Devil You Know: Howard Jones' Guide To Life
The Devil You Know frontman on gun laws, mental health, religion and more
Howard Jones is one of metal’s largest yet most unassuming presences. Often portrayed as a quiet and private man, his voice and stage demeanour have captivated millions of fans through his work with Blood Has Been Shed, Devil You Know and, most notably, as the frontman of metalcore pioneers Killswitch Engage. Here he opens up to tell us what makes him tick...
“I don’t really speak much about my political beliefs or views, but it’s a very weird climate. There doesn’t seem to be the greatest of choices at the moment… I might leave it at that. I think it’s important to have a political interest, but everyone is an individual, you can’t force that political stance on anyone. There are people who are disillusioned by it and, understandably I think, want to keep as far away from it as possible. Then there are others who want to be there by the water cooler as much as possible and talk about politics all day. I have to say, that’s not of any interest to me. I’ve got a finite amount of time on Earth, I don’t want to be spending it angry about my guy not being in the Oval Office.”
“I definitely have my beliefs and I was definitely raised religiously, but, again, this isn’t really something that I talk about very much because it is one of the most volatile conversations that you can have with a person or with a group. It’s one of those things; religion is a really selfish and self-defining thing. It’s very personal. It’s yours. Whether you believe in Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha… cool! Just don’t hurt anybody. I know that the bible directs you to find other likeminded people, and that’s become traditional over the years, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.”
“Considering everything I went through to do what I’m doing, there is a passion there. When I was growing up and I realised how much I enjoyed music, I was that guy. You know there is that one guy and he’s always enthusing about the latest underground band, he’s always walking along listening to something and the conversation always comes around to music… I definitely was that guy. I was the one that loves, loves, loves music. And so, for me to be able to make a career out of it, it’s been an amazing part of my life. It all started from hearing the radio, The Beatles and AC/DC, I remember not knowing what it was but I remember thinking that it just rocked.”
“No one in our scene thought we were doing anything influential with Killswitch. In a lot of ways we were just doing what everyone else was doing, we were just doing it in a more refined way. Those guys knew how to write a song. That was the thing, they had these cool riffs and these melodies and they knew how to meld them together. It was really what everyone was doing but Killswitch was just a really amazing melting pot of ideas. But I don’t really think about whether or not we were influential, I don’t think about that. We just carry on evolving and do what we do. I mean, who wants to sound like this all the time? Ha ha ha.”
“What do I love about fishing? Well… I’m not on a phone doing an interview ha ha! It’s just relaxing; just you and whatever is in that water. And I’m all about catch and release, but occasionally, if I find the right fish, I’m gonna keep it and eat it. It’s not gonna go to waste. But there’s something odd about it. You never know what you’re going to pull out, I think there’s something awesome about that. It’s so opposite to being in a band, so tranquil and relaxing, so that appeals too. But strangely enough, the smells of those two things are eerily similar!”
“For a lot of the time during the whole manic depression thing I didn’t realise how bad I was. I thought the high levels of anxiety I was experiencing was just my lot in life, I didn’t realise that there was help on hand for me to be able to deal with that. I thought that I was just meant to feel really nervous around large crowds. Now it’s like being a kid again, because I can deal with it, so I’ve got my passion back and it’s great. There’s still a lot of weirdness when it comes to people dealing with that. You don’t expect everyone to understand, so there’s definitely some stigma attached to it. But I can’t worry about what other people think about mental disease, all I can do is deal with it my way and, if someone reaches out to you, try and help them in whatever way I can. That’s all I can do.”
“Well, as far as I’m concerned, in this country firearms are legal. If you are actually using what you hunt then… like, in the mid-west, deer are an epidemic. They have to be hunted, so there is legal hunting. I’m a fan of people that hunt and eat what they kill. A lot of times hunters will kill a deer and donate it to a homeless shelter – that’s a great source of food. But people that have those big trophies up on their wall? I’m not a fan of that. And guns are a touchy subject. I do believe you have the right, but I do also believe there should be some different laws in place. I mean, do I need an uzi to protect my front lawn? No. How many people are attacking this house? It’s obvious with this much stuff going on in our country that there should be some different laws in place. But I don’t have a problem with hunters and I don’t have a problem with people that are real.”
Devil You Know's latest album They Bleed Red is out now, via Nuclear Blast.