Studio Q+A: The Devil Wears Prada
Rock Sound talks to Mike Hranica as The Devil Wears Prada draw the recording of album four to a rowdy, metallic close!
As The Devil Wears Prada frontman Mike Hranica graces the cover of Rock Sound issue 147 alongside the frontmen of Bring Me The Horizon, Parkway Drive and Architects the band are in the final stages of recording their fourth album.
Working with Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage, Underoath, Parkway Drive) and utilising the talents of A Day To Remember frontman Jeremy McKinnon and long-time producer Joey Sturgis (Emmure, Asking Alexandria, Confide) as added vocal and keyboard production the band have assembled a team of staggering talent to help them make their fast, loud and relentless masterpiece.
With the world expectant after their ferocious ‘Zombie’ EP, is this going to be the album that turns The Devil Wears Prada into a truly international Godzilla-sized band? We grabbed some time with Mike a couple of days ago to find out...
(Oh and see those pictures interrupting the text every now and then? They are exclusive pictures from the studio, you won’t have seen them anywhere else!)
How is the production set up with Joey, Adam and Jeremy all providing input to this album? Who is doing what?
”Adam D is the primary dude by all means, he is unquestionably the guy that has most control and the most say. When we finished writing this album in Chicago Jeremy came up for a week, hung out with us and did vocal production with occasional arrangement tweaks. He was there primarily to look at vocal patterns and make sure everything sounded as best as it possibly could. He was there to oversee, question and offer another view. Up at Zing Studios where we are recording Adam has been in control, helping us trim the fat and just making sure that each song has everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t. Joey will help Adam in tracking keys in the next few days. It’s a unique set up with one leading engineer, a guy doing the keys and a guy pulling in vocal ideas but it’s worked and I’m glad we went for it.”
How was it working with Jeremy on your vocals?
“There was no arguing and to be honest I expected a bit of tension between us but we got a long really well. It was never uncomfortable or disrespectful. Jeremy helped me write parts that are a lot more memorable, easier to learn or easier to know and connect with. It’s not me doing A Day To Remember songs, it’s just a new perspective.”
On the surface you and Jeremy don’t necessarily share a lot in common, underneath what makes that relationship work?
“We’ve been best friends with that band since early 2007, the first show we met we hit it off and it’s remained close since, our guitarist Chris [Rubey] produced their record ‘Homesick’ and we’ve done countless tours together, it’s great. Obviously that says something about what will happen when Jeremy and I get together and write, we are two friends with different looks and tastes but a shared appreciation for heavy music. I have a ton of respect for how well written A Day To Remember songs are, moulding and blending the two of us in the studio was a real easy process, no tension.”
You said previously that you thought this album was going to be close to the ‘Zombie’ EP in terms of sound, now it’s actually being realised how close is it to that expectation?
“To be honest it’s different to how I thought it would be from the demos, it’s actually further away from the ‘Zombie’ EP than I expected and that scares me a bit to say as I know a lot of people want a continuation of that. There are parts just as heavy as that EP but the melodic is in there, i wouldn’t say there is more singing, perhaps it’s just more prominent. I could talk about it forever at this stage, we’ll just have to wait to see when the songs are mixed and mastered.”
How do you think these songs will sound to fans?
“As these songs come together I’ve been trying to listen to them from a fan’s perspective, it’s what you might expect from our band but in a way you might not expect it. The songs are all really structured but not formulated, they are all different in how they lay out chorus and verse but they all come back full circle and the end of each song always seems to tie everything back in. I think we’ve taken it to another level without writing radio songs, these new songs make more sense, have personal identity and something about them that gives each a distinction. I didn’t see that before in the demos, but after working with Adam I can definitely see it in the songs.”
Talk us through a new song and the story behind it.
“We just finished a track called ‘Untidaled’. The album as a whole is not a concept record but it has got a theme and the album name is based on the theme. Generally speaking the theme is anti-idolatry and the title track on the album is solely about that, how we take worldy things and make them more than they should be. ‘Untidaled’ links with that theme but it also has a lot of self-loathing and lyrics about depression, it’s pretty dark. The song itself is fairly physical, it’s about getting smashed by waves, but obviously worded far more poetically than me just screaming ‘I’m getting smashed by waves’ or anything like that.”
What was the hardest song to track vocals for on this album and why?
“Another song we did yesterday has a part in the middle that is super slow, it is the sludgiest, most disgusting thing with pretty evil lyrics over the top of it. That part is intense and was hard to record, but it might end up as our first single. That song and the title track were hard to get, the title track has no singing on it, it’s two minutes and the whole thing just drives through you. The chorus of the song is a breakdown with the title of the album and nothing else, it’s a punchy, hard-hitting line. For an opening song it’s pretty heavy and I’m fully content with it representing the record. It’s fast, heavy and relentless.”
How long can you keep this album quiet in this internet age in which we live?
“I want to keep it a secret as long as possible. When this is mastered we’ll be sitting on it longer than most records we’ve done. This one will be ours all Summer and then we will release in late Summer or Fall. Time means management so we need to work out how we want to tell people about the album. I’m most worried about the songs leaking, I think the album title will be out by the time Warped Tour starts, until then it is our big secret!”
For more on The Devil Wears Prada pick up the new Issue of Rock Sound featuring Bring Me The Horizon, Parkway Drive, Architects and many more.