by Mike Breen
Dayton Metalcore group preps for return to Ohio with the Mayhem festival
The Devil Wears Prada is a true "area band makes good" story. The Dayton-born group is steamrolling through the landscape of Metal all over the world. In the band's short history, TDWP has released four albums while keeping up one of the most active tour schedules around. The group's latest album, Dead Throne, from last year reached the top of the US Indie charts and they are showing no signs of slowing down, joining the likes of Slipknot, Slayer, and Motorhead on the latest Mayhem package tour, which comes to Riverbend next Tuesday (July 24).CityBeat caught up with lead singer Mike Hranica in person prior to the band's show at Bogart's this past winter, and with rhythm guitarist Jeremy DePoyster by phone just this week to preview the group's return to Ohio. They both are very proud of their Midwestern roots, what it has meant to the band’s success and how it has let the members keep their Christian values at the forefront of their music. CityBeat: I have been listening to your new album this week Dead Throne to get ready for the show. First, I wanted to ask you about one of the songs on it. I guess the song that speaks to me the most was “Mammoth.” Can you tell me the story behind that song and a little bit about it?Mike Hranica: “Mammoth” was an interesting song. When we went into recording the record, there were only two songs that didn’t have vocals yet. One being “Chicago,” one being “Mammoth” and I wrote them as we were working on the record. When we took “Mammoth” into pre-production, Adam D, who produced the record, totally re-arranged it and it turned out to be one of our favorite songs as well and a favorite of the fans. Lyrically, it was the second to last song I wrote for the record, so I wanted it to be this recap of everything this record deals with, all the issues from idolatry to love loss and all this and tying obviously God into it. That is the idea of the full circle which runs throughout the song and that is the general concept of it.CB: You mentioned Adam D from Killswitch. What was your favorite part of working with him on the album?MH: I liked all of it. He is extravagant, personality-wise, and professionally I see him his as very simply a mastermind. I think he absolutely smashes it. I loved what he did with the music, what he did vocally with me, and I loved eating lobster with him every day.CB: You recorded it somewhere up north right?MH: Yes, in Western Massachusetts.CB: You guys grew up here in Dayton. This is a local show for the band. How do you think growing up here in the Midwest influenced the music?MH: You really see it everywhere, internationally and throughout the states. Music is obviously huge to all cliques, all generations, and all sorts of youths as far as going to school in the groups or the segregations, the cliques of people all have their music. Music is very important to someone young and growing up and I know that really translated to us. I think the Midwest has a big part in it because there is not much else to do. Like anyone else there was BMX and skateboarding and sports and what not, but it seems like a lot of young folks in the Midwest just want to play guitar and go to shows and I know that was the members that make up this band. Jeremy DePoyster: There are so many bands that are doing similar kinds of things to what we are doing now. When we grew up, especially in Cincinnati, there was an actual Hardcore scene of music and it was bizarre to be playing with them as kids with keyboards and singing and all this stuff. We were this kind of and oddball band and it was exciting because we were just a bunch of kids and into that stuff. It forced us to try and do the best we could and to really have no promise of anything. It was all local. Between Cincinnati and Dayton and Indianapolis and all these places we played growing up, it’s just the Midwest vibe. That’s why I live in Chicago now instead of the West Coast. I like the feeling here. I feel like it is really down to Earth. My wife is from Cincinnati and so we grew up together. It makes you more humble. You don’t have the arrogance that comes with it a lot of times.CB: So you were in the school band?MH: Dan and James were. I think those two were the only ones in school bands.CB: I downloaded “Zombie Slay” last night and played that on the iPad for the first time. I was just curious about you guys getting into gaming and the comic books and how did that all come about and why did you choose to go down that path?MH: When we did the EP, it was like a weird concept, it is a non-serious concept that we are going to take seriously and with that I think it would be really stupid to not do things in addition to zombie t-shirts and zombie hoodies. We wanted to go outside of that. The comic book was something that came to us right away as well as the game. Unfortunately, it just took a long time to get the game together. It was just stuff we wanted to do.CB: Do you draw?MH: Chris draws. The dude that did all the illustrations, actually Kevin Mellon who did the comic book illustrations worked with us on the app as well. We were just curious to get into the app world, the iTunes world, being a bunch of Apple nerds. The game was definitely an awesome first step for us and we are excited to see what else we can do with outside the box marketing products and just giving fans something a little bit different to maintain curiosity and just have a little bit of fun.CB: What is your favorite game to play, other than Zombie Slay of course?MH: I have been playing a lot of Zombie Slay. We just did Australia before this tour which is a lot of long flights and I was playing a lot of Zombie Slay. Otherwise, I go in and out. I have an iPad as well and I play games on that. I am not that big of an Angry Birds fan. Everyone is definitely on Angry Birds. I like Veggie Samurai, I play that a lot. Sadly I play a lot of Solitaire on my iPod, like my classic iPod. CB: What are you guys most looking forward to with the Mayhem Festival?JD: So many things. We have tried to come a long way as a band. That is always the goal. We have tried to really fine tune the art and harness the sound in the show and all that good stuff. I think that being on the Festival is kind of the next step in the direction of shying away from the Dubstep nonsense, you know, silly autotune wave of things that are happening and get back to Metal which is what we like and what we love and why we write the stuff we do. Slipknot, Slayer, Motorhead and Anthrax are amazing. You can’t beat that stuff. We have wanted to do the tour for a long time but as soon as those names came up, we were like, “Yes. Now. Put us on it.”CB: You guys have never really compromised your Christian values and you have always had that kind of a theme through your lyrics but you have started touring with more mainstream Metal bands like White Chapel and the bands you just named. There is not always a Christian atmosphere. I cover a lot of Metal music. How do you handle it or does it bother you guys at all?JD: It doesn’t really bother us. Even one of the guys from Slayer is Catholic. I think it is more of a vibe thing for them more than anything in a lot of those bands. I don’t really feel like it is that big of a deal. Some people sing about politics and some people sing about satanic issues and some people sing about love and all different kinds of things. This is just what we sing about. I don’t think it really has a whole lot to do with music. I listen to Slayer and I listen to Slipknot and bands whose values have nothing to do with mine but I can still enjoy it and listen to it and have a good time with it. I think that is the vibe we try to bring in. We are pretty respectful dudes. We generally tour, 99% of the time with secular bands, and we really don’t have a problem with it. I guess we just hope that people will give us a chance which is why it is fun to get out on a tour like this and be able to play in front of people that might have a pre-established opinion on who we are and what we do based on the fact we are a Christian band. They see it and go, “Oh wow. I had no idea it was like that.” It’s kind of cool.MH: It really is no big deal. We never, ever set out to only tour with Christian bands. We just wanted to, it was always about playing to as many people as possible. The funny thing is, backstage it never really matters what you believe because everyone gets along fine. We get along with For Today really well, both being Christian bands and being people, Christians, normal people. That’s how I think of ourselves, just normal dudes and Christians. And we both get along with White Chapel just as well, who don’t have the same sort of belief system, but it doesn’t matter at all because we are here to perform what we made and explore the music we have created and that may sound like it degrades your beliefs but it doesn’t. It’s just how it is touring. If anybody really has a big problem with Christians being on the tour, they are the standouts, and not to be too blunt, they are usually pretty ignorant people. We get along with everyone and we have been touring with non-Christian bands since we started and some of our absolute best friends are non-Christian bands.CB: I was just curious because White Chapel is almost the extreme opposite of what you guys play and lyrically. How did that tour come about or how did you hook up with them?MH: The first time we toured with White Chapel was early in 2008. I had went and saw them at a show some of my friends were playing and I had been listening to their EP that was out and was “This is the heaviest thing I know of right now.” We are happy to have them on tour early that year and it was smooth sailing. They were “We’re a little bit nervous” and we were “We’re a little bit nervous.” And it was whatever and we just play music together. We just announced a South America tour for next year which White Chapel is on again. When we see them, it is always, “When are we touring together?” It’s awesome to have them back and it is awesome to have all good people on the tour, definitely White Chapel included.CB: I think there is a misconception about Metal in general. I interview everybody at Rock on the Range and every festival. I have never met anyone that was disrespectful or not nice or who didn’t get along. I think it is a misconception in general.MH: It really is. There are Metal bands that take the whole evil thing literally, mayhem and these other things. For the most part it is evil music and it needs evil lyrics and that is what they make. They are not killing and raping women in ditches so what does it really matter?CB: You recently released a video for “Vengeance.” Can you tell me the story behind that song and the video itself?JD: It’s just a live video from our DVD shoot that we did. We put it out to get the message out of that and spark interest. We put a lot into our live show. Actually we filmed that DVD and that video I think four days before the Cincinnati show. We really just wanted to capture what that tour was in a permanent format so people could see it, not like in a Youtube quality video and stuff. That video is kind of like promoting that and getting it out there. It is one of the more relatable songs that we have off the record.CB: The DVD you are referring to is Dead and Alive. I know you did a lot of the behind the scenes shooting and editing. Are you a photographer or videographer? Is that kind of a hobby?JD: It is just something I just started doing as a hobby and a side thing. Then it just gradually turned more and more into something where I was doing every single one of the tours a video for us. Something really important to us is making sure that everything that goes out there with our name on it is coming from us and not from a giant business, corporation behind us but intimately from us. So with the video stuff and most of the photos we put up, we shoot and produce and come out from us. I feel like the bands that I like and respect the most are the ones that put effort into it instead of writing the songs and handing it in and going, “OK, do what you will with this.” Even with the merchandise designs and the website design, Mike has a massive, large hand in creating. We just want everything that has our name on it to come from us. Being able to do the video stuff ourselves is a really big help in that.CB: I have seen you guys a couple times play and you have major crowd surfing. The fans really get into your shows. Is there ever any worry about injury or anything crazy happening at the shows?JD: Yeah, but I guess it just comes with the territory. We grew up going to small shows and hardcore shows in the Dayton and Cincinnati scene which was not a calm, passive scene to grow up in. We are kind of used to it, teeth are all messed up, my face kicked in at a show as a kid and that is what we are used to. There are usually ambulances that come. I think it is pretty easy to be able to tell the areas where you won’t get hurt and the ones where you might get hurt. I think it is a do-it-at-your-own-risk kind of deal. It is part of the style of music and hopefully no one gets too hurt. CB: What was your highlight of the last tour you were on?JD: We have done a couple tours. Our fall tour was probably the most exciting one we have done so far. We got to bring massive production out and put on a big show. We just did a small club tour in the U.K. which was real cool and intimate. We did a secondary market tour in the Spring which was really cool because we got to do some “off the beaten path” markets which do a little bit better for us. The people are just more passionate than they are in the big city. We went to South America which was insane as it always is down there. It is a totally different world than it is here. The shows were great. I think it has been an exciting good six months for us. Really the highlight will be this summer with the Mayhem Fest.CB: What is the best guitar solo of all time?JD: Really, I like a lot of the Judas Priest stuff. “Painkiller” solo is pretty up there for me. There is just an emotion that comes from that, that is pretty awesome.
by Amy Harris
Rockers headed to Riverbend for next weekend's Mayhem Fest
Asking Alexandria has a British Metal sound, is proudly rough around the edges and even prouder of its stereotypical Rock & Roll lifestyle. Nothing shows this more than the short film they just released, Through Sin and Self Destruction. They have two studio albums, most notable being Reckless and Relentless, which blasted into the Top 10 on the Rock charts in the States. In a music industry that can be so straight edge and proper at times, AA is a callback to the dangerous Rock & Roll living of yore. CityBeat had an entertaining meeting with lead singer Danny Worsnop and discussed the band’s shaky public relations past and what the band’s attitude means to the landscape of Metal and Rock & Roll. Catch Asking Alexandria when the Mayhem Festival comes to Riverbend Music Center on July 24. CityBeat: I took the time yesterday and watched your new short film Through Sin and Self Destruction. What made you decide to do a short film like that when most people aren’t even doing videos anymore?Danny Worsnop: I think it was a chance to tell a story; (there had been) kind of rumors about it for a long time but it had never reached the surface. It is a very loose, over-dramatized version of what was going on in my life at that point.(See the NSFW trailer below.)CB: Does the film really portray the typical kind of lifestyle that you guys lead?DW: It is exaggerated but it is my lifestyle.CB: I talk to a lot of bands and it is being compared to Guns N Roses and the Appetite for Destruction days and I don’t talk to many bands that are able to sustain that. DW: Most bands these day aren’t even really bands. They are just people who kind of play music. There aren’t many real bands anymore so there really isn’t opportunity for that lifestyle to sustain. I am by no means condoning the lifestyle but it has always kind of been there in Rock & Roll. CB: Do you guys see a big difference when you tour in Europe versus touring in the U.S.?DW: Not really. At first there was a crowd size difference but we are known to the world now. It is pretty much the same no matter where we go, besides the currency. Currency is different. And age of sexual consent.CB: Can you tell me the process for you guys as a band to put the songs together or write the songs?DW: The songs are based on whatever I am going through at the time. The albums are very honest and very personal. Everything that we have been doing is a story of my life.CB: Where do you see yourself and the band in 10 years?DW: Hopefully, in a much bigger house than I live in now driving a much nicer car with a lot of money. And hopefully still playing music in 10 years.CB: Who are your current influences in music?DW: The same they always have been. Motley Crue, Aerosmith, Journey, Def Leppard and AC/DC, just Rock & Roll. I would rather much listen to those bands than Metal. I am not a Metal singer. I don’t listen to Metal music. In my eyes, we are a Metal band with a Rock & Roll singer.CB: You guys have a highly anticipated new album coming out this year. How is that coming along?DW: It is coming along really well. It is different than the previous records. It is far more mature. I have written some real songs. Hopefully that comes through.CB: Is it still looking like a September timeframe (for release)?DW: It is looking to be the end of November or beginning of December right now.CB: What has been your greatest Rock star moment so far?DW: That is a tough one. It depends which way you want to go with it. Do you want something completely inappropriate?CB: You could go with either or both.DW: We opened for Guns N Roses and we felt like true Rock stars. That was definitely infamous. In terms of behavior, however it may be frowned upon, I guess the most shamed Rock star moment was the whole Seattle incident. CB: You guys were out with Guns this year. What was the highlight of that for you guys?DW: Just the experience of doing it. It’s such a great honor to do something like that. It was mind-blowing at times.CB: Did you get to spend time with Axl at all or the band themselves?DW: No, I didn’t really hang around much at that show. I left pretty soon after we played.CB: I always ask this question of bands because I have had some pretty crazy stories over the years. Have you ever had any crazy boyfriend or husband stories?DW: I have never had a boyfriend or a husband. I’m sorry I’m going to let you down with that one.CB: No, with the girls coming after you guys?DW: We have had many of the guys come up to us and ask us to sleep with their girlfriends or wives. I did once have sex with a chick and later found out she was engaged to one of my good friends.CB: That’s never good.DW: No.CB: Did you tell him?DW: No and he still doesn’t know. We aren’t friends anymore so it would be impossible for me to tell him. It was a friend at the time.CB: Do you guys have any pre-show rituals. Do you come together and do anything special?DW: No. It was always something that was natural to me just like I’m going anywhere else except there are thousands of people watching it.CB: What can the fans look forward to at Mayhem?DW: It is going to be a real fun tour. I am going to be wearing leather. They can look forward to that. I may take my shirt off during the show.CB: It’s going to be pretty hot for leather.DW: Yeah, that’s why I may take it off.CB: It’s pretty hot. I don’t know if you’ll get the leather off.DW: I know I’m hot. Stop telling me. Stop flirting with me.CB: You guys have been out on the road. What is the best and worst part of being on the road?DW: The worst part is being away and not getting to see loved ones. The best part is probably just the shear freedom from the human race. Normal rules don’t apply. It is a completely different world when you are on the road. As myself, I am a completely different person on the road than any other time in my life. I am an insane creature.CB: Do you believe the cliché that there is no bad press?DW: I know there is bad press. I just don’t necessarily dislike it, which is a good thing because I have had a hell of a lot of it.CB: Some people it really bothers and gets under their skin and some people it doesn’t.DW: I think sometimes I prefer bad press.CB: Why?DW: Everyone is trying so hard to just be so nice now. I don’t want that. I want to be known as me and I am not a good person but I am OK with that. I have come to terms with it. It’s not that I am a bad person, it is just that I speak my mind and I don’t sugar coat stuff. CB: I interviewed Alice Cooper a few weeks ago, a legend, and he seemed upset with current bands because nobody wanted to be Rock stars anymore, basically.DW: Last time I saw him he was on stage at the Golden God Awards ceremony thanking me and for keeping Rock & Roll alive.
Posted In: Music History
at 12:14 PM | Permalink
Happy 40th birthday to Ziggy Stardust and 51st to Tom Araya
Today is the 40th anniversary of the release of one of Rock & Roll's greatest albums, David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. The concept album based around the story of an alien rocker who's come to spread hope five years before the end of the world (but gets sucked in by the earthly treats being a Rock God brings) reached No. 5 on the U.K. charts, but only made it to No. 75 in the U.S. Rolling Stone called the album the 35th best album in the history of humankind on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. All 11 songs on the album are amazing and about half our bona fide classics, including "Ziggy Stardust," "Suffragette City," "Starman," "Moonage Daydream" and "Hang on to Yourself." The concert film/documentary Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars came out the following year, directed by the great D.A. Pennebaker. The film captured Bowie's surprise announcement that it was "Ziggy" and the band's last show. Just before playing "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide," Bowie says, "Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it's the last show that we'll ever do." Some thought Bowie himself was retiring (including several U.K. newspapers), but he was only retiring the character. Here's the film — one of the best concert docs ever — in full. Ziggy Stardust - The Motion Picture from Karsten Elmer on Vimeo.Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a June 6 birthday include late baritone singer for Motown's Four Tops, Levi Stubbs (1936); Rock/R&B legend Gary U.S. Bonds (1939); German Electronic music pioneer and founder of Tangerine Dream, Edgar Froese (1944); one of the best Rock bassists ever (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel), Tony Levin (1946); veteran Folk singer/songwriter Holly Near (1949); Pop/Rock singer/songwriter Dwight Twilley (1951); drummer and lead singer for Japanese Electronic group Yellow Magic Orchestra, Yukihiro Takahashi (1952); legendary New Jack Swing (and beyond) co-producer (with Terry Lewis), Jimmy Jam (1959); guitar wizard Steve Vai (1960); Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley (1964); former White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult (1966); guitarist for Nu Metal giants Korn, James "Munky" Shaffer (1970); singer for Goth Metal group Lacuna Coil, Cristina Scabbia (1972); Kid Rock DJ turned Soft Pop star Uncle Kracker (1974); co-frontman with The Libertines (U.K.) and frontman of Dirty Pretty Things, Carl Barat (1978); Odd Future posse member Mike G (1990); and singer/bassist for Slayer, Tom Araya (1961). Slayer was formed by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King in 1981 in California. They soon recruited drummer Dave Lombardo and Araya (a native of Chile) and within five years would put out future Metal classic Reign in Blood. Slayer's next several albums helped cement them as one of "The Big 4" of Thrash Metal, placed alongside Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth as the giants of the genre (and celebrated in recent years with touring featuring all four acts). While the band has progressed musically over time, Slayer is perhaps the one group of the Big 4 who has stayed most true to its original sound, intent and mission. Araya recently told Metalhead.ro that the band is in the early stages of a new album. If you're curious to what it sounds like, Araya offered this, with a laugh: "Sounds like Slayer to me." The band — which recently performed Reign in Blood in its entirety at the "I'll Be Your Mirror" ATP fest in London — will finish the album after its current slate of tour dates. A big chunk of those tour dates are part of the Mayhem Festival, which comes to Riverbend July 24 and will also include contemporary Metal greats Slipknot and pioneers Motorhead. Alas, one member of Slayer will not be on the tour; in an open letter to fans last month, the group reported that Hanneman is sitting this one out due to a wicked spider bite. The guitarist was bitten over a year ago (!) and went into a coma. He was close to having his arm amputated and, for a while, "things were touch-and-go" and doctors didn't know if he'd survive. Hanneman has been rehabbing ever since, relearning to walk and undergoing "painful skin grafts." He's also been playing guitar, but he didn't feel quite ready to get back on the road with Slayer. In his place, Exodus six-stringer Gary Holt will continue to fill in. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Jeff and happy 51st to Araya, a true Metal legend.