The road, literally and figuratively, brought The Devil Wears Prada to their sixth full-length album Transit Blues [Rise Records].
In many ways, the group—Mike Hranica (vocals), Jeremy DePoyster (rhythm guitar, clean vocals) and Andy Trick (bass), with the recent addition of Kyle Sipress (guitar)—has embraced transition and change since their 2005 formation. After the pivotal breakout With Roots Above and Branches Below in 2009, the boys challenged the status quo and notched widespread critical acclaim, landing two consecutive Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 for the conceptual Zombie EP  and Dead Throne . 2013’s 8:18 continued to expand their imprint on heavy music, while the intergalactic concept epic Space EP most recently blasted off to a #18 debut and praise from Alternative Press, Loudwire, and more. Along the way, they’ve treaded countless miles on sold out headline tours, on the Vans Warped Tour multiple times, and in tow with Motörhead, Slayer, and Slipknot. Throughout the past decade-plus, the band charted a course to this juncture.
“Transit Blues is all about growing,” Hranica says of the new material. “We’re constantly in motion on tour. You’re endlessly going from one place to another. Aging physically and mentally is more at the forefront. In the past, anger was a big inspiration. These days, separation and mourning are the more immediate topics. Zeroing in, it’s specifically the separation that comes from traveling.”
As part of the journey, The Devil Wears Prada markedly evolved. Longtime friend Guiseppe Capolupo [Haste The Day] entered the fold on the drums for the recording of Transit Blues. In order to foster creativity and tap into their camaraderie, the guys, along with touring keyboardist and co-writer Jon Gering, holed up in Watertown, WI and Sawyer, MI rental homes and barns during the winter to write Transit Blues together (joined by Hranica’s two puppies, of course). This approach mirrored that of Dead Throne’s initial sessions.
“On the past couple of records, some guys would be at a hotel, and others would stay at home,” he explains. “We realized that process wasn’t really conducive to being creative because everybody’s on a schedule. You have to wake up at a certain time, drive to the rehearsal space, try to write, and then leave for dinner. In Watertown, we were all together. If we felt like it at any moment, we could go in the barn in jam. We could take breaks, crack a beer, or toss the football around, but we were always nearby and naturally writing.”
“We’ve been slowly developing the process we used for this over the last ten years of writing,” says Andy. “We get together and just go for it.”
“Everyone contributes,” adds Jeremy. “We find ways to work together. We began this journey on Space. Each of us is coming up with ideas, writing songs, and bringing them together. It’s really a team effort.”
For recording, the group headed to West Babylon, NY to once again join forces Dan Korneff [Pierce the Veil, Motionless in White]. This marked their second successive collaboration with the producer behind the board.
“We love Dan,” exclaims Mike. “He rolled up and fit in perfectly with us too. Space went just like we wanted it to. It was a no-brainer to get together again. He’s quiet and very methodical. When it’s time to really figure out what we want to do with a song or bypass a roadblock, he’s the guy we want to be with.”
“He gets us, and we get him,” agrees Andy. “It’s relaxed, but when we’re working it gets serious. It was another great experience with Dan.”
The first single “Daughter” paved the path for Transit Blues. Galloping on gnashing guitars, guttural screams, and haunting textures, it packs a contemplative punch inspired by one of Hranica’s favorite novels The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir.
“A lot of the lyrics are directly derivative of what’s happening in these few pages of the book’s climax,” he continues. “At one point, the protagonist, based on de Beauvoir, says she never loves her daughter. It’s a shedding of obligation no one would ever see. I loathe obligation personally, and it feels like a parallel to complacency. I love that she boldly makes that proclamation and leaves everything spinning. It’s this weight relinquished.”
“I like for the music to play to what Mike is saying,” Jeremy elaborates. “We got in sync because the music really connects to the words. It’s the best example of that.”
The percussive pummeling of “Praise Poison” cackles with a screeching reference to William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, while “Lock & Load” takes aim at the world’s gun epidemic through the album’s most menacing, yet gut-wrenchingly restrained moment.
“We wrote it to be unsettling because of the subject matter,” sighs Hranica. “This epidemic is one of the most unsettling things there is. We’re watching innocent people die over and over again. Anger drives that one.”
The airy elegance of “Home for Grave II” rounds out a story the frontman began on 8:18 and in his novella of the same name. Everything culminates on the succinct and sharp thrashing of the title track “Transit Blues” where screams give way to a dark hum, hypnotic chorus, and entrancing keyboard outro.
“It talks at length about the anxiety that sits in the background all day long, but will ramp up at certain times,” Hranica admits. “Anxiety and panic attacks have become such a huge part of my life since 8:18. It’s partially from getting one place to another and feeling stuck or like I don’t have control. The song speaks directly about the disorder. It’s at the forefront and part of what I consider the Transit Blues.”
In the end, Transit Blues propels the next era of The Devil Wears Prada, and it’s their most urgent, unbreakable, and undeniable yet.
“We’re an 11-year-old band, but in many ways it feels brand new,” concludes Jeremy. “This is the first full-length we’ve all done together. Our chemistry is the best it’s ever been. Prada has had new life breathed into it.”
“I feel like immediacy is one of the most important factors in being creative,” he leaves off. “The impact can be so colorful when a song is direct and to the point. That’s what we emphasized this time around. It’s Prada.”