The Devil Wears Prada: Fear And Loathing In Dayton, Ohio
No matter how long you have been in the music industry, or how many releases you have under your belt, the last few weeks of waiting for your latest album to hit the market is, inevitably, a testing time. There is often a plethora of emotions swimming inside the artist’s head – everything from self-doubt, to fear, to anxiety – and The Devil Wears Prada vocalist Mike Hranica says that no matter how many times you go through that, things don’t seem to get any easier.
“It’s somewhat refreshing, but still anxious,” he says nervously. “After doing six full-lengths and two EPs, you would kind of expect to be accustomed to the wait that comes between mastering and relaxing, but it’s still rather uncomfortable.”
With the imminent release of Transit Blues, Hranica admits that the thought of how an album is going to be received is also a factor which can’t help but play on a band’s mind. While he doesn’t necessarily go looking for negative feedback, it is something which is, unfortunately, unavoidable.
“I don’t really read comments or things where people totally bash me – I find nothing positive coming from that. I don’t mind, but I’d much rather talk to someone if they don’t like it than be stamped across someone’s website, and not have a conversation – but that’s not really how it goes. It is what it is, I guess.”
While Transit Blues is everything you have come to expect from this iteration of The Devil Wears Prada, Hranica says that when sitting down to make this record, there were a couple of moments in which where the band purposefully chose to move in a slightly different direction.
“There were a number of things,” he says when asked about goals for the album. “We wanted to try to avoid what we’d done before – both the good stuff and the bad stuff. One of the points of attention was trying to avoid too much of the chorus formula, which I feel created a little too much of a predictable type of material over the last couple of albums – especially on 8:18, and a little bit on the Space EP. I feel like having three choruses is not doing the song a favour, compared to when we use two, so there was a couple of little notions and aspects like that that we wanted to be intentional about, and try to instill into the songs and the collective project.”
“My idea of the ‘transit blues’ is the type of separation or degradation that comes with going from one place to another”
Another thing that was discussed was the possible over-use of their second vocalist, Jeremy DePoyster. Although Hranica insists it is an important part of The Devil Wears Prada’s sound, it also can become cumbersome and ineffective when used flippantly.
“As long as it doesn’t create contrast, it can be used to good effect,” he says, choosing his words carefully, “but it sometimes does. In our past, we’ve been a little reckless and foolish with introducing two voices that aren’t really expressing the same sort of sentiment. That was something we also wanted to do with Transit Blues – create more fluidity between the two voices.”
While it sounds anything but like a heavy metal title, Transit Blues has a meaning deeper than initially thought, with the whole album tracing feelings of transition, separation and mourning. It is a title that reflects a wide range of emotions and ideals, and one which Hranica believes is quite poignant.
“My idea of the ‘transit blues’ is the type of separation or degradation that comes with going from one place to another,” he explains, “whether it’s mental or physical. I almost imagine aging to be a part of the ‘transit blues’, as far as changing and feeling with what is often affliction; basically looking at the ailments that come into play in going from one place to another. I’ve always found depressing stories more attractive and more immediate than wholesome ones, and I find that most often in art, the aim is to receive a sort of emotion. So, it’s become a frequent vibe to my work.”
The Devil Wears Prada have maintained a prolific output of material over their eleven years as a band, with six albums, two EPs and a live DVD – according to Hranica the band have got their balance just about right.
“I try not to push things down people’s throats,” he says, “and I try to keep things fresh to some extent, as far as not having too many full-lengths, which is why we do these thematic EPs that are meant as more of a… part expression, and more something that I might consider entertainment. I think that mixing things up like that can be productive for the fanbase, and not just give them another twelve over-serious songs to swallow every two years.”
Throughout their career, The Devil Wears Prada have also achieved what many of their peers have been unable to: success in the mainstream charts. Most of their albums have charted in the Billboard Top 200, with Dead Throne reaching the highest position, peaking at number 10. While being unable to pinpoint the exact reasons for their crossover success, Hranica believes it comes down to reward for effort.
“I don’t know,” he muses of the chart success. “I try to remain as thankful as possible for the fact that people do want to hear the albums, and are so gracious as to purchase them, but I always just try to be as honest as possible and not just sell something for the sake of selling it. Not to try and introduce some kind of karma into the equation, but maybe it’s kind of a ‘reward for honesty’ type situation – to some extent.”