Devil Sold His Soul

author BL date 25/04/11

First off apologies for this being such a terribly tardy write up. Various things have stopped this rather in depth, at times intimate, and passionate interview from Devil Sold His Soul during their stop in Southampton in February from being written up. But here it is in all its glory where we talked about their new album, their views on music piracy, the music scene, and their plans for 2011. Hope you guys enjoy. Hi guys, can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Jonny: Hi I'm Jonny and I play guitar.

Paul: Hey I'm Paul, I do samples, and we are in Devil Sold His Soul. What has 2010 been like for Devil Sold His Soul?
Jonny: Its been a good year, done a lot of cool stuff.

Paul: New album came out. Toured in Russia. Did a terrific UK tour with Norma Jean and Architects, and did a long stint in Europe doing a headlining tour. That was most of it.

Jonny: The later part of it. What was the tour in Russia like?
Jonny: So good. We weren't really expecting it to be as good as it was. We were like, kinda just looking forward to getting there and just doing it. But then we were pleasantly surprised, it was ridiculous.

Paul: It was the best tour we've ever done basically, in a nutshell. And nothing at all like what we thought it was going to be like. We thought it was going to be like kind of dark and dingy like it is in the movies, but it wasn't like that at all. Did the fans know the material well over there?

Paul: Yeah, I think Youtube was the main kind of vehicle for them knowing the songs, and they even know the songs that come in the joke videos that we got up of us playing around and stuff.

Jonny: They could even quote it, it was hilarious.

Paul: And they download a lot of music over there illegally, so they seem to know the new album quite well. Yeah it was just amazing, it was so good, they were so friendly. All the people were just so nice. Those two shows in Moscow were just rammed and the crowd were so loud and so passionate.

Jonny: They were just really appreciative that we had gone over there, and were their guests.

Paul: Yeah we didn't want to leave! And the tour manager looked after us so well, if you even hinted that you were hungry or thirsty then they'd stop the bus and go and get you some food and stuff like that.

Jonny: It went way above our expectations really. Crazy. So you put out a new album "Blessed & Cursed". Tell us a little about how it was made?
Jonny: Well, we recorded it at my studio, "Bandit Studios", but we did a lot of pre-production, demos and stuff. We demod everything quite extensively, just so that when we did record we knew what all the parts were. There were still stuff that came up, that was created in the studio and whatever. But we were pretty set, and I can't remember it took now...

Paul: Pre-production took quite a few months, at least three if not six until we started recording. That took what, three, four weeks, before we started recording?

Jonny: Something like that. It was pretty spread out in the end.

Paul: Yeah, and the mixing took forever, because it was done in America. But we didn't have the money to send anyone over. And doing that via the internet was just so, so difficult. Jonny tried calling up a few times on the phone but even that was just no good either. The mastering was quick, but just the mixing took forever. So will you not do that again?

Paul: I think yeah, I mean the last album's (A Fragile Hope) mastering was done in the States as well, but it was totally different. So I think sometimes via email, it can work and sometimes it doesn't.

Jonny: We're very precise about what we want, we add a lot of layers to stuff. And if the levels aren't quite right, we're very picky about it. It (the album) was alright in the end. Yeah we agree, we gave you 9/10. Speaking of the reception that "Blessed & Cursed" has received, Rocksound named it number 8 in their top 75 albums of the year. I mean what do you think about that?
Paul: That was... nuts. The bands that we were in and around were all massive. I think the only other one from the UK was Bring Me The Horizon, who came first. But we were like, in with like Deftones, Dillinger. Just crazy. Like we couldn't believe it, when we toured it. Such a complement and such a nice way to end the year because I think that was the final thing that came in 2010. It was just a really nice way to end it. The only downer was that I didn't manage to get ahold of one (a copy of the magazine), would have been nice to cut it out and put it up. I mean that doesn't really matter but yeah, just such a nice way to round out the year. Whats the meaning behind the album name "Blessed & Cursed"?
Paul: Well thats pretty much it.

Jonny: Yeah just kind of how, we're obviously blessed to be doing it and so lucky to be in this position, that a lot of people would love. But at the same time, its difficult. At least with the money and things like that. Oobviously the more... or the bigger you get, the more you need to go out and do stuff, the more you need money. But we're still not making money to do it.

Paul: I mean people think that we're making loads of money but we're not at all. We lost money going on tour, because we can't work. So we need to work around the tours and you're away for between three and half weeks, and if you can't work for three and half weeks, you got rent and bills to pay, you're just stuffed so... We're now getting a tiny bit of money from merch, but with the album sales being low because of piracy, we're just struggling a lot and it is essentially what its like to be in a band really. Or at least being in this band I guess. Just a mixture of good and bad. The style of music we do as well, we love doing it, but then that makes it harder because its quite niche and isn't like the mainstream or the cool stuff. We just do what we think is good, we like doing that, and we like to be doing but at the same time we're not going to make tons of money, or tons of fans unless its a slow build - so its kind of taking a long time, pros and cons. I mean that time we were in Europe, and the tyre blew out on the van, could have been really really bad. Like we heard about another band, they had the same thing happen and they rolled over three times. Luckily we just coasted into the nicest kind of area you can go off in ever, it was just perfect. So its funny it could have been really bad, well it was really bad, but it ended up actually being okay because we went into this, I think it was a water crossing. When we ask a lot of bands about music piracy, they sort of don't have a strong opinion about it, what about you guys?
Paul: Well we're just trying to get the word out. We like to say "Don't download music illegally". Its a hard one because our old bass player used to say its a good thing, because people were listening to your music.

Jonny: Its weird because if people download it, and then come to the show, obviously then shows are better. And if they buy merch, thats better because thats how we make our money. But then at the same time, all the labels get screwed because they've got to give up giving us a bigger budget to do other things - they're not making any money.

Paul: They invested thousands of pounds for us to write and record. And they were expecting to get that back through sales, and if they don't get that back through sales then when it comes to record the next album they'll just say "Well you didn't make us any money in your last one, we're not going to pay you to do another one, of if we are, its going to be a shoestring budget and that just affects everything. At the end of the day, its just ignorance from the kids or grown ups who are doing it. They don't realise they're just digging this massive hole under all their favourite bands and they're just going to disappear. They think "Oh yeah, stick to fingers up to the labels." but, the bands do rely on the labels to do stuff. So its kind of a bit weird at the moment. I'm saying at the moment that we're saying maybe try before you buy? If you download an album and its really good then actually go out and buy it for real, because obviously otherwise its just going to end this whole music thing really.

Jonny: It was just disappointing to me that people are happy to steal stuff, without even taking a second to think about it. People wouldn't go into a shop to steal something. Just because its so easy to, you are still stealing from us.

Paul: Ed, our vocalist, always says in the film industry everyone gets paid when that film is getting made because they're doing a specific job. Whereas with music, the artist don't get paid to do their session. Normally they're putting forward money or they're taking time off work. So they don't get paid at that stage, the only way they make money out of that product is by it being sold over the counter. Whereas with a movie, I'm not condoning downloading it either because I don't agree with that either, but people are getting paid at the production stage and we don't get that. So its a double killer for us. I mean you just need to support your bands. We heard that over in Australia and New Zealand, that the cool thing to do, or right thing to do is to support your local artist so its considered a real outrage to even copy a CD to give it to someone. They just say "Look, they're from New Zealand. Just go and buy it." and that seems to have really helped their local scene whereas over here its just a free for all of downloading music.

Jonny: Its just the fact that it de-values music as well. The amount of effort that goes into making an album, I mean its something special, something creative. I think people post on forums saying that "music is free now", it sort of is.

Paul: Its not going to work. People are expecting the quality to be really high. And if you don't have the budget then its really difficult to do that. I mean we're so fortunate because Jonny has a studio. If we didn't have that option, we don't know what we'd be doing on the album. Music shouldn't be free, unless you give it away for free. If people are taking it from you, thats totally different. If my work was on the table and somebody tried to take it, you'd bust them up - same thing as that. If you can get it, it doesn't mean its right. Its hard because if we just stick our necks out and be the only band saying that, people will say "Oh these guys are doing what Metallica are doing". But its not like that because Metallica are totally minted - its a bit different. But at a basic level its the same thing. Just support your scene, if you like the band. There was a kid the other day who gave at the merch, a five pounds saying "Oh I downloaded three of your albums and I felt bad, so heres a fiver.". But each one of those cost at least ten pounds. I mean its a nice sentiment, but even so its still not enough. We got thousands of people online saying they "love the new album, its amazing but what are the lyrics?".

Jonny: They're in the booklet.

Paul: We're not going to be possibly around if we don't get the money.

Jonny: Thats what people don't understand is that the bands are going to start folding, well not because of just that but its got a lot to do with it. Bands are going to start splitting up, well what do you expect?

Paul: Doing this band is pretty much full time, and if you're just trying to do a job as well its near impossible. Be a real shame if we had to pack it in because of illegal downloads, but its going that way. And its not just us, we speak to loads of bands and they say the same thing. We're trying to rally other bands but its just a moral choice. Its hard to stop the kids from doing it. It is stealing at the end of the day. In your own words, how is the new album different to "A Fragile Hope"?
Jonny: Its more varied... I think. Maybe a bit more uplifting? Less dark, still got dark moments but a bit more nature appeasing overall than our other stuff. Where did that change come from?

Jonny: Don't know really...

Paul: Its organic, its changing all the time. We didn't really plan to do any preconceived changes, it just kind of happened. I think because we're planning to start write again after this tour, its just going to be the same kind of thing, just see what comes out of people and thats just the way it goes. It wasn't our idea to make a 'happier' album because it was getting too dark, its just happened like that.

Jonny: Whatever mood you're in that day when you're writing the song I guess.

Paul: The ideas were still fairly similar, just pushed a bit wider and harder. Just tried to experiment a bit more we also had Leks (Alex "Leks" Wood) on drums which was a massive change. On the last album we didn't have a drummer, so we kind of had to deal with this stuff ourselves. If you don't have people who play drums trying to write drums, its not going to necessarily be that great but Lex is an amazing drummer so that changed right there obviously. And everything else was just a step up I guess. Reviews were great and people seemed to like it. Seems like we did okay. With the new album, you guys released that through Century Media. How do you think that label compares to Eyesofsound your previous label?
Paul: Just different. They've got a broader reach.

Jonny: Yeah definitely.

Paul: In theory it could get released in a lot more territories than Eyesofsound do. Its just a much bigger label. There hasn't been a massive change, we feel like we still kind of earning our stripes and its almost like they're waiting for the next album and do their thing. Its (the album) got a global release but it hasn't been released everywhere which we're still kind of scratching our heads over, like it hasn't been released in America and we don'get why it hasn't been released there. Its strange, there is iTunes but its not the same, you don't get the actual CD. Well, we haven't made any money so far, so thats the same as Eyesofsound. Century are massive, and they can do a good job but it feels like we're still earning our stripes with them and hopefully the next record will be the one.

Jonny: We haven't been around for that long.

Paul: I think they're doing the same with Architects, the next one they will really push. Well there's been a noticeable change in them and their sound.

Paul: Yeah well I guess so. And we were wondering why...

Jonny: I don't think the labels will push for a safe sound really.

Paul: I mean they'll always want a hit that they can work with... we do something thats kind of... Are they complaining about the reaction to your album got?

Paul: Well precisely so, I mean fingers crossed they'll just let us do our own thing again (for the next album). Last time on "Blessed & Cursed" they had some input like it was mainly just them saying "Think outside the box".

Jonny: A lot of the stuff they were saying we were thinking anyway. Luckily...

Paul: I mean you don't want to keep knocking out similar sounding albums. You want to try and push yourself every time. I think the difference with them is there is massive potential with Century, and Eyesofsound is a good label and Ryan (the owner) is a nice guy and stuff, its just difficult getting around. Its more like what has changed as opposed to what the differences have been so far because we're still not making any money and the releases could been further afield than they are at the moment. But its doing well in Australia which is good, and its doing well in Europe and England/UK.

Jonny: There's definitely been a noticeable difference in the people who have come out, with this tour and everything.

Paul: This tour's been so good.

Jonny: Best tour we've ever done. Proud for it to be so big and last night in London was probably the best show we've ever done.

Paul: Agreed on that.

Jonny: Underworld was absolutely rammed and just it was like a hardcore show with pit action and people diving off the stage in the first song continuously and circle pits and wall of death and the sound was just really good. Just such a good show. We were absolutely buzzing and on a real high. Greatest memory in the band?
Paul: Last night! It just left an unforgettable impression on me. The two times we played Download, the first time was early on a Sunday morning. The tent was empty for the band before and we were really worried, then we went backstage and we walked out, and it was rammed and we got a massive cheer. Then we played, it went like that, just flew past and seemed like seconds and we finished and everyone left. That was amazing and it was a massive tent as well and they were people still trying to get in at the back. And then in the summer just gone we headlined the stage and again that was amazing, just really busy and just everyone getting into it. Those were two good memories.

Jonny: Russia again...

Paul: Yeah Russia. Paris, just before Christmas - sold out show, that was amazing. Just being in a different country, and there was one of the fans that was crying and stuff. It was just nuts.

Jonny: Yeah they got a bit emotional.

Paul: Yeah they were so emotional, and constant crying.

Jonny: But at the moment last night...

Paul: Yeah last night was really really good.

Jonny: It was the show we kind of always wanted to have.

Paul: The crowd was so loud, at the end of "Drowning, Sinking" Ed normally stops dead and he screams, and he didn't even bother he just took the mic out and it was like the loudest group scream you've ever heard in your life. It was just nuts. If every show could be like that it'd just be amazing, we're getting there. A real good cherry on top of this cake, this tours been so good. Which we needed because we were getting pressure from management and the label about the CD sales aren't good and blah blah blah. We're hanging in there. Dream tour lineup?
Paul: Hmm, Deftones?

Jonny: Envy.

Paul: Who else... Dillinger? That'd be a weird tour...

Paul: Yeah! It would be good! We like so many bands. UnderOATH would be good. Even Converge, Will Haven...

Jonny: Comeback Kid.

Paul: Yeah it'd be a massive tour. I mean basically there's lots of American bands we'd like to tour with. Because we've played with a lot of UK bands now and I mean playing with Norma Jean was really good. We've liked them for years and years and seen them quite a few times, just really liked them as a band and so playing with them was good. Just kind of wetted our apetite really because we want to play with these bands and hoping just to get the chance to. Maybe now after this tour we can show that we're a big hitter and might be able to land some of those tours. I guess we'll see but yeah that was a pretty massive tour right there. Tell us about that Norma Jean/Architects tour? What was it like?
Paul: It was amazing. So good... I mean obviously we've known Architects for years and Norma Jean were really nice. Lower Than Atlantis (the opening act) were nice as well, it was just a wicked tour like every night was pretty much sold out.

Jonny: Yeah apart from one or two, they were all sold out in advance.

Paul: Their fans seem to be similar to our fans, like with both fans we're always going to go down well... so it was just really good. Like in Koko in London, we went on and it was already like packed and everyone was just going nuts. Good tour, really really good tour. Just like to do more of those really. What would you say are your big inspirations when it comes to writing your music?
Paul: Just lots of bands, old and new as well. We grew up with lots of bands like Guns & Roses, Metallica, Pantera and stuff like that. More modern ones like Will Haven, Converge, Deftones and Envy.

Jonny: I would say its more real life experiences that you get motivation to write songs from.

Paul: Its about like, if you're not going to have anymore days, you might as well live everyone like your last, that sort of thing. Its that thing that drives you to write songs. But also you could also be in a good mood or a bad mood or a downer or on a high or whatever, just stuff starts to come out. Its not really pre-conceived at all really.

Jonny: Its not like we listen to a load of bands and we get all excited and then change our style, like some bands do... Tell us something thats maybe a bit weird, interesting, about you guys that no one knows about?
Paul: A lot of people seem to don't know that we don't live in and around each other. It seems like a lot of bands come from the same town or the same part of a city, like if its a big city like London they all come from the same part of the city. But we're all spaced out, like Jonny's in Bristol, I'm in London, Leks' in Swindon, Ed's out in the countryside, Jozef's East London and I'm West London, I mean Richard the other guitarist lives just near me but we went to school together. So thats kind of a weird thing that people don't seem to know is that we're really spaced out.

Jonny: People will always say "Well how do you have band practice?". Well you just got to meet in the middle.

Paul: "Do you guys hang out a lot?" is another, like we lives miles apart and can't afford petrol so we only meet each other for band practice when we can afford to do that. I think people think as well because where we are on stage, when they meet us, like in backstage room or something, we're all going to be going crazy and stuff, but we're all down to Earth and just chatting. We've had this one recently a lot, people think we're massive stoners? Because of the stuff we write... People say like "Yeah man! we listen to your stuff and thought you had to be stoners!" - we've heard that loads recently, but we're not. Its just weird!

Jonny: Yeah like we don't see it like that at all... its just bizarre really. A bit of a complement perhaps? That your music is another level and they don't know how you can come up with it?

Paul: Well as long as they like it... We just find it funny because they think we're massive stoners but we're not. What do you think of the current UK hardcore scene?
Paul: Dunno, hmmmm... theres some good bands out there but theres loads that aren't. Its getting hard now to pick out the good ones from the not good ones because theres just so many like the whole Myspace thing that just took the filter off. Theres just a million terrible bands, there are still good ones out there but...

Jonny: We're just older I guess...

Paul: Everyone just seems to say thats its not just the UK now but the whole world, everyone looks the same and sounds the same and everyone is ripping each other off so you hear riffs like "Didn't I hear that riff being played by that band?" or "That sounds just like that riff from that other band"...

Jonny: Breakdown central. Come on, I mean its been done a bit too much now, give it a rest.

Paul: But we've had to avoid that kind of stuff. Like we just stick to doing what we do and try and take bands out with us that we like what they're doing. We do see some of the stuff and we're like we just saw that stuff for the last two hours, why isn't there any variation? I don't know, it comes down to the scene, who's cool and stuff like that.

Jonny: People like to be a part of something I think so they're all trying to do whats cool. But if I think if people were more honest with themselves, wrote what they really wanted to do, not what everyone else is doing...

Paul: Well its the quick easy road compared to the hard long road, thats all it is.

Jonny: We've seen bands be more successful than us, a lot quicker, because of being part of a trend. Which is just how it works unfortunately.

Paul: But we're trying to stay true to what we do and hopefully we'll pull it off and if we do it will be so sweet.

Jonny: Last night was a good sign.

Paul: Yeah, thats the thing if we can pull it off it will just be the sweetest thing ever because sticking to what you really believe in and not compromising and not doing the 'in' thing or the 'cool' thing or the 'easy' thing or whatever. If you can get to the top doing what you believe is the way it should be then thats the best that you really hold out for. We'll see, we're still hanging in there, its been a tough road. The last year, like the last twelve months, or even the last nine months, has just helped a lot because before that, it was so close to just ending. There was just no money, no morale, no new album, kind of just dark days.

Jonny: We've had a good run since the new album came out, so hopefully that will continue.

Paul: If we can put out a new one, that is good as well, then hopefully that will really keep the momentum up, we will be able to break through to that bigger stage. And our sound works much better on a bigger stage, so sometimes we can feel a bit confined in a small room with a small PA. When we get on a big stage...

Jonny: Stuff sounds so much better.

Paul: I mean thats another frustration. What about Underworld?

Paul: No but, its got a decent rig in there, its not a massive room but theres just something about that venue. Like I saw Killswitch Engage play a secret show there a few years back, and it just sounded immense. Its just that kind of venue, that its a proper 'punk' oldschool rock and roll venue and theres just something about it like they've just set it up well and it sounds good. It wouldn't have been the most epic sound we've ever had but it would have been still super crisp, brutal, and people just said the sound last night was immense and just really good. The vibe was just nuts, thats the thing if you've got a small room and everyone's crammed in, its hot and sweaty then you can get that really good vibe. Whereas if its a big room and like big crowd then its kind of, your overall performance is kind of a lot bigger.

Jonny: Its nice to have a variation...

Paul: Yeah, like just have a mix. Wasn't it that show in Colchester where we played that big Church? A massive Church thats been converted into a venue and apparently the sound was just humongous. Which is good for us because it shows we can do different sized stages. Do you have any recommendations for any bands that are new, exciting or unheard of that we should check out?
Paul: I would have said The Boy Will Drown, but they've either just about to, or just have called it a day. They were a really good band. Like we just heard that the other day in Norwich, a really kind of depressing thing to hear. They were a really good band, a good British tech band.

Jonny: A band called Breakding The Day that we played with on the first day, we were actually friends with, Feed The Rhino as well, they're really cool kind of, similar-ish sort of thing to us but a more similar vibe, pretty dark and heavy - its cool.

Paul: I mean hopefully a lot of people have seen them on this tour with us, a really good band, their CD is good as well. I think it was recorded by their bass player, so thats a cool thing as well. Just nice guys and really good live, hope you get to see them tonight. Yeah, theres your two bands right there. So what are your plans for this year then?
Paul: More writing as soon as we get back, working again I guess - make some money. Lots of festivals, our management's telling us that our booking agent says theres going to be summer festivals and then I guess...

Jonny: Another music video.

Paul: We're going to be a bigger tour in Russia, in like September/end of September, so that'll be cool. And I guess probably tour this album a little bit more, we've got some support slots. Then it'll be about the new record coming out, and we'll really try and hit hard with that one. Will that come out this year or next year?

Jonny: We'd like around the end of this year.

Paul: We were talking to the label last night and they were saying they'd like to have it done by December so it can come out in this, because theres this period that is good for releasing new albums and theres only three a year. They're at different points, I think like September is one, and maybe... January or February is good or bad... but either way theres like two or three slots in the year where you can see all the new albums tend to stack up and they come out at the same kind of time so we'll have to work into that.

Jonny: I think it will be cool to set ourselves a challenge to get another album done. We're not going to rush it.

Paul: A bit of pressure always helps because we always take forever if theres no pressure so. But hopefully this time next year, we'll be like touring a new album or just about to. In the very near future, like Jonny said, new video for a song from "Blessed & Cursed", then write new stuff, doing a few shows here and there, I think we're trying to book a small run of dates in France because we're really big over there but we never play there - which just seems stupid. CD sales are really good there so we're going to pay them back by doing a run of dates and we've done some shows there before, and the last Paris ones were sold out and just amazing. Fingers crossed we'll keep on really going up, its been a slow build but just recently in the last few months it seems to have really just gone up a bit more. Hold onto your hats. Well thats all the questions I have, thanks for your time guys.
Paul: Cool! So we can go eat! Anything to the readers you want to say?

Paul: Buy our CD! Buy CDs! Not just ours, don't just download them! And come to gigs, it keeps the scene alive.

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