INTERVIEW: Color Decay, The Scene & More With The Devil Wears Prada’s Mike Hranica
After the release of their incredible new album Color Decay, The Devil Wears Prada jumped on tour as direct support for Wage War to play a string of shows across the UK and Europe. During this tour, the band fortunately did not skip Amsterdam and we got the opportunity to sit down with TDWP vocalist Mike Hranica to discuss all things Color Decay, the scene, more specifically how the scenes has changed and evolved in the time he’s been in a band, ZII and much more.
First and foremost, the most important question: how are you?
I’m great, thank you. I’ll be finding some drinks here after.
Congratulations on your new album! How has the overall feedback been so far?
It’s been great! The reception has been positive. I don’t read too many comments online, but the reception has been lovely.
Is that a thing you learned along the way, to not read comments, or did you not do that from the beginning?
No, sometimes I did. But it also has to do with how big the internet has become. Before, there weren’t any trolls. I don’t find any substance or good in it.
You’ve been in the band for a long time, what are some of the bigger shifts you’ve seen in the industry, besides the internet?
I think one thing is there is a certain level of professionalism that’s always been virtuous for a band to have. But at the same time, one thing I’ve kinda noticed is that it doesn’t feel like a bunch of kids jamming in your parent’s basement anymore. That’s different from how it used to be. The fact that you can record anything and can get any kind of guitar sound and whatnot is definitely a big leap. Not to say that it doesn’t have its pros, because it does, but it’s different than when we were kids. It’s even more different than guys who have been paying since the 60s.
So you’re just going with whatever direction it’s going in?
I won’t let technology inform my own personal taste, but in the workplace, there’s something virtuous about the fact that you can do all this rock show with just a few rags and cases up there. But I personally am still just an amp guy.
What has been the most memorable positive experience of creating this record?
The big thing that jumps out is that we recorded most of it in the desert outside Joshua Tree in California. When we did, Kyle and I both had our motorcycles out so we were able to motor around the desert, which was just crazy. I live somewhere very cold, so you can’t motorcycle in the winter. But the fact that we were able to do that in November and December and be able to get out was a really nice reprieve when you’re hitting a little bit of writer’s block or you’re getting frustrated or need a little bit of inspiration, you can just get on and go, that was really nice.
In the pandemic, you have put out an EP, you have put out an album, and they are both doing extremely well. Has the pandemic had any impact on your process or your creative writing?
A lot of good came from working remotely. Jon is the mastermind behind the songs and he produces and handles everything, records it and writes a lot of it. I think we really got a new good kind of system of working between him sending me songs, Jeremy being involved in reviewing things and whatnot. After we wrote and recorded ZII and really enjoyed that, that momentum was there so we kept working. That could have happened, had there not been a pandemic but it forced the circumstances and we tried to make the most of it and it worked out beneficial for us in those regards at least.
In normal times do you combine writing music with tour life or do you keep them separate?
No, there is a number of songs on the act that we demoed out on the road. Probably not so much over here, because we don’t have as much of our equipment because you have to fly with so many bags and it’s very expensive. But back in the United States, Jon will have a hotel room on our off days and he will write in there. He is definitely more productive when he’s home and he’s in his studio filled with gear versus a laptop and a keyboard and a guitar, but we do write on the road.
When you’re not doing any music thing at all, what do you like to do?
I have a lot of different hobbies. I renovate my home myself and I like handling my home. I like woodworking, I like anything landscaping-ish. I like to read a lot. I play a lot of ice hockey, as much as I can. I love to cook. I have one dog, soon two, that keeps me busy. If I’m not busy, I’m freaking out.
Did you have any struggles with that during the pandemic?
Yes. When we got sent home from tour, I couldn’t find the motivation to do anything. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t exercise, couldn’t find anything to satisfy me. As things loosened up it was okay, but the first month was very bad.
With ZII and Color Decay, did you keep those separate or did they happen sort of simultaneously?
Not simultaneously, there is actually a song on Color Decay called Hallucinate that was a demo for ZII that just wasn’t finished. It got started but was never completed. But for the most part, we just put together the EP and then we did the live stream sets, one With Roots Above and then the Zombie EPS both. Then from there, I don’t know if Jon had started writing or not, or when those demos came about, I heard them a little bit later. Then we cemented, timed, and recorded Sacrifice and Watch Tower and then we had the whole session in California to do the rest of the album and go to a proper studio to record drums.
Was there a shift in headspace since the albums are different musically?
I didn’t write any of the guitars on ZII, but I think having the objective of saying “This is going to be today’s take on the Zombie EP”, kind of made it easy of saying “This is Zombie and this is not”. So I think it was pretty decided. We did the first Zombie EP, we did the Space EP, we’ve exercised our ability to write these conceptual songs. To me, it is pretty seamless kicking into that mindset. It is all just practice. You can always get better at it.
Let us zoom in on the song Twenty-Five from the new record. It comes across very raw and emotional. Is it hard for you to put it on the line and sing your heart out for the entire world to hear?
That one, yeah. Obviously, it’s a breakup song. I was in a relationship for a while and it ended during the pandemic. On Dead Throne, one of our other records, I have written about broken relationships as well, but this one felt different. It was a longer relationship as well. With other songs, it felt good to perform them, but that song specifically I never wanna hear again and I never wanna perform it. If I have to perform it, I will, but I’d much prefer not to. I took all the ramifications and trauma from the experience and tried to put it all there. I wanna leave it there and don’t want to touch it again.
You did a podcast for a while, but now not so much, is it coming back at some point?
I don’t know.. It was early in the pandemic and no one saw anyone. I found that that was an activity for me that was gratifying and also time-consuming and I loved editing it and listening to it and writing down different thoughts and discussing it and finding different guests. Once life became a little more normal or at least when I started working a job to get by and make some money, it became more of a chore. Right now, I’m not sure exactly what it would look like and honestly, I don’t know if I have the energy to get to that. I feel like I put everything into Prada at this point or so much of my time into Prada and I don’t want to put even more of my time into Prada and that includes producing a podcast.
Your voice is very unique, did you realise this yourself and that made you want to sing?
Not at all. I started playing guitar a year before The Devil Wears Prada started, so that’s what I thought I could do to do music. It was never a career. My family has always been very musical but no one ever played an instrument. Basically, when I started going to hardcore shows and started falling in love with the scene and metal and whatnot, we would just yell in the car. Then, Chris from Prada, one of the founding members, we had a joke band that I screamed in and then Prada was trying out a guy that joined the band to sing and he wouldn’t do anything. I was there and would show him and then they asked me to join. So it was very accidental. It’s not like I landed there and stayed there. I practised and used experiences to try to become a better singer.
As a band, do you have any pre-show rituals?
Yeah, just some silly handshakes and chants. But that’s about it. Siamese do a work-out actually!
Are there any artists that you would still like to work with?
About a million. Jon has worked with different guys. The conversation with Isaac from Knocked Loose has been ongoing. He was too busy to brainstorm when we were writing Color Decay but I know he’s on the shortlist. We’ve also gotten closer with Cody from Wage War so we’ll definitely be writing with him too. Jon always says he doesn’t care who it comes from. If it’s good, it is good.
Are you already working on new songs?
We’re always working, Jon’s always writing. I can’t say too much, but I imagine that we’ll have demos by the end of the year and see what we’ll put out next year. The momentum from ZII and Color Decay is still there. I am grateful to work with Jon as good as he is as a songwriter. For now, get home from tour, relax, decompress a while and then we’ll do something again! We’re all pretty active with doing stuff. There’s always plenty of work to be done.
The Devil Wears Prada’s new album Color Decay is out now and can be streamed via Spotify right below!