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John Sankey Devil You Know - Interview
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Devil You Know

Fronted by ex-Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones, Devil You Know are only a new band that formed just a couple of years ago but have already gained some serious attention and now are about to release their sophomore album "They Bleed Red" which is a fairly relentless and brutal album from start to finish. With the recent announcement of their upcoming appearance at Australia's Soundwave Festival next year, there was much to talk about as we caught up with drummer John Sankey to discuss the new songs, Soundwave Festival and an interesting cover version of a very well known song!



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Andrew: It's a pleasure talking to you today, thanks for your time!

John: Your welcome mate! I'm just waking up and getting my coffee, I should be alive to get through this! [laughs]

Andrew: [laughs] I just woke up myself actually! Are you in Australia at the moment?

John: Yeah I just got out here this weekend, just in the country for a couple of weeks mate. Having a little down time before we get back at it.

Andrew: OK cool! Well I guess you'll be back early next year for Soundwave as we got the announcement just last week. So congratulations again!

John: Yeah thanks man, we're super excited! We were hoping to get an invite and I had just landed from L.A. Friday morning I think it was, turned my phone on and they said they were announcing it in a couple of hours or something like that. So I was like, 'Alright awesome! I guess we're doing it!'. So yeah it's going to be fun, I'm stoked.

Andrew: Yeah and you guys had done it last year right?

John: We did not the January just gone but the one previous to that, which was actually the first tour that we did with the band. It was cool but it was strange because we didn't even have the first album out yet, I think at that point we only had 1 demo song online and that was it. So most people still had no clue who the hell the band was but thankfully I guess people realized who was in the band and who the guys are when they see us but noone knew the actual music or even heard the music at that time. So it was interesting but I mean we had a ball man, it was fun. This time around going from having no music to having 2 albums by the time we do it, it will be really cool, we can't wait.

Andrew: In those couple of years, what are some of the things you picked up on and have you gelled as a band really well now at this point?

John: Yeah definitely. I mean at that time, everything had happened so quickly and it was like, 'Alright, get on a plane, go to Australia, walk on stage and play these shows'. So we were definitely still learning how to gel I guess as a group but since then we have toured a lot, we've done a whole bunch of tours. I definitely feel like now the band is completely different to what we were at that point. You just can't replace being on stage as a group and doing a whole bunch of shows, touring over and over again and eventually you get to that point where you feel like everything fits together and everyone works well as that group and knows each other on stage so you just can't replace that I guess.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely. And now with the second album that's about to come out ("They Bleed Red"), do you feel that all that experience and touring has affected the album in a positive way and maybe improved on the first album in a way?

John: Yeah I think it's natural for everyone to say, 'Oh yeah this is the best record or better record'. But yeah I do feel that there's a huge difference because when we did the first record, wrote and recorded it and had it completely finished, we still hadn't done a single show as a band. So this time around the dynamics of the music, we kinda had more in mind of this will work live, this is going to be great live. So I think a lot of the parts on this thing we had that in mind, certainly a lot more than we did on the first record just due to doing so many shows together as a band now.

Andrew: So you think these songs will play out live better than the first bunch of songs on the first album then?

John: Yeah I think so. There was definitely a couple of tracks on the first record that when we got out to play, didn't feel like it had the impact that we would of wanted I guess. The music was all basically written in the studio as we were recording as well, and then we actually went out and played it. Whereas this time around we just know what's going to work and we definitely kept that in mind as far as, 'Yeah this part will be huge live and this will be sick'. All those things that just come with playing a whole bunch of shows as opposed to none before the first record! It's kind of a strange way of doing things but that's just the way it worked out. Don't get me wrong, I'm super proud of the first record and I still really like it but this one feels more like when we walk up on stage and we thrash out these songs, man they're going to be awesome.

Andrew: Yeah looking through these tracks, I mean we had a preview of the album a little while ago and I definitely get that live sort of feeling so I think these songs will play out very well live. Was that the main thing that you wanted to change or improve on as far as the follow up from the first album?

John: Yeah that was definitely one aspect for sure. The first record was a strange thing, we went in with a lot of material but we had management and record label people and Logan (Mader, producer) who produced the first record. Because it was so brand new and noone even really knew about the band, everyone was kind of trying to I guess, influence how we were going to sound because we didn't have a sound yet. We were still basically creating those first songs and everyone was like, 'It should be more like this', or 'Not so heavy or more commercial'. I felt like we were getting ripped into all these different directions because everyone had a preconceived idea as to what we should be doing and we just didn't want that. We were like, fuck man, we just want to write this music! And there was definitely a few little things that felt a bit forced and this time around we just said to everyone, 'We're doing this, it's just gonna be the band. That's it'. We didn't want anyone else involved whatsoever. And then Josh Wilbur who produced this record, he left everything pretty much completely intact as to how we came in with the original demos of the songs. He definitely wanted us to do our thing and make our own record and he saw that was going to get the best out of the band.

Andrew: So it came out more organically then.

John: Oh absolutely. And I think once again, it comes from playing live because we know what will feel right on stage and what was going to work once we got to the point of playing it. So that was it, we just wrote the songs, did the demos, went in and recorded and basically that's how you hear it. It's just us doing our thing and I feel like the sound of this record and the way the band translates on this record is more the sound of Devil You Know, now we've kind of found where we're at.

Andrew: Yeah the new songs do sound fantastic and I love the drum sound as well. I'm a big fan of really slick, powerful drum sounds and the drums on this one sound really great. How did you get the drum sound on this one compared to the first album?

John: Well this one we went into a huge studio called The Fortress in downtown L.A. and Josh was really adamant about the performance on this record. Obviously everything is important but he was meticulous as far as...we spent a lot of time getting the sounds and as we were doing the parts, I would be like, 'Yeah that's it', and he would be like, 'Yeah it's good but let's go again' [laughs]. But when you hear it back, you see why it is good to have someone who pushes you and pushes you. So we just spent a lot of time and I went in there fairly prepared I guess. He was great to work with, we were definitely on the same page. We wanted to have huge drum sounds and we really didn't want to mess with the organic tones of the drums much at all, as little as possible just to get that natural sound, those big tones.

Andrew: Yeah that's great to hear. As far as playing these songs live, do you have any idea which songs you do want to play live and which ones we may be able to hear at Soundwave?

John: You know, that's a good question. I don't know. We have to actually get an email chain going very shortly between us and work out which ones we're going to do because the next tour that we do is next month, we go to Europe with Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach. We're definitely gonna play maybe 2 or 3 of the new songs on that tour because I think the week the tour starts, the album comes out so I really don't know. We did a video a few weeks ago in Los Angeles for one of the songs that will be the first official single so we will definitely be playing that song I would imagine but as for the others, I'm not sure yet. We actually did a cover of "Eye Of The Tiger" on this album as a bonus track and I hope we play that live because it's actually one of my favorite songs! [laughs]

Andrew: [laughs] Oh really? Now I would love to see you guys do that at Soundwave, it would certainly go out really well!

John: It's a funny story because when we tracked it in the studio, we were just kinda messing around with it and we were all like, 'This is not gonna work, this is so ridiculous'. We couldn't even get through the song, we were laughing so hard especially when Howard (Jones, vocalist) started singing, it just sounded so ridiculous. But once we kinda worked the song into our own style, we all sat down and were like, 'Fuck this could be really cool'. As ridiculous as it is, it actually sounds cool and now when I listen to it, I love it. I think it's awesome and I do have a feeling when people hear it, it's going to be one of those things where we are probably going to have to play it live and it will be one of the songs that everyone is going to want to hear [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah I would love to see it happen. It is one of those songs that is quite well known and popular so for a band as heavy as you guys to be covering a song like that, it's funny but cool at the same time.

John: Yeah I think particularly at big shows like festivals, if you're going to pull it out, that's the time to do it. I don't know, we haven't had the discussion yet but I would have no problem doing it. I have a feeling it's probably going to happen at some point, that's for sure.

Andrew: Yeah hopefully. Well as I said the album is sounding fantastic and we are looking forward to seeing you at Soundwave next year. So thanks for your time today, it's been an absolute pleasure!

John: Awesome mate, I appreciate it Andrew. No worries man!

soundwave festival 2016


January 23rd - Brisbane
January 24th - Sydney
January 26th - Melbourne

More info on the festival can be found at

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on September 22nd 2015