Just a few weeks ago, the world welcomed the arrival of The Devil Wears Prada’s sixth full-length album Transit Blues. Fans waited with bated breath for the record, and understandably so, it’s the first full-length offering from the band since the departure of not one, but two founding members.
However, with the album’s unveiling, it’s becoming overwhelmingly clear that while The Devil Wears Prada may be a new beast, it’s still got fangs. We spoke to vocalist Mike Hranica about the context around and setting for the new album, and the journey they took to make it.
Mike Hranica: I’m pretty restless slash anxious. That’s just the way it goes. It seems to be like that with all our releases and I would have liked to have adjusted to it by now but I haven’t. It still feels like an eternity between when we finish mastering an album and finishing the album, and then actually getting to show it to people or fans being able to hold it. But it’s coming up, we’re almost there.
MF: We’ve heard two singles -‘To The Key Of Evergreen’ and ‘Daughter’. How well to they prepare us for the rest of the album?
MH: Daughter is a bit median, if you will; It kind of meets in the middle between different components on the album. Evergreen is a bit of a standout track, we’ve been waiting to get that out, pending on the music video. It took a while to complete but I’m very satisfied with the result. I feel like Evergreen does not speak for the rest of the record. Daughter, maybe a little bit.
It’s an interesting question; I’ve never been asked that. I appreciate it and I wish I could offer a better response. There’s a different sense of urgency in different songs; A different sense of mourning in certain songs. I think Daughter speaks well to the mourning side of things.
MF: There is a lot of chatter about how far removed Evergreen is from your other bodies of work. What was happening around the creation and recording of Evergreen that made it so unique?
MH: I don’t know! It felt completely organic and natural to make. It really had no changes from the way we demoed it to the way we finished it, besides adding extra elements and more layers. But I felt like everything came together as it should. I’m always urging for bigger parts or different kinds of dynamics I think we’ve lacked in certain aspects of the past few years, specifically with 8:18.
I think that To The Key Of Evergreen really has a plausible kind of motion through it. Going, up and down – Something that seems sort of mournful but also something that feels like a celebration.
All the same, I’m quite happy with the results and I’m glad people are talking about it!
MF: I read that this was the first time, as a band, you shacked up in a house to prepare an album…
MH: Well, we’ve done the same over the past few releases but the thing we did this time is we’ve never had the convenience of being able to write on the same premises as we live. Usually, we’ll be at a condo or a hotel where obviously we can’t set up instruments. Then every day we’d travel to a studio space and write.
This time, we bundled those together in an effort to liberate us to be able to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Instead of driving to the writing space and having to write there, it was people going about their usual lives. Then, when the vibe was right, we’d get together and start jamming together. All together it was most liberating.
MF: I feel like that could go either way – either it’s liberating or you’re at each other’s throats the whole time. That said, would you do it again for the next album?
MH: [Laughs] Oh certainly. Realistically, I can’t imagine not doing that whenever it comes time to write again. I found it entirely conducive to the process in the sort of workflow, which we use.
MF: It seems like the band tackled a lot of ‘first times’ with Transit Blues, it was also your first album without Chris Rubey and Dan Williams, was that strange at all?
MH: No, not at all. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have new members come into place with this band, and always be for the benefit for the band. Things have panned out really well in those regards. It was more frightening when we were going into the Space EP without Chris. Chris was the lead songwriter. He was also the guy that demoed everything. So when we came into the Space EP and everyone, collaboratively, was more of the lead donor and it worked out well.
We’re proud of the Space EP and we’re proud of Transit Blues. The demoing just ended up landing on John’s lap, who’s our keyboardist.
MF: I try not to spend much time on album names as it’s rare there’s something there, but I’d be interested to know, is there any depth behind Transit Blues?
MH: Perhaps less depth than some of the other ones, realistically. The idea of Transit Blues, really, is the inevitable separation in going from one place to another. I encompass things physical and mental within that. Whether it’s transit, which I think is inherent with a commute, but I also consider ageing transit, it’s going from one place to another.
It’s the degradation that comes with that process: of ageing, of going to one place or another, if that’s work or living the life of a touring musician.
MF: I guess on the topic of a touring musician, when will The Devil Wears Prada heading back down?
MH: I probably can’t say but it is on the books…And I very much look forward to it.
MF: I’m gonna have to push that man…is it a summer thing or a winter thing? I don’t want to make you give too much away.
MH: Your winter…Or our summer. [Laughs]
MF: A few months ago you announced a side project, God Alone, how has that been so far?
MH: Good! It’s sort of in hibernation right now as far as Transit Blues taking precedents, but Kyle and I started God Alone I think three years ago. We just never really brought it to the surface as far as finding more members because him and I just wrote and recorded. We needed a drummer, we needed a singer and we couldn’t find one so I finally said I’ll do it.
It was this very deliberate process over the course of the last number of years until we were comfortable saying ‘hey, this is us. This is our identity.’ So yeah, we’re very proud of it. I’m excited to see what opportunities arise. As soon as I have some money, I’ll get us back in the studio and hopefully do some splits with friend’s bands.
I’m pumped; we did about 2 weeks of shows at the end of August that went really well. It’s really refreshing to keep creative and to keep inspired within music rather than having 110% concentration on Prada and a lot of the less than pleasant aspects of Prada. You know, when it comes to business and certain obligations.
MF: Well, when can we expect an Australian tour from God Alone?
MH: I dream of doing Australia. We’ve only done 10 shows so we’re only as young as can be. We’re not shopping record labels because we’re so young. I want to go about this methodically and thoughtfully so what comes, comes and in the meantime, we’ll be having fun jamming and making music we like.
MF: Maybe the next time we speak will be for a God Alone interview!
MH: That would be lovely, thank you so much for having me.
‘Transit Blues’ is out now. Grab a copy here.