INTERVIEW: John Sankey – Devil You Know

Photo Credit: Hristo Shindov

WORDS: Jack Fermor-Worrell

Howard Jones’ latest musical export, DEVIL YOU KNOW, are steadily on the rise following the release of their second record, They Bleed Red. Before the record dropped last week, we caught up with drummer John Sankey to talk about the new album, the upcoming Wembley show with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and the range of influences that inspire the band.

Your second album They Bleed Red comes out November 6th – what can we expect from it? 

John: It’s HEAVY! Overall it is definitely a progression for us and we are really proud of the album. We just wrote what we felt and let the music happen very naturally without over thinking the process. It was important for us to make sure there was a lot of dynamics and diversity because we enjoy experimenting and trying different things to keep the music interesting. No doubt They Bleed Red is a step up from our first album and the new tunes are a blast to play live!

How far do you feel the band have progressed since The Beauty Of Destruction?

John: I think we have moved forward very quickly since our first album. When we recorded The Beauty Of Destruction we were a brand new band and hadn’t even played a live show together yet, so that album is us basically us trying to find our sound, the new album is definitely us refining that sound and taking it to the next level. Over the last year and a half we have played a lot of shows all over the world so that has helped us become a more cohesive and confident band also.

Obviously, with this being the band’s sophomore album, do you feel pressured to exceed the previous record?

John: Not at all. We really don’t worry about what other people think, everyone has their opinions and that’s fine but this band is for us and as long as we are happy with the music that is all that matters. Obviously it’s great to get a positive response, if people like it that’s great, if they don’t then that is fine also. The whole point of us making this band was for us to do something fun and new, we do what we want and there’s no rules, DEVIL YOU KNOW is four good Mates just rocking out having lots of laughs and enjoying the ride!

Which of the new tracks would you say is your favourite, and why? 

John: Right now I’d say Shattered Silence because it’s super heavy, fast and just a blazing track! I can’t wait to play that song live, it’s going to kill. It’s also got some great catchy hooks as well, definitely a fun tune that incorporates all the elements of this band.

So far, we’ve heard the album’s first single The Way We Die. Would you say that track is a good indication of the album’s overall sound?

John: Not really because there’s a lot of diversity on the album, I think each song has its own personality. It is hard to break the record down as individual tracks, I think the album needs to be heard in its entirety to get the full understanding of the range and dynamics. We don’t want to be a band that easily fits in one category, we want to challenge ourselves and we aren’t afraid to step outside the boundaries and incorporate new ideas that people might not expect.

How does the songwriting process with DYK differ compared to any of the other bands you’ve been part of?

John: It’s always different writing with different musicians, thankfully we have a really cool chemistry with this band. Myself and Francesco write all the music and initial arrangements then we send the demos to Hojo and he does his thing vocally, then we basically refine the parts as a band and change anything necessary to best fit the vocal patterns. Overall it’s very smooth and easy, we have no problems coming up with new material, in fact Howard often tells us to stop writing and overloading his inbox with new music haha.

Are there any artists that particularly inspire you in writing for DEVIL YOU KNOW?

John: We all listen to very different music so I don’t think we are directly influenced or inspired by any particular artists at all. We all really admire bands such as FAITH NO MORE who have the ability to cross over so many musical genres and can’t be defined by one style. We didn’t put any limits on ourselves when we wrote this new album and I’m excited to continue that approach in the future and experiment even further.

What led to the decision to cover Eye of the Tiger? Are there any more covers in the works?

John: That was actually our managers idea, we all thought it was hilarious at first when he suggested it but then we started playing around with the song in the studio and it started to sound really cool. We all laughed a lot while we were recording it, particularly Howard haha, it was a lot of fun and we dig it a lot! There’s no other cover ideas kicking around just yet but I wouldn’t rule anything out, who knows what we will do next.

You’re over in the UK at the end of November supporting FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH at Wembley – looking forward to it?

John: No… YES!!!! Haha, of course we are, it’s going to be amazing! Wembley is one of those iconic places and it will be a bucket list moment walking out on that stage, we can’t wait. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH are a great band and awesome dudes so it will be very cool to be there sharing the stage with them also. Bring it on!

Is it daunting to be playing such a huge venue in a band that’s only been together for three years?

John: Not at all, we love playing the huge shows. We have played a lot of big venues in a short amount of time and we have all played major tours and festivals in our other respective bands over the years so each of us are comfortable with it. Playing live looking out to a sea of people digging your music is the best part of this job, how can you not love that feeling, it’s unreal.

Which of the new tracks are you most looking forward to playing live?

John: The Way We Die, just because I hope after seeing the music video we did for it all the girls in the crowd will be ripping their shirts off and shaking their asses as soon as we play it, haha!

Can we expect a full UK tour in the near future, once the album is out?

John: For sure, the sooner the better. We want to play these songs everywhere we possibly can. We know you UK folks love to rage and have a good time so we will definitely be there for a full tour asap.

What’s next for the band?

John: LOTS of touring, after the European tour we go to Australia for the Soundwave Festival which will be a blast, then I’m sure there will be shows all over the world planned throughout next year… and hopefully more videos with porn stars!

They Bleed Red is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.