DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL have spent a decade being one of the most underrated metal bands in the UK, honing their unique fusion of scathing metalcore with elements of ambient and post-rock. We caught up with vocalist Paul Green after their support set with SIKTH in Manchester (read our review here).
DEVIL SOLD HIS SOULD have recently finished up your 10th anniversary tour performing your debut album A Fragile Hope in full. You obviously weren’t in the band at that time, but did it surprise you how well that album holds up going back to it ten years later?
Paul: Amazingly well. From the other guys’ perspectives, they’ve been surprised at how some songs that didn’t go down that well back then have gone down this time. That’s why we’ve kept Awaiting the Flood in the set for this tour, that song didn’t go down that well when the guys played it the first time around and it left the set almost instantly, but not now. There’s no singing in it apart from maybe one high line, it’s just brutal, and it was really good fun re-recording that one as well. Over the years though people have said to them how much the album means to them, and I’m just feeling lucky to have been able to play those shows with them.
When it came out it was quite a groundbreaking record in the way it fused ambient and post-rock elements with metalcore.
Paul: They were the only band I knew at the time who were doing it. At that time I wasn’t aware of bands like ENVY and the ambient side of things, but it was something special, and at the time you’d be getting bands like DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL and ARCHITECTS playing in your local venues and they were eye-opening days for a lot of us.
DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL definitely got more expansive and melodic as time went on, so was it jarring to have to return to the headspace of that album where there’s just so much savagery and nastiness?
Paul: I think it was a nice release in some ways. It was difficult I think for me to get to grips with them all because I haven’t done a lot of those songs even in the four or five years I’ve been in the band, so it was a tough challenge to learn those, but then also to remember to not do some of the lines that obviously Ed is singing now with there being the two of us sharing the parts. It’s almost as hard to forget to sing parts as it is to remember them.
On that note as well, because you’re no longer doing the album in full set, you’ve brought in some later tracks which means for the first time Ed is singing on your material as well as you singing on his.
Paul: That’s been amazing, absolutely love it. Some of them kind of slot together very easily, a verse if it’s in four parts can be split quite nicely, on choruses you can do a line each or some harmonies, it’s been quite organic. There’s probably some more work we can do on things but we’ve done it as well as we can for the time-being.
Does this mean Ed is going to be staying in the band now on a more permanent basis and you’ll be writing new material with the two of you?
Paul: We’re gonna try and write some stuff together. It may work, it may not, but we’ve gotta give it a go. We re-recorded Awaiting the Flood just to see how it would work and to see how it sounded vocally in a studio, and it sounded great. We may not work well together but we’ll see how it goes. I’m really up for it.
It’s been three years now since the last EP, and approaching six years since the last album, so now you and DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL seem to have gotten into the swing of things this year, are you itching to get new material out again?
Paul: It’s been a tough one because a lot of it has been down to a lack of motivation to write, to be honest. When Ed left people didn’t really know where we were gonna go. I joined and we did the EP, but we didn’t do those songs in one hit, we did them in bits and pieces over those first two years. We weren’t inspired to write. We’re not the happiest, most motivated people in the world, we go into our shells sometimes and that’s just the nature of it. We do want to address that though and write either another EP or another album as soon as we can. We’ve got some ideas and have played around with a few things in practices, it’s just getting to that next step where we can really get into things.
Do you imagine new material would be like a direct continuation of where Empire of Light and the EP left off, or if the shows revisiting A Fragile Hope would bleed into the vibe of new material a little?
Paul: Some of the stuff we’ve looked at is dark but has this triumphant feel to it as well, so think more Blessed & Cursed type feeling. Jonny‘s written the majority of what we’ve been looking at so far, and he tends to be a little darker. There’s always the element of what’s going on in your life at the time too.
DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL have never really fit snugly into any one niche. You’ve toured with metalcore bands, you’ve toured with bands like SIKTH, you’ve played places like Damnation Festival. Do you think that’s benefited you or hindered you?
Paul: It’s been our curse almost. It’s given us longevity to be fair but maybe if we’d been tied to one genre or sound, we would have made it a bit bigger maybe and been given more big support slots. This SIKTH tour is a decent support slot for us, we’ve hardly had any over the years, so to get this is great. But you’re right, when people are thinking “I want a band to go with my metalcore band on tour”, we’re not the first name that pops into your head. It can be difficult.
Over the last couple of years we’ve started to see a bit of a swing of the pendulum though in heavier music being granted more opportunities and more coverage. Just recently we’ve had CODE ORANGE nominated for a Grammy, we’ve had EMPLOYED TO SERVE getting on the cover of Kerrang! as well as veteran bands like EVERY TIME I DIE doing the same, we’ve got bands like VENOM PRISON supporting more mainstream bands like TRIVIUM in big venues. As a band who have at times felt a bit underappreciated and like an unsung treasure, do you think this shift is something that maybe DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL will be able to capitalise on and use to your advantage?
Paul: CODE ORANGE are amazing, I saw them with GOJIRA and that blew my mind, and them being nominated for a Grammy is the coolest. Those are all really good bands. I think some of what you’ve said is due to maybe the people at the magazines moving on and younger people replacing them and having fresher, better ideas. You see all the same bands on covers for years and then there are the rock magazines that stick essentially pop acts on the cover all the time, and that fucks me off. It’s really good though, and maybe that could work in our favour, I hope so. We’re a bit of a funny one because we go from almost poppy vocals at times to just bleak as hell post-rock and horrible stuff, and maybe that doesn’t do us any favours with it, but some people do want something different.
With lots of those bands breaking through being British, it feels like the scene in Britain now is stronger than it’s been in some time.
Paul: I’ve lost touch with it over the years, I used to be so into up and coming bands and the local scene, but I’ve moved away from my hometown and I sort of stuck to my usual bands for a while which isn’t the greatest thing to do in the world. Some of those bands too that I’ve listened to for years like THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN are giving it up now which is a major bummer, but when you do find something awesome, it’s inspiring.
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