Sunday, July 21, 2024

DevilDriver discuss Dealing With Demons Vol. II and pit etiquette

Despite the upheaval of 2020, DevilDriver – renowned leaders in groove metal – refused to slow down. They launched Dealing With Demons I, the first part of their two-part saga that was met with widespread acclaim. As society emerges even more resolute and unyielding than before, DevilDriver’s tenth full-length album, Dealing With Demons Vol. II makes its debut on 12th May 2023.

Dale Unsworth (Lamestream Lydia) of RAMzine caught up with Mike Spreitzer Lead Guitarist of DEVILDRIVER to discuss the new album, and importantly mosh pit etiquette. 

RAMzine: How’s it going, Mike?

Mike Spreitzer: It’s going well, how are you doing?

RAMzine: I’m doing pretty good. I’ve had some pretty great music going through my headphones this week. We’ve been listening to your new album Dealing with Demons Vol II

Mike: What do you think?

RAMzine: It’s pretty heavy.

Mike: Got a favourite song yet?

RAMzine: I’m really digging ‘Summoning’, I liked the clean intro. There’s a melodic part. That sounds like a spaghetti western theme. I’m really into that kind of stuff.

Mike: That’s been one of my favourite songs from both records since day one. I’m really happy with the way that song came out.

RAMzine: There’s a lot of blues influence that’s been bleeding through into it.

Mike: It always kind of reminded me of Alice in Chains. Because it was one of Neal [Tiemann’s] songs, and he has this long Dropbox full of songs that were mostly done and in their demo phase. I think when I listened to it, he had a tonne of them, probably like twenty or thirty. I believe that my first pick out of all of his songs was ‘Summoning’. Wrote that one pretty early in the process.

RAMzine: Is that how Dealing with Demons became a two-parter?

Mike: No, we went in, even before we started writing demos, knowing that it was going to be a double record. Dez and I have been talking about that for years. And he’s always wanted to do one ever since the Coal Chamber days. I don’t know what made it all fall into place this time. But we did it at a perfect time. I’m glad we didn’t do it ten years ago, because we didn’t know if we were going to release this record, Volume One and Vol II at the same time if we were going to stagger the releases, or you can release them a year apart. And that decision was never finalised and then the pandemic hit. And we thought well this is perfect, we have one that we can release now because you don’t release a record without going and touring on it. You know, you release a record, and you go promote it. But I’m glad that we had a second album that we could put out and give our fans something during lockdown. And then have a second part of it once we can finally go out on the road again, which is the way things are working out.

RAMzine: Yeah, you’ve just come back from a tour with one of our exports, Cradle of Filth.

Mike: And they are a fantastic export. You know, I’ve only done shows with Cradle at festivals. And I met Dani briefly, probably like ten or fifteen years ago at Download Festival. But it was one of the most fun tours that we’ve ever done, you know, Cradle’s crowd loved us our crowd loved Cradle. And I think everybody was so happy to be back out on the road again. If the shows weren’t all sold out. They were damn close. And just everyone’s super happy to be out on tour again. There wasn’t an argument there wasn’t a raised voice. It was just nothing but pure happiness on tour. I couldn’t believe it.

RAMzine: That’s fantastic to hear. And hopefully, you’ll bless our shores with that same joy.

Mike: I’m guessing we’ll be there sometime next year.

RAMzine: It’s been a minute since we’ve had you over here. I think the last tour I personally saw you was with Ministry.

Mike: Yeah, that was in 2016. And I know because I have a six-foot-tall poster hanging in my house from that tour because I’m a massive Ministry fan I’ve been listening to them since I was probably 12 years old or whatever year they came out with the Psalm 69 album. Just to have a poster that just says Ministry and DevilDriver on it, I had to bring it home with me and I finally got it framed about a year or two ago and I stare at it every day when I wake up when I’m walking from my bedroom to my kitchen. So yeah, it’s been a good seven years I think, since we’ve been in Europe.

RAMzine: Yeah, I know the Bloodstock show isn’t gonna go through and for the record, we wish Dez the best of health, fast recovery, whatever he’s going through. I hope he’s doing well.

Mike: He’s been consistently getting better. Since he had that first bout with COVID that really messed him up. But I don’t see any reason why he’s not gonna keep on getting better. He just told me the other day that he went and saw a doctor on one of his routine checkups for his heart and it’s been nothing but good news. But I think it was you know, doctors are like lawyers to give you the worst-case scenario. So I think he probably would be okay to fly but it’s his doctors advised him not to for a little while longer.

RAMzine: Hope for the best pray for the worst.

Mike: Exactly.

RAMzine: In any case, y’all should be over here sometime soon and we’re expecting amazing things. I don’t know what you’re playing just yet off of the new record. What’s that been like playing the new stuff?

Mike: On the last tour, we didn’t play ‘Through the Depths’. We did play ‘Keep Away from Me’ from Volume One. But we’re going to be adding ‘Through the Depths’ on the next run that we have coming up. We’re going to be doing another another tour with Cradle in the United States again, I believe in October. And we’re probably gonna change the setlist up even a little bit more than what we did on the last one. But playing ‘Keep Away From Me’ was awesome. We ended up opening up with it on this last tour. And I think we’re gonna continue that trend on the next few tours, it’s proven itself to be a very, very cool song to open up with.

RAMzine: I suppose the big challenge for you guys now is you’ve got so many songs that are certified classics. What do you put around, what do you move, what goes where.

Mike: It’s tough. You know, I remember when we were a baby band, and we only had two or three records out, picking songs was easy. And when you only have an hour set it can can be tough to pick which ones you’re going to put in there and I’m always a fan of putting some deep cuts in there. I’ve gone to shows and I’ve watched bands play songs that I knew very well but was never a favourite and then for some reason once you see it played live, it becomes a favourite and that happened to me with Nine Inch Nails not too long ago I went and saw them out in Vegas, and they opened up with the first song on the Fragile album called ‘Somewhat Damaged’ and I always liked that song but it wasn’t a go to Nine Inch Nails song for me for some reason now it is.

RAMzine: Yeah, I think I had that relationship with you guys with ‘Meet the Wetched’.

Mike: ‘Meet the Wretched’ and ‘Cry for me Sky’ are two songs that I don’t really enjoy listening to on that record. I’d rather listen to a live version. It’s faster I like the guitar tones better. And the probably even more ‘Cry for me Sky’ like I love playing that song live and it just slams so well. But I go and listen to it on that record. I’m like, meh it’s okay.

RAMzine: Would you consider doing a rerecord?

Mike: You know, I was actually thinking about that just about a month ago, probably not. I think when you release a record, that’s one of the things that makes it so stressful is that it’s so final, once it’s out there and you got to live with it. And I can’t think of any band that has ever re-recorded a song. That’s what worked well for them. I compare it to all the bullshit that George Lucas put on the re-released Star Wars movies of the original three. I finally found some versions I found online with a bunch of people getting together and taking out all the extra special effects that they added. But it’s I think once things are released, you should just live with it.

RAMzine: That’s the death of the author right there.

Mike: It’s not really something you can fix. I mean, you could go and rerecord it. Yeah, I bet you we could make it sound better. But I don’t know if I feel right doing it.

RAMzine: The thing with like a younger band doing their first record is, everyone’s really hungry. They want it you’re all piss and vinegar. But a good twenty years later, you’re looking at stuff from a different perspective. You’ve been playing these songs for so long. And maybe there’s something else you can think about. Sepultura are doing their thing at the moment and that’s at least going to be interesting.

Mike: It’s funny, you describe it that way because that’s how I describe it to people. In our early days, you know, we were super hungry for success. We loved being out on tour, and we were just fueled by alcohol every day, all of us, and just nothing else mattered. And I was like, we’re gonna make this happen, or we’re gonna die trying.

RAMzine: But at a certain point, you slow down or you stop.

Mike: Yeah, you kind of have to. Right around the time when I turned 30, I remember starting to wake up on the bus after a long night of partying. And it felt like my face was glued to my pillow. Just waking up and the hangovers were just getting so much worse, or they were lasting more than a day. And I hate being hungover. I seriously hate it now. And when I was in my 20s, I can just kind of ride it out. But those days are long gone and I still like to drink. But I’ll have a couple of drinks before the show and be usually in my bunk shortly after the show just watching a movie, which was never the case in my 20s and early 30s. But then by the time you hit 40 and I’m 42 now it’s either become a drinker on a downward spiral or you learn how to be very moderate with it.

RAMzine: And I suppose you learn to channel it into the right place which, I guess from a cursory glance, that’d be what Dealing with Demons is about.

Mike: Yeah, that’s more of a Dez question. I’ve never really been around you know, I was around him doing vocals a few times on the older records when we were doing it out in Sonic Ranch because we’re on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere in Texas, and in living there during the duration of the record. But the way things work with DevilDriver recently are you know, we work on the music and Dez comes up and he’ll hang out for a little while to see how we’re doing a little bit here and there. But we get the music done with our producer and then Dez has a vocal booth in his house that he likes to record and so our producer will get whatever gear he needs, bring it over to his house and record them there. And then off to mixing and mastering and I usually don’t hear what Dez is going to do with the song until it’s already done or mostly done.

RAMzine: How does that feel in the process? Like not seeing them and being left to your own devices.

Mike: It can be brutal. For me, sometimes it takes me a minute to get used to the song changing so much. Once Dez lays down vocals because I’ve been listening to the songs for a year, two years, and sitting with them as instrumentals and working on as instrumentals for so long that when someone comes along, and they lay vocals on a song that you’ve written, and knowing that it’s gonna be final, it takes me a minute. Sometimes I like it right away. And I like usually 90 to 95% of everything that does, but it’s, it takes some getting used to it first.

RAMzine: I want to end this with a question about mosh pit etiquette. Because that’s becoming kind of a talking point again, lately. You guys have what would have been the world record for a mosh pit, for a circle pit, mosh pits are different. But the similar thing, it was like the diameter of a football field. And that’s insane. But you guys are also a remarkably heavy band with probably some of the most aggressive music to come out of this century. In my opinion, at least. How do you feel looking out at all this carnage? And at what point do you ever feel the need to step in?

Mike: Dez keeps a pretty good eye out there to see if people look like they might be getting hurt. And we have stopped shows we haven’t stopped a lot, probably less than twenty times and in over twenty years. Maybe not even, maybe closer to ten. But I like to see people out there having fun. You know, I did it when I was a kid. I didn’t mind getting hurt a little bit. I’m not a big fan of people doing their spinning kicks. To me, that just looks silly. I did get a little worried when we’re playing one of the tents at Download and we had that massive circle pit. And I just could not believe how big it was. And when we started that song, I kind of froze for a quick second and went, oh my god, someone’s really gonna get hurt. And I didn’t hear about a single person getting any kind of serious injuries in that thing. Most people know how to do it. Of course, there’s always a few assholes out there that either just want to be tough or they get drunk and want to go aggro on people. But I enjoy seeing as long as people are having fun, you know, but as soon as we see someone on the ground or you know, there was a point in Albuquerque on this last tour that where we had to stop the show because a bunch of people got out their cell phones and turn their flashlights on and we re flashing them up toward the stage. And the guy ended up being okay, I talked to one of the security guards apparently he just had too much to drink. And I think was falling down. And I don’t think he was hurt but something was going on. So we had to stop the show and then get them out and Start things back up again.

RAMzine: It’s important to have some sense of self preservation when you go into these things. it’s the most dangerous non-dangerous environment you can be in.

Mike: It is but I find most people have fun. I have seen some serious injuries over the years. We had someone with a cracked sternum that was crowd surfing and landed on the barricade had a guy in Scotland that went over during the first 45 seconds of us playing ‘End of the Line’ in Scotland, this guy comes over the barricade and for some reason, none of the security guards were upfront to catch people which they always should be there at one of our shows. And he came over and broke his femur. And we went back to that same venue a year after that, and he was still on crutches from taking that fall. And yeah, broken noses. I remember one time coming out we were I think we’re playing Sacramento, California. And just an absolutely brutal crowd. And after I went out walked out front to go to the bus after the show there were like three or four ambulances out there taking people away. Wasn’t expecting that

RAMzine: It gets rough at the shows.

Mike: Yes, it does.

RAMzine: But if you have some sense of self preservation, and you feel up to it, you can go see DevilDriver on tour in the US in October, right?

Mike: Yeah, we should be releasing dates, I would say in the next month.

RAMzine: Keep your eyes peeled for dates. And keep your eyes peeled for May 12th, Dealing with Demons Volume Two anything you want to plug?

Mike: Got a new album coming out, go grab it, we’ll hopefully be in Europe. I’m hoping in 2024.

RAMzine: Okay, I think that’s it from us. Thanks guys. This is Lamestream Lydia here for RAMzine and Mike here for RAM zine. And yeah I never know how to end these things.

Mike: Shit. I’m having a hard time thinking of something right now as well. F*ck it. 

RAMzine: “F*ck it” You heard it here first. Good night.

Lamestream Lydia
Lamestream Lydia
Self-proclaimed journalist, Progressive rock enthusiast and the most American sounding person you're ever likely to meet in the North of England

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