[Exclusive Interview] The Devil Wears Prada – Our Darkness, Creativity and Spirituality

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[Full photo recap of The Devil Wears Prada  – Live in Hong Kong]

“I don’t know anything about optimism!”
MIKE HRANICA, vocalist of The Devil Wears Prada

(中文翻譯在下)

Before The Devil Wears Prada’s first show in Hong Kong, we got a chance to talk to the band. We had a wonderful discussion on the philosophical sides of The Prada’s music and their mindset; plus the chosen questions submitted by fans over the world in our previous contest.

MH: Mike Hranica – Vocal
JD: Jeremy DePoyster – Rhythm guitarist, clean vocal
CB: Chris Rubey, – Guitar
AT: Andy Tric, – Bassist
DW: Daniel Williams – drum

DJ: Dinosaur Journal

DJ: You have emphasized in many interviews that lyrics was more important than melody. Is it still true?

MH: There’re compromises, but I think that primarily I just write heavier lyrics than many musicians or other singer-song writers would.. And I’m never willing to sacrifice lyrics for melody.

DJ: Why would you choose music and writing rather than other media as your main way to express your thoughts?

MH: That’s a good question. I never plan for singing or playing in a band. And I just stumbled into it. When I was a kid, I joined the band but by that time I was already writing poetries and stories and such and I was able to use that skill set in order to do this (being a musician) as well.

CR: I have to do everything. I paint, I draw, I pretty much do that kind of stuff when I can’t think of any music. I never really have the ability to write lyrics or anything like that, so I’m kind of abandoned the whole writing thing. So yea, I like to do all medium except (those) with words.

JD: I think all of us kind of do all medium. Like we do a lot of visual stuff and produce as much as we can ourselves. I think creative is just creative. A lot of people in general are a lot more creative than even giving credit for themselves… For us especially, professional creative people to fall in the mindset of “we’re the only people who are creative” or “we’re more creative than anybody else” But I think it’s important for everybody to be creative  in life.

DJ: Why do you choose to write about religion and faith rather than other topics? Why religion is your main inspiration?

MH: Well… I do write about other things, but for the band, that’s what it set on and what we always based ourselves on. I think spirituality is a frequent and an easy topic for music, especially for aggressive stuff. It works well. But I like to write about other things as well.

DJ: From your lyrics, I see a lot of dark topics. How do you keep your faith in life?

MH: Well I think, usually, biblically-speaking, that’s darker than anything we’ve ever done. It’s in the matter of perspectives. As far as… this sort of notion of… Preunderstanding (bible) that being a Christian means you have to have the brightness or warmth to the things you write as compared to do the other side of things that exists – which is the darker side of Christianity.

DJ: Does it mean in order to express your optimism you write about the darker things?

MH: Hmmm I don’t know about optimism.

DJ: Haha I like the answer!

JD: It’s true. He doesn’t have optimism haha.

DJ: Yea I believe so… from what I see in your lyrics haha.

DJ: You mentioned you like reading a lot. So what kind of books do you choose? Spiritual, religious, friction…?

MH: I would say philosophical-inspired friction. Over the past few years, it’s been more classics with some modern kind of stuff to sort of break and change pace. Lately I read quite a lot of Russian and French stuff which is usually my preferred materials.

DJ: I remember you said you read a lot about Existentialism. Do you consider yourself or The Prada as Existentialists?

MH: Hmmm… it feels weighty to call myself as an Existentialist though I think a lot of my principles and things I’d like to express and the general idea of nothingness is becoming more and  more prominent in my writing. So I’d say that part is inspired by Existentialism I guess.

DJ: So how’d you define this term? Some philosophical views of Existentialism is against religion. Do you find it contradictory?

MH: Well I mean… Existentialism comes in the form from so many different people and even being a Christian is not right…  And that obviously comes from atheist. I don’t think you needs to be limited from a certain section of faith or someone’s particular religion or belief.

DJ: So is it true that Define The Great Line from Underoath inspires The Prada on how to arrange the album?

MH : Yea, I always love Define The Great Line.I call that a good example of record that slows down, picks up really well and keeps you interested in the whole album.

DJ: Do you see them as a role model of being a Christian metalcore band?

JD: Yea definitely. We love their band.

DJ: Do you have other role models as a musician?

JD: Well I think we have a lot of role models – for good or bad. I think we came out at the time when you still need to open a lot for bands before we have our headline tour. You know sometimes we got scolded quite a bit by the older bands for good or bad ways. And tour managers… so that shaped a lot… not just the way we tour but also who we are as people… these kids with a bunch of older people around. So I think most of the bands that toured with us are our role models.

DJ: If you got a chance that you can pick whoever you want to tour, who will that be?

TDWP: The bands that were on our list a few years ago have now accomplished. But still we’d like to tour with like Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage.

DJ: Does Nick Cave inspire your music a lot?
MH: Oh Nick Cave is my favorite man in the world. I’m infatuated with Mr Nick Cave.
DJ: So you like The Birthday Party more or Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds more?
MH: Both! And Grinderman a lot too. I like  what he did with Grinderman. I even picked up The Boys Next Door not so long ago and gave it a listen as well. I just love everything from these 35 years of what Nick Cave has done.
JD: Haha long time of darkness.
DJ: So what else do you guys listen to besides Nice Cave?
JD:  I don’t listen to Nick Cave. I listen to a bunch of different things… I still like to listen to modern music that’s considered as like… metalcore and that kind of stuff. But really honestly, my favorite band in Dead Cab For Cutie. I’m not afraid of mainstream, pop stuff.
CB: I listen to classical music… and everything. When I say everything, I really mean EVERYTHING. I don’t really have any favorite right now.
AT: Maybe Modest Mouse, typically like indie rock and post-rock stuff.
DJ: Do you see Chicago or Ohio as your home now?
TDWP: Actually not all of us are from Ohio / Chicago, San Diego, Portland Oregon and we (MH, JD) are from Chicago.
DJ: So what’s the song Chicago in your new album Dead Throne about?
MH: I was spending a lot of time and energy writing about this broken relationship I had recently ended which was towards the end of Dead Throne. I wanna make it like the most confrontational perspective of all the love lost without much hidden metaphor. Yea so it’s more confrontational than other songs.
DJ: How do you feel to share this kind of personal stories with the mass audience?
MH: It’s hard for me to not being that way. For me, playing in this band and writing lyrics with all the metaphors and expressions, I think if I’m not being personal, I’ll be doing a bad job. And I often see things reckon to be written about and need to be expressed and if it falls into the category that would match a The Devil of Prada song, I’ll always write about it.
DJ: So how does The Prada works? Are you the main creative driving force or you all brain-storming together?
JD: It shifts in so many different ways. Like when we are writing a song, lots of the creative force was coming out from Chris. And we will force it into a song. And as time goes on, especially Mike puts into his stuff lyrically, and obviously if you read other interviews and reviews, you know it’s the main focal point of it. I think as we go on and be more mature, the vocal is there as something in addition to the songs. In that sense, yes Mike is the main creative force. He’s driving the ship a lot. I have thought about a lot over the past few years, For us and the band it’s more like knowing what we are good at and why we do things like this. So it won’t be like “Me, me, me”, especially in the shows, it’s a creative vessel to get some of these ideas out there too.
We are definitely not a band like, Mike’s sitting in a room and say “here’s your song, here’s your song, here’s your part, let’s go and tour” But the contribution he has had definitely become way important than what he has to say.
DJ: Which The Devil Wears Prada song is your favorite lyrically-speaking?
MH: I think when we were doing Dead Throne we had a new means of writing and were more complete in making songs instead of madly about lyrics. And then I came up with things I’d considerably proclaim that I’m proud of… I like the story of 8:18 tells, I like the story of t Home For Graves tells. Both of those I get to work something a little bit frictional and surprisingly First Sight kind of came to the surface upon completion of the album which was the last song I have to write for. I actually didn’t think a lot about the song. We just grab it and I have to write lyrics for it. And it just became this analysis of not wanting to write in exhaustion. In general the kind of perspective (in the song is) what I’d consider as a little bit of Existentialism in the lyrics. With that in mind and what you’re asking for, I’d pick First Sight.
 
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[Full recap of The Devil Wears Prada  – Live in Hong Kong]

主唱 MIKE HRANICA

“我不知道什麼是樂觀!”

在 The Devil Wears Prada 的香港表演前,我們跟樂隊做了個專訪。我們精彩的討論了Prada的音樂上的哲學和思想 ,加上由世界各地樂迷發送給我們 的問題。
 
DJ:你在以前的訪問強調了很多次歌詞比旋律更重要。這是真的嗎?
MH :是有妥協的,但我比許多樂團或歌手更視重歌詞.而且我從不願意爲旋律犧牲歌詞。
DJ:為什麼你會選擇音樂和寫作而不是其他媒體作為您表達您的想法主要途徑?
MH :這是一個很好的問題。我從來沒有打算唱歌或在樂隊演奏。我只是在偶然機會下開始。當我加入樂隊時,我已經寫詩歌和故事,而加入 The Devil Wears Prada 後,我也能夠使用這技能。
CR:我喜歡用不同的媒體。基本上我想不出任何音樂時,我便會去創作。我從來沒有寫作天份,所以我放棄了關於寫作的事情。因此除了關於文字的,我喜歡做所有的東西。
JD :我想我們所有的人都喜愛所有的媒介。其實我們做了很多視覺的東西,並盡可能監制最多。我認為創意就是創意。其實很多人也有創意,但他們沒有給自己足夠的認同…… 尤其作為專業創作人,不少會認為 “我們是唯一有創意的人” 或 “我們比任何人更有創意“,但我認為每個人在生活加入創意是很重要的。
DJ :你為什麼選擇寫關於宗教和信仰,而不是其他的議題?為什麼宗教是你的主要靈感?
MH :嗯……我其實會寫其他的東西,但因為樂隊和我們各人都是建基於宗教上。我覺得尤其對重型音樂,靈性是一個很常見和直接的音樂主題。
DJ:從你的歌詞中,我看到了很關於黑暗的主題。那你如何保持對生活的信念?
MH :我認為就聖經所講,黑暗比什麼都重要。這是觀點的問題,在宗教上叫作Preunderstanding。作為一名基督徒意味著你寫的東西必須有光明和溫暖,那才可以和對立的東西作比較 – 那就是黑暗面。
DJ:是否表示你的樂觀是來自描寫黑暗面?
MH :嗯,我不知道什麼是樂觀。
DJ:哈哈,我喜歡你的答案。
JD :這是真的。他的確不知道樂觀是什麼哈哈。
DJ:是啊,我在你的歌詞看到。 我也相信是這樣。
DJ:你曾提及你很喜歡看書。那你選擇什麼的書呢?
MH :我會說是有關哲學的故事。在過去幾年,我一直在閱讀經典和現代的書籍。而最近我較愛看俄羅斯和法國的哲學書本。
DJ:我記得你說你讀很多關於存在主義的東西。你認為自己或 The Devil Wears Prada 是存在主義者嗎?
MH :嗯……稱自己為一個存在主義者感覺有點沉重,雖然我覺得我想表達的東西和關於虛無的思想在 Prada 的音樂裡越見突出。所以我會說,部分的慨念是由存在主義啟發的。
DJ:那麼你怎麼解釋存在主義? 其中有些哲學觀點是反對宗教的。你會否覺得矛盾?
MH :嗯,我的意思是……存在主義的概念來自不同的人,甚至作為一個基督徒是不正確的……這顯然是來自無神論者的。我認為不需要局限於某種宗教信仰。
DJ:你們從 Underoath 的大碟 “Define The Great Line” 啟發到如何安排專輯歌曲排序是真的嗎?
MH: 是啊,我非常喜歡 “Define The Great Line”。這是一張非常好的唱片,歌曲編排得很流暢,讓你保持對整張專輯的興趣。
DJ :他們是 The Devil Wears Prada 成為一隊基督金屬樂隊的榜樣嗎?
JD :是的。我們熱愛 Underoath。
DJ:你有沒有其他的音樂人榜樣?
JD:嗯,我覺得我們有很多好或壞的榜樣。我們剛出來的時候,仍然要為很多樂隊作暖埸。那時有不少有經驗的樂隊和巡迴經理給我們意見。這不只塑造了我們巡迴演出的方式,更使我們成長了。所以,這些樂隊都是我們的榜樣。
DJ:如果你有機會選擇,你想與那些樂隊一同巡迴演出?
TDWP :在幾年前是我們名單上的樂隊都已經完成一同演出過了。但我們仍然希望與 Lamb of God 和 Killswitch Engage 同台演出。
DJ:Nick Cave 是否給你很多啟發?
MH:哦Nick Cave是我最喜歡的音樂人。我迷戀 Nick Cave 先生。
DJ:你喜歡 Nick Cave 的 The Birthday Party 樂隊還是 Nick Cave and the Bad Seed多一點?
MH :兩個也喜歡!還有 Grinderman!我很喜歡他在 Grinderman 做到的音樂。我才開始聽 Nock Cave 的 The Boy Next Door 樂隊。我喜歡 Nick Cave 在這 35 年所做的一切。
JD:哈哈一段很長的黑暗音樂。
DJ:除了 Nick Cave,你們還聽什麼? 
JD:我不太聽 Nick Cave。我聽一大堆不同的東西…… 我現在還喜歡聽流行音樂,如 metalcore。不過說真的,我最喜歡的是 Dead Cab For Cutie 樂隊。有時我也會聽主流的東西。
CB:我聽古典音樂……和其他。當我說其他,我真的是指所有的東西。我現在沒有任何一種特別喜歡的音樂。
AT:也許是 Modest Mouse 和一些獨立搖滾或後搖滾的東西。
DJ:你視芝加哥還是俄亥俄州是你們的家嗎?
TDWP :其實,我們都是來不同城地方的 – 像俄亥俄,圣迭戈,波特蘭 – 而我們(MH, JD) 是芝加哥人。
DJ: 那麼“Chicago”在你的 Dead Throne 專輯是關於什麼?
MH: 在差不多完成The Dead Throne的時候,我花了很多時間和精力寫這段破碎的關係。我想把它營造對立的觀點而不作太多多餘的隱喻。
DJ: 你對與廣大的粉絲們分享你個人的故事有什麼感覺?
MH: 這是很難不以歌曲分享我個人的觀點。我想如果我不是通過我的歌詞及比喻分享我的個人感受,我沒有做好我的工作。我經常看到需要寫在歌曲裡的東西,需要被傳達的訊息,只要是與樂隊匹配的東西,我會一直去寫它。
DJ: 那麼樂隊作品的創作過程是如何的?你是主要的創作來源,還是整隊樂隊一起參與創作的?
JD: 其實我們有很多不同的方式進行創作。就像當我們寫一首歌,很多創作的靈感也是發源自Chris。我們會使它變成一首歌,隨著時間的過去,特別是Mike會把它變成歌詞。如果你有讀過其他的評論或專訪,你會知道Mike是重點人物。隨著我們變得更成熟,主音像是額外加上去的東西,令整個歌曲更完整。在這個層面上,Mike是主要的創作動力。過去的幾年來,我曾經想過很多,現在我們更清楚我們所擅長的音樂和為什麼我們在做這樣的事情。所以我們不會有像是分裂、強調個人的事情發生,尤其是在表演中,這是一個得到創作意念的渠道。
我們絕對不是一個樂隊,只由Mike作領隊的角色,吩咐我們應該做些什麼。他對樂隊的貢獻比他在歌曲裡表達的訊息更為重要。
DJ: 在歌詞的層面上,哪首樂隊中的歌曲是你最喜愛的?
MH: 我認為當我們在創作Dead Throne時,歌詞有一種新的意義產生了,使歌曲更為完整。歌詞是作為一種讚頒、頌揚的方式出現……我喜歡8:18表達的東西,也喜歡Home for Graves。兩張唱片也讓我有機會寫一些虛構的東西,而在我差不多完成唱片的時候,First Sight是最後一首歌曲以這種方式完成。我沒有想太多,只是拿起來就開始寫了,沒有花很大的功夫就完成了歌詞的部分。我認為這首歌的觀點是有點關於存在主義的,所以我的答案會是First Sight,作為在歌詞的層面上我所最喜歡的歌曲。
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