Devil Wears Prada Guitarist Chris Rubey Dishes on Band’s New Album ‘Dead Throne’
The Devil Wears Prada have quickly become stars of the hard-rock universe with their unique mix of masterful metal music and faith-based lyrics. As critics’ darlings and Warped Tour headliners, they’re well on their way to claiming the metalcore throne — or should we say ‘Dead Throne.’
‘Dead Throne’ is the Devil Wears Prada’s upcoming fourth full-length album, a tour de force of in-your-face songs and challenging themes. The disc, which comes out Sept. 13 and features production from Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, may just be the band’s most powerful and polished effort to date.
Loudwire recently caught up with guitarist Chris Rubey, who is the mastermind behind the Dayton, Ohio, outfit’s instrumentation. He writes most of the Devil Wears Prada’s music, while lead singer Mike Hranica adds his brand of impassioned lyrics. In our exclusive interview, Rubey detailed his thoughts on this year’s Warped Tour, the songwriting process for ‘Dead Throne’ and his love of Slipknot:
You guys are currently wrapping up your third stint on the Warped Tour. How’s it going this year and what sets this trek apart from previous Warped outings?
It’s going perfectly, I would say. The only real struggle this year is the heat. The great thing about Warped Tour is it’s just great to consistently play for that many people. It’s good to play for the Warped Tour crowd because I know that there’s so many kids — if they only go to one show a year, it’s Warped Tour. It’s always really awesome. We’re playing the main stage, so we couldn’t really ask to be treated any better by Warped Tour. Like I said, everything is pretty perfect except for the heat.
This year, there’s a lot more heavy bands. It’s taken a turn towards metal more than its original punk roots. A lot of the main-stage acts are metalcore bands, so it’s cool that the genre of music we play is becoming more popular.
Who on this year’s Warped Tour are you particularly enjoying playing alongside?
We’ve always been really good friends with the A Day to Remember guys. We’re good friends with August Burns Red. I help manage the band Miss May I. So, it’s pretty much a bunch of bros hanging out. It’s a good tour to be on.
Is there a band that you haven’t toured with yet that you’d like to share a bill with?
Definitely Slipknot. Slipknot is one of those bands we’re like, ‘Who else can we support that’s bigger than us that actually would take us out?’ And Slipknot has always been that band for us. That would definitely be super-super awesome.
Do you have plans for a fall tour in support of your upcoming album, ‘Dead Throne’?
We haven’t announced anything yet. But we definitely will be taking care of our duties as a band to tour on the new album. I can say that much.
What was the songwriting process like for ‘Dead Throne’ and what sets the album apart from the Devil Wears Prada’s previous efforts?
We took a pretty drastic change in our songwriting about halfway through the songwriting of [2009’s] ‘With Roots [Above and Branches Below].’ Since then, we’ve done the ‘Zombie EP.’ Back on our first two albums we weren’t touring yet, so we had enough time to sit down in a room and have everybody throw out ideas and work as a band.
But since our touring schedule has picked up — and I think you can notice it most on ‘Zombie EP’ — we kind of took a different style of music. ‘Zombie EP’ has obviously heavier and more sinister and zombie-like. Those songs were written pretty much solely by me on my computer and that’s why they sound different.
For ‘Dead Throne,’ we wanted to do that and obviously bring in some of the elements that people like. Some people still today tell me that their favorite album by us is [2007’s] ‘Plagues,’ and when I listen back to it I guess the only thing that I can see why is that we had a lot of chemistry working together.
I would say I wrote 9 or 10 of the 13 tracks [for ‘Dead Throne’] on my computer just in the same vein as ‘Zombie EP.’ I write the songs start to finish, program the drums, play both guitars, bass and everything. And then I’ll just show the band and then they learn the songs. We got together in Chicago and Kansas and learned the songs. But then we also jammed some songs on this albums — the lighter songs, plus two or three more on top of those lighter ones were full-band jam songs. That’s pretty much how the writing process went.
What did Adam Dutkiewicz from Killswitch Engage bring to the table as the producer of the album?
Since I wrote all the songs on the computer beforehand, we were able to bring him demos and have him essentially listen to the entire album before he even started recording it. We had the full band in the studio for the first few days, and he would come back and he would say, ‘Alright, lets listen to these demos.’ And he actually did more as a producer than any of us could have ever hoped for. In the past, we’ve never rearranged songs, we never did too much.
Adam really dissected the songs. For each song, he had each instrument separated out. He was pretty much a mad scientist with the songs. Then we went in and recorded them and he kept changing little things, and everything he said we agreed with. I think it’s good to have someone who’s not too close to the songs like we were.
You’ve certainly come out swinging with the disc’s first single, ‘Born to Lose.’
‘Born to Lose’ is a fast-paced, to-the-point song — it’s a fast metal song. [Lead singer] Mike [Hranica] says that a lot of the album is based around anti-idolitry and how you shouldn’t put people like us up on a pedestal. And I think ‘Born to Lose’ is really just Mike being really hard on himself personally and that’s what a lot of the lyrical content of the album is. It’s darker lyrically in the sense that I think he was going through a lot of hard times when he was writing the lyrics. So, he was just coming from a darker place.
A couple of other tracks that really stand out on ‘Dead Throne’ are ‘Vengeance’ and ‘Mammoth.’
‘Vengeance’ is definitely the song that a lot of people listening to the CD for the first time like the most. I would say it’s one of our more simple songs, but then again it’s also more catchy. ‘Vengeance’ is a song we wrote as a full band. It’s just straight to the point. [A Day to Remember’s] Jeremy McKinnon actually did help with a lot of the vocals on that song, so the patterns are catchy and memorable. I really like that song.
‘Mammoth’ is one of my personal favorite songs from the album. It just sounds super heavy and then has that thrashy-punk vibe during the verses. It’s got the desperate chorus that I really like, as well.
The Devil Wears Prada are a metalcore band that’s proud of its Christian beliefs. Talk a little about that dichotomy between the intense music and the faith-based lyrics.
We are by far not the first people to play aggressive music with a positive message. We’re normal people that enjoy heavy fast music. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to say anything we want as any successful band has. And most people say, ‘Hey, thanks for supporting our music.’ Some people say, ‘Hey, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll.’ And we just want to bring a positive message to people. And we’ve been a Christian band and we’ve been respectfully telling people that it’s worked from the beginning.
Mike is really smart about it in his lyrics. He’s metaphorical. It requires thought to understand what he’s saying a lot of times. I just think everything we do is done with tact.
You’ve mentioned Slipknot, and they certainly look the part of a heavy band. Do you think the uninitiated are surprised by how heavy the Devil Wears Prada are musically when they first see you play?
I know that I was really impressed and just astonished when I was a kid when I first heard As I Lay Dying or Norma Jean or Underoath. And I was like, you don’t have to be a goody two shoes churchgoer to have any sort of faith. So, in a way we look the part — we’re all tattooed white boys, and that’s all any rock band is nowadays, but you better believe if I could wear corpse paint onstage, I would!
Watch The Devil Wears Prada Perform ‘Born To Lose’ in Memphis, Tenn.