site : http://www.deadthrone.com/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/tdwp
The entire interview can be read here: