Exclusive: Hear Full Devil Jacket's 'Valley of Bones' Album In Its Entirety
It has been more than a decade since Full Devil Jacket delivered its first self-titled album, but that large gap of time doesn't faze frontman Josh Brown.
"I would say it picks up where that record left off, only 15 years later," he says with a laugh about Valley of Bones (out March 31, eOne Music). "It is where that record left off, but we're 15 years down the road; better, wiser musicians, songwriters, performers; and it wasn't hard to move in that direction. Actually, it was very freeing. I hadn't played heavier music in a while, and I really feel like I thrive in that area."
Listen to Valley of Bones in its entirety, which Billboard is exclusively premiering below.
Where Full Devil Jacket left off could have been a fatal footnote if Brown hadn't turned his life around. When the band was starting to rise in status at the turn of the millennium, notching radio play with grungy hits like "Where Did You Go?" and playing such prestige dates as Woodstock '99, Brown was wrestling with drug addiction and nearly died from a heroin overdose. After recovering, he quit the band due to having "a spiritual awakening. I found out that there was a creator, and my whole life took a different view and a different outlook." Several years later, he formed Dove Award-winning Christian band Day of Fire, which became known for soulful rock hits like "Fade Away" and "Cut and Move."
However, after three records and six years of touring in a van, "it just felt like Day of Fire came to its end," says Brown. "Things were not lining up with record sales. It was just a really, really tough lifestyle. We were all married and raising families. At some point, you got to either pay to play music or get paid to play music," he adds with a laugh. (The band has been on hiatus since 2010, but he says he "would never put down the idea" of recording another Day of Fire album.) He never considered reviving Full Devil Jacket because "there was just a bunch of bad blood [with] the way I left the band … I didn't know how to fix it or face it. I thought it was over."
A sad turn of events made Brown change his mind. In 2010, Full Devil Jacket reunited to do a fund-raiser for FDJ guitarist Michael Reaves, who was battling prostate cancer. Reaves died in 2011, and his passing led Brown and FDJ drummer Keith Foster to keep the band intact in Reaves' memory. The loss of his friend made Brown realize "you gotta let people know you love 'em. If you're gonna pursue a friendship, you gotta be a friend. When he passed, it's like we realized, 'Hey, we love to play music together, and it ain't forever. Life is not forever.' "
Valley of Bones reflects the influences that are found on Full Devil Jacket: White Zombie, Alice in Chains, Days of the New and Korn can be heard in new songs like the title track, "7X Down," "The Moment" and "Picturebox Voodoo." According to Brown, "it's got a more modern punch to it. When we began this record, we wanted to go back and visit some of the groove ideas and some of the riffs from the earlier music because Mike Reaves and [bassist] Kevin Bebout helped form the sound of this band. We revisited those ideas, but we didn't try to re-create that record. We started from that point, and then we let our own influence and our own creativity build from there."
Building from those ideas is part of what makes Full Devil Jacket's resurrection a full-circle moment for Brown. "We were such dumb kids, man," he says when he looks back on how naive the band was in the aughts. "We were kids, even though we were in our 20s and 30s. But now everybody realizes the price of what it takes to actually do this, and everybody that's here is all in."