Nearly two years ago, when Live Metal first encountered Devour the Day, it was a band risen from the ashes of Egypt Central. Drummer-turned-guitarist/vocalist Blake Allison and bassist Joey “Chicago” Walser were confident in the material they had written and recorded, but they were starting over in a new world. After touring steadily and finding success with singles such as “Good Man,” they know what they have now as they work on album number two. When their recent tour supporting Hellyeah came to Rams Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland, Blake and Joey sat down with Live Metal’s Greg Maki to discuss the band’s development over the past two years and look ahead to their anticipated sophomore release.
LIVE METAL: I was here for the third show you played as Devour the Day. Since then, how has the band grown and developed?
BLAKE ALLISON: Since then, we’ve gotten two members, two new members—our guitar player and drummer. We’ve written a lot of material since then, since the last record. Since then, we put out another version of that record with extra songs on it.
JOEY “CHICAGO” WALSER: Three singles since then.
BLAKE: Right. “Move On,” “Good Man” and “Respect.”
JOEY: Yep. And then, now the one, “Faith.” And lots of touring. Lots and lots.
BLAKE: We did all the summer festivals, which was great. It’s crazy for us, ‘cause we really just got shot right out of the cannon without a helmet on. (laughter) But we figured it out, I think, and we’ve had a great time doing it. We’re all still dear friends, which is really important.
(To Blake) As a frontman, how do you feel you’re developing?
BLAKE: Hmm. That’s a good question. (laughter)
(To Joey) Maybe I should ask you.
JOEY: He’s doing an excellent job. He’s killing it. I’m very proud of Blake. Of all the positions, even the guys that are new to touring, they’ve all played their instruments for so many years, I’ve played bass for years—I’m old—but Blake is the one that really had to take something totally new by the horns. We’re all behind him—literally, onstage.
BLAKE: And in photos!
JOEY: But he’s killing it, man. And we’re having a fun time. The best moments are on stage when you can really feel the groove of everything, and then Blake will turn to me and just give me that smile. It’s like, this is a good one, this is a good show. That’s the best. It’s good. He’s killing it.
BLAKE: In other words, it’s been rough! (laughter) It’s been a lot of fun. I don’t know. We’re still playing music. I think that’s the most important thing, because we could be—
BLAKE: Yeah, we could be juggling for a living.
JOEY: No offense to jugglers worldwide.
You’ve done a ton of touring. How is this tour going? How is it comparing to other tours?
JOEY: This has been one of the most well run, fun tours that we’ve had in our full career. There’s a few that just stick out—Disturbed, In This Moment, and then this tour is just one of those that’s just been great rooms of fans and getting to use lights for the first time we brought out with us—that’s been really fun. It’s been a great tour.
Playing new material on this tour?
BLAKE: Yep, yep. We’ve got a snidbit of a new song. We’ve also incorporated “Faith” into our set, as well.
JOEY: Did you mean snippet?
BLAKE: What did I say?
BLAKE: What did you just say?
BLAKE: Snippet. What did I say?
BLAKE: I think I’ve been saying it my entire life. And, of course, in an interview—
JOEY: I heard snidbit, and I thought, what is a snidbit? (laughter) It makes sense either way.
BLAKE: Snippet? Is there a “B” in there?
JOEY: Snippet. Two “Ps.”
BLAKE: I’m putting a “B” in there that doesn’t belong. (laughter) Uh, yeah, so we’ve got some new stuff. (laughter)
How much new material do you have?
BLAKE: We’ve got a lot new material
JOEY: It’s unquantifiable, ‘cause there’s new songs written in our heads even now.
Are you writing a song called “Snidbit” right now?
JOEY: “Snidbit.” “Don’t Judge” in parentheses. (laughter) No, we have lots of new material, lots of new songs. And we’re very, very excited. We also are going back after this tour, going home and have a studio rented out for just Blake and I to just literally tinker around and create for the next three weeks after that. We are very excited about the chance to create, because that’s the origin of this whole thing. It’s really fun for us.
BLAKE: The last record, we were casting a wide net as far as experimenting here and there with different instruments and that kind of thing. I think since then, and after all the touring, we have a much more defined version of the band. So the songs that we’re gonna go record and work on, I think there’s less of a question as to how it’s gonna sound when it’s finished. We know exactly what we want and the kind of sound, the mix of the record and everything. We’ve set the bar, especially with this last song, “Faith.” Sonically, that song is so good, and lyrically it’s there and everything, so we’re just gonna try and do that for every song for the rest of the record. If we don’t—
JOEY: Then we’ll lose digits.
BLAKE: People’s heads will roll.
The song “Faith,” it seems pretty self-explanatory—or maybe it’s not. What is that song about?
JOEY: You’d be surprised. Out of total respect for the name Jesus Christ, we understood what we were doing as far as the weight of the metaphor. But also, it’s a metaphor, and some people take it very, very seriously. I respect that passion. I have the same passion for music, and I think that, in turn, makes ironically the point very clear as to what the song is about. Those things that make you feel safe and you believe in them, and music, for us, has always been there. I think anyone who would know our history would see that. The music has continued to really just—
BLAKE: Continually save us.
JOEY: Save our butts. And then, also, what Blake talks about, being younger.
BLAKE: Fifteen years old and not fitting in, not knowing how to deal with any kind of issues—family related, social issues, girls. A 15-year-old that gets his heart broken by a girl, it’s detrimental. I remember being shredded, just torn to pieces over this one girl that told all my secrets to everybody. She got back at me, and she didn’t like me anymore.
JOEY: What a whore.
BLAKE: It was a big deal. I didn’t go to school. It’s hard to relate to your parents. It’s hard to relate to even your friends, ‘cause they don’t know anything about anything. Music can save you. Music can help, and that’s whether you’re 15 or 55—it doesn’t matter. Music has the power to relieve depression and show people that there’s more to life. It just makes you feel good. It could be anything on the radio, just the feel-good, summer smash—
JOEY: All the way down to the most underground, independent, hardcore.
BLAKE: Yeah. Any kind of music. All music. An underground, garage band, and you’re really upset about how bad your band is, and you hear the worst recording of your life, but they’re doing well, and you’re like, oh wait, I can do that, too. I can put together music and have a hobby and a career and something that will distract from the fact that my mother is sick or my dad is dying. Music has the power to help people. That’s what it did for us, and that’s what we hope that this music does for other people.
Have you heard from fans about things like that?
BLAKE: Especially with “Good Man.” In fact, the last time that we were here, there was a woman that came up, and she (to Joey) knows your family in some way.
JOEY: Yeah. She was friends with my mother’s friend. They were in a theater troupe together and traveled all over Europe. It’s called Up with People, a ‘70s singing group—pretty sweet.
BLAKE: She came out of nowhere and said, “I know Joey’s mother.” She related in some way, and she told us about how “Good Man” saved her—that helped her through it.
JOEY: She had been through some very tragic situation. The details aren’t important. Those are the moments where, the party is cool and the road is cool and all that is fun, but you realize that connection you make with people, and it refuels the fire every time for what is the grand purpose of what we’re doing.
You talked about how having done an album and touring and now you have more of a vision of what the band is. Are there also challenges that come with doing a second album after the first one’s out there and people might have expectations?
JOEY: Yeah. (laughs) Totally.
BLAKE: It’s always on the line. The next one is the one that’s gonna make or break us. We’re getting that pressure from all directions, even from ourselves to each other.
JOEY: We’re definitely getting to a place where I think we kind of have more of a one day at a time. The idea in the music business in this generation, in this environment (that) you’re just gonna explode and sell a million records—that’s a fantasy. So for us, it’s more just about what does it take for us to continue to make music, our number one love and passion, and then, also, take care of our families, our number one love and passion—both sides of our lives. I think it’s more about just grinding ahead.
BLAKE: Always focusing on the body of work. Always working on your life’s work. And that’s what we’re doing. There’s always pressure.
So is that really the goal, just to be able to keep doing it?
JOEY: Yeah. And, also, to influence the world in what we would see as a positive way. Our music is of positive influence. A lot of it has to do with overcoming the trials and tribulations of life. Even in our other band, Egypt Central, when we were writing that music, it was very much similar in that direction. I think that will never change. That’s the goal, is to connect and hopefully be able to exist and take care of our families in an adequate way. I don’t think in any way, shape or form do we sit there in our bus and talk about what we’ll do when we get millions of dollars. (laughter) It’s never like that. If that were to happen, most of us would be weirded out. I know our guitar player, David, he would be freaked out; he’d rather live in the woods and hunt every day.
BLAKE: We try not to let money make the decisions. For us, creatively, we don’t make any decisions to gain any more financial stability, but we have to run the line between taking care of our families, as well. The quality of the work that we have, that’s important. So juggling all of that at the same time is pretty difficult.
Is there a timetable for getting the next album done?
JOEY: I would say by the end of the summer. Sometime after July, the whispers of the album will start to arrive.
BLAKE: We’re also toying with the idea of—it seems to be catching on—instead of doing the whole record and then start to release songs off of it, we’ll do a song and release it while we’re creating the record.
You did that with “Faith.”
BLAKE: Right. We didn’t even have artwork for it. We were like, we’re gonna put it out no matter what.
Anything else you want to say?
JOEY: Thank you for interviewing us.
BLAKE: It’s been very nice.
JOEY: And educational.
You learned something, yeah.