It doesn’t get much more metal than naming a band Bible of the Devil (BOTD), but this Chicago-based outfit has more rock ‘n’ roll layers to their sound than just hardcore, pulsating punch. Made up of lead singer Nate Perry (guitar), Chris Grubbs (guitar, backing vocals), Darren Amaya (bass, backing vocals) and Greg Spalding (drums and loathing), they’re celebrating 20 years together with their new record, “Feel It.”
“Over the years, we liked to say ‘feel it’ a lot on stage to get the crowd or ourselves going,” Spalding tells. “However, in putting this record together it seems more a statement of what it means to keep a band going for this length of time.”
There’s about seven years between “Feel It” and BOTD’s last record, “For the Love of Thugs and Fools” (2012). A lot can happen in seven years; namely new loves and careers came into the picture, along with challenges many touring bands face: paying rent.
“Bible pushed so fucking hard to make it work for over 15 years,” Perry says, “and Chicago gets more expensive each year. We had to take stock of what both our present and future was going to be.” Members got married, went back to school and took up new careers. Even founding member Mark Hoffmann departed, and Chris Grubbs joined.
Perry says the band had to come back with something strong after such a long hiatus. Enter “Feel It.” They recorded it at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio in Studio B and found a new sound, particularly with Spalding’s drums. “Seriously, the drums sound like God!” Perry promises. “I’m super happy with the record.”
“Feel It” will be at the forefront of Bible’s upcoming set at Reggie’s on August 2, along with surprises from their back catalog. “Rock will be happening and plenty of it!” Spalding adds.
Not unlike “The Hellion” by Judas Priest, “Feel It” starts with an instrumental intro, “The Light.” It’s meant to ease listeners into “Ride Steel,” which they always knew would start the record. Because the song hits hard and fast so quickly, Perry and Grubbs came up with “The Light” shortly before entering the studio. “It’s a way to signal that, despite the changes we’ve been through, you’re still getting a Bible record,” Perry says.
Grubbs and Perry started writing music together long before Grubbs joined the band. They raided their collection of riffs once he became a Bible member full-time and breathed life into songs like “Ride Steel.” Perry wrote “Ride Steel” about his uncle who passed away suddenly during their songwriting sessions.
“He was a hellraiser for much of his time on Earth and was an influence on me in regards to the wilder side of life, along with his record collection,” Perry remembers. “My dad raised me to be a straight-shooter, but his brother was always nearby to show me the allure of living on the edge, and the price that came along with that lifestyle. This song was what I wished I could have conveyed to him before he died.”
The rock ‘n’ roll aspect of Bible’s sound really shines through in songs like “Lifeline” and “The Downtown Boogie.” According to Perry, they’ve naturally evolved their music into what’s most fun for them to play live—dabbling with a shuffle/boogie feel many ‘70s rock bands had.
“Given our name and position in the underground, we’ve played with many bands that try so hard to be sonically brutal, or slow, or aurally oppressive in a way that a band like Sleep might,” he muses. “It was never our goal to get in that arms race of being ‘the heaviest band you’ve ever heard’ or to have shouted vocals or the kind of stuff that defines modern metal. We don’t even listen to very much modern metal. We’re just not that angry.”
No matter the level of rock, according to Spalding, “BOTD brings memorable songs to the table. To me, that’s the mark of a good band. Our influences are many between the four of us and the music is certainly representative of that.”
Perry penned another track, “(Love At) The Speed of Night,” as somewhat of a character study but set to music with a bit of a disco vibe. As an Uber driver in Chicago, he’s collected many interesting stories from chatty people. The song is about a young couple celebrating their one-year anniversary.
“[Their relationship] began at one of those speed-dating events that were popular a while back,” he recalls. “While they were chatting, I was taking mental notes, thinking ahead to years in their future and what might be happening with this young couple. Some of the lines were actual things they said to each other.”
As the release of “Feel It” coincides with 20 years together, naturally, it’s somewhat of a reflective album and testament to the band’s ability to continue to tour together—and enjoy each other’s company. “Idle Time” is one track that embraces the lessons and moments from touring later in life, of which Perry has come to appreciate.
“There are lots of bad things about touring,” he admits, “but being in an active band at my age, to be able to still travel and play music this loud and rude, it’s a gift!”
“I think you learn that playing music is really about the journey and to continue to enjoy it,” Spalding adds. “You don’t spend time worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter and you accept the good with the bad. At the end of the day, this band has served as a vehicle to see quite a bit of the world and has provided more crazy experiences than most people will ever see or have in a lifetime. I’d say having my sanity is still a big achievement!”