Interview: Jeremy Depoyster

Before metalcore band The Devil Wears Prada hit Showbox SoDo’s stage supporting Anthrax and Killswitch Engage on their 2017 KillThrax tour, we chatted with guitarist Jeremy Depoyster about tour life, playing with legends, and what he’s reading. Catch up with him below and then grab your tickets and join us at the show, April 25.

Seattle Music News: How are you doing today?
Jeremy Depoyster: Good, good. Another Easter Sunday in Texas.

SMN: You guys have a show tonight, right?
Depoyster: Yeah, we’re right outside McCallum, Texas.

SMN: So, how’s the tour going so far?
Depoyster: Ah, it’s great; it’s awesome. A lot of fans…everything is sold out pretty much every night. All the bands are super awesome on and off stage.

SMN: Awesome. Do you feel like this tour differed from previous tours you’ve gone on?
Depoyster: I guess not really. I mean, at a certain point at this level of playing, I guess it all kind of turns into the same thing. Like, here’s the venue, here’s the dressing room, there’s the bus. But all the guys that are working for all the bands are super nice and really competent, so our guys view this as great. It makes everybody’s day so much easier.

SMN: That’s great. You guys have been touring now for a while. Over a decade, right?
Depoyster: Yeah, that’s scary.
SMN: That’s a milestone.
Depoyster: Yeah, it’s crazy. And to still not just be able to play, but be on a huge package like this with Killswitch and Anthrax, it’s crazy. These are guys I grew up with, so it’s insane not just to be on a tour with them again, but be that much older on tour with them again. It’s just crazy.

SMN: Have you learned anything from them? Even though you guys have been around for quite some time, being around Anthrax and Killswitch, have they taught you anything new while being on tour with them?
Depoyster: I learned a lot from Adam [Dutkiewicz, of Killswitch Engage]. We’ve done two records with him in the past, so as far as, like, using my voice and finding my voice and singing better, he really helped me go a long way with that. Especially in a live environment; you know, you only get one take.

And just the fact that he is such a phenomenal guitar player even after drinking X amount of beers per night, and running around the stage like a madman, he’s still shredding. So it’s inspiring to be, like, “All right, you gotta play better, dude. You gotta keep up with this guy.”

SMN: You guys are almost half way through your U.S. leg. What are some must-haves for you while being on tour?
Depoyster: You know, the list just gets shorter as we get older. We kind of want it simple, I guess. The phone has pretty much replaced, like, 90 percent of what you need, because you can entertain yourself for hours with that.

We watch a lot of sports, and we drink a lot of beer. So maybe a sports bar? I guess that’s probably it. You’ve got your computer. We travel with a bunch of rad gear anyway, so anytime you just want to go jam something, you just grab your guitar.

SMN: Being in such tight quarters with the same group of guys for an extended amount of time, are there any, coping mechanisms that you guys have to maintain a good atmosphere?
Depoyster: Yeah, you know, you figure it out really quickly. I guess one testament to that would be the three original guys that are still in the band. Sometimes it’s just not for everybody and it kind of drains on people. And we just got really lucky between our singer, Mike [Hranica], our bass player, and I that we were just such good friends. Even as we grew up, a lot changes once you go from 20 to 30. You start to think about things a lot differently, and you’re a different person. So, just because you started this band with somebody a long time ago, it’s not for everybody.

But that being said, the coping mechanism? I guess, just learning each other’s habits, and like you said, it’s not just a working environment. It’s a working and living submarine-style environment. So, you know what people’s triggers are, and when to push them and when not to.

SMN: Sounds about right.
Depoyster: We were just saying the other day, we want to do a clinical study, a psychological experiment on how your brain warps throughout a tour as we slowly descend into this, like, psychosis state.

SMN: Oh, I believe it. I photograph a lot of live shows, and had the pleasure of actually photographing you guys at Mayhem, I think a few years back now, and you’re on stage chemistry is pretty flawless and fluid.
Depoyster: Yeah, it’s funny, because we were like goofing around all the time pretty much non-stop off stage. But we’ve always had this rule ever since the beginning. You have to take it seriously up there. If you screw something up, never do it again. We just have that high level of expectation for ourselves, almost like a pro sports team or something, where it’s like, “We’re not just a bunch of guys goofing around out here. People pay a lot of money to see this, so you’d better figure it out and do a good job.”

SMN: On your most recent album, “Transit Blues,” I read that books influenced a lot of the writing for this album, so what are you reading these days?
Depoyster: So, Mike is our group reader pretty much; he’s constantly reading, 24-7. So, I saw he was reading some Orwell; maybe he got in the spirit from recent happenings. But I’m reading a bunch of graphic novels. I have a buddy who drew our zombie comics that we put out a long time ago. He just came out to our Atlanta show. He’s a storyboarder on “Archer,” and he’s given me a bunch of recommendations, so I’m reading a bunch of cool books like that; a bunch of stuff on, Image Comics it’s called.

And I’m currently in the middle of a couple of different sci-fi series. I’m re-reading the Issac Asimov Foundation trilogy, this super-cool sci-fi series where the scientists are fighting with the military, and it feels kind of current. Sometimes, my wife will recommend me a book and I’ll be like, “I don’t want to read that,” but then I actually end up liking it.

SMN: Yeah, because I mean you guys have long trips on the bus there.
Depoyster: Many, many.

SMN: So, if you, personally, could collaborate with any artist for, let’s say, your next album, who would it be?
Depoyster: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I’d like to get somebody out of left field that just doesn’t really have a lot to do with us musically. I think we kind of have this weird, hybrid genre of music that we play where it’s like heavy metal but a lot of atmosphere.

It would be cool to work with somebody like Robert Smith from the Cure or something like that, where it’s somebody with a real atmospheric tone to the way they play guitar. It would be cool.

SMN: Yeah. Have you ever seen them live?
Depoyster: I never have. My wife has seen them twice and she constantly rubs it in my face. I used to watch the live DVD on the road all the time and a lot of the guys hated it.
SMN: I would definitely recommend seeing them whenever you can. I just saw them for the second time last year as well, and they still got it.
Depoyster: Live on, man. I love ’em.

SMN: So, you’re on this tour, and then you go to Europe for a while. What’s in store for The Devil Wears Prada after this?
Depoyster: We have some more touring coming up later this year that we haven’t really announced yet, but that’s going to be coming up. And then we’re still trying to fill out some stuff for the rest of the world. I’d like to see us go on some more supporting stuff. I like being out here supporting other bands and trying to grow our fan base a little bit.

We love headlining; we love going out there with our show and our fans, but it’s nice to bring more people into the fold that might not know a whole lot about the band.

SMN: I was actually going to ask you if there was a different vibe between headlining versus supporting?
Depoyster: Oh, it’s totally different. When you go out there – especially that early in the night – sometimes it’s like, “Okay, let’s see what you’ve got.” And then if you can get them by the second or third song going crazy, then you’re like, “All right, it’s gonna be a good night.”

SMN: Wow, that’s awesome. And do you have any pre-show routine that you do?
Depoyster: Just kind of warm up and get the fingers stretched out, and usually try to play through at least half of the set and kind of get that into my head. Maybe I’ll have a couple of drinks; maybe not. And that’s pretty much it.

SMN: Do you have a favorite song that you like performing live?
Depoyster: Recently, I’m liking this song “World Live” that we have; off our new album. And it’s going over really well, which is cool. You’ve always got to love when the new song goes over well.

SMN: Oh, yeah. No, I was listening to “Transit Blues” like, “Man, you guys are killing it.”
Depoyster: Thank you.

SMN: There is a progression between your first album and the newest album, and it’s nice to see the evolution of the band.
Depoyster: Thank you. I think we’re going to try and just keep getting even weirder and heavier, and kind of straddle between as weird as we can get and as heavy metal as we can get.

SMN: Is there any type of music that you think is influencing the new sound or the progress of your sound?
Depoyster: Probably a lot of it comes from Kyle [Sipress], our new guitar player. He’s just really weird and thinks about music very differently. I think that when him and I find a nice balance between stuff, and along with John, our keyboard player, there’s a lot of weirdness and accessibility that kind of goes together. So I think that’s nice.

SMN: And it’s working out well with the new guitarist?
Depoyster: Oh yeah; he’s killing it.

SMN: That’s good to hear. I know sometimes change with bands can be hard.
Depoyster: Yeah, we were very cautious about it. And when Chris [Rubey] wanted to leave, we were like, “Okay, whoever we get in here has gotta be a great fit personality-wise and writing-wise and playing the show-wise.” And he kills it on all fronts, so it was very natural. We feel really lucky that it worked out like that.

SMN: Awesome. Well, this is my last question. If you had to pick only one album, one book, and one movie to have for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Depoyster: Oh, I can do that pretty easily. So, album would be Depeche Mode’s Violator. That’s my favorite album. Yeah, I’m a little goth kid. Let’s see, movie…I would probably go with Blade Runner. I could do that; I like sci-fi. And then book…I could do 1984. I just love the balance in between that and how applicable it is; the place he was at when he wrote it. So, we’ll do that.

SMN: Nice. Yeah, you actually answered that very easily. That’s never the case.
Depoyster: I’m a man of simple tastes, I guess.

Interview by Sunny Martini