The Devil Wears Prada created ‘The Act’ to “catch people off guard”
The Devil Wears Prada just announced their forthcoming seventh full-length album, The Act, but it’s not going to be merely another record from the band. Their latest effort, arriving Oct. 11 via Solid State, marks the beginning of a new era for the metalcore veterans and sees them working their hardest to push the confines of metal.
Vocalist Mike Hranica relates the new record to the boundary-pushing happening in more mainstream genres such as pop or hip-hop, but it’s not as if they haven’t made a stylistic transition before. When the band moved from synth-heavy screamo to cutting-edge metalcore on their third album, With Roots Above And Branches Below, they capped off an era for themselves, and now they’re entering a similarly new direction.
“We wanted to do something that actually tests the boundaries,” Hranica says. “You don’t see that in rock, and there’s so little invention in rock these days. With Roots Above to look at it from that perspective was us moving from screamo to metalcore. That was the objective of that record, according to my memory at least. That’s not so much what The Act is.”
Hranica says this new album feels like a make-or-break moment for the band. He and the other members don’t want to stifle themselves by remaking the same music, so they’re playing with their sound in ways they never have before.
“I think there are safer options as far as what we could have done with our seventh record,” he explains. “We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to do something that tries to avoid the tiredness and nail it in. Being complacent, which I think would have been making the ‘safer’ record, is something that we deeply look to avoid, and by making a record that we think is going to try people or catch them off guard is something we intentionally signed up for.”
The first single, “Lines Of Your Hands,” should feel somewhat familiar to longtime fans, but it won’t be representative of the record as a whole. Hranica explains that easing fans into stylistic changes is something he firmly stands by and chose this track as the best representation of that decision.
“The people who’ve followed us over the years and especially the later releases, it checks all the boxes for them,” he says. “At the same time, though, we’re being highly critical and more so than we’ve ever been in terms of songwriting. I always feel the first single needs to be a record’s middle ground. Something that impresses listeners but at the same time doesn’t make you think they did something totally different or the band’s totally changed.”
The vocalist notes the never-ending message thrown around in metal and rock that genres are dead and says they consciously avoided some of the failings of these movements. Hranica explains one thing he sees rock and metal lacking is the ability to dial in their sounds, instead blasting listeners with full-bore volume at all times.
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“When I hear something like Billie Eilish, my mind goes straight to the sheer minimalism of it,” Hranica says. “I don’t see that in metal or hard rock, and I think it’s something that a song like ‘Please Say No’ off our new album moves to. That’s something I’m really excited about. I’ve found myself over the last five or so years being drawn into culture and art that grabs you based on what’s not there rather than what is there. Music is such a testimony to that based on defining a song on what you didn’t do rather than what you did.”
The band didn’t take the approach of an overarching theme to tie all of the songs together this time around, though some do loosely relate throughout the album. The frontman explains the album title as the connecting point that brought the tracks together and gave meaning to the record.
“To me, The Act feels all-encompassing, and the record doesn’t have commonalities between the songs, so I wanted something that did capture everything,” he explains. “It’s also kind of abstract in that The Act refers to anything. It could be referred to as a crime or a sexual act or whatever it might be, so I thought it sucked up all of the songs well. A part of the record that I started with is the idea of being fake, both in a cultural and political sense that we deal with on a daily basis here in 2019. The songs didn’t take that much of a role until they went from the actor to the act.”
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The Act also marks the first album the Devil Wears Prada have made since fully settling into the lineup changes they faced around the release of 2016’s Transit Blues. Now, they’ve had a few years performing with guitarist Kyle Sipress and session drummer Giuseppe Capolupo, and with the increased role keyboardist Jon Gering took as producer for this album, their creative process has changed considerably.
“Musically speaking, Jon and Kyle wrote the album, so their communication and the way they work together is seamless and fluent,” Hranica says. “We came up with many more songs than we ever have before and scratched a ton of them. It’s been a long time coming as far as [Gering] at the reins as the record’s formal producer. He steered this ship 110% in terms of working with me, Kyle and the rest of the band.”
Although Capolupo hasn’t formally joined the band as a permanent member, his contributions have been crucial in carrying the band forward. The drummer and Hranica are longtime friends from their time touring together when Capolupo performed with Haste The Day, and even though he didn’t contribute significantly to the writing of The Act, his playing boosted the record to new heights.
“When things fell through with our original drummer, Giuseppe was the first person I called, and I knew I could count on him,” Hranica says. “He played with Haste The Day for a number of years and closed that band out with those guys. His capabilities and talents as a drummer really know no bounds, and it has always been that way. [He has] prowess in terms of being such a heavy hitter on the drums, and I’m really proud to work with him. So much of an album comes down to the drummer, and it’s so important.”