The Devil Wears Prada Talk "8:18" and More
Wed, 11 Sep 2013 14:33:36
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The Devil Wears Prada reaches a new plateau with 8:18. It's the group's creative apex thus far—an amalgam of vicious hardcore energy, metallic poise, and thought-provoking lyrics. It's by far their best work, and it opens up the doorway for them to ascend even higher amongst heavy music's elite. "Essential" is an understatement. It's downright vital.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Mike Hranica of The Devil Wears Prada talks 8:18, reading, movies, and so much more.
How did you personally approach 8:18 as a writer?
Honestly, I felt like Dead Throne was turning the corner. I don't like to call it "progressive" or "mature", but it was a piece that spoke out and really proved our band. I don't mean to sit back and be totally complacent and arrogant with Dead Throne. With the success we had the record and the reaction, which was very encouraging for me, I came into 8:18, and I didn't want to overthink everything.
It's a natural perspective.
I didn't want to look at it like, "Oh, this is huge! This is the best thing we've ever done". Of course, everyone is going to say it, and I'll say it right now, "I think it's our best album and our best songs". I wanted to do what felt more natural. That carries over to a number of the arenas and viewpoints as to how I look at 8:18 and saying, "This feels bigger". I see it all as just me. There's not that much to describe. These songs are what they are. I think they're very transparent. That's that. That might sound terribly abstract [Laughs].
Were you reading anything while writing the record? Do you read a lot in general?
I do. I try to read as much as possible. Something that was different lyrically for the album is I've always sat on a million ideas like notebooks full of lyrics and the notepad application in my phone is filled with lines and lines. I'll pour through that when it's time to make an album or time to make songs. I can't say that I didn't do that this time but to a much lesser degree.
What did you do?
Everything vocally or lyrically, I approached topics that were a little more immediate. Those things were sitting there, and I was like, "Okay, let's go at it like this! This is what's in my heart today!" It happened a little bit on Dead Throne but not so much as it did on 8:18. I read often. I don't think I had anything too influential going into this album. The things I was reading at the time didn't really convey themselves into what I was writing. Over the past couple of years, all I ever want to listen to is Nick Cave, his style of writing, and that particular, sleazy amount of description he applies to all of his work. It's beyond brilliant and total genius. I don't think that's transparent in my work by any means. Perhaps, it's in the other things I write outside of band lyrics. That definitely plays a part.
There's a certain level of description in Nick Cave—may be a little bit of that candid nature that presented itself in 8:18 with what I was writing. As far as literature goes, during the past two years of trying to cultivate 8:18, it's been a lot of Russian and French stuff—existentialism. It always comes back to me when I re-read my work. I'm like, "Oh yeah, I was definitely reading Camus at this time or I was definitely pouring through Tolstoy at the time". I always tend to see that. It's never to a certain extent where it's really obviously notable in my work.
What's the story behind "In Heart"?
It's funny. That song was sitting around for a little bit. It wasn't a song. Basically, our songs are split down to songs Chris has demoed and we've been sitting on for a while. Then, we bend them, break them, and re-evaluate them. Or, Chris writes a really good song and we don't have to do anything to it. Then, there are the songs we all jam and put together. That's obvious on "8:18". It's a jam song that we came up with together on the spot. With that said, we were sitting on "In Heart" for a while, and the end was like, "Oh my gosh, I want to jump out of a window now or drive off a bridge". It just felt so huge and moving. We were writing in Portland when I demoed out that song. I was at the condo we were staying at writing the lyrics and working on the vocal patterns for the song while the guys were at a practice space jamming out songs. I texted or called Chris immediately. I just lost my mind. I said, "I just came up with this line for the song and it feels massive to me. It feels like the perfect end to the song, and it has to end the record". The entire process of tracklisting and building the album, I always said, "'In Heart' has to close the album. This is the way the album needs to end. The vocals at the end of the song are the ideal conclusion to 8:18!" That's my perception of "In Heart". It's the reflection of that song for me. It's way I imagined it. It's that big ending.
If you were to compare 8:18 to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I don't know! For me, I tend to handle a lot of the visual things with the band like everything with the album and art direction as well as getting together with whoever the artist and layout person are. That said, I have a lot of control, and I spend a vast amount of time handling and evaluating that part of the band. At the same time, there are a lot of different aesthetics and different creative means of perceiving 8:18. To me, it's very clean. The package is just black and white on the inside. It's got all of the lyrics and one line of the song is italicized. It breaks down. I'd take each line and say, "This is a powerful notion or this speaks for the song". That is boldly simplistic. As far as movie, I want to say something like that. I want to say something that's modern. At the same time, Jeremy did the "Martyrs" video. I think that's pretty blatantly David Lynch-esque. Going forward, I know there's even more David Lynch-inspired stuff for the album. At the same time, I'm not going to sit here and say, "This is the equivalent of Eraserhead". I have no idea!
What's your favorite song from The Devil Wears Prada?