Interview: John Sankey (DEVIL YOU KNOW)
Levi: Firstly, you do have a new album out called They Bleed Red. How did it go recording it? What can people expect from the album? I've just watched the music video. It's brutal as! ... Great stuff, I really dig it.
John Sankey: Yeah. It's definitely a, I would say, a heavier record overall, as opposed to the first one. The first song that's out right now, Stay of Execution, that's definitely one of the more brutal tracks. I guess being in the band with someone like Howard Jones we have the luxury of being fairly diverse, having someone who can cover a lot of different sounds and styles vocally.
Yeah, you know, we ... When it came time to start writing some new music, we didn't really think about it all too much. We just started writing bunch of songs, and it was a fairly easy process to record once we got in the studio as well. We didn't really go in there just thinking at all too much, but I think a big difference is, on the first record, because we were a brand new band and we'd never even played a large show. We played it fairly safe on that record. We didn't want to stray too far into, have it too heavy or too light or anything like that. With this record, we were, I guess, just more confident and we've played so many shows in all different countries and all that now so, the band is more cohesive and together as a unit. We just went in there and we just knocked it out. We really didn't worry about what people would think or what the record label was going to think or anything like that. I think it worked. It sounds a bit more organic and just natural as to what this band is now.
Levi: You don't see many Aussies that are living over in America representing metal. You started over there with Devolved, but how did you end up moving over to America? Who came up with that decision?
John Sankey: Well, it was many years ago now. With Devolved, we toured with Fear Factory here in Australia, and I got to know Dino quite well. At the end of the tour, he got in touch with me and he was like "I want to do a different band. I want to fly you over to America, and I want you to play drums for it." I was like, oh man, yeah, I'd never been to America at that point. I pretty much packed my bag and I didn't really, at that time, I didn't realize that I'd end up living there for years and years and years. Once I got over there and got involved in the music scene there and got to know people, that was it for me. That was the place to be if I wanted to do this as a career and do it full time. That was it. I lived with Dino for a good year or so when I first went there and got my own apartment from there and I've been there pretty much every since.
Levi: Was he a good roommate?
John Sankey: He was, actually, yeah. We had some pretty interesting times. He's a great dude, man. Yeah, I love Dino. I've always looked up to him and the way that he approaches music, both from a music point of view and also like a business point of view as well. He's a pretty smart, switched-on dude, and he's taught me a lot about the industry. We actually just toured with Fear Factory in the US. We just finished that tour a couple of weeks ago, so we got hang out and spend time and catch up. It's always good to see him.
Levi: I've always thought Australians have a pretty underrated metal scene. I know there's been some pretty legendary acts throughout the years; Mortal Sin, Alchemist. Now we're finally starting to get a bit of attention with these bands like Ne Obliviscaris and Parkway Drive. Wondering what do you think of the scene at the moment? Do you think it's finally getting a bit of international recognition?
John Sankey: Yeah. Absolutely, I mean, the recognition is long overdue. There's always been great bands from here, even back in the day when we were touring all the time with Devolved here. We would play with bands like Alchemist and Damaged, Blood Duster, all these fucking great bands, I could go on all day naming you know. Once I went overseas, I definitely lost touch with the scene here, and it seemed like very very few bands got the opportunity to go overseas and ... People overseas just really weren't familiar with what was happening here. Yeah, now you know, the band you name, I'll be seeing bands like Psycroptic. You know. I think the internet has a lot to do with that as well. Finally we're starting to see some of those bands touring quite often over there. I love it. I'm mates with all those guys and keep in touch with them. A lot of the time, mates they're coming through LA or if we're touring and cross paths somewhere, we hang out and catch up. That's always cool.
To answer your question, the Australian metal scene is extremely underrated, man. It's just because this country is so far away from the rest of world unfortunately. That's the downside, but the music that comes out of here is world class, man.
Levi: Oh, yeah, for sure. You did play Soundwave Festival last year. How did that go? There were some pretty big names on the bill.
John Sankey: Oh, it was awesome, man. Yeah, that was great. That was the very first tour that we did. We literally hadn't played at all. That was our first show that we did as a band. It was awesome, obviously, but it was also strange because no one knew who the band was. We had no music out. I think we had one demo song online at that time.
Levi: Did many people come see the show?
John Sankey: Yeah, yeah. We did, but by default. In any case because we played in between Rob Zombie and Avenged Sevenfold. We played to a massive, massive crowd, and you could see, you could kind see people like who is this? They would look at us all individually, and be like well we know him and we know that guy. And that guy's from that band, but who is this band? It was a very interesting situation to find ourselves in. Very few bands would be thrown into that position, but that was our first tour, man. We had to play Soundwaves for our very first shows? It was amazing. This time around is going to be killer because obviously now we've got two full albums, people know who the band is, people are familiar with the music. It's going to be awesome.
Levi: Are Devolved still going as well? It says on Wikipedia they are, but I guess you'd be pretty busy with two bands at the moment.
John Sankey: Yeah. I mean, you know, Devolved is like you know I started the band, I'll always do the band. I can just do it when I want, how I want, so for me it's almost more of a hobby now, in my spare time. Unfortunately, I very rarely get any spare time, and then I can't imagine there's going to be any coming up any time real soon. I would love to have had another record done this year. I'd very much doubt if that is going to happen. I mean, I'm always working on ideas and some new stuff, but yeah, realistically, I can't imagine we'd able to get in the studio and actually get a record finished and done before any time early next year. We'll see, but I'll always do it. Just one of those things I'll always do, and it's fun for me. I love it, but Devil You Know is very much the priority these days.