Q&A With Devil You Know’s John Sankey And Francesco Artusato

DEVIL YOU KNOW was initially the brainchild of guitarist Francesco Artusato (ALL SHALL PERISH, THE FRANCESCO ARTUSATO PROJECT) and drummer John Sankey (DEVOLVED, FEAR FACTORY, DIVINE HERESY). But it was during the recording sessions in early 2013 after they joined forces with vocalist Howard Jones (Ex-KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, BLOOD HAS BEEN SHED) that the magic really started to take shape. A&GS had the opportunity to get some questions answered by John and Francesco via e-mail just in time for the album, The Beauty of Destruction to come out this Tuesday April 29. Check it out:

image002Amps: So this band has been in the works since late 2012. How does it feel now that the album is coming out very soon and all the hard work has paid off?

Francesco: FINALLY! That’s the current feeling. I can’t wait for the album to be out and for people to listen to it. We are so proud of this record.

John: It’s very satisfying to see and hear the final product, we worked so hard on this album and knowing it is about to be released for the world to check out is a really cool feeling.

Amps: Tell me about when you first heard Howard put his vocal stamp on the songs. What went through your minds?

Francesco: That’s when I realized this album was going to be awesome. Before that I thought we had cool music but then with vocals we finally realized the potential of this band.

John: Howard’s vocals really bought the music to life and gave each of the tracks their own personality. It was amazing to hear the songs go through that transition.

Amps: You both come from such storied musical backgrounds, so what is it like when Francesco and John get together and write? What’s the process?

Francesco: Best way to write music. There’s something special about how we write together. Very natural and fun process. Most of the riffs were written over drum grooves that John would play/write. John would send me long drum tracks of many different ideas and then I would start picking the parts that I liked the best to write riffs over. We would spend a lot of time trying different arrangements and structures and end up with a finished song.

John: It was a very smooth and creatively exciting process. There was no limits or boundaries, we would just send each other ideas and go back and forward building on them until we had a completed track. We ended up writing so many songs we could have recorded 3 albums!

Amps: The songs on The Beauty of Destruction are heavy, like “hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-sledgehammer” heavy, yet there is so much melody. It’s unlike anything anybody’s doing right now. How do you find that balance?

Fraimage001ncesco: Thank you! That’s exactly why we decided to write together and create this music. We love to be able to combine those two elements in different forms.

John: Our aim was to cover as much musical ground as possible by combining the heaviness with melody, but we didn’t want it to sound forced or formulated. There was no pre-determined sound for this band, the songs developed into what they are very naturally.

Amps: Logan Mader has a really good ear in my opinion. Love the sound of the record. Tell me about working with him as a producer.

Francesco: He is great, an amazing producer and a very cool guy to work with. That made the recording process pretty easy.

John: Logan was awesome to work with and had a lot of very cool ideas that helped us expand our sound. He was the 4th member in the studio and we consider him a Brother. He’s a legend in the metal world and someone I admire and have great respect for.

Amps: Tell me what drew each of you to your instrument. Who did you hear/see as a kid and think, “I wanna do THAT!”?

Francesco: For me in the beginning was all about the technical playing. Petrucci, Vai, Malmsteen and so on. I wasn’t even a kid anymore, I started playing at 19.

John: My parents are musicians and as a kid I would watch them play and was always fascinated by the drums, it was the loudest most obnoxious instrument so that’s what I wanted to play! As soon as I heard bands like METALLICA, SLAYER, PANTERA, FEAR FACTORY, SEPULTURA, etc. I knew the style I wanted to play was metal. I’m all about song first, drums second. I don’t care much for the technicality of drumming, give me a great song and I’ll dig it.

Amps: What do you listen to when you’re not working? What’s in your iPod/CD player?

Francesco: Mostly classical music. I also listen to a lot of rock…especially 70’ and 80’ rock. I’m really enjoying the new ALTER BRIDGE record though.

John: I don’t listen to much new music; the last few current bands I’ve really got into would be VOLBEAT, ALTER BRIDGE, and GOJIRA. KING PARROT from Australia are awesome too. Other than that I go back to the classic rock and metal.

image006Amps: You’ve said that your approach to writing was different for this material. How did it feel to get out of your respective comfort zones a bit?

Francesco: Thing is, this is my comfort zone. This is the band that I wanted to have for a very long time! So it felt very natural and satisfying.

John: It was a good challenge. At first for me it felt very bare to have such a stripped back approach but after we started to write more material the songs felt really comfortable. I still throw in a lot of my usual drumming style but the trick was to hold off when necessary and not overplay, the groove was the most important thing for these songs.

Amps: How long do you intend to be out on the road in support of the album? Looking forward to the Dallas date on 5/23, personally!

Francesco:  I love playing in Texas. It’s usually the highlight of every tour. And Dallas is great; I love the city and the crowd. We’ll be on the road for a while this year.

John: Agreed, Texas is one of my favorite places to play and visit in the USA! I anticipate we will be doing a lot of touring for the album.

Amps: If you weren’t playing in this band, or any band for that matter, what would you both be doing?

Francesco: Focusing on recording and producing music. That’s something that I’m getting into more and more.

John: I’d be bored and miserable; I’ve never had the passion for any other career besides creating and playing music. I’m sure I’ll always do something music related, one day I’ll find out I guess but for now this is it.

Amps: In this day and age of Google/Wikipedia, etc. tell me ONE thing about you that I can’t find online that people might be surprised to know.

Francesco: I was obsessed with Martial Arts and that’s what I was focused on most of my time until I picked up the guitar. I am a black belt in Karate and I studied Wing Tsun for over 5 years. Now I need to be much more careful with my hands and pretty much my entire time is dedicated to music.

John: I actually think Lars (Ulrich) is a good drummer… seriously.

Amps: Say something to all your fans out there.

Francesco: Thank you so much for all the support you have already shown. We already have so many fans and the album is not even out yet. So awesome!

John: We look forward to seeing everyone on the road and can’t wait to play these songs live for you all!

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The Beauty of Destruction is out on Tuesday April 29 via Nuclear Blast Records. Look for our review very soon, and be sure to pick up the album. DEVIL YOU KNOW is coming to a city near you, so if I were you I’d go check that out!

 

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