The Devil Wears Prada Vocalist Mike Hranica Talks ‘8:18,’ Writing Literature + More
Known for being a powerhouse onstage, The Devil Wears Prada have been relentlessly touring in support of their latest album, '8:18.' During their headlining show at Best Buy Theater in New York City, Loudwire had a chance to speak with frontman Mike Hranica.
Hranica spoke about the creative process of making ‘8:18’ as well as some of his favorite new tracks off of the record. He also opened up about his new literary work, titled ‘Home for Grave: A Somewhat Neverending Short Story.' Check out our interview with The Devil Wears Prada singer Mike Hranica below:
What influenced the lyrical themes on the '8:18' album?
I don’t think it’s too much of a departure from what I’ve been drawn to as far as darker stuff -- more misery and depression. I’ve always felt an immediate draw to that and I know that within our music, misery has the strongest impact compared to something brighter and warmer. I just wanted to hone in on that and use the same tools within the stuff that I do. Within the things that I read and what not I’m very drawn to mediocrity, monotony and just ordinariness -- it’s just all of those things that has been a part of my writing and taste in general. With ‘8:18’ it’s built off of suffering and looking at suffering from all different perspectives.
What are some of your personal favorite tracks on the disc?
‘8:18’ has been consistently one of my favorites. I like ‘War’ and ‘First Sight’ a lot. I always liked ‘War’ but especially when we started playing it because the first bit of the song is instrumental and I play the third guitar part. I love whenever I get to play guitar parts with the band. It’s awesome to see how songs exist after starting to play them live and watching that transformation happen. I love playing these songs and I love our setlist right now.
‘Black & Blue’ was probably one of the three top favorite songs when we put out the record but when the record did come out it was the song that no one really talked about. I look at the band Twitter and everyone was talking about ‘Sailor’s Prayer’ and ‘Transgress’ and I’m like, “Man why don’t more people like 'Black & Blue'?” because I think it’s also got a real hook to it. I do like that song. It’s also about people who like spending too much time on their cell phone. So I like that I can write a song about that and no one knows. [Laughs]
Let's talk about your book ‘Home for Grave: A Somewhat Neverending Short Story’ and how this idea came about.
I wrote something and put it out earlier in the year and I’ve been trying to discipline myself about writing outside of the band more, which is what I used to do but the band takes a lot of effort and energy. When I had the idea to do ‘Home for Grave’ the song was already in my mind the package of being a story also about the characters within the song. There was actually two people at first but after the song was edited I just kept it to the man rather than the man and the woman -- there was a woman in the song.
I love any sort of chance to write, especially something like that where I feel like it’s not an obligation but I make it an obligation for myself in order to force me to do it. I get lazy and I don’t write as much as I should. It was just another project I got to enjoy. The idea of 'A Somewhat Neverending Short Story' is just about that monotony of life and the mindless continuation and I wanted to call it a short story because I didn’t want people to think it was a novel. It’s a short story, which for some reason made people mad. Some people were like, “It’s not even a book, it’s just a short story." I’ve read short stories that are three pages.
What does writing literarature do for you mentally and emotionally that music isn’t able to do?
I think that it’s encouraging for me and it energizes me to do more than just the band. Since joining the band I realized how much I love being busy, not too busy but if I slow down and get bored I know how miserable that makes me. Doing something like this and adding another layer to myself or to my entity, not that I really care, but it’s good. I know that I’ve always wanted to write before I ever joined the band and being able to keep my heart on it is important.
Would you ever write a full-on novel?
Yeah, I actually wrote one and I don’t know if I want to use it or not. I’m working on a number of other things. I started one that I’m trying to put every ounce of effort into but it’s really hard on tour. When I have to sit down to write, it feels like it’s the most devastating and difficult thing in the world but five minutes in and I’ll just roll for hours. Just sitting down on tour, it’s impossible to write. There’s so many distractions.
Have specific pieces of literature or authors influenced your writing and your music?
I think there are hints of existentialism within something like ‘First Sight.’ Authors like Camus or Satre, who I very much enjoy. Even like Dostoyevsky and different Russian stuff always inspires me. ‘Dead Throne’ was very influenced by ‘The Screwtape Letters’ by C.S. Lewis and his ability to use this metaphor character was the most brilliant thing to me. I wanted to create things like that and it even happens in ‘8:18’ to where I’m using the idea of “her” in the songs or “she.” On ‘Dead Throne’ a bit of the time it was about a girl but then using it as “she is misery” in a song like ‘R.I.T.’ was born out of what I perceive from ‘The Screwtape Letters.’
What does 2014 hold in store for you and the band as a whole?
Touring, lots and lots of touring with ‘8:18,’ within the United States, in fact so people should keep their ears and eyes open. It’s that time to put out the record and then play it relentlessly. For me I’m working on a few other things I can’t really talk about. One main thing is more published work.
With all of this touring, what or who might you say is the weirdest thing or person on your tour bus?
It could be a person. [Laughs] Our merch guy is … some sort of creature. It’s actually been funny because people have tweeted us and said, “You have the nicest merch guy in the world” and he’s this stoned, weird person. I don’t know where to start, just go stare at him for three minutes. He’d love to talk to you, he’ll talk to anyone. Yep he’s probably the weirdest thing on the bus.
Writer's Note: For the record I did talk to the merch guy, he does seem weird but very jolly and harmless. Go talk to him, if possible.
Watch the Video for TDWP's 'First Sight'