The Devil Wears Prada’s Mike Hranica Talks ‘8:18,’ Fall Tour + More
The Devil Wears Prada have spent the better part of 2013 working on their follow-up to the highly successful ‘Dead Throne’ album called ‘8:18.’ And having put in the time, the group is starting to see the rewards this fall as the disc dropped in stores in late September.
Noisecreep recently spoke with frontman Mike Hranica about the new album and some of the ideas that went into the songs. He also opened up about his bandmate’s contributions to the sound and visual elements and talked about the group’s plans for a late fall 2013 tour. Check out our interview with The Devil Wears Prada’s Mike Hranica below:
Congratulations, another great album here.
Last time we talked you were out west starting to put the songs together. I’m curious, did the album flush out as you thought it would? Did it take some turns by the time it reached the final product?
I think it took some turns. I think — it wasn’t easy, it never is. There was definitely a certain level of, I don’t know, simple tribulation to actually finishing the album and getting everything together and meeting deadlines. When you’re a band like us and you are indescribably specific with having the mix having to sound this good, or maybe be this way. So yeah, since we last spoke I believe in January — yeah. It hasn’t been easy but I feel relieved, there’s still much more to do. But at this point, I think that basically the hardest part is over.
I had the pleasure of listening to it through headphones. Just sounds amazing. Not only do you have the great Adam D working with you and Matt Goldman but you’ve got your guys in the band that are also kind of tech-heads and basically want to make things sound as good as it is. For you as a vocalist, what is it like having these guys around to work with knowing that they’re just going to make the best product possible in terms of what the sound is?
It’s a strange mix. Clearly eclectic, I’d say. I don’t know if the other guys feel the same way or have the same awareness to the situation. But, the other guys are — we’re in such a different league this time. First being our lead songwriter, John, who did the keys and had a big part in working on these songs and of course Jeremy and Dan and Andy. We’re all on such different pages to where some of the guys in my band could record a record that sounds better than other records right now. To me, I can hardly open Garage Band on my MacBook. It does come from totally different places but I think that the product is true in that, ‘8:18′ is a testimony to what we are doing together musically.
The guys deserve a tremendous amount of credit. They get like pretty into listening to the album with headphones. I mean, I don’t expect many people to pick up on the innumerable nuances that make up our songs. I don’t say that out of confidence, I promise. The level of — amount of stems and tracks, different textures that take place with keyboards, are not always completely simple to a beginners’ ear or that kind of listening experience or listening on a laptop. That said, there is a lot that goes into the songs. None of it has anything to do with me, I just write the lyrics and yell. Credit to the others.
You have mentioned that even though ‘Dead Throne’ was a very successful record, you weren’t necessarily interested in repeating the concepts you had on the last album and you’ve also said this new album was definitely not an uplifting or happier record. Talk about the direction you went with the lyrics this time. I really feel the emotion coming through these songs that you’re putting into it.
I think that a large part of that is the way the vocals sound in the first place, which is something I’m really happy about that we did on ‘8:18′ as far as sticking with imperfect vocals, often. Practically every song has one or five vocal takes that are by no means perfect or polished.
My voice is fluctuating or falling out and I think it’s created a very distinctive level of desperation to the songs and I think that compliments the lyrics themselves. I did want to depart from the primary subject matter on ‘Dead Throne.’ Even though, to be honest it was tempting to fall back into love lost. But at the same time I drew a line in a very inarguable conclusion to love lost or ‘Dead Throne’ to where it was physically — I actually use this word properly, I literally said it was the last words on love loss on ‘Dead Throne.’ So, that said, yeah I wanted to approach other topics but at the same time yeah, the last record was about love loss, this one is going to be about gardening. Instead this time around, it took on the same perspective in a sense and I guess it kind of came from the same place but it looked at finding love rather than losing love. That is just as powerful of a topic in my opinion — one that might be a little less explored from the exact means that I choose.
Does something that’s maybe a little more sorrowful or touching or personal to you, does that drain you a little more when you have to perform this live? Are you able to disconnect from it on a nightly basis?
I think there might be a little bit of a disconnection that really just happens with older songs. It’s a luxury that I’m able to phase out songs i know that’s selfish and a lot of people don’t like that we don’t play any songs from ‘Dear Love’ or ‘Pledge’ anymore just because there is a disconnect there, it doesn’t feel true and it doesn’t feel like that expression is what it’s meant to be. That expression is for us, the reason we make songs. That’s the heartbeat of the song. That said, no I’ve really not had a hard time lending my sincerity to the songs that we made that might be a little older.
It’s not like I play ‘Dead Throne’ songs and say it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore because it still does. There’s a little bit of fluctuation simply and some songs mean something more to me than other songs. To be true, I’m really excited to be playing these songs live. We’ve been playing ‘Martyrs’ and ‘Gloom’ for a while now. Since the beginning of the year. Yeah, there is tremendous emotion and passion to what we create with this. I think that the day of the show that I entirely drained of that emotion is the day that I need to find something else to do with my life. Because that’s the purpose and the intention of coming up with songs. Sadly I don’t think a lot of bands feel that way anymore but I know it’s true for us.
‘Gloom,’ I know you’ve been playing that since the beginning of the year. How cool is it to have that little measuring stick as you’re going along the process of the recording new record?
It’s fantastic. Excellent. I’ve said it before, if there was a way doing it to where we wrote an entire album and then just toured on it for two months and then recorded the album, I think it would make the best thing possible. I think that would be our greatest work. We make a song, we record a song, then we might or might not play it on tour. If we do play it on tour, it’s probably going to receive little variations throughout the process of playing it from the beginning of the tour to the end of the tour. What I mean to say is, when we first wrote ‘Gloom,’ we recorded it, scratch vocals like all of our songs then we played it on the tour. The product from the beginning of the tour to the product that’s now on ‘8:18′ is different. A big contributor of that is that we did get to play it live and I did certain things with certain parts that I didn’t do on the scratch that I ended up doing on the final product.
Yeah, it is excellent to be able to play a song and to give something to the people at the show. I know we really enjoy it. It can be a little frustrating or disheartening when you’re playing a new song and people obviously don’t know the words and they’re standing there watching. At the same time I think that it’s a great product and opportunity for the people that spent the money and they’re coming out to hear live music, which is obviously a beautiful thing and something we are tremendously grateful for.
‘Martyrs,’ can you talk about the inspiration and what stands out from putting the track together?
‘Martyrs’ isn’t the most — well I guess in some sense it is visual. ‘Martyrs’ is I almost want to say atmospheric or all encompassing lyrically. It doesn’t really look at anything too specifically. The most specific thing that it does approach is faith. Just having the battle of faith to persevere and to be patient for affliction and still having the wonder with that. Or wonder what the church is meant to do with that. Or wondering where your friends are with that because you feel dead to everything, which is very transparently the quote speaks of. Then, I mean, conclusively the song breaks down to live and die by your lovers heart and live and die by your faith and my lover is my faith and that’s for me, is what’s not going to change and that is what builds a martyr. It looks at that, but most of the song is a more depressing perspective as far as being dead and wondering what to do with faith and how to handle things. Where will it all end? Those ideas.
Jeremy and Andy both had a hand in creating the video for this. Talk about the final product of what your bandmates put together.
I was nervous because I know they were both stressed out about it. I mean this in the nicest way but Jeremy has a tendency to test the boundaries when it comes to deadlines and procrastinate maybe here and there. So I was nervous but when I saw it, I lost my mind. I thought it captured things very well. It’s not easy to seek my approval in that area. I tend to always have ideas for the music videos or handling all the art direction with the album artwork so when Jeremy said he was going to make a video and I don’t know much of anything about it, I’m like, what if it doesn’t match the specific esthetic that really meant to reflect this album? I think he did. I think it does well. It’s obviously spazzy and sporadic but very David Lynch-y, which I can always approve of. My kindest words go out to Jeremy and Andy. I think they totally killed that video.
‘Home for Grave’ is the other track that people are hearing. Let’s talk about the inspiration behind that.
‘Home for Grave’ is the most blatantly fictional song on the album in that the lyrics are about this little old man that basically just wants to do his best but he never amounts to anything and he ends up dying, life is pretty much summed up in total meaninglessness. That’s the idea of the song and the misery the song looks to speak of within the context of ‘8:18′ and an album that is primarily or entirely based off of suffering. So yeah, lyrically the song just enraptures that or it looks at this man. There’s actually more stuff I’m working on with that song and more to give the listeners that I can’t speak of too much right now but I hope people keep an eye out. The announcement will be released sooner than later, hopefully.
The tour you have in November and December is with A Ghost Inside, Volumes, Texas in July. What’s your take on your support bands and what you’re looking forward to working into the set.
The only ones we know is A Ghost Inside. I got their record before we ever played with them, I was like, wow this is the evolution of Bury Your Dead / Misery Signals. I think they’re a really good band. They play really well live. It’s bouncy, it’s moshy. It’s got that Misery Signals melody to it and they’re really nice guys too. We get a long really well. I think the only bit of friction is the fact that their singer is a LA Kings fan. I am not by any means, I am a Penguins fan as well as Chicago Blackhawks. There’s a little tension there, we can’t wait to be out with A Ghost Inside. It will be our first time touring within the US together as well.
As far as us, we are going home soon and getting together and practicing songs and figuring out what songs were going to play from ‘8:18,’ so we’re still in the early stages in that regard. Obviously we’ll be cramming a bunch of songs into the set from ‘8:18,’ we’re looking to explore all of that.
This is our first proper headline tour of this size and manner in quite sometime. It’s two years exactly after we did ‘Dead Throne’ North America with Whitechapel. We’re really looking to not lock what we did there but spend the same amount of time, effort and money into really making the show. Hopefully the people who went to that show are going to want to come to this show as far as — we spent, I hate to be so greedy and monetary but we spent a lot of money on what we put into this show. If we just rolled a couple of cabs up on stage, played with the house lights and left, the money situation would be different. But the band doesn’t function in that way, so we are putting a lot of effort into the production and making sure people want to stick around for the whole time and not leave early. That they feel OK abut dropping $20 to go see the show, which we do realize is not cheap. So, people need to get their moneys worth and need something strong visually. Lastly all the effort and intention and meticulousness will go into our setlist as always. We always like to be sure that the set doesn’t slow down too much or doesn’t go too fast or too long. We never want to stop between songs so much to where people get bored, so there’s a lot of focus there. We definitely have our work laid out for us as far as getting the tour together, but we’re excited. It’s like the ideal tour for us. We can’t wait to do it.
Definitely excited for the show as well Mike. All the best to you and The Devil Wears Prada.