The devil's rejects

Recent interviews with Christian metal-core phenoms the Devil Wears Prada are compelling not for the frankness of their faith but their apparent belief that they’re doing something new.

When, for example, 21-year-old guitarist Jeremy DePoyster (who provides the melodic, choir-boy yin to Mike Hranica’s guttural yang) says the band’s ultimate goal “is to show that being a Christian doesn’t have to mean Grandma sitting in the pew,” he seems unaware that bands as intense as his — both in sound and belief— have been rocking Grandma’s pews for at least 15 years.

“We’re not ashamed of who we are as people and who we are as a band,” DePoyster says. “We respect everybody, no matter what, but we always say onstage ‘this is who we are and this is what we believe.’”

Combined with the Old Testament brutality and massive sound of their new record With Roots Above and Branches Below, such moxie in a conquered frontier has, in just a few years, earned the Dayton, Ohio, sextet mainstream buzz and secular cred the likes of which the persecuted mid-’90s pioneers of so-called spirit-filled hardcore (like Ferret Records labelmates Zao) would have never thought possible — hosting MTV’s Headbangers Ball, main-staging Vans’ Warped Tour, showing off their tattoos on the covers of not just Christian-rock mag HM but Alternative Press, Outburn, and AMP.

Even The New York Times likes them.

“People always ask, ‘Do you think things have happened really quickly for you guys?’ but I don’t know. Our shows are pretty heartfelt and passionate … I guess people can just kind of relate to us,” DePoyster says. “We’re definitely not your stereotypical youth-group Christians.”

Even so, every night, and for every record, the Lord sends his instructions: Flagellate yourselves with blistering metal riffs and the holy mayhem of rock ’n’ roll.

And resist the temptation to “mature.”

“You really get into bands and you like them, and then for whatever reason they change,” DePoyster says. “I listen to a lot of really chill and melodic stuff, and sometimes I’m like, forget this heavy stuff, I just want to do stuff like that. But I think that really defeats the purpose of why you’re in that band to begin with. I don’t want an impressionist artist to be taking photographs. You should stay true to the art form that you’ve created. I think we’ve created a sound and we’re molding it into the best version of that we can.”

And these days, if you’ve got the marketable look, sound, and snarl, the record companies and publicists will come, even with lyrics like “My regret is not writing more for you, Lord.” And God will work his mysteries. And interviewers will ask their questions. And fans will bang their heads to the driving scripture that DePoyster and Hranica never disguised, and more amazingly, never had to route through the Christian market.

“I won’t name names, but there were a lot of bands that really didn’t even get big until they dropped the Christian thing,” DePoyster says. “We’ve had advice like that, that we’d probably go farther in radio and stuff if we dropped the Christian thing and did a more mainstream thing.”

These days? Not necessarily.

The Devil may wear Prada, but Jesus has been rockin’ Hot Topic for a while now.