One could argue 2010 wasn’t the year of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA but it would be hard to make a case. The Dayton, Ohio, metalcore six-piece stopped time with the release of an EP that currently has fans, critics and well.. almost everyone salivating for their fourth studio piece due in September. With the band headlining VANS WARPED TOUR, guitarist Chris Rubey and drummer Daniel Williams sat down with us during the tour’s Toronto stop to talk about the Dead Throne LP and how progression is much more than the simple definition found in a dictionary.
It’s a gift to be called the future of metalcore; in what ways have you grown as a band over the years that makes you deserve that title?
DANIEL WILLIAMS: I didn’t even know we had that title to be honest with you (laughs). Well, we put out With Roots Above Branches And Below in 2009 and we did the Zombie EP shortly after that which introduced a heavier aspect to our music. If you listen to our albums, you’ll notice there’s always progression and we’re not writing the same album every time. I think a lot of bands that might be in the same category as us haven’t accomplished that.
If you take two of their albums and put them side by side, they may sound completely different but if you compare it to another band, it might sound the same. To be able to be unique in every way is important. Like if you can look at a band’s album and see that every song is completely different but realize it sounds like them, then you’ve accomplished something.
That’s because they associate you with a sound that’s your own.
CHRIS RUBEY: I think one of the reasons why people continue to like our band is because we just continue to write music that our fan base likes. In turn, it’s music we like and it just works. For musicians, trends come and things do change and when it comes to progression, we’re influenced by what sounds cool and we don’t do things that we hate.
WILLIAMS: I also think a lot of other bands try to imitate older bands. They find something they really like and then try to sound like it as much as they can.
RUBEY: That’s how this band even started.
WILLIAMS: It is how we started, but I think to create your own identity, you have to take those influences and incorporate it into your own ideals.
RUBEY: You have to create something that’s good to listen to beyond the genre that you are. You can’t just say “Oh, we’re this genre” and then write music specifically for that genre.
“Taking on the things in your life and what affects you and what you think is cool and then creating new music is what progression is. We’re just lucky it’s what our fans want..”
With the Zombie EP you presented a little bit of a change in your sound, but was there anything you did differently between recordings?
RUBEY: I think the change from Plagues to where we are now is due to the fact the whole band had kind of grasped the idea of sitting in a room and throwing around ideas. In some ways, it’s been more efficient and has created a certain sound, but at the same time, it kind of faltered once we started playing shows. You’d be on the road and everyone would have their computers, but there wasn’t that interaction of sitting in a room, which is a good thing. We still throw ideas to each other and now there isn’t the arguments you’d usually get with six people trying to make a decision in a room.
It is cool because we’ve noticed the difference in sound from a song that’s written on a computer to one that’s created from a room. Seeing that has really affected our new stuff because there are certain songs we said we have to complete in a room together as a band. As for the heavier aspect, it did come from that transition and once we noticed it was something cool to do, we decided to do it more.
How do you decide which song should be written together as a group versus just being created on someone’s computer?
WILLIAMS: We already had six songs written for the new record and we just decided we need to do two to three as a group. And we did that; we sat down and wrote the songs even though most parts came from Chris’ brain (laughs).
RUBEY: It wasn’t really me thinking too hard, it was just like “Hey, let’s write a different song”. I was in Oregon, he was in California, one person was in Ohio and three people were in Chicago, so it was a bit difficult to actually have band practice and work on certain ideas and parts together.
Is the distance ever an issue?
RUBEY: If we didn’t have private jets it would be so much more difficult.
WILLIAMS: Don’t forget the helicopter pads, they helped a lot (laughs).
RUBEY: I didn’t mind traveling. It was nice to leave for a bit, get over to where we needed to be quickly and just do our thing as a band.
WILLIAMS: It was great to work together and the main reason we were so distant is because when you’re in a band, you need space sometimes. Like sometimes you just want to sit in a house and be glad you have your own space and that you’re not going to run into anyone at the grocery store (laughs). We did just make it sound like we hate each other though (laughs). We really don’t, we like each other, most of the time anyways.
In regards to your music, would you say now you’re focus is to refine a sound that’s The Devil Wears Prada or are you still experimenting?
RUBEY: I think it’s both.
WILLIAMS: There’s always a change in influences and what we think is going to show up in our music. I definitely think out of all of our records, Dead Throne has the most songs that sound like The Devil Wears Prada. Like you can pick every song off the new album and say “That’s The Devil Wears Prada”. You can’t really do that with most bands that are similar to us.
RUBEY: The thing about this album is it doesn’t really fit into any genre. It kind of creates a new sub-genre that’s original but isn’t too different. There are some things we do that are weird though.
WILLIAMS: But in a good way.
RUBEY: I think Mike and Jeremy had a lot to do with that particular aspect. It’s just unique; for instance, Mike does a new thing where he yells and stuff and I do backing vocals that’s a bit of a change.
WILLIAMS: Vocally, there’s a lot more range.
RUBEY: Some of the songs also come from the sessions we did for the Zombie EP. We were in this situation where we decided it was time to start writing material for a new record and they came out of that. The heavier songs are from after the EP and the “lighter” songs are from before we recorded the EP. The material is pretty much taken from a span of almost two years.
WILLIAMS: The songs that sounded the most “evil” were put on the Zombie EP because we thought that would just fit as it was simply about being chased by zombies. Like when we were going through that phase, we started to write songs about a specific focus. One particular one was about moving really fast and breaking through ice..
RUBEY: That song was actually called “Mammoth”. If you were to go through our old song titles, you would find some interesting stuff. One used to be called “Black Praying Mantis” before it had any vocals in it and it was based on how the insect is one of the deadliest creatures that still exists. Even if you didn’t know about it, you could tell what kind of feeling it would create inside of you.
Which would you say is more important to you in terms of creating: bringing in influences or adapting to internal ideas?
RUBEY: When it comes to the new material we’ve written, definitely internal ideas. I’d be sitting in the studio with no direction and then one of the guys would say that we’re writing a new song about a certain topic and then you’d just go with it. That aspect is definitely influenced by similar techniques that other bands do. Taking on the things in your life and what affects you and what you think is cool and then creating new music is what progression is. We’re just lucky it’s what our fans want to hear.
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