Guitarist and songwriter Chris Rubey, the mind behind the grinding metalcore riffs of The Devil Wears Prada, has used Peavey® amplifiers to get his crushing tone since the band's early days—or, as longtime fans will remember, before they co-headlined Warped Tour, appeared on magazine covers and rocked millions of iPod playlists.
Now with the release of Dead Throne, the band's highly anticipated fourth album, The Devil Wears Prada has become one of metal's biggest bands. Working with an outside producer for the first time—Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage—the band has crafted its most aggressive and cohesive work to date.
Chris Rubey chatted with the Peavey Monitor from the road about why he picked up a guitar, how The Devil Wears Prada got here, and his personal philosophy on guitar gear.
What inspired you to play music?
I grew up playing [guitar] because my dad played. He got a guitar one day and I was just as interested in it as he was. It's funny, because everybody says that if you listen to this kind of music, you either took the pop-punk route or the nu metal route. My favorite band was Linkin Park; Jeremy [DePoyster, guitar] was the punk rock kid, and he was in a band that covered Black Flag and stuff. None of us played real shows, but I was in a nu metal band. As far as musical influences nowadays—guitar heroes—I like John Petrucci of Dream Theater. He's one of the only shred guitarists I liked growing up.
The Devil Wears Prada co-headlined Warped Tour this year. How influential have the punk and hardcore scenes been for the band, and how does a metal band reach those fans?
I never went to Warped as a kid, but a bunch of dudes in the band are fans of Against Me!, Black Flag and punk rock bands. They all went to Warped and that was their thing growing up. [But] it's inevitable that change is gonna happen. To my eyes, Warped is not limited by genre. We obviously play a certain brand of rock music. But once we got to a certain point [in our career] we got asked to do it, and that's Kevin [Lyman]'s call. We were all over it when they asked. It's pretty sick. We started out on a smaller stage and we got to play the main stage two years ago, then we came back this year and couldn't ask for anything better—super big crowds every day.
The Devil Wears Prada still retains its original lineup. What brought everyone together, and what keeps you together?
Back when we first started we were friends from the same area. Some of us knew each other from youth group or church, and we were all into the same bands—Solid State [Records] bands like As I Lay Dying and Norma Jean. Our singer [Mike Hranica] asked if we minded if he wrote lyrics about God, and we all believe, so of course it wasn't a problem.
We've had our moments, but when we fight we look at things from what is right, what is moral. We try to work through the problems. We've found a perfect balance where everyone can coexist perfectly. We rarely fight these days. I wouldn't say it's because we're a Christian band; we're just really considerate of each other. We're all friends. We've never known anything else.
What were you trying to accomplish with Dead Throne?
We always try to one-up ourselves, and that comes with growing as musicians. Dead Throne is actually two years in the making. It's the first time we worked with a different producer; there were more hands on it than before. Adam Dutkiewicz produced. He's a super-rad dude, and he had tons of good ideas for arrangements. He's also a guitar player, so he was able to work with me a lot. It was awesome.
Take us inside the writing for Dead Throne. Did you write on the road?
On our first few albums, we weren't touring as hard as we are now, so we were able to write as a band more. But there came a point after With Roots Above and Branches Below where we didn't have time to write as a group, so now we write on a computer. I'm the guy who sits at a computer with nothing and programs the drums and writes the songs.
How do you and Jeremy complement each other as players, and how do you differ?
As far as the songwriting, I write all the basic rhythm stuff and the leads, but we go in and the whole band learns the songs together, and sometimes Jeremy will rearrange some stuff. He throws in the stuff in the background, like layers and delays. He loves to add the bells and whistles and create big walls of sound. When I write, I also have to think if he'll be able to sing when he's playing. That keeps it from being too technical.
Peavey 6505® amplifiers have been a big part of your sound for a long time now. When did you start using them, and why?
I had a few different amps early on, but the 6505 is so much more. It was crucial when we weren't playing big shows and I had to rely on the loudness of the head to carry my sound. The low end is so unbelievably tight, and it has insane amounts of gain. It's pretty much a known fact that a 6505 is the fearing metal tone. On this tour I've been playing the 6534 Plus, which came out pretty recently. I had one shipped to me when we were in the studio [recording Dead Throne], and it sounded sick. I just like the warmth and the crunchiness. It's a little less loose and more defined, more articulate, than the 6505. I pretty much stick to the lead channel. The high gain out of that amp is awesome.
How important is the 6505 to your sound?
I've been using them for a long time, and I can hear when the slightest little thing is off—like if a mic is off just a little bit. My tech rewired some stuff in one of my guitars recently and the tone circuit wasn't exactly right, and I could tell right away. I notice right away if my tone is off, and I'm pretty picky—theoretically, I could play anything I want, but my whole philosophy is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I can get everything I need out of the 6505. M