An Interview with Jonny Renshaw of Devil Sold His Soul

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After nearly a decade out of the spotlight, Metal band Devil Sold His Soul is back with a new record called Loss. With me for a chat is the band’s guitarist and founding member, Jonny Renshaw.

Jonny and I chat about what the band has been up to during their time away, the recording and inspiration for their new record, Loss, being inspired to pick up music through Back to the Future, and a whole lot more Want to check out Devil Sold His Soul’s new record, Loss? Head over to Nuclear Blast’s website and score a copy today. Enjoy getting to know Jonny. Cheers.

Andrew:
Jonny, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. How have you been holding up over the course of the tumultuous events of this last year or so?

Jonny:
No worries, thanks for your time! Hanging in there and powering through the same as the rest of the world. Trying to keep busy as best as possible.

Andrew:
Before diving into your professional career, I wanted to go back a bit and touch on your early days. What go you hooked on music?

Jonny:
I think Back to the Future played a big part in getting me into guitar and playing music. I was lucky enough to see it at the cinema back when I was a kid and things were never the same after that! After that it was Guns N’ Roses and Metallica that were big influences on me musically growing up.

Andrew:
More on your origins, where, when, and how did the genres that you would come to be defined by enter the picture for you? Who were some of your biggest influences? One’s who perhaps you owe your style the most to.

Jonny:
I think it would be hard to deny that Will Haven and Deftones have always been up there as bands we have a lot of respect for. As with any band, though, between the 6 of us we all like a huge variety of different artists and styles so I’m sure they all sneak their way in to our music in some way or another.

Andrew:
Let’s go all the way back now. You formed Devil Sold His Soul in 2004, right? Tell us more about that band’s inception. How did things get started?

Jonny:
Yes, that is correct. Myself and Rik were in a band together previously which ended abruptly and was out of our hands, so it was obvious to us that we wanted to continue and start something else. We held auditions and found the rest of the lineup at that time and it just went from there.

Andrew:
I want to dive into the band’s interesting and complex sound. Generally, you’re defined as “Post-Metal,” but my understanding is there are some very real Ambient influences in your music, and I can definitely hear it myself. What is it about Ambient music that led you to inject it into your sound, so to speak?

Jonny:
I think that side of our music comes from us being fans of film scores. When the music matches a moment in a story perfectly and completely pushes it emotionally over the edge it doesn’t get much better than that. Those are the moments that we strive to achieve.

Andrew:
So, you’ve got some new music on the horizon, right? Tell us more about Loss. This is the band’s first full-length record since Empire of Light, which came out 9 years ago, in 2012, and the EP Belong + Betray, which came out in 2014. Why the long layoff from new music?

Jonny:
We do indeed! With time moving on and us all having more responsibilities and the fact that we all live far apart it makes it increasingly difficult to find time where we can all be together. There have unfortunately been many hard years on a personal level for us, and that all have built up and been poured into Loss. The album has an overall theme of loss and covers themes of mental health battles, defiance, mortality, and isolation.

Devil Sold His Soul – Loss (2021)

Andrew:
More on Loss now. With the long layoff from recording, how was it getting back into the studio? I can imagine that things must have been made difficult considering the situation with COVID. Did that come into play at all?

Jonny:
Luckily with it being done at my studio (Bandit Studios) we had the luxury of being able to do it as and when we could. Whenever the rules allowed us to, and people were available to, we were on it as much as possible.

Andrew:
As I alluded to before, it’s been a long time since you put out a record. With that said, what can fans expect from Loss? Are you taking things in any new directions, or will fans feel “at home” with what they hear on your new record?

Jonny:
I definitely think fans will feel at home, and there are actually several nods to all of our previous releases throughout the album. Saying that, there are also several new things thrown into the mix and obviously it is our first release with two vocalists so that gives it a fresh feel as well.

Andrew:
Ultimately, what was the inspiration for Loss? What types of themes are you working through lyrically? Is there a thorough-line that attaches to previous work, or this an entirely fresh start?

Jonny:
As mentioned earlier there have been a lot of tough life experiences for all of us during the years since our last release which gave us the title Loss and had that overall theme to it. It is our most personal work to date and we hope that it means as much to people listening as it does to us.

Andrew:
As far as the actual recording sessions for Loss, how did those end up shaking out? Who produced this record? If you hired outside sources instead of self-producing, what led to that decision? How did you go about honing your signature sound in the studio?

Jonny:
I have produced all of our records except for our first EP so it was back to work as usual! We all know how we work and what we need to do to get the results we want so it was pretty smooth sailing and we had a lot of fun during the sessions.

Andrew:
I am sure you’re excited to hit the road and work out some of this new music live in front of a real audience, and it looks as if things are perhaps beginning to open up. What are you most excited about getting back up on stage in the post-COVID world?

Jonny:
Just getting in a practice room, playing the songs and working on a set feels like a dream at the moment so actually playing shows would be incredible. We had to cancel our second album 10th anniversary shows last year due to COVID which was a massive shame so we have that to look forward to as well as shows supporting Loss. Lots of good times to come! We cant wait!

Andrew:
What are your thoughts on the music industry as we move into the post-COVID world? Where had the pandemic left us?

Jonny:
It’s really hard to know at this point as we aren’t out of the woods just yet, but hopefully, shows will start to happen, and there will be a lot of fresh energy and enthusiasm around for them. There are going to be so many tours I think people will be spoilt for choice, and I just hope that COVID didn’t hit people too hard and that they can still afford to go out and see the bands they love.

Andrew:
Now that the hard ones are out of the way let’s talk about vinyl. Are you into it? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital?

Jonny:
I think the combination of vinyl and digital downloads is the way forward. Spotify and streaming services are a great casual way to listen to music but in terms of having a product I think that vinyl and download options are great as you can get the music in high quality formats. Vinyl obviously gives you the option to own the artwork in all its glory too which is great.

Andrew:
Aside from the new record, what’s next on your docket these days? What else are you passionate about? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

Jonny:
To continue my work producing and mixing other bands as soon as COVID allows me to. Staying on track with my gym sessions which luckily I have been able to continue throughout the pandemic as I have a home setup. Staying positive and powering through in the gym definitely has carried over into music, with it being as much mental as it is physical. I also carry this over in a big way into my own music, which I will be continuing to write/record/mix for the foreseeable future. Following the release of my EP Leaving Retrograde last year, I am currently working on a new single, which will be out at some point later this year.

Andrew:
Last one. You’ve had a long and multilayered career in music. As a veteran of the scene, what advice would you have for young artists looking to dive headfirst into music?

Jonny:
Just to do your own thing and love what you do. There will be a lot of hard times, but if what you are doing is truly from your heart, then just stick with it and keep going!

Interested in learning more about the work of Devil Sold His Soul? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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