Alex Haber of Heavy New York conducted an interview with THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA vocalist Mike Hranica prior to the band’s December 11 concert at The Gramercy Theatre in New York, New York. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether he has a different perspective on the band’s 2009 “With Roots Above And Branches Below” studio album now that they are playing it live in full:
Mike: “Yeah. Certainly. We’ve always been pretty forthright and outspoken about not really loving our old material. I say that as generously as possible. We do not like our older material. But at the same time, we wanted to celebrate this record. It does feel close enough versus if we were to do ‘Plagues’. It’s been really great, actually. I thought it might drag. It’s the longest set we’ve ever played. But it actually really flies by. It feels that it goes faster than the 40-minute sets like the [set supporting] PARKWAY [DRIVE], which was more like 35 minutes. It goes by fast. It’s been cool talking to a lot of folks that the record meant something to them 10 years ago in a different stage in all of our lives.”
On whether playing “With Roots Above And Branches Below” makes him appreciate their older material a bit more:
Mike: “No one will ever hear ‘Plagues’ in its entirety. That would be a cold day in hell. But, yeah, as much as older material is what it is and we kind of look down on it, I’ve always admired our honesty, and that’s something I’ve always been unapologetic about as far as it wasn’t like we were saying things for the sense of money or fame or any of that bullshit. It was always coming from a very authentic, real place in us. So it’s cool to look back on that, even though I have varying opinions on some of the things I wrote on the record. But it’s nostalgic and cathartic, all in all. As far as songwriting goes, we’re writing a new record right now. We know we need to include some riffs, because that’s what all ‘With Roots Above’ is: riff, riff, riff, riff.”
On whether he needs to hear music first in order to develop a lyrical concept or theme:
Mike: “I’ve kind of always approached it similar. We’re writing the new record now and something we’ve been doing is I’ve been writing a song’s worth of lyrics and then write the song to it. We certainly have times where we write to vocal parts, but there’s been times where I have, like, a sort of like a poor piece of poetry and then say, ‘This would work as the chorus.’ Then John [Gering, keyboards], Kyle [Sipress, guitar] and the band will write around it. I think to answer your question, we’ve approached it from as many different angles as possible. Early on, it was, ‘Hey, here’s the song. Put vocals over top of it.’ That’s how it always was. I think we want to create more of an identity and more composition to each song, more of a story and a narrative to each individual piece. That’s had to change rather than having 12 songs with 12 sets of lyrics over it. We’ve changed it, if that answers your questions.”
On the band’s sometimes odd choices for songtitles, including “Ben Has A Kid” and “Assistant To The Regional Manager”:
Mike: “We always heard goofy songs like DILLINGER [ESCAPE PLAN] and UNDEROATH with these lackadaisical song titles. ETID [EVERY TIME I DIE] as well. The songs were always very serious, but we’ve always had a prevailing sense of humor in the band. We all have a particular sense of comedy amongst the group. Back then, we were just, like, ‘Ah, just call it whatever.’ That’s what we did. I think the furthest we went was ‘With Roots Above’ — [that] was the last time we didn’t have serious song names. From there, we started giving the songs real names. But ‘With Roots Above’, it was like a shoutout to different guys in the crew back then. Ben was our manager and sound guy for ten years. He now has two kids. Back then, he only had one kid. Robert, our tour manager, for a while, he always used to say, ‘Give me half.’ Wiggly was a guitar tech. Wildman was our friend Steven. So, yeah, ‘With Roots Above’ had a few songtitles that were just like sort of inside jokes with our crew guys.”
On THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA‘s plans for a new studio album:
Mike: “We’re still in the planning stages as far as a hundred percent locking in studio time, although it’s looking like late March, April-ish or something. And hopefully a record [out in] November. I would love November — that’s what I’m kind of aiming at — but we also don’t wanna rush it and compromise the rollout process. Especially ’cause we’re trying to do something very different this time around and put out a record people haven’t heard… When we first started writing, Kyle and John had almost 30 songs put together and they listened to them and they were, like, ‘This just sounds like ‘Transit Blues Part 2’.’ So we were, like, ‘We’re not doing that.’ We look back on ‘Transit Blues’ pretty fondly. We would definitely change a number of things if we could, but there’s no point in redoing it… For this record, the goal was to write 20 songs, which is way more than we usually do — we usually write 13 songs or 12 songs and those songs make the record. So we’re putting together a bunch of ’em and then we’ll sit down and look at ’em and say, ‘What didn’t make the cut?’ So, it’ll be interesting. There will be friction, but all for the better and hopefully a better, different record than what folks have heard.”
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA recently announced a deal with Solid State Records for the release of its next album.
The band’s tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of “With Roots Above And Branches Below” wraps December 16 in Columbus, Ohio.
“Transit Blues” was released in October 2016 via Rise Records.
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