November 4, 2016 Interview – Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada Talks Transit Blues
Time spares no one, and with that, comes progress and growth. A part of life many have difficulty adjusting to, often one’s favorite band changes artistic directions or hones their sound in a different way. A move forward that should be looked at with an open mind, The Devil Wears Prada continue to plunge into the future. Initially tucked under the title of Metalcore upon the release of their 2006 debut album, Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord, the years to follow the band has delved into a broader, more atmospheric, distinctive sound.
Challenging the idea of what people perceive of them, they up the ante even more with their most recent album, 2016’s Transit Blues. A natural progression from 2015’s Space EP, The Devil Wears Prada appear to have their best years in front of them. Recently we caught up with Guitarist Jeremy DePoyster about the mindset of the band, writing music as a collective unit, giving it their all live, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Last we spoke, in the summer of 2015, The Devil Wears Prada was in the midst of headlining the Mayhem Festival. Since then, you released the Space EP and now return in 2016 with the full-length album Transit Blues. What has the last year been like for the band?
Jeremy DePoyster – It’s been great, it’s been a lot of work, but it’s been really good. We put out the Space EP, the reception was really excellent, which is awesome. We wrote and recorded a record, Transit Blues, we are really happy with the reaction so far. It’s been overwhelmingly positive, which is great for a new record because if everyone hates new music, you probably don’t really have a career anymore (laughs). We are very pumped.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Very true. With Space, the band really exhibited a tremendous amount of growth. Do you feel like that collection of songs laid the groundwork for Transit Blues?
Jeremy DePoyster – Yeah, I think so. That was the first one we had written with this particular lineup. I think it was, I won’t say a test, but it definitely was indicative that we could do it with this group. The older you get, the more you think to yourself, “Everybody wants to have a band and everyone wants to write songs,” that’s awesome and great. Although, you have so little control over whether people liking the songs that you write.
I am not the kind of person that thinks it really matters how big your audience is and whether people do like it or not. I like creativity for creativity. For people like us, that kind of set our life up to make a living playing music, it certainly helps that people do like it. That was quite encouraging. I think we would have gone off the deep end in things that we wanted to do anyway cause we kind of are like that. Having that kind of encouragement and knowing that people like the direction you are going certainly helps to assure confidence.
CrypticRock.com – Right, it is always good to have that positivity around you. Transit Blues really is quite a dynamic record, some may say the band’s most dynamic to date. What was the writing and recording process like for the album?
Jeremy DePoyster – It was super awesome to be honest with you. We got a couple different houses, one in Michigan and one in Wisconsin. Most of us live in Chicago, so we wanted to get out of the city and shack up together in a little rental place to write and live in the same space. We did and it was awesome. We had all kinds of creative juices come out of it. A bunch of the stuff was real collaborative, written together. A couple of the songs, smaller groups of guys wrote together, I don’t want to say little teams. Kind of like, “Hey, you want to work on this together?”
It was just a really collaborative, communistic type thing. I think that ends up being the best for a listener because you get a combination of all these symbiotic brains together instead of just one guy that comes in, “Hey guys, here’s the songs, learn them, record them, and go play them!” I am generally a big fan of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and all kinds of great Rock bands like that, that have that dynamic to them where there are a lot of brains involved and a lot of spread out creativity. It’s really cool for us to be able to get more into that state of mind than we have in the past.
CrypticRock.com – Right, it is great to see collaborative efforts from all the musicians. That definitely makes it more interesting for the listener. This was actually the first full-length album yourself and the band worked with Kyle Sipress on the team. What did he bring to the fold?
Jeremy DePoyster – So much; his style of writing, music, and playing is vastly different to mine and Chris Rubey that it’s really a new dynamic. He’s just got a certain way that he writes things that are quite complementary to the things that Mike wants to do vocally as well as the things I want to do vocally and melodically. It’s a really great fit. He has been guitar teching for us for about a year, we knew how talented he was, but it’s different being in a band with somebody and doing that. He’s just so good and it’s a true honor to be able to play with him.
CrypticRock.com – That is good that the chemistry is working well. You had mentioned about the vocals and the guitar sound, the vocals are very quite distinctive on Transit Blues, and so are the guitar sounds. As a guitarist and vocalist, what are some of your favorite techniques to morph and experiment with sounds?
Jeremy DePoyster – As far as vocally, I work really well with John our keyboard player and Mike our singer, where I can say, “Hey let me just, can you loop this part and I’ll try a couple of different ideas.” One of them, I usually grab them and say, “Well, what if we do this? Go up here instead of down there and this kind of stuff.” I have just been very blessed to have a voice that people seem to respond to. I obviously work quite hard at it, but it’s one of those things that is almost like athletics, you just have to be thankful you have it, because not a lot of people do.
Instead of saying, “Hey, look at me I’m so good,” I rather say, “Hey, thanks for giving me this cool voice, I’ll try and do something cool with it.” I just try and push the boundaries and have it sound more natural. A lot of our older stuff is super auto-tuned and things like that. That’s just not something I feel is really necessary, so we try and stay away from that now. As far as guitar sounds, Mike, Kyle, and I just like really different things and sounds. They all blend together to make something funky.
CrypticRock.com – It works well. At stated, there is a distinctive sound to this record; the guitars sound really crisp. That is essential for a band, otherwise they will get lost in the shuffle without a unique sound or style.
Jeremy DePoyster – Yeah, and it’s so easy to fall into the trap of the same baseline of all digital amps and those kind of things. That stuff is fine and nice to write with, I just think there is something really organic about Rock-n-Roll, guitar amps, and turning them up really loud and putting mics on them. You can tell, you can feel it. I don’t like Rock music that’s Pop music. I like Rock music that has Pop elements, but it should come from a bunch of dudes that want to play Rock music. Not some over processed, commercialized BS.
CrypticRock.com – Completely understandable. You had mentioned earlier that you hope that fans like the music otherwise you don’t have a career. That said, some fans, no matter what, can be fickle about progress with a band. Do you find the bulk of The Devil Wears Prada fans embracing the new sounds. Also, do you find the band turning heads of others who may have paid attention years ago?
Jeremy DePoyster – I think both. It’s hard to be a band for a long time. It really sucks when you go, “Why are those guys still playing, they suck!” and you are like, “I wonder if people are saying that about me (laughs).” It sucks to have that awareness about the bands that you like and then apply it to yourself. I think we have gotten significantly older than when we first started the band, we are 28-29 years old. Our fans are in their early, mid, to late twenties.
I think that they’ve grown with us, in a way, in the things that they want to hear or the things that we want to play. The other stuff that they are listening to, we are also listening to as well. I think that there is a certain nostalgia for some of the stuff we did in the past briefly, but I think a lot of fans, especially the ones that are around our age, say “Thank you for not doing the same old crap.” Those records already exist if you want to hear them.
CrypticRock.com –Right, exactly. Some bands get caught up in thinking a band sold out or changed. As an artist, you are saying it is not that you don’t like or respect your old material, it is saying that had its place in time, and now it is time to move on.
Jeremy DePoyster – Right, exactly. Like I said, the world is not a fair fight. Sometimes really good bands put out bad albums, and there is nothing you can do about it. I guess I’ll just be very thankful that things are going over pretty well. I don’t want to say humility, but just having that awareness. I hate that feeling, “You should like this cause we made it.” You think, “Why? What if it’s not good.”
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) It is so true. The band is currently wrapping up a tour with Memphis May Fire, which featured Silverstein on select dates. How has the tour been?
Jeremy DePoyster – We started out on Denver, then went to Chicago, Canada, and a couple of other places. We are really pumped, we have been rehearsing a few weeks prior to the tour starting, trying to get everything super tight. If somebody comes out to the show, I promise you that it will be the best that we can do.
CrypticRock.com – The Devil Wears Prada always put on great show. In 2015, at the Mayhem Festival, the band really did a great job on the main stage.
Jeremy DePoyster – I appreciate that, thank you. We try and take it seriously and put on a good one. We came up touring with some really good bands, when we were young, then you go out and tour with bands like Slayer, Slipknot, and Motörhead, they don’t take a day off. Every time somebody buys a ticket to see them, it should be the best show of their life. We try and do the best we can when somebody comes out, they know they got the best we have. We better be laying on the ground almost dead downstairs in the dressing room otherwise we failed (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – It is great you have got that dedication to performing. You had mentioned some of the great Metal bands that you guys have played with. Mayhem Festival is something The Devil Wears Prada grew up with, and sadly, it is no longer. Where do you think Metal festivals go from here in North America, because right now, there really is no viable option.
Jeremy DePoyster – That’s a great question, I think they are kind of having a resurgence here in the US. There are a lot of radio Rock and Metal festivals turning up, a lot more than there were in the past. We play in Europe a lot just because Metal seems to do really well over there. There’s a huge following for Download Festival and all these kind of things. Lately, in the last couple of years, we’ve seen guys like John Reese and some others such as Slipknot pump up these big Metal festivals. I think as long as people come out for them, they will just keep making more of them.
CrypticRock.com – Hopefully. Knotfest recently completed its fourth year. It would be nice to see more traveling festivals such as Mayhem was for many years.
Jeremy DePoyster – Right, I’ve heard some rumors about some things, I would keep your eyes peeled.
CrypticRock.com – There will always be something that will take its place. Vans Warped tour decided in 2016 to kind of go back to their roots. They stepped away from mixing in the Metal a little bit, but they have also been big on making it a diverse touring festival over the years.
Jeremy DePoyster – Yeah, big time. I think that’s the strength and I hope they hold on to that.
CrypticRock.com – You are a big music fan yourself, as you said of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and a lot of Rock-n-Roll. Has there ever been an event that will stick in your mind for the rest of your life?
Jeremy DePoyster – Yeah, I went to a P.O.D. concert when I was a kid. They just slayed it, they had all the big moving lights and stuff, I thought it was awesome. I didn’t even know that a lot of people have moving lights, it was one of the only concerts I’d been to. I thought it was their thing that they had made and it was a really monumental experience in my mind. I saw Marilyn Manson when I was younger, that was insane. Projekt Revolution, which was Korn and Linkin Park; I was a big Nu Metal kid. All those guys really got me going.
CrypticRock.com – Those are the things you never forget. You take them with you the rest of your life, whether you are a musician, such as yourself, or as a fan. These are life-changing experiences if you are into music.
Jeremy DePoyster – Oh, big time. We are entertainers at the end of the day, it’s what we do. Everybody works and everyone has jobs. Everyone’s life sucks to a certain degree because you got bills to pay and stuff. If we can kind of take people away into a moment, it’s like a movie, that’s why you come here. You come here because you don’t want to worry about your bills that you can’t pay. It is about being in the moment dude, it is cool.
CrypticRock.com – That is what it is all about. Last we spoke, you told me you were in fact a fan of Horror films such as the original Friday the 13th, The Shining, the Scream series. Have you seen any newer Horror films you have enjoyed?
Jeremy DePoyster – I recently watched The Conjuring 2 (2016), there are certain aspects of it that I really didn’t like, but a lot of it I really did like. I like that director, James Wan, he also did Insidious (2010), and I really liked that. I really liked his title screens, I know it sounds stupid, but I edit a lot of videos. I am super into cool title screens and I remember the Insidious one was so awesome. I like American Horror Story, that seems to be a really good show. My wife loves it so, she’s very much more into Horror than I am. She forces me; on October 1st, we were watching Halloween already (laughs).
Jeremy DePoyster – Yes, the one right now is the Roanoke lost colony. There’s a whole thing going on with that, it’s like a fake Documentary series and it’s kind of cool. I like Ryan Murphy, I think he’s super campy, like the Scream Queen show and stuff. I thought it was pretty funny. I know people are judgmental about it, I was super into it. I liked the campy humor with it.