Devilment to many are a Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth) side project, but to many more they are their own interesting beast. While still led by Dani’s unique vocals, they are forging their own destiny and fighting for their own history. With a new album out called Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltz, I chatted to keyboardist and vocalist Lauren Francis about the band, the comparisons to Cradle of Filth, their upcoming tour and horror films.
Jack: Hey Lauren, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Lauren Francis (Keyboards/Vocals): I’m very well, thanks for asking!
Jack: Your new album Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes has just been released, are you nervous in any way or more excited and curious to see fans’ reactions?
Lauren: I think all of my nerves were concentrated around actually recording the songs. I always want them to be the best that they can be and I get nervous about whether it will come out sounding the way we envisaged. But I honestly think that we’ve worked as hard as we possibly can and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done together. I feel like we’ve had a really positive reaction so far from reviews and from fans who have listened to ‘Under the Thunder’ and ‘Hitchcock Blonde,’ so now I’m just excited about having it out there and performing to bring it all to life!
Jack: What are the main influences of the album?
Lauren: I think everyone has their own influences, so I can’t really speak on behalf of the others. For me, I was very inspired by the bands that we toured with in 2014 when we released The Great and Secret Show. Motionless in White were using a lot of “clubby” synths, which was something I hadn’t yet explored. Our producer Scott had been talking about the importance of going more electronic, rather than using too many strings and piano sounds. I was aware that this would help to differentiate us from Cradle of Filth and reinforce the groove element that Devilment had established. Obviously Lacuna Coil is a duo-fronted band, and whilst we were on tour the guys and I talked about having more clean vocals on the next album. We liked the contrast of my voice against Dani’s and I drew inspiration from Cristina who I think is an amazing performer – she really goes for it vocally, and I wanted to make sure that I could deliver some of that for our next album.
Jack: Because the album is titled Devilment II, does this mean it is a sequel to the first one?
Lauren: Dani came up with the title for the album and the inspiration for Devilment II came from Danzig who he is a big fan of. Danzig II was a particular favourite of Dani’s. It’s not conceptually connected to our first album, but it marks the next stage for Devilment and a more developed form and sound.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Lauren: I love being in the studio with Scott because he always pushes for more and never settles for anything other than the best we can do. He becomes an extra limb, or a temporary additional band member, because he shares our vision and he puts in 100% effort and commitment to get us there. He’s got great ideas and such a professional attitude, but he still makes the process fun. This is especially important when we’re spending hours trying to achieve the right synth sound – which is not the most exciting part of the process!
Jack: As there was a slightly new line-up this time around, what did this add to the recording process?
Lauren: It didn’t really change the recording process, but the writing process was different this time around mainly because everybody was more established in their roles and also I think we had more collective input in each other’s roles. We sent ideas back and forth to each other via online sharing and then developed these at rehearsals. We also worked with collaborators who aren’t in the band with a couple of the songs and I really enjoyed this because it added some variation without steering too far from the established feel of Devilment. Overall, I just think we’ve really developed the way we work to try to get the absolute best out of each other and ourselves that we can, and I’m really proud of everyone’s collective approach.
Jack: What was the inspiration for the video to ‘Hitchcock Blonde’?
Lauren: Well, we have our own ‘Hitchcock Blonde’ in the video – Leanne Joyce, who is a friend of mine and a great actress. It’s not strictly meant to have a link to a specific Hitchcock movie, but I think there are obvious links to “Psycho” – the fact that she’s in a hotel/motel is reminiscent of the Bate’s Motel in the movie; there’s also a shadow of a hand with a knife making stabbing movements like in the shower scene.
Jack: As some members are in other bands, does this make it hard to find time for Devilment?
Lauren: I think being a musician brings with it the task of juggling things. Everybody likes to get involved in different projects to keep growing and I think that it’s really important to develop yourself by working with different people and in different environments. So you have to also work on your ability to manage time and manage your commitments. I’d say everyone in the band makes the time and commits to the work that we do. It’s by no means a short and easy process writing an album and refining it to get it as good as you can. It takes determination, focus, teamwork and commitment. Everybody puts in the effort and that’s how we’ve got to where we are now.
Jack: Do you think Dani Filth’s success in Cradle of Filth overshadows Devilment in a way, or has this been useful in bringing in new fans to the band?
Lauren: I think there has been a lot more exposure because of Dani’s success in Cradle of Filth – this would obviously have brought more attention to us. I think mainly it’s been a positive thing, especially now that we’ve got a second album out because I think that has helped to establish Devilment as its own entity. I think the two bands are very different stylistically. Although having Dani as a vocalist will always call Cradle of Filth to mind, because of his memorable voice and style, the music is very different, and lots of people have commented on this.
Jack: Does it annoy you when people see Devilment as a ‘Dani Filth’ side project?
Lauren: Not really because I think that it’s a natural way of interpreting the situation when the band only has one album out. Now that we’re preparing to release our second album, people are getting a taste of what’s to come from the tracks we have put out so far (‘Full Dark’, ‘No Stars’; ‘Hitchcock Blonde’ and ‘Under the Thunder’). The response has been really positive and lots of people are commenting on how they see Devilment as its own beast now, rather than just a side project. I think it was always going to take a confident second album to really establish ourselves.
Jack: What is the main driving force behind Devilment?
Lauren: I think it’s our collective desire to work together and get our music to where we want it to be. Writing the second album has helped each of us to learn more about ourselves as musicians as well as learning more about ourselves as a band, and I think the fact that we’ve all felt inspired and determined is what gives the band its energy.
Jack: You’re going to be touring in December, what can we expect from the tour?
Lauren: Lots of energy – it’s been a long time since we’ve been out gigging and we’re itching to get out there and play our new material. It has been sounding massive at rehearsals and I can’t wait to share it with the fans.
Jack: She Must Burn are supporting on the tour, what do you like about this band?
Lauren: They’re really heavy, with a lot of dynamic changes going on, which I really like. Obviously it’s always appealing to me to have a keyboardist and some clean vocals in the mix because that’s what I do too and I love to draw inspiration from others. I’m excited to see them performing live because I’ve heard that they’ve got a lot of energy and put on an awesome show!
Jack: Every show on this tour has a local support, do you think this elevates the status of the show a bit? Did you get to pick any of the local supports?
Lauren: We actually chose all of the local supports ourselves! I think it’s really great to get local bands supporting for each leg. I remember the feeling of hunger you get when you’re in a newer band or a band which hasn’t been discovered yet and I think that it translates really well on stage. We’ve got a really diverse mix of acts from Petrichor who will be supporting us in Leeds, to Generation Graveyard in London! I certainly think it will elevate the atmosphere and it will add a different dimension to the experience. It will also keep each night fresh and different for us because we’ll be looking forward to seeing a new band every night.
Jack: At the Colchester Arts Centre (where Rezinwolf will open the show), the venue is a former church. Do you think this will add to the show?
Lauren: I’ve performed at the Arts Centre quite a few times with different bands, because Colchester is my hometown. It is an amazing venue and it definitely has a special atmosphere about it because of it being a former church. I think playing a metal gig there will be really exciting especially as you can’t quite match the energy that you get at a metal show.
Jack: What are your plans for 2017? Any festival dates on the horizon?
Lauren: We haven’t confirmed anything yet, but lots of people have been messaging us asking! We’re really hoping to get back out to Europe and definitely some more festivals. I had such a great time last summer when we played at Rockharz, Summerbreeze and Graspop!
Jack: Finally, as we’ve recently had Halloween, what is your favourite horror film?
Lauren: The Shining – it’s such a classic, but it’s undeniably brilliant. Jack Nicholson is not a man who I would like to be stuck in a hotel with. The scene with the woman in the bathtub horrified me! I think it’s timeless as well – even now with all of the CGI that we have in modern horror movies, The Shining is able to stand up next to those films and evoke the same tension and surprise.