THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA – Warped Tour 09 ending

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA – Warped Tour 09 ending

On November 11th, The Devil Wears Prada played their first concert in Oslo, Norway. This was the last stop on their European tour 2009. My photographer Martin and I got a chance to sit down with lead vocalist Mike Hranica and talk with him about the band, tours, religion and lots of other things. This is what Mike said.


First of, can you state your name and your role in the band?

I am Mike, I do vocals.

How's the tour been so far? Any highlights?

It's been good. There have been some sweet shows and then there have been some smaller ones. We've never done mainland Europe before so it was a bit new for us. Some of the smaller shows we actually haven't played in years cause we always get real lucky and do all these really sweet US tours, but yeah it's been going well and we hit it off with Your Demise really well. Definitely a new close friend band, get along really well and hang out. They're pretty crazy and funny antics I suppose.

Do you have any big expectations for your audience in Norway?

Not really. I kind of have low expectations throughout the whole tour, just not knowing what to expect so. I don't know, as long as there are kids there then we'll play and we'll have a good time.

You've been a band for quite some time now; do you have any highpoints or low points in that time?

Oh yeah, there are more highpoints than I can really name off and I'm a bit of a pessimist so I'm always thinking, like wondering when things are going to get better even though there're really good. There have been low points, just arguments with band members and getting bitter with one another. Back when we used to tour in a van it would get harder, it was much more difficult in a van. Being 6 different people plus crew that didn't always agree on the same things and get real pissy with one another so there's a number of low points and it's tough being away from home all the time and loved ones. But it's all worth while.

Do you have any favourite festivals out of the ones you've played already?

I don't know… It's hard to consider Warped Tour a festival but we've done Warped Tour in the past two years and it's been really, really awesome. Good times with friend bands and just always having a huge crowd and getting along with the people that run Warped Tour and stuff. It's hard to consider it a fest because it's every day in the summer besides a few off days but… Other fests, this year Revelation Generation went over pretty well, we've done Cornerstone a bunch and different smaller Christian festivals around Ohio and such. We've done a number but I'd say Warped Tour is my favourite if you wanna call that a festival. 

Do you have any festival that you know about that you really want to play?

Yeah, I don't know… Rock Am Ring or something. Is it in Germany? Yeah, Germany. Yeah, I wanna do that real bad and hopefully this coming year, we're looking into it. I'm not sure if it's gonna come together well but we're hoping to do just the big European festivals in Germany and maybe Download Festival again. We did that in 08, so hopefully just set up the huge European Festivals sometime in the next year or two.


When you finish this tour you're going to the US and then you're going to Australia to play Soundwave Festival. What's on the agenda after that? Do you have any plans?

Yeah, well… That you can reveal? Really, no. Coming up right after this we're doing a co-headline tour with All That Remains, with Story Of The Year and Haste The Day support. It's about four weeks; it's hitting up a lot of the smaller cities that we haven't gone to in a while, just places we don't play as often, just generally smaller cities throughout the US. It's about four weeks so nice and short. It's gonna feel great to be able to just doing tours in the US after 6 weeks over here but next year it's all really up in the air. Probably within the next month or something we'll have our announcement as far as what we're doing in the year, and then we have ideas for recording an EP. So just a lot of ideas and now we're trying to get it all cemented.

You've played a lot of festivals and also a lot of club shows, what do you prefer to play? Do you prefer to play a big festival or a small gig like tonight?

I really like a good mixture. Like when you do Warped Tour and it's like a outdoor festival, it's great and then when you hit a club tour after that it's like "man I've missed this" and then you'll do shows like this where it's like, Switzerland was probably, I think the capacity was 200 people. So it was this tiny room, stage was probably a foot and a half of the ground. We haven't done one in a while but even like floor shows are so fun to do. I wouldn't ever wanna do smaller shows for 6 weeks and then 6 weeks of it again; I don't think I would wanna do that with any size room. I like a mixture of everything. I like to be on shows were there are 2000 people with the barricade and just a big stage, and then I like having shows were it's cool to the show, where it's 200 kids in your face and like kids falling off the stage the whole time.

During all your tours you've shared the stage with quite a lot of different bands, have you formed any close friendships with any bands in particular?

A Day To Remember and us get along really well, and we've done 6 tours together I think. We all hit it off really well and always goofing around. We kind of have like matching personalities to other members and it's always awesome to be able to get back in touch with them and hit the road with them. We've had the pleasure of doing two tours with Underoath, it turns out we get along with those guys really well and we'll hopefully do more tours with both those bands. Now we just met Your Demise and we get along quite perfectly and they're real funny. They are planning to do a lot of stuff in the states, so we're hoping to have them out whenever we have our next tour and we can pick out bands that we have on the tour with us, and we definitely wanna have Your Demise out cause they're sick, real fun and easy to get along with.

Well following on that question do you think metal bands are more supportive of each other than other genres?

I don't know, I don't think you can really stereotype it as far as indie bands get along really well with indie bands and metal bands don't get along so well with other metal bands. It's kind of hard to say, I think it just depends on the band and there are always bands that are supportive of each other and metal bands that love indie bands and indie bands love metal bands. Obviously those are the best ones that keep an open mind, less ignorant I guess. Especially here in Norway I know the Norwegian metal classification seems pretty ignorant with metal bands, other places in the world it's not really like that. I know a lot of heavy bands that don't listen to other heavy bands and lighter bands are like "Oh, I would love to play in a band that just freakin' hard". Sort of everyone is friends with each other? Almost… almost. At least in theory. Yeah, you know, you wanna find bands that are supportive of other bands. I guess it's not a bad thing if you're a metal head and you only listen to metal and you get really good at it, but I know most people listen to a wide variety of everything.


The singing on your songs is a mixture between the extreme and often quite soft. How did you decide that that's how you wanted to sound like?

When we started, before I was even in the band, I was the fourth member to join. The three of them just wanted like a breakdown metal band, with singing and some melody to it. It's pretty popular, the heavy bands with the screamer and they have the guitarist that sings, especially nowadays there's a lot of them, or two singers. It's just something we wanted and I can't really imagine us a band that only screamed as compared to a band that only sang, we just kind of have the mixture, definitely. A lot of bands even have the lead vocalists that's the screamer and the guitarist that sings more than the screamer has his parts. We're not really like that, we definitely have more screaming than singing and I think it's for the better as we try to become a heavier band.

Did you ever consider a different solution when it came to the singing?

Not really, whenever we write we never really sit down and say we wanna do this, this and this. We always just kind of do what comes naturally. Some songs will be like "this song I want to be more easier, more like radio structure" like Chris will write something like that then he'll write something like "I want this just fast the whole time", but other than that it just kind of comes together. We never really sit down and say like "on this album we wanna have much more singing" or something, it just kind of works its way naturally and becomes whatever it becomes.

Your song titles vary from quite bizarre to almost obvious, what role do you want the name of the songs to play in your band?

Uh, really none. We don't really care about our song names. A lot of bands from years and years before us have been doing joke song titles and when we started we never really had plans of putting out an album or something, we were sort of just like "what are we gonna call this song?" and it's easier to just make some joke title than some over serious, cliché title, so we just started doing it and I actually brought up the idea of serious song titles for the newest album but it was declined cause a lot of people recognise that about us, that we have stupid song names. So we just keep it going and keep the lyrics, the message and the album titles seriously and then the rest is a joke.

Do you have a favourite song title amongst your songs?

Pretty much everything that's on the new album I find quite comedic or comical. Most of the songs are named after crew members, like Robert our tour manager and our old merch guy, our old drum tech, our guitar tech, our sound guy. We just name songs after them and I find that pretty funny and then the rest are just inside jokes really. I think I like all the new song titles. We have one that makes fun of scientology, and then "Sassafras", because it's relating to trees and the album being called "With Roots Above and Branches Below". It's just all that jargon.


What song do you feel best describes what The Devil Wears Prada is all about and what you want to display as a band?

What we wanna display as a band is believing in something and our belief primarily being in Jesus Christ and being followers of God and believers in God and that's like the primary message, but it's also believing in something. As far as a song that were to describe us it be… I don't know. I have a lot of dark apocalyptic lyrical songs and then I have songs that are about people coming back to God, I have people going to God for the first time. It's hard to think of one song that describes everything in one song. I have no idea.

Are you a political band?

No. Personally I kind of make up the messages of the band and then I write the lyrics. We have one song that's actually a political song, sort of a political song on the new album called "Wapakalypse". But it just deals with people that would rather be discontent with their government all the time rather than being optimistic about it. That's about as political as we get. We all have different views as far as like democrat or republican or whatever. But I would definitely never call us a political band.

I did some research on you guys before this interview and something that quite often comes up is that you are a Christian metal core band. Why do you feel that it's important for others to know that Christianity is a central part of the band?

Because we feel that we've been blessed in everything we've done and I don't think we're completely worthy compared to other bands as far as being able to make a living off of this and we are lucky enough to be were we don't have to work when you go home. A lot of bands, when they go home they have to work and save up money until they tour again, we don't. We tour and then we sit at home and tour again. We've just really been blessed enough to be able to do this. Not being blessed as far as being able to make money but blessed as far as being able to make music, and tour and see new places, meet new people. There's always been like "The God thing" but then we really started pushing it, especially when I joined the band. We believe in it. When you believe in something enough it means it's worth sharing and if you don't believe in something enough you keep it to yourself. For us, believing in Christ is something we believe in enough to tell people at our shows and write songs about. All in a respectful manner cause if you don't believe in the same as us that's totally fine and if you disagree with it that fine as long as you are respectful to. That's just kind of how it goes.  

Do you get any comments from fans about your religion?

Yeah. A lot of positive comments from people being like "You helped me find God again" or "You helped me through a tough time in my life". We always get those messages on the internet or e-mails, but there are also negative reactions as well. No has the balls to come up to you and say "I think you're wrong cause you're a Christian". No has the balls to do that, but positive people will come up to you and say nice things about it. On tours where we don't really fit in that well people will flip you of. If you wanna talk about you not believing in the same thing that's totally fine but if you're disrespectful about it you're completely worthless to us. We'll see how tonight goes seeing as how Norway is the home of Gorgoroth and all this. Maybe a lot of people will be flipping us of tonight, we'll see. Hopefully we'll represent our country in a good manner. Good, good. I hope so. There's a lot of Christians here to so there's not only Gorgoroth and evil black metal bands (Martin, the Photographer). Yeah, it's just the stereotype that we get, us ignorant Americans.

If you got the choice to join forces with another musician who would it be, why and how would it sound like?

I really don't know where to start. There's so many. I try not to keep idols or heroes but there are so many amazing musicians that I got the pleasure to know or see on different shows. I would say anyone from Converge, I don't know any of them but it's my favourite band. Other than that people that I would like to work with, besides close friends, because I have people at home and our sound guy who I think is a good guitarist and stuff. In more of a celebrity sense I'm gonna go with Giuseppe Capolupo, that plays drums in Haste The Day. The famous Dallas Green (City and Colour) and Kevin Skaff and Jeremy McKinnon, the two ADTR (A Day To Remember) dudes, just prodigies of our time.


Have you covered any songs?

We covered Still fly once. It was good because a lot of people got to know us because of that, like "Oh, this metal band or whatever covered a rap song". It got a lot of publicity. It also sucks because a lot of people thought of us as that band that covered Still Fly, which we don't want at all. We wanna be a band that writes our own songs. There's nothing we can do now to change it, we got a lot of positive effects from people that started like "I wanna go see The Devil Wears Prada because I wanna see them cover that rap song, see what it's like". I don't think we'll ever do another pop song cover because we don't want people thinking of us like that. We wanna cover Slipknot really bad and we wanna cover Rage Against The Machine at some point. Would you change what the song sounds like so it would fit more into your type of music? Rage Against The Machine, there is no way we could sound like that but if it was Slipknot we would try to do exactly what Slipknot does but I don't think we'll ever actually be able to do it because by all means Slipknot is still gonna sound so much better than us. But it'd be kind of fun to toy around with.

How is to be on tour? Do you enjoy being on tour?

I do. Some members of the band enjoy being on tour more than others but obviously if none of us wanted to do it we wouldn't. It's almost like a percentage, 60% of us want to be on tour, and 40% wants to be at home. If I were to split it into a percentage for me personally, I don't know how I would it do it because I'll go on tour for like a month and be like "alright, time to get home. I miss my dog, my amp, my girlfriend, and all the pleasures of being in Chicago". At home I'll be there for like two weeks, I'll go to a show and be like "Man I think that band sucked. If I were in that band I would want to do it better than that" and that will get me motivated and inspired to go out and play shows and write new music or whatever. Tour is good, it's tough but I think it's all for the better in the end.

What's your favourite on tour pastime activity?

It kind of fluctuates between tours. Some tours you can do things that you can't on other tours. For example on this tour you can't go out an barbeque seeing that it's very cold, but that's something you can do on Warped Tour that's really fun, one of my favourite parts of Warped Tour. I like to play my guitar as much as I can or as much as I can discipline myself too and try to get better. If I didn't bring my guitar on this tour I would have gone completely mental. We play video games and we watch a lot of movies and a lot of the band watches TV series. The only TV series I really watch is The Office. None of us work out, I bring my bike and I ride my bike on US tours. We just do the stereotypical activities I suppose.


If you weren't in a metal band, what kind of profession do you think you would have?

My family has always loved music but no one has ever played an instrument or actually made music, but when I coincidentally joined this band and I've now been playing guitar for a long time. Because of the band now I might do something in music as far as label, management, booking maybe. As I have gotten older I've gotten more into elite clothing brands and trying to do something with that. When I was in high school what I really wanted to do was to do something in literature, which still interests my as far as writing a book, journalism or whatever, but I'd probably be going to college for that if I never got involved with the band.

Is there anything you feel people should know about the band that you haven't already said?

I'm gonna go with: we know that our band name is stupid, but give us a chance anyway because I think our music is better than our stupid band name and if you can get passed the stupid band name you might be able to enjoy us.

The interview lasted for about 30 minutes and we got a lot of information from Mike that we didn't know before. After the interview we both thanked Mike for taking the time and he thanked us for having him. The tone of the interview was friendly and there were some laughs in there as well.