Anthrax and The Devil Wears Prada Discuss Their New Albums Backstage at the Killthrax Tour
Interviews with Frank Bello and Jeremy DePoyster conducted on April 30, 2017 by Michele Mussatto
The 2017 Killswitch Tour – April 30, 2017 (Arvest Midland Theatre in Kansas City, MO)
Interviews by Michele Mussatto
Bass guitar legend Frank Bello of Anthrax and singer-guitar player front man Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada both took time backstage with UnRated Magazine to discuss their latest critically acclaimed albums as well as life on the Killthrax Tour 2017 at the Arvest Midland Theatre in Kansas City, MO on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Both metal veterans looked healthy and happy with the tour’s success and the success of their albums For All Kings (released by Anthrax February 26, 2016 on Megaforce Records) and Transit Blues (released by The Devil Wears Prada October 7, 2016 on Rise Records). Anthrax and The Devil Wears Prada joined Killswitch Engage and Code Orange for this 33-city nearly sold out U.S. tour.
Interview with Frank Bello of Anthrax
Unrated Magazine met up with Frank Bello, bass player for Anthrax, before the show for a backstage interview at the Arvest Midland Theatre Kansas City stop of the mostly sold-out Killthrax Tour, of which Anthrax is co-headlining with Killswitch Engage and joined by The Devil Wears Prada, both wildly popular bands among younger metal fans. Bello expressed excitement about adding a whole new generation of metal fans to their traditional Big Four fan base (Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer) by co-headlining this tour, and also through the great success of the latest Anthrax album For All Kings, a critically acclaimed body of fresh new songs that stay true to their thrash metal musical roots.
“In this day and age… imagine that a metal record from a band that’s been around over 30 years being in the (Billboard) top ten,” muses Bello. “We’re excited about everything that is going on, even this tour, you’ll see, if it’s not sold out it’s usually packed on this Killthrax tour. There’s a new generation of fans coming in, along with our fans of the Big Four way back, there’s a whole new influx of fans who have heard of Anthrax but haven’t been able to see them before.”
The past year and a half has been action-packed for Anthrax. For All Kings, their 11th studio album hit #9 on the Billboard charts, only the second time for them since their album Persistence of Time hit the top ten in 1990. They celebrated their 35th anniversary as a band, they played on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and on Late Night with Seth Meyers, they released two official videos, they won the Innovator Award at the Revolver Music Awards, and they even released their own beer called Wardance, which is receiving accolades from the brewing community. Anthrax is on fire creatively – their For All Kings recording session was so prolific that it was difficult for them to choose only a dozen songs to fit on the regular length album, which spurred the release of their For All Kings 7” vinyl box set last month which contains ten 7-inch vinyl discs that feature 20 songs – the For All Kings album tracks, two covers (The White Stripes’ “Carry On” and “Black Math”), six demos, and a previously unreleased new track, “Vice of The People.”
“Yeah Anthrax, we’re pretty stoked about what’s going on. There’s no reason to slow this machine down,” exclaimed Bello, when about likelihood of future albums. “First off the band is getting along really well which is really important after 30 years. The truth of the matter is when you’re in a band, you’re like brothers. You see each other more than your families, and at the end of the day you need some space, but, after a while you miss everything… after a couple of weeks off you want to come back out and play. I think this band is hungrier than ever now, so as far as a new record, yeah, you heard me (backstage here a minute ago), it’s like a had a new riff in my head and I had to play!
Besides being part of the constantly creating and touring machine which is Anthrax, Bello keeps busy with his own personal projects, including a new album he is working on with Dave Ellison the bass player of Megadeth called Altitudes and Attitude. He also has a wife and a young son, is involved with multiple charities, and even accepts acting gigs on the side, his most notable being his role as punk icon Richard Hell in the feature film Greetings from Tim Buckley.
“It’s not always easy keeping the energy up,” confessed Bello, when asked how he keeps delivering such amazing performances on such long tours amid all the other projects in his life. “But the show, and the music gets me up, and the crowd, you know, that great magic of taking that step onto the stage where you hear the roar, which is awesome, that’s what we do, that’s why we do all this, the rest of it all day, and living on the road for months at a time, for that time, for that hour and a half on stage, that’s what makes it all worthwhile, and we’re very thankful for that.”
Interview with Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada
Unrated also met up backstage with Jeremy DePoyster, singer and guitar player for veteran metalcore rockers The Devil Wears Prada, who also expressed excitement for the tour’s success, and to be playing songs from their latest album “Transit Blues.” He has enjoyed opening for Anthrax and Killswitch Engage, and is happy to be back on the road touring.
“We had been home for three or four months which I guess is a long time for us, so we’re just pumped to get back out and be playing again,” said DePoyster. “The crowds have been awesome, you come out and they are like ‘okay what is this going to be,’ and by the second song they’re already pumped and feeling it, which is our job out here to get them warmed up and ready to go, so it’s awesome. They’re just great, great metal crowds.”
DePoyster admits that he is very proud of Prada’s latest album Transit Blues, which was released just last fall. Inspired by being a touring rock band on the road away from family, Transit Blues has received very high reviews, and is considered Prada’s best album yet, being the best manifestation of their metalcore musical and lyrical roots.
“It’s very proud for me, just because it was a big community effort,” explained DePoyster regarding Transit Blues. “Everybody contributed massive amounts toward the song writing and playing, and everything on it was just much more a communal effort than our last few releases,” he continued. “I think that is the vibe and direction that we’re going towards, more communal. It creates a more diverse sound, instead of just the same sound we’ve done a million times before. Kyle (Sipress), our guitar player, thinks very differently than I do, and Mike (Hranica) thinks very differently and Jon (Gering) our keyboard player thinks very differently so when you start blending all those ideas together it creates this kind of weird soup that’s a lot different than just the one-minded thing, so I think we’ll keep that spirit alive.”
DePoyster said that Prada took a different approach to writing Transit Blues this time, in that instead of Hranica writing lyrics to fully realized musical compositions, Hranica brought lyrics to Sipress’s barebones compositions first, then DePoyster, Gering and bass player Andy Trick added melodies and textures in response to those lyrics, allowing the feel of the music to better match the emotions Hranica’s lyrics were meant to convey.
“Kyle had a bunch of bare bones skeletons of songs, just kind of rhythm guitar parts and stuff, and we chopped that up some of the other demos I had and Jon our keyboard player had, and what we tried to do this time is have Mike write the lyrics to it and tell us what the meaning of the song was and what it was going to be and let that influence our lead parts and our texture and stuff,” DePoyster explained. “There’s a song called Lock and Load on it, it’s about gun violence and we tried to do some sireny stuff, and there’s a song called Daughter, about a mother not loving her daughter, and we tried to get real mopey with that, and with Worldwide we tried to capture some of the feeling of traveling to Tokyo and things like that so that was very different for us. Normally we would just write the whole song out and give it to Mike to write his lyrics to it.”
Prada spent several months living in a barn on a farm in Wisconsin to write Transit Blues, and credits their hosts for encouraging their creative process, which also culminated with a special 18 g vinyl edition of the album just released this February, which includes a 13” by 13” 60-plus page hard-back book with full page photos that chronicle the band’s writing, rehearsing and recording sessions for the album at various locations across the country.
“We rented two different AirBnB’s. One was a really nice family, and he happened to be a beer brewer, so in his big barn he had a bunch of taps with homemade beer and it was really, really good,” explains DePoyster. “We did this special edition photo book which just came out with the special vinyl, and they just sent us an email saying ‘oh guys we love the book’ and they loved seeing their property in the photos, so I think we’re going to do that next time we write, kind of seclude ourselves. The guys in the band… we’re just really, really good friends, and Ben our tour manager is like family, and I’ve been friends with Mike and Andy for twelve years now and living in that environment is fun. We watch sports, we drink, we cook meals together, it’s really fun, and then a lot of weird songs come out of that stuff.”
Killthrax Tour 2017 Overview
The Killthrax line up for the Kansas City stop began with Code Orange, the nu metal hardcore punk band from Pittsburgh. The Devil Wears Prada played next, then Anthrax, then Killswitch Engage. Anthrax and Killswitch Engage have been swapping closing band honors throughout the tour, and Killthrax took the honor in Kansas City.
Code Orange opened the night with all of their current members on stage, including Eric Balderose on vocals, guitar and synthesizer; Reba Meyers on vocals and guitar; Joe Goldman on bass; and Jami Morgan on drums and vocals. They opened with their hit Forever, and played many songs from their newest album of the same name, which was released on January 13, 2017 by Roadrunner Records. Code performed the following songs:
- Forever (off their latest album Forever)
- Kill the Creator (off their latest album Forever)
- My World
- Bleeding in the Blur (off their latest album Forever)
- The New Reality (off their latest album Forever)
- I Am King
- Spy (off their latest album Forever)
The Devil Wears Prada performed with all of their current members, including Jeremy DePoyster (rhythm guitar, clean vocals), Mike Hranica (rough vocals, backing guitar), Andy Trick (bass guitar) and Kyle Sipress (lead guitar and backing vocals). Keyboard player Jonathan Gering who helped write Transit Blues also played throughout the tour, as did drummer Guiseppe Capolupo, who just joined Prada recently to record their latest album Transit Blues. They gave a super tight performance to a very appreciative crowd, that erupted quickly into thrashing and moshing. Prada performed the following songs:
- Daughter (off their latest album Transit Blues)
- Sailor’s Prayer
- Planet A
- Worldwide (off their latest album Transit Blues)
- Assistant to the Regional Manager
- Dead Throne
- To the Key of Evergreen (off their latest album Transit Blues)
Anthrax performed with all of their current musicians, except for Drummer Charlie Benante, who typically can play only three shows per week due to carpal tunnel problems he has battled for the last few years. Drummer Jon Dette sat in for Charlie. Joey Belladonna led the band with his famous bellowing tenor vocals, founder Scott Ian anchored the performance with his well-loved rhythm guitar work and backing vocals, Frank Bello killed it with his animated performance, heart pounding bass riffs and backing vocals, and lead guitar player Jonathan Donais, previously with Shadows Fall, melted our faces with his tasty leads. Mosh pits erupted for most of the songs, with the biggest ones developing during Caught in a Mosh, Antisocial and Indians. Anthrax performed the following songs:
- Among the Living
- Caught in a Mosh
- Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
- I Am the Law
- Breathing Lightning (their catchy new hit off their new album For All Kings)
- Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
- March of the S.O.D. (Stormtroopers of Death cover)
- Blood Eagle Wings (their epic centerpiece from their new album For All Kings)
Anthrax at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland – Kansas City, MO, USA – April 30, 2017
photo credit Michele Mussato
Killswitch Engage capped the night, with all their current members on stage, including front man and lead vocalist Jesse Leach, lead guitar player and vocalist Adam Dutkiewicz, bass player Mike D’Antonio, rhythm guitar player and vocalist Joel Stroetzel, and drummer Justin Foley. They played several songs from their latest album Incarnate, released on March 11, 2016 by Roadrunner Records. Mosh pits and body surfing occurred through the entire set. At one point Dutkiewicz went remote and ran throughout the entire theatre, even visiting the mosh pit for a few minutes, while playing guitar the whole time. Killswitch ended the evening with their cover of Dio’s Holy Diver where they were joined by Joey Belladonna of Anthrax to provide the main vocals. Killswitch performed the following songs:
- My Last Serenade
- A Bid Farewell
- This Fire Burns
- Take This Oath
- Alone I Stand (off their latest album Incarnate)
- The End of Heartache
- Embrace the Journey…Upraised (off their latest album Incarnate)
- Rose of Sharon
- This Is Absolution
- Beyond the Flames
- Strength of the Mind (off their latest album Incarnate)
- Hate by Design (off their latest album Incarnate)
- Fixation on the Darkness
- My Curse
- In Due Time
- Holy Diver