The first time listening to Devour the Day’s “Time and Pressure,” I had it on in the back ground, but it grabbed my attention so much so that by the end of album I had forgotten what I was doing and was just listening. I’ve since heard it several times and it is a powerful album full of authentic lyrics and intense music. The best music is music that you can feel and you can definitely feel their music. I liked the album so much that I asked to talk with Joey Walser. Check it out.
You can listen to it here:
Bob Zerull (BZ): I have the album and I’ve listened to it I don’t know how many times now, it’s out now, it’s called “Time and Pressure,” how much of this album deals with the pressures that go along with dissolving a band that’s had success (Egypt Central) and then trying to start all over?
Joey “Chicago” Walser (JW): I would say about 50% of the record; maybe even 60% of the record is dealing with that. A lot of it not necessarily the business factor, like the logistics of restarting a band, but also the emotional ties that come both with our personal relationships with the women in our lives, the friends that we made and lost along the way, the obvious frustrations of Blake and I writing for a band for ten years to having it ripped out from under us. All those things, but also learning that the future is where we are going and the past is already done. I think it is a large part of the record because I think it was the one thing that was right in front of our face the whole time we were doing it.
BZ: Was there ever a moment or thought of just quitting all together?
JW: I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t. At some point you ask yourself if it’s a one in a million chance for your first band to even reach any sort of success and do some of the things Egypt Central was able to do, what are the chances of your second project doing that? You look at the groups or the people that are out there that have multiple successful bands like Dave Grohl and Corey Taylor and you wonder, can we do that? You’re a human being so you have your doubts, but in the end it really is the driving force behind the music we’ve written our entire lives. That music not only inspires the people that are listening to it but it definitely inspires Blake and I do keep on going as well.
BZ: I’ve interviewed several bands over the years and the recurring theme is that we all like different types of music, but as soon as your band starts to see success you kind of get cornered into a certain sound even when you really want the freedom to play whatever you want, is that what happened with Egypt Central?
JW: A lot. Honestly, it’s funny you say it that way, I think for Blake and I we really had reached a shelf as far as writing for John (Falls). I think there were things that really wouldn’t be accepted by the rest of Egypt Central that Blake and I as the primarily writers were just feeling, not creatively stifled, but just creatively limited. We were still able to do a lot of the things we wanted and I have no regrets about Egypt Central but I do know that I have that much more fulfillment in these songs because we were able to go a few different directions, not as a band searching for our sound but showing that our sound is going to encompass a larger spectrum of music that just straight up active rock.
BZ: You mentioned that you and Blake were the primary songwriters for Egypt Central and obviously you wrote the songs for Devour the Day, was there a difference in your process this time around?
JW: Absolutely, in the end the way that we were writing for John and knowing that John would be the one going out and being the face of the band, it definitely changed the way that we wrote things to make them more explainable to some of the things that were going on with his life. With Devour the Day it is 100% about Blake and my life. These are the stories and struggles that he and I went through, so it’s very close to our hearts. I think in the end it’s ultimately what Blake and I were meant to do. The fulfillment I get from Devour the Day is just something we could never reach with the other band.
BZ: What is your process? Do the two of you just sit down in a room together and write, do you write separately?
JW: I think it all starts with random acts of inspiration. I think Blake and I both randomly get segments of songs that we write, Blake more so in the riff musical section and me more so on the side of melody and lyric even though Blake writes both melody and lyrics as well. I think there is just a fusing that tends to happen. Blake and I love our Frankenstein way of putting songs together. We may have something like 1,000 riffs and lyrical ideas and we start to see where the lyrics that were capturing our photograph of a person at a certain time and then the music that can build the strongest force behind it. I will say it is random, there is no specific formula except that mostly I’m writing the lyrics and mostly Blake is writing riffs and then we move forward.
BZ: During that whole creation process how much pressure was on you, from business and creative stand point. Was it a non-stop thing or did it come and go?
JW: I think in the beginning there was a lot of pressure. Obviously just being human and having doubts about myself, is what we’ve written the best we’ve ever done? Just knowing in my heart that if I just strive to be purely honest and purely authentic then the work would speak for itself and I really feel like that happened, that Blake and I just wrote honestly about the things that we were going through to an intensity that we’ve never touched before, even to the point of dealing with subject matter that is a lot more serious than the other things we’ve talked about, divorce, the breaking up of the band and spirituality and other really huge subjects in life that we’ve started to tackle in our old age. You start to think about the legacy that you leave here, not only for your own children, but everyone else. It was just really important. I think the one thread that stuck throughout was that we were going to be honest and authentic about what we were writing.
BZ:I definitely felt the intensity. It was an authentic intensity. At what point in the process did you start to feel ok about everything, was there a certain song?
JW: (Laughs) I don’t know, I guess I’ll let you know when I get there. I think my personality is that and it’s definitely not assume the worst, I’m a positive guy and Blake is the same way, but at the same time we’ve experienced so many lead singers that have this heir of arrogance about them and I just think that Blake, the way that he is and the humility that he has and the way that he and I am approaching this, we feel that every new step every new rung on the ladder we’re climbing is a blessing. At this point we’re just overwhelmed and excited about every little piece of success with the intention, our goal is to be a Led Zeppelin, to be a Beatles, a U2 a Nine Inch Nails, Metallica. We want to have our names sit along side those bands in history and for us we have so far to go still that I don’t think we’re ever going to feel like we’re their until we are.
BZ: What are your plans for touring?
JW: We are doing some shows with Buckcherry and then into a month of touring with Hinder and then into a month of touring with Sevendust. Those are the current tours that are booked right now that we’re getting ready for and all hyped up about.
BZ: That’s awesome; those are three bands that are perfect for exposing you guys to their audiences. There are two of you guys on the album, who’s going out on the road with you?
JW: We have a touring band, we brought Jeff James from Egypt Central to play guitar, which actually there are now three out of the four us from Egypt Central in this band. Our touring drummer who is a guy name Dustin (Schoenhofer) who played with bands like Bury Your Dead and Walls of Jericho which are well known and widely respected in the hardcore scene, I think with some of the more aggressive music it only makes sense to have someone who can truly handle that kind of music playing behind us, he is a monster. It’s really amazing to have two really great drummers in the band as far as the touring group and what we can do with that, but also just the caliber of musicians that I feel like we have in this group, it’s just a different level than we’ve ever had before and it’s really cool.
BZ: I mentioned earlier that I found the album authentic and I really did find the album authentic and inspiring. Listening to your lyrics I can feel the frustration of what you were going through, I can feel the doubt, the confidence. When writing these lyrics do they write themselves when you’re inspired or do you have to grind them out?
JW: A lot of times for me there are these moments of I guess zen moments where I’m just connected with what I’m feeling so much that the words just pour out of me. Sometimes I even feel like they’re given to me because they come so easily at some points. I sit down and I read them and I’m so excited about what they are and how they’re going to relate to people and how they feel to me. In reading them I feel very blessed that they come like that. There are other songs where they literally started as conversations between Blake and I when we would sit and discuss a certain subject matter for days on end and after discussing these things, some of the key points of the conversation I’d start to chronicle as some of the lyrics. I think those are the two ways they happen. That’s how Blake and I work together on lyrics. There are songs like “Good Man” when an entire song came out in one sitting because I was in a place where I felt like that, and it was very easy to talk about my need to feel like somebody is listening to me regardless of my beliefs.
Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at email@example.com.