The metalcore genre kindles images of songs dominated by screaming vocals and loud guitars. The addition of zombies seamlessly complements that style of heavy metal.
But add Christianity to the mix, and well, now you have a combination that really makes people stop in their tracks.
The Devil Wears Prada, however, is a six-man outfit that makes it all work. Having released fourth album Dead Throne on Sept. 13 and the mobile-friendly “Zombie Slay” video game to coincide with the five songs on their 2010 Zombie EP, the band headlines Backstage Live on Monday, Nov. 28 with Whitechapel, Enter Shikari and For Today (details at bottom).
While frontman Mike Hranica tackles the lyrics and screaming vocals, guitarist Jeremy DePoyster handles the sprinkling of melodic “clean vocals.” DePoyster, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Dec. 1, spoke with me by phone Friday before that night’s show in Denver:
Q: How much of an oxymoron is it to be a Christian metalcore band?
A: Not really. I get asked that a lot, but it’s never really been an issue or something that we really thought of. It’s just a case of something that we have to say, and it doesn’t have any real affect on what we’re saying.
Q: Were you guys influenced by Stryper, Barren Cross and Bloodgood, or were those bands too much before your time?
A: Yeah, it was a little bit before my time. It was more Norma Jean (view my February interview with Norma Jean singer Cory Brandan here).
Q: How is Dead Throne different from the previous records?
A: Like anything else, we’re older now, and we’ve been playing together for six years now. There’s a different kind of chemistry with the band and the way we think and write. Especially with the songwriting process. When we went in to do the Zombie EP, we kind of did it with Chris (Rubey) our guitar player doing most of the stuff on a computer and coming back and showing us that way. It kind of made the songs more structured and less sporadic. The songs were written more as a band on the new record, so that part is different.
Q: Dead Throne is produced by Adam Dutkiewicz from Killswitch Engage (see slideshow, left). He’s known for his production work with bands such as Unearth and All That Remains (see suggested links at bottom). What did he bring to the table in the recording studio?
A: Actually, what I was just saying was a massive part of what he brought. Reworking the guitars, cutting the fat out. Reworking the songs. With a lot of young bands, that’s a problem, and we were a young band. Not that we aren’t now (laughs). But he was able to create more focus in the songs, and just eliminating unnecessary parts. Also just getting the best performances out of everyone. He knows what you need to focus on and pushes you, and if he feels you’re not doing it, he’ll tell you that it’s not good enough.
Q: I’d like to ask about a couple new songs in particular. First “R.I.T.” I’m guessing, judging by the relationship lyrics of that one (“She shows the symptoms of being my suicide. I’m holding you to blame for this . . . I dream about her more nights than not”) that it’s an acronym for “Ripped In Two?”
A: No it’s not, but that’s an interesting guess (laughs). Mike, our singer, writes all the lyrics. I think that one especially was less of that and more of being familiar with things that have happened with us.
Q: R.I.T. isn’t mentioned in the lyrics, though. So it doesn’t really stand for anything?
A: It actually stands for Rest In Torment. But no, Ripped In Two is a real good, creative guess (laughs).
Q: “Pretenders” sounds and feels as if you guys have had a person or band blatantly rip off a song of yours (“Watch out for pretenders . . . Endless imitation, obvious plagiarism . . . How did it all become published? . . . You fake, you were meant to fall down. And now the record went gold, but not an ounce of sincerity was achieved”). Is that the case?
A: Without being too graphic, yeah. I think for Mike, lyrics are unabashedly when you can say what you want without offending anyone. Not that we care what a lot of people say. But I don’t want to slander anyone. We weren’t out to be the most outlandish band, but I don’t think you can listen to our influences like Underoath and go, “Yep, that’s the exact same sound.” We’re just making creativity and trying new things. It’s a bummer to see younger people that don’t care about that and cash in and rise to the supposed top that they think is going to be the best thing in the world. And then looking down from there, it’s not what it is. If that’s why you’re making music, you’re not going to be happy.
Q: What was the idea behind the somewhat dark video shoot for “Born To Lose?” (click on video box, top left)
A: For all the live shots, Mike had had this concept of doing a silhouetted photo for the booklet in the CD. It was something he’d been wanting to do.
Q: When was the last time you played San Antonio? I know For Today was here in July during the All-Stars tour (see suggested link at bottom). Any special memories?
A: I think that if not this last year, we’ve done it on Warped Tour almost every year. I’m almost certain we played it on the Killswitch tour. One time we played this outdoorsy place with Underoath. The White Rabbit is down there, right?
Oh, yeah, we’ve had many a sweaty night at the White Rabbit (laughs).
Q: Where did the infatuation with zombies come from, as well as the idea for the comic and Zombie Slay game?
A: The original idea came up while we were in Europe, that Mike threw out. Then it went from there, and it evolved into this whole idea. Really, within a couple days, this idea snowballed. We’re always coming up with ideas that never turn into anything, but for some reason, this one really stuck. We wrote songs, and they turned out awesome, even heavier than what we were putting out. We wondered how it would be, then were like, “Whatever, we don’t care. We like it. Let’s put it out.” And it really took off. We were just being experimental, but as far as the zombie kind of theme, it all evolved from there. Just a fun, gory kind of theme, especially for a metal band, to work with.
Q: What was your favorite video game growing up?
A: Ooh, that’s hard. When I was a kid, I had a Super Nintendo 64, and I was into all that and the Mario stuff. I think Gold Knight. Killing all your friends was fun. And a new one just came out, so I’ll have to pick it up. Andy (Trick) our bass player and I played a lot of online games. He’s a huge game nerd. He’s playing Skyrim now.
Q: So does the word Atari ring a bell or not at all?
A: No actually, that was when I was a kid. My grandma had one that she bought for all us grandkids. “Pong” and all those Olympic games. I think we’re the last generation to remember that (laughs).
- WHO: The Devil Wears Prada with Whitechapel, Enter Shikari and For Today
- WHEN: 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 28 (Doors at 6 p.m.)
- WHERE: Backstage Live (1305 E. Houston)
- TICKETS: $21, buy here.
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