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Heavy metal and Harambe: An interview with Devil You Know

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Ever since their formation four years ago, American supergroup Devil You Know has been trying its absolute hardest to make it to the UK.

Devil You Know

Since 2012, the metalcore trio has released two studio albums and played shows in the US, Canada, mainland Europe and even Australia, but has never once been able to make it to a stage in Britain.

However, that is set to change come 2017; in January, Devil You Know will embark on their first ever trek across Blighty.

Dubbed the ‘Third Time’s a Charm Tour’, the shows will see the band blast through our little island with ONI, Wearing Scars and Brutai in tow.

And as excited as British fans may be for these upcoming concerts, the question still remains: why the hell did Devil You Know take so long to get over here?

“We’ve just had many, many difficulties that have arisen,” explains the group’s lead singer Howard Jones.

“A lot of it was last minute stuff; it was like ‘Wow, is this really happening to us? OK… Alright, moving on…’ That’s pretty much how it was. This time we’re saying ‘We’re coming and that’s that!’

“We’ve got heavy bands, we’ve got sweaty people; alright, good times!”

And although little is known about what Jones and co. have planned for their English debut, one thing that can be said is that Devil You Know’s merch stand will probably be crammed full of weird shit.

In recent weeks, for example, not only has the band created a t-shirt saying “HoJo for President”, but they also have another that reads “Harambe – 666 – No Lives Matter”.

Of his group’s strange tribute to the Cincinnati Zoo’s fallen gorilla, a bemused Howard states, “I have no idea what’s going on with that.”

He continues with a laugh: “Honestly, number one: I don’t have any sort of social media, so I literally have no idea what’s going on with that. Number two: I didn’t even know about the shirts until we were on-tour and people were like ‘Oh man, I love the Harambe shirt!’ I was like ‘What on Earth are you talking about?’ And then I saw it and went ‘Oh, OK, I see.’ It just made me chuckle. I don’t know who thought of it, but good for you.”

The upcoming UK shows are in support of their second and latest album, They Bleed Red (2015). The record contains 47 minutes of rip-roaring metalcore, mixing brutal, groove metal verses with melodic, rock-inspired choruses, but one of its most notable moments comes towards the end, when the band performs a cover of Survivor’s 1982 hit ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

“I believe that was our manager’s idea,” Jones explains.

“We were considering doing a cover and then he passed that along. I was like ‘That could be funny.’ I didn’t think much of it, but later on, more questions came up about what to do and then the guitarist [Francesco Artusatu] said ‘Hey, what do you think about ‘Eye of the Tiger’?’ I was like ‘Yeah, I heard that getting mentioned, it’s always a possibility.’ We heard it, it was pretty catchy, so we did it.

“We had a huge list. I don’t remember a lot of particulars, it was just this huge list. We basically said ‘Hey, what songs do you like by other artists?’ and we just wrote down a bunch of stuff, but I was really busy recording the album when that came up. Once I had the music for [‘Eye of the Tiger’], I was like ‘Let’s go for it! Why argue with this? This works!’”

They Bleed Red is also an enigmatic record in that Howard partially dedicated it to his favourite TV show: the animated sitcom American Dad.

“That show’s hilarious, it’s just funny,” he says. “I repeatedly watch it; it’s kinda my go-to when I feel like unwinding but don’t know what to watch. I can just pop on Netflix and watch American Dad.

[I’m a] huge fan of Family Guy,” Jones continues. “But I think I might like American Dad a little bit more. There are times when American Dad is just as funny or funnier, but as a whole I like how it’s rooted in the family [and] you don’t get the weird cut-aways. It’s family-oriented, just with an alien living there and a talking fish. And this alien, how does he get around? How does no-one just say ‘Hey, that’s an alien’? It’s amazing! It’s just really funny how it’s craziness rooted in reality.”

But make no mistake: despite Howard’s affinity for comedy, They Bleed Red is a dark and personal record for the front-man, as well as being heavier than anything else he has done before.

“I generally write [about] stuff that’s closer to me, whether that’s things that happen to me or things that happen to someone I know. General sappy stuff, that’s me,” Jones states.

“Some of the stuff I’ve written for Devil You Know has been darker, but at the same time, there’s always a positive standpoint. Everything I went through, I still want to see that tomorrow’s going to be better. That’s just how I look at things and how I write. For me, I’m just a story writer and I guess I like happy endings.

“I knew it was going to be heavy, but it turned out to be even heavier than we thought it was going to be. The next [album] might be even heavier!”

Once Devil You Know finishes touring to promote They Bleed Red early next year, writing/recording their third album is set to be the band’s top priority, with Howard saying that the three-piece will enter “‘finish writing’ mode” before heading into the studio.

2017 could well be the year for new Devil You Know music, but it will begin with the band wrapping up their promotion of their current material. Their upcoming UK tour has been an event four long years in the making and is something that English rock fans are not going to want to miss. So grab your tickets, hurry to the shows, mosh the night away and get your dicks out for Harambe.

(On second thought, don’t do that last one. Please.)

Devil You Know’s latest album, They Bleed Red, is available physically and digitally via Nuclear Blast Records.

Devil You Know will be touring the UK with ONI, Wearing Scars and Brutai in January.




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