It seems like the natural progression of metalcore bands is to get out of the dance tracks and into the darker, heavy material…and I’m not complaining.
The Devil Wears Prada is following suit with 8:18. The fifth studio release taps into the darker side of TDWP, and with Killswitch Engage’s Adam D. at the helm, 8:18′s bigger, heavier tracks show off the impressive sonic and musical progression of the Ohio natives.
I spoke with frontman Mike Hranica about the darker aesthetic of the new album, what fans can expect on this current tour, and why Adam D. originally turned down the project. Find out what he had to say below, and be sure to pick up your tickets to see The Devil Wears Prada at LA’s Club Nokia tomorrow, November 30th.
How does this compare to other headlining runs you’ve done?
I think it’s pretty comparable to what we did two years ago when we put out Dead Throne.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18
What drew you to Romans 8:18 for the album?
When I first read it, I was very, very moved by it. I already had an idea of the general sort of aesthetic for the record, and I knew that it would fit exactly what I was trying to encompass. I thought 8:18 would be cool, and it was a really powerful verse for me. It also had an intriguing ring to it as far as a title to an album.
This album is a little darker and heavier than others in the past. Were you in a darker headspace while you were writing or was that just the artistic direction you wanted to take with this album?
I think it’s a little bit of both. Creating more depressing material I feel like — how do I say this? — it’s true in that it’s not entirely fictional, and I know that it comes from somewhere within me that I can say that it’s really personal and accurate. But at the same time, I know how drawn we are and how inspired we are to work off of darker material, and I feel like we’ve sort of naturally and organically built a niche for ourselves within that genre. I’m very drawn to it, and I always very much enjoy other artists within that realm.
I’ve noticed a lot of bands in your circle and your genre tend to get darker and heavier as they progress. Is there a reason for that, in your opinion?
Yeah, I think it’s relative to say that that’s a bit of a trend. I can’t speak for other artists as far as why they chose that direction in their work, but I don’t know, maybe it’s a more mature process to go about. I know that within the genre people are always going to say, “Oh, the new album is more mature.” So maybe having that relation with a little more depressing material is a sort of parallel to the maturation and the progression for bands.
Did you find this album particularly cathartic for you?
I’m not sure really. I think I’m starting to come down from a lot of these things as far as what exactly the record was. I think I’m starting to know how the songs are alive, and that’s been very important to me. I think that’s where I’m at with the songs in my sort of relation and analysis of 8:18…if that makes sense.
Sure. So you don’t necessarily need to be depressed to write a depressing album…
Yeah, definitely. I mean, with Dead Throne, it really did come from a place like that. A lot of the loneliness that makes its way through 8:18 is the same way. And again, it’s true. It’s not dramatic or fictional where I just sort of made it up and went with this bit of fiction — it comes from somewhere honest within me. I don’t need to be on the verge of severe depression to produce lyrics for this band…but it exists.
Tell me about “Home for Grave.” What came first, the short story you wrote or the song?
The song. Actually, before we finished the production process there was a woman within the song that had the same role as the man within the song, and I wanted to write two different stories about each person. We ended up cutting down the song drastically and shortening it to where, lyrically, the end result was only having a man within it.
Regardless, I wanted to do something fictional and tell a story, a sort of narrative within the song because I really enjoy it when I get to do that. I enjoy writing songs like that, and when I knew I could have a song like that on the record, I knew I could write a story about it and be able to play around with that and challenge myself with writing something like a short story.
I saw you also started contributing a blog for Revolver. Do you have a creative writing background?
I do. That sounds a little conceited to say, but I’ve always loved writing. In high school before I joined this band I was purely planning on going to school for writing or journalism, something within those regards. I never planned on playing music or yelling in a band. Obviously writing lyrics for this band takes up most of my energy, but I’m trying to discipline and push myself into writing more outside of the band. I’m working on it, and getting the right kind of stuff that involves the band is awesome for me because there’s already a very sound foundation to build off of where, creatively, I already have a head start.
Do you ever write during your downtime on the road?
Honestly, we’ve been touring for eight years, and I’ve never written as much as I’d like to until I’d say about the last two years. I think I started “One & A Half Hearts” way back when Dead Throne came out. But around then I started a Tumblr blog where I started writing about records. Being able to do this stuff is really forcing me to write more, and I’m working on a number of things right now. Over the past two or three years I’ve felt like I really needed to spend time writing again outside of the band.
Tell me about working with Adam D. (Killswitch Engage). Was it a no-brainer going back into the studio with him?
Yeah, absolutely. It was difficult because originally he said no, but eventually I was able to convince him and he stepped into that Executive Producer role. He was really busy with Killswitch, which is why it wasn’t the easiest thing to talk him into, but he already had all the songs and a long list of notes and ideas (before we went into the studio) that we factored in when we went to work on the album. Then as we continued along, he came out and spent the last two-and-a-half weeks in Atlanta with us before he had to head out for Killswitch. I love Adam — he’s quite brilliant.
Adam is kind of a nut when you see him with Killswitch. Does he bring that energy into the studio or is he completely serious?
He has by all means a very colorful sense of humor around the studio. When you have Adam around, everyone is always goofing around, having fun, and acting like idiots, but he’s also highly disciplined and indescribably professional as far as getting down to work. I think that’s awesome. It complements what we do because we can be kind of lazy and we need to be pushed into shape from time to time.
Any plans right now for a music video to go with any of the 8:18 tracks?
Not particularly. Jeremy and Andy do a lot of our homemade video stuff, and I know they have a lot of videos in the works. We’ll probably do a tour updater or something. I have an idea for our next music video, but that won’t be for another few months down the road.
Is the band actually going to appear in this video? I’ve noticed you guys haven’t done a live action one in a bit…
I’m all about it. I think it become notably monotonous, and it’s really difficult to come up with fresh, exciting shots of metalcore bands. I always love music videos that don’t have the band in them. I know we’ll have to do it again at some time, but right now I’m really enjoying not having us in the music videos.
Anything you want fans to know about the live show this time around?
It sounds terribly arrogant, but I know this is my favorite set list we’ve ever played. It feels so smooth and suave and graceful…as graceful as a metal set can be, I guess. We’re really happy with the production, too. I would very enthusiastically encourage fans to come out and see us on the tour.