11 years on from the release of their hugely popular Zombie EP, The Devil Wears Prada used up their rona downtime to provide an update, a sequel of sorts in the ZII EP, just out on Solid State Records.
We caught up with guitarist Kyle Sipress to talk about the EXTENSIVE gear list for the EP, as well as the possibility of bringing some motos on tour…!
It’s been 11 years since the Zombie EP came out – why did now feel like the right time for a follow up?
I think Mike had originally come up with the idea to do 2 songs on a 7 inch as an anniversary release. Just to kind of celebrate what the Zombie EP did a decade prior.
Then I moved to the idea of doing a full ZII EP when COVID was in full swing and tours were completely off the table for the foreseeable future. It ended up being a really fun project and something to keep the creative gears turning.
So honestly without COVID, ZII probably wouldn’t have happened.
When Zombie came out it marked something of a change for the band resulting in Dead Throne. Is ZII another marker for the band?
Yeah the Zombie EP undeniably rocketed TDWP up in ranks when it was released and sort of set the pace for future releases. Well before my time in the band.
I do however see a similar trend with ZII already. I think a lot of that is due to how organic and intentional we were with the direction of the EP as well as how organic the reception has been so far.
However, I do think the Act, our previous release, is what really carved out our new mantra of “we can and will do whatever the hell we want.”
So guitars! What did you guys use on the EP in terms of guitars/amps/pedals?
This is a 100% Dunable guitars recorded album (bass was Masons Dingwall D-roc).
I went between my R2, Yeti and Cyclops for the whole thing. They are all set up the same with nickel covered Bareknuckle Black Hawks (except my Yeti has a Manhattan in the neck), Ernie Ball Strings and Evertune bridges.
The majority of the amps were between my Soldano Avenger Hot Rod 100 and my Dean Costello Amps HMW but I did end up using my synergy rig (specifically the Fryette Pitbull Ultra Lead, Diezel VH4, Morgan Ac and Soldano SLO modules) for a lot of it as well.
All our cables were Klotz.
Everything went through my Torpedo Live with a Fortin cab that I set up. Maybe I’ll release that as a preset or something.
My main rhythm sounds have the Fortin Grind in front and for some of the chunkier stuff I used some custom pedals that I have personally built.
I also used some Death By Audio, Red Panda Labs, Strymon, GFI, Meris, Solid Gold Fx, Fuzzrocious, ect.
Did you have any reference records going into the studio in terms of how you wanted the finished product to sound?
I didn’t really have any tonal references that I was trying to replicate or emulate. My main goal was to create a tone that I was satisfied with.
It’s basically just what my live tone is and I’ve worked obsessively over the years to find and use gear that best suits Prada. Heavy, articulate and dynamic.
A lot of Pradas guitar playing goes in between being very percussive and being very melodic. I feel like I’ve curated a pretty good tone that is able to satisfy both of those spectrums and even the in between.
I’m curious how you would compare the rigs you used on Zombie and ZII – in a style of music where technology is constantly moving forward, how do you look back on what you were using back in 2010?
I can’t speak 100% accurately to what the guys used for the first EP as I wasn’t there but I think a lot of it was digital amplification.
I just texted Jeremy and he thinks a lot of it was pod farm and such, maybe a 5150 here and there as well. That whole EP was pretty heavily digitally processed, including the drums where as this one not so much.
We tracked all of the guitars for ZII in my home studio with Jon (our Keyboardist/Producer) at the helm. The results were thanks to good source material and really good producing from Jon Gering, mixing from Alex Prieto and mastering from Mike Kalajian.
Are you a gear head at all? Any pieces of gear you’ve played recently that were a pleasant surprise? Anything you got to play that was disappointing?
I am in fact a clinical gear head and have been diagnosed with GAS.
I just recently purchased the much hyped Neural DSP Quad Cortex. I played it at NAMM last year and was blown away. I’ve been saying for years that there will eventually be a digital rig that will satisfy my needs without compromising tone and so far I think the Quad Cortex is it.
I really didn’t connect with the Axe FX / Kemper stuff when it came out but I was really impressed with what they could do. I just felt they were lacking a lot of what my actual amps were capable of doing.
I moved to the Synergy amp stuff for the last few years and still can’t believe how great they sound. Tube pre amps with good cab sims are insane now a days, sort of the Billy Corgan rig route. I will always have these in my studio rig.
But now with this fully digital Neural rig being so small and sounding so good, I can’t see why I wouldn’t be using this little guy live. More room in the trailer for production, less gear to travel with, less gear to get absolutely wrecked and maybe we can even throw some moto’s in the trailer now!
Is there any one piece of gear that you couldn’t do without? Anything that’s integral to your sound?
At this point, I hate playing guitars that aren’t Evertune equipped. I know a lot of people have said that they don’t feel right but you can set them up to play however you want and still be perfectly in tune.
Jeremy and I are both using them now and we sound better than ever. You actually get richer harmonic content when everything is that in tune. Plus live, there is so much less to worry about. And if you break a string, it doesn’t affect the rest of the strings because they’re all isolated.
On top of that, specifically for ZII and a few songs off the Act, we are playing songs in drop G#, G, and even F. On 6 strings, perfectly intonated haha.
A lot of guitarists are embracing modelling and profiling amps these days, especially due to making fly in gigs much easier. What’s your take on digital amps and effects?
I will say – in the perfect scenario – nothing beats a good tube amp! Digital effects are however making impressive leaps right now. I feel like in the near future knowing how to program will be more valuable than knowing how to solder when it comes to the effects world.
For someone who’s just discovering TDWP and wants to hear more music that sounds like you, what bands would you suggest they start with?
I don’t know If they necessarily sound like us, but bands that are in the same musical realm as us would be bands like: Silverstein, Beartooth, Architects, Loathe, A Day To Remember, Of Mice and Men, Bring Me The Horizon, etc.
If someone maybe wasn’t familiar with you guys but wanted to learn to play one of your songs, where would you suggest they start? Any riffs/licks/passages in particular that are fun to play, or maybe challenging but rewarding for more advanced players?
Born to lose was the first Prada song I learned to play, it’s not super hard but its a nice challenge and pretty fun to play once you’ve got it down! Chemical would be a pretty easy, fun song for anyone to pick up and learn.
What’s up next for the band? Any new material in the works? Any post-rona plans?
We have already begun writing for the next release! We are actually heading to a secret location for a writing session together in a week.
And now that COVID is getting more under control and life is coming back around, we are gearing up to hit the road again. T
he first show back is at Inkcarceration Fest in Ohio and it sold out super fast which is rad and there will be some tour announcements soon!
Basically we as a band are firing on 12 cylinders at the moment and won’t be slowing down for the foreseeable future!