The Devil Wears Prada. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada
Being a band like The Devil Wears Prada and sounding the way they do can often be a challenge for those who are unfamiliar with their music. Over the past decade, the Ohio based act has built up a strong yet loyal following that live and breathe their style of metalcore.
They have once again appeared on the main stage of this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, and are tackling larger audiences who are new to their style of music. Vocalist Mike Hranica talked about playing in front of vast crowds at these events, and how much that influenced how they approached their music.
“When we got started and doing Vans Warped Tour back in 2008, it didn’t really influence us too much. We were really influenced by bands like Killswitch [Engage] and As I Lay Dying. They were always doing an Ozzfest and still doing Warped and playing with rockier bands, poppier bands, and all the way to proper metal, Slayer bands. We tried to do the same.”
Mike Hranica of The Devil Wears Prada. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada
Ever since the band first appeared on the 2009 Vans Warped Tour’s main stage, longtime fans got their first experiences hearing their chaotic sounds and became addicted. While The Devil Wears Prada immediately became the pit kings at Warped Tour, things became a bit more of a challenge at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival supporting some of the heavyweights in the metal world.
“We get put in our place when we come to Mayhem. It’s actually tough guys and metalheads rather than at Warped Tour it’s a bunch of young bands. We’re less cocky on Mayhem than on Warped Tour.”
“Doing Mayhem three years ago was really eye opening and we know what we’re getting in for. Also at the same time, that was the best summer tour we’ve ever done and already the past two days have been ‘oh my god…it’s so relaxing to come to Mayhem.’ “
“Having such a fraction of the bands on Warped Tour makes it so much easier. We’re pumped. I think it will be a good summer with fans recognizing and doing shows like Graspop and Download Festival overseas. We know the fan dude there standing there like ‘what the hell is this?’ and by the end of the set will be like ‘I can vibe some of this stuff.’ We enjoy that challenge and trying to win people over. That’s a big part of the challenge.”
While playing in front of a tough crowd and seeing a sea of “what the hell is this” looks, bassist Andy Trick had an interesting view on it. “You can see it if you watch the people come up and sit down and then after a few songs they get into it.”
2015 became a year of changes that helped push forward the evolution of The Devil Wears Prada and their ever growing sound. They spent this past summer opening up on the main stage of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival across North America and being their second time on this tour and so far they love their time on it.
“We did Mayhem in 2012. We were rotating, but when we opened the main stage, which was a third of the tour – it was us, Motorhead, Slayer and Slipknot. So we had that before,” said vocalist Mike Hranica, about his previous Mayhem Fest experience.
“There’s really no band more intimidating to open for than Slayer. Slayer fans are Slayer fans. I think it’s a little bit easier because on the first tour, the fans have to wait a while until they get Slayer. Gary [Holt] was around for a little bit when we last toured with them or last played Mayhem. [He] was really cool. I didn’t really meet anyone else in the band.”
“Yeah I don’t care. I love Slayer. I was on a serious Slayer kick all of June, looking forward to coming back with South Of Heaven and Reign In Blood every day.”
Mike Hranica of The Devil Wears Prada. Photo Credit: Dane Burns (via Facebook)
The band is about to release their much talked about Space EP (out August 21, 2015) and are excited to be sharing it with the world. This is their first new recording since their 2013’s 8:18 album, and the band enjoyed the creative aspects of their new recording.
“Very intentionally I felt like we really enjoyed how people received the Zombie EP, which was a huge part of why we wanted to do another one plus enjoying making [the Zombie EP] so much,” said Hranica.
“This time around, I wanted more identity per song. We had the five songs for the Zombie EP and I gave them a theme. The lyrics were there but I still felt that they were particularly interchangeable. With this EP, each song was meant to work within its mood and a lot of the demos and the riffs that we would start and begin with, John [Gering, keyboardist] and I would really try to incorporate the keys to work with the theme very specifically.”
Bassist Andy Trick and guitarist jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada (via Facebook).
“With a song like ‘Moongod’ was meant to have a moon wind vibe, like you would imagine that desolate vibe. That wasn’t really something we worked too hard on the ZombieEP and something we wanted to have a part of the piece with the SpaceEP. That was a big point of that business going into writing the SpaceEP.”
“We also have a friend of ours who’s writing stuff with us now and that brings a key point into a new fresh viewpoint into it,” added bassist Andy Trick.
Finding new ideas to infuse into The Devil Wears Prada’s sound without sounding stale becomes quite the challenge, but the members are always up for it. They have found new ways to stimulate their creativity and making eps is one way to do so.
“We all grow and it shows in the music. But for example, on the Space EP that’s coming out, it’s a way to challenge ourselves by focus efforts for five or six songs – doing something different,” said Trick.
“We haven’t that spent much time outside of different producers, and I think that helps. We did a Record Store Day release – a seven inch single and the EP (South of the City seven inch) like Andy said. We like to not do full length after full length. I think that’s part of our formula,” added Hranica.
Prior to the making of the SpaceEP, the band went through lineup changes as their longtime guitarist Chris Rubey left the band and was replaced by Kyle Sipress. While lineup shuffles is not common in their band history, each change has worked in their favor.
“We kicked out our keyboardist (James Baney) years ago and Jon’s [Gering] been working with us since then. At around Halloween, our guitarist Chris [Rubey] decided to leave the band and stay home with him wife and kid, which is now Kyle [Sipress], which he is now playing guitar with us now.”
“The SpaceEP is the first time writing without Chris and writing with Kyle, which was a lot of fun. I think that goes back to keeping things fresh. He definitely was a big part of the challenge and it’s refreshing,” said Hranica, about the lineup changes.
Dan Williams of The Devil Wears Prada (via Facebook)
Another change was their return to Rise Records, where the band had released their first two albums (2006’s Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord and 2007’s Plagues). Hranica talked about their reasons behind the label change and how much the label had grown since being on that label.
“A big part of moving back to Rise…we loved Roadrunner and working with the guys we got to, but I feel any band should move labels and expand between street teams and around media and what not. That’s part of also about going back to Rise is that their online presence is massive. It’s important obviously for today’s day and age. It’s a totally different world than when we first signed with them in 2006.”
“We know Craig [Ericson] really well. We know Sean [Heydorn] really well. It’s also we also know the exact equation of what’s happening at the label and how things are occurring. So it’s a matter of comfort, as complacent as it may seem. It’s circumstances more so than comfortable and familiar with, and that refreshing for us. Especially we have those discussions as far as whether we should put out our own record. Going from that and really talking about that. Dan [Williams], our drummer is really into that. Going from that into where you’re handling everything or we could work with a label, where we know who’s handling it and what’s going on. That was an important part of going back to Rise.”
Kyle Sipress of The Devil Wears Prada. Photo Credit: Alex Matthews (via Facebook)
With the band releasing the SpaceEP, Hranica clarified that this was strategically done with intentions of a full length release in the works.
“We did three full lengths and the EP, and another two full lengths and an EP. Before the end of this year, we’re going to solidify more songs. We’re sitting on a bunch of demos with riffs. I think by the end of this year, maybe November or something. We’re going to all get in a room together and start concentrating on the next full length.”