Devil You Know – New Beginnings AfootFriday, 2nd May 2014
Initial plans to do a phone interview with Devil You Know’s Howard Jones were thwarted when other obligations forced the vocalist to cancel, so with the kind assistance of the Nuclear Blast publicity staff, we were able to round up guitarist Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish) and drummer John Sankey (Devolved) for an email of the electronic nature.
The main topic on hand is the band’s The Beauty of Destruction debut (which received its official release a few days ago), a fertile concoction of Jones’s harmonies, emotion-soaked cleans, and the surprisingly restrained, yet rather tasteful playing of Artusato (who can shred your face off) and Sankey (who can similarly, blast your face off). It’s a rare meeting of the superlative minds where the song is first, and showmanship second. And if the band is to be believed, Devil You Know will remain their priority act for quite some time. With that in mind, here’s the above-mentioned duo, responding to our Q’s days prior to heading off for some tour dates in support of Black Label Society and Down…
Dead Rhetoric: Just because this is how things work in the metal scene, you guys are going to get pegged as a supergroup right off the bat. Therefore, what does Devil You Know need to do to show you’re more than a collection of high-profile names?
Francesco Artusato: The music that we wrote will speak for itself. We wrote this album and put so much energy into the process that I’m sure people will see it.
John Sankey: It all comes down to delivering a great album to back up the hype, and we are all really proud of the record we’ve made. I’m confident it will show people that collectively we have achieved something that far surpasses the term ‘supergroup.’
Dead Rhetoric: Starting a band from the ground-up like this, specifically in today’s climate: Are you prepared for the long-haul?
Artusato: We are very focused and looking to build something that is going to last for very long. It’s definitely not easy to start a new band but we have done this before and we are well-prepared.
Sankey: Of course, we are very willing to work hard to show what this band can do. There’s no merit in being handed something without proving yourself. We are ready for the challenge!
Dead Rhetoric: The two of you come from technical metal backgrounds, and while there are some moments of technicality on the debut, your playing is more restrained. Have you found this to be not only a challenge, but something rather exciting?
Artusato: We focused on writing solid and well structured songs rather than thinking about how flashy we could make certain parts. This was a very exciting process.
Sankey: It was definitely a challenge for us musically since we are both used to more technicality. At first it felt very bare to have such a stripped-back approach, but after we started to write more material, the songs took shape very naturally.
Dead Rhetoric: One could look at the band this way: There’s so much versatility in your lineup, that you can go any which direction. Is that how the band feels as well?
Artusato: We definitely wanted to give each other the freedom to experiment and together write music that would satisfy completely each one of us. And that’s how we treated the entire process.
Sankey: The coolest aspect of this band is the diversity of each member and the limitless musical possibilities. I love the fact that the album covers many styles and moods. I’m looking forward to expanding our sound even more and experimenting further on future releases; it makes things as a musician interesting and exciting.
Dead Rhetoric: The band started as a project between the two of you. What made Howard the right choice as lead vocalist?
Artusato: He’s one of the best singers in the genre and he can pretty much do anything that we like vocally.
Sankey: Howard has the range and diversity the music required. We needed someone who could give every track its own personality both vocally and lyrically. He’s amazing at doing that and was the perfect fit.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you remember the “a-ha” moment when you knew the band was going to come to fruition?
Artusato: We had a few “a-ha” moments actually. It’s been very surprising to see how things started rolling right away.
Sankey: When the three of us recorded the initial album demos with [producer] Logan Mader, I knew we were onto something very special. That was definitely a defining moment in the process for me.
Dead Rhetoric: For the time being, will the band be your #1 priority?
Artusato: Yes, this is the band that I always wanted to have in terms of music.
Sankey: I will always work on other music but DYK is absolutely the priority; we are very focused on taking this band as far as it can go.
Dead Rhetoric: What was the working atmosphere like when pulling the songs together for The Beauty of Destruction?
Artusato: That was my favorite time. There’s nothing like starting to write an idea and turn that into a song.
Sankey: It was great, Francesco and I write very quickly and easily together. It was a very smooth process. We didn’t overthink any of the material, we wanted the songs to be organic and spontaneous.
Dead Rhetoric: Obviously, Howard’s vocals are super-distinctive. Were you able to pull things out of him that perhaps he wasn’t accustomed to in his previous band?
Artusato: He did all kinds of stuff on this record. From the super mellow/low/melancholic voice to the most brutal screams and growls. It’s awesome!
Sankey: As soon as Howard began working with us he said he wanted to explore the dynamics of his vocals as much as possible. It was important to him to try new things and were more than happy to give him free reign to do his thing.
Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2014?
Artusato: More tours for sure. Europe in the summer time for some festivals after this US tour. We are currently booking tours for the rest of the year. Keep checking on Facebook for upcoming tour dates and hopefully we will be coming to a city near you!
Sankey: What Fran said: See you guys on the road!