Devour the Day is an alternative-rock band with metalcore leanings, but even with anthemic, clean choruses, it’s a far cry from the Victory Records brand. Imagine if Norma Jean’s influence somehow rubbed off on an early-2000s-era Linkin Park.
There are some daring moments scattered throughout Time & Pressure, like the pure stadium rock of “Reckless,” but heavy riffs and a generally confrontational attitude sustain the album’s heftier foundations. Popular singles “Good Man” and “Move On” shine with mainstream rock accessibility in the vein of Three Days Grace.
Devour the Day shouldn’t be too unfamiliar to those who followed its members’ previous band Egypt Central. Those members, a duo, rebounded quickly, and Time & Pressure is indicative of a band cutting its losses to narrow its focus. The two of them have been friends since they were 17, after all.
Devour the Day co-founder Joey “Chicago” Walser spoke to Substream about this year’s reissue of Time & Pressure, the band’s ties to Egypt Central, and the “therapeutic” process of severing those ties by devoting newfound creative energies to Devour the Day.
Substream Magazine: You released Time & Pressure in 2013, but this year’s re-release marks the first release of the album in a non-digital format, and you’ve since made some alterations to its sound. What differences in production are there on this re-release?
Joey Walser: I think there’s a few differences in levels of production that we switched around, some of which was minor as far as just getting a new mix on things, bringing up some of the instruments that we felt needed some more attention. Some were a lot more than just cosmetic. They were full arrangement changes and instrument changes. I think it was just, Blake [Allison] and I felt like, for a couple reasons, one was the opportunity to work with Brian Malouf, who had done so much amazing work previously. We wanted to be able to take advantage of that and use his expertise on more than one track. The other reason was we wanted to create a difference between the album that the fans who had been with us from the very beginning had gotten, just the digital release, they had something special. The record that was released was the natural evolution for Blake and I musically. We wanted to change the songs after listening to them for so long. At the same time, we want to create this difference between the original release and this one that just happened in January.
SM: Did you always intend to release the album on a CD, or was that more of an afterthought to simply having your music made available, regardless of format?
JW: Yeah, I think that all of it as far as making money has been the afterthought, based on the fact that Blake and I have been through so much in 2012 and 2013. The songs were written so therapeutically that once we got each segment of it, at first we were just happy that we had the attention of some people who were going to back us. Once we actually did the physical distribution deal, we were excited again on a different level. Each new thing that has happened with Blake and I is kind of a second chance, and it just kind of felt like a blessing to us, to be honest.
SM: There are two b-sides on the re-release, including the acoustic version of “Good Man.” Was “Check Your Head” a leftover from the original Time & Pressure recording sessions, or is it something new entirely?
JW: It was something that we had messed with a bit while we were writing the Time & Pressure record, but hadn’t really had the opportunity for the ideas to come all the way full circle. It was an opportunity to mess with a song while we were out on the road. We actually had Blake’s rig at the back of the RV, and we recorded bass parts and guitar parts and actually sing into a 57 in the back of the RV. It felt real raw and stuff. We probably took advantage of that, and the last 75 percent of the song, out on the road, which was a really, really cool experience.
SM: How many of the record’s ideas overlapped with what you had intended to write for Egypt Central, or did the split with Egypt Central encourage you to scrap everything and start over with Devour the Day?
JW: I think there was really only one song, a song called “Get Out of My Way,” I think is the only one that even had the thought of being an Egypt Central song at the tail end of 2012 going into 2013. It was a couple of riffs Blake and I had been working on. Realistically, that song was written very quickly about what was happening at the same time, so it was actually kind of a transition song as well. All the stuff on the record really was a reaction to what was going on and I guess a therapy as opposed to having any kind of agenda with the music. It’s definitely really separate.
SM: Some of the album’s lyrical content is fairly resentful, particularly “Respect.” What events influenced that song in particular?
JW: You know, it was the way everything ended. We just wanted to raise the question of, “How could you do this?” I think focusing on that word because people throw it around so easily, it’s really in your actions and how you deal with how you treat people that shines through the reality of who you are. I think that song is about that. Blake always says, “If you think that song’s about you, you’re probably right.”
SM: How would you describe your relationship with the remaining members of Egypt Central, especially in retrospect to the release of Time & Pressure?
JW: There really is no relationship. It’s hard to say really how they feel about anything. I mean, it’s better because, just the way things were… At this point, I don’t want to focus on whatever their drama was, because they deserve each other, I’m sure. For me, part of this is the cleansing. I think a lot of what this stands for for Blake and I so much is the cleansing. Nothing against Egypt Central, because Blake and I, we wrote White Rabbit together, and so it was very special to us. We loved having the control of it. We honestly have been so busy that we haven’t really had an opportunity to have a reconciliation within Egypt Central.
SM: Blake played both guitar and drums for Time & Pressure. What challenges did filling multiple roles pose in the studio, or did it make the recording process easier?
JW: I think it actually made things easier just because, when you get into this world where everyone’s kind of subconsciously fighting to create their parts with their moments to shine, I think those aren’t as important when Blake and I are writing everything together, just the two of us. Switching off what we’re doing as far as lyrics, bass, drums, guitars, ideas, whatever. It gives us the ability to remove the ego of someone fighting for their spot, which I think happens a lot with a four or five-piece band, which we experienced all the time. Everyone kind of felt like, “Okay, where’s my moment of glory in the song?” instead of writing especially for the song. I think Blake and I have been able to do that. Personally, I have more respect for Blake than most human beings on the planet. He is a very talented friend and incredible musician, so I feel very blessed. He started on guitar and then started playing drums, and he’s kind of been all over the place. He engineered the record. I think after 10 years, Blake and I are really comfortable with our system, and it works thus far.
SM: In your experience, are there more benefits than downfalls to operating as a two-piece rock band?
JW: Absolutely, in my experience. I definitely can’t speak for everybody. I think each band has their own interesting dynamic as to why things work, probably well beyond the music, just the personality of the people and stuff. But for us, being the underdog guys, letting our voice be heard, it’s good for us because it’s fun. It makes it fun. We don’t have to stress about so many moving parts as far as creatively.
SM: You’re playing a few festivals this summer, including Columbus, Ohio’s Rock on the Range, Rockville in Jacksonville, and Rise Above Fest in Maine. Who are you looking forward to seeing play on these dates?
JW: There’s so many bands that have so many interesting things going on. I honestly would like to see the high levels of production on the Kid Rock and Avenged Sevenfold shows. I can’t wait to see a band called Middle Class Rut. I’ve been listening to them a bunch. I’m excited to see my friends in In This Moment again. That was a great tour that we just came off of. I’m trying to think who else… Motorhead, can’t deny that I want to see Motorhead. I don’t know, man. These festivals, they’re so fun, you get to walk around and there are so many things I’m going to see that I won’t even know that I’m walking up on.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JW: Go to DevourtheDay.com and keep up with us. Keep posted. Thank you. Thank you to everybody.
Interview by Anthony Glaser