When someone uses the term ‘metalcore’, or even the umbrella term ‘metal’, The Devil Wears Prada are undoubtedly one of the go-to bands that come to mind. Originally from Ohio in the U.S. the group have made a real name for themselves (without kudos to the movie) with iconic LPs like With Roots Above and Branches Below and 8:18, but it’s really the band’s EPs that have blown fans away and played a huge role in where they are today. Of course we’re talking about the Zombie EP, but it’s certainly worth acknowledging the notoriety of their Space EP too.
Can you believe the Zombie EP has already reached and exceeded its tenth birthday?! They grow up so fast. The Devil Wears Prada know that the twenty two and a half minute EP really got fans stupidly excited, and it’s something they should be proud of. So much so, that they’re about to drop the sequel to the EP, aptly named ZII (our review here). We had to learn more about the EP’s inception and how it all came together, with the anticipation that comes with it, so we grabbed Mike Hranica – vocalist and additional guitarist, for a quick chat.
“We’re anxious and overjoyed,” Hranica tells us with mixed emotions. “In usual circumstances this would have come out a little while ago, as we wouldn’t record something and sit on it for so long, but there were some hiccups along the way.” Although this isn’t the way the band usually rolls, they seemed to quite like the opportunity to perfect the record. Having said that and admitting it should have come out in February this year, the metalcore vocalist is stoked that ZII is about to hit streaming platforms.
So far, the band have given fans a bit of a teaser of the sequel EP, with the release of singles ‘Termination’ and ‘Nightfall’ which have been received really unsurprisingly well. “I think Termination is a pretty ideal middle-of-the-road song. I always think it’s the right thing to do to release a song that’s like ‘hey this isn’t too far one way, and it’s not too far that way’,” Hranica says, feeling comfort with the mid-way track.
On the other hand ‘Nightfall’ felt like a bit of an unusual choice for how the band would usually go about picking a single. “I don’t like releasing the first song from a project because I want people to be surprised when they first hear it, but at the same time I think Nightfall does a good job as far as packing in more of what the EP has to offer.”
It’s an interesting time for The Devil Wears Prada to release ZII, despite the sentimentality of the Zombie anniversary. The sound of ZII follows on so smoothly from the original, however if you listen to the band’s most recent LP The Act from 2019, you’ll hear their musical maturity and the different styles they’re more recently experimenting with. This is evident on tracks like ‘Chemical’ which take a far slower turn to their standard pace.
“Yeah it’s been exciting, we’ve never had a song with any sort of radio success, it’s doing well and climbing up. When I first heard the original Chemical demo, I was pretty taken aback by it,” the singer tells us, giving some credit to his bandmates for its accolades. “Kyle [Sipress (lead guitar, backing vocals] and Jon [Gering, keyboards] deserve all the credit; mental health plays a huge part of every moment of our days, as people that struggle with depression and anxiety and it’s a very relatable topic.”
Going from staple mental health anthems like ‘Chemical’ and a new level of musical exploration, onto the depths of ZII would have been no easy feat for the metalcore maestros – however they were up for the challenge, and didn’t want to see it as a comparison between EPs. “There was a certain amount of pressure but one of the things that I didn’t want to hear is that the first one’s better, so we’ve tried to be as intentional and transparent as possible as far as like it not being a competition.”
It’s not only a sensible approach, but far more ideal for fans to hear a continuation as opposed to a reinvention – I mean, new music is way better than a remix of the same, right? “I think that the songwriting is so different from where we’re at,- ” versus the previous iteration of the band, alluding to several band member changes from over the years. “It’s meant to pay tribute to what was a really exciting thing for us back in 2010, and something that fans really latched onto.”
It all started because Kyle informed the band last year that Zombie was turning 10. He suggested to the band that they do some kind of tribute to it, but not to the extent of what they ended up creating. “He said “what if we wrote two new Zombie songs and just released it as a seven inch’, and we were like ‘yeah for sure’, and we were ready to do that while being on tour,” – but with the COVID tour cancellations, the band had a bit more time on their hands.
“We decided to lengthen the whole idea and make this more than just a tribute as two new songs, but instead be a whole new five song EP.”
Whether you’re reading this in Australia, in the U.S., or somewhere else in the world, you might have been lucky enough to witness The Devil Wears Prada perform a few of their records in their entirety in the last couple of years, including Zombie – something really special when you put the world of international touring into perspective right now.
In terms of the musical structure to ZII, it doesn’t seem out of the question. “It won’t be easy,” the unclean vocalist laughs – “especially Nora – that song’s brutal in terms of the amount of vocals happening and I can’t even tap it rhythmically with my hands.”
In all seriousness, Hranica believes it’s really important to be able to give fans those special moments like performing the EP in full, particularly given how ‘metal’ it is. “We’ve always prided ourselves on being a live band and having that as a part of us. So many bands in the metal scene don’t want to play guitar, when it’s like the coolest thing in the world,” and would rather use backing tracks at times.
“I would love to do Zombie One into Zombie Two – that being said, playing shows [at all] would be nice.”
That’s a lot of Zombies. As such, we had to find out how The Devil Wears Prada would survive in some kind of apocalyptic situation, where maybe there are heaps of zombies around (shrugs) – here’s Hranica’s take:
“We would eat Mason (Nagy, bass), so that’s our food. It’d be very sad though, because we love him so much,” the vocalist says, cackling at the question. “When it comes to muscle, it’s definitely Giuseppe (Capolupo, Drums) and Kyle, those guys are strong on the physical front, and I would definitely give credit to Jeremy (DePoyster, rhythm guitar, vocals) and Jon as being the smarts [of the band] and in terms of navigating the logistics and the more mental side of survival. I’d be the first gone though,” he reflects, smiling.
Before you get your hands on ZII, it’s worth considering whether we can expect ZIII in 2031. “It’s funny, it took until like a week ago for me even to think about that, it sounds pretty exciting to me, honestly,” Mike says, as an open book. “I’m so grateful for the reaction we’ve had so far and it’s not even fully released yet. If people are as excited about this in ten years, I’ve no idea why we wouldn’t do another project.”
“If you put a gun to my head, I would have no problem writing five more sets of lyrics for another Zombie EP, so we’ll see how things roll out.”
Interview by Ricky Aarons (@rickysaul90)
Pre-order The Devil Wears Prada’s ZII EP here.
The Devil Wears Prada – ZII EP tracklisting: