Josh Bell: Walk me through the process of your formation, how you came together and how you decided on your specific style.
Mike Hranica: We were all dudes going to these local metal core shows and whatnot all really, really into bands like [unintelligible] Still Remains [unintelligible], generally just all Upstate Records lineup and whatnot, As I Lay Dying as well, and it was popular, it was getting more popular, trying to introduce sense and keys into the great down sound, so we we kinda just started there. I knew our drummer and, sort of our guitarist as I was always hanging out at band practice, and then they asked me to join and sing, and Jeremy [Depoyster, Prada guitarist] found us online. 10 years later, here we are.
JB: You’re doing 27 shows in 128 days, does that ever wear on you and the guys?
MH: The most difficult part is usually just off days, the tour started with five shows straight, and the first off day, that’s usually rough for me. My voice has to get broken in, and there’s no way to really harness that or exercise that until I’m actually on the road. Thankfully my voice has been holding up well. We’re all getting older, so longer tours are getting more difficult especially over the summer when it’s really hot and everything. We’ve been doing it for a while, we know how it goes.
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JB: How do you maintain your ability to keep your voice where it’s at, in terms of the screaming vocals?
MH: Sometimes it goes out. We haven’t had to cancel a show because of my voice, in nine years or something like that, but sometimes it goes out, and there’s vocal rest days where the best thing you can do is just not talk, which is just miserable. It’s very lonely as well, and that’s a part of it when it does go out, trying not to go too hard as far as drinking and yelling and whatnot…I guess I would say “partying.” It’s very very mental, it’s a mental game, a lot of placebo and whatnot. Speaking with other vocalists, it kind of goes the same for them as well, friends of mine.
JB: Do you guys have any pre-show rituals? Things you do to get your head in the game?
MH: We have a goofy little chant and whatnot, we pray before we play, otherwise not so much, we just try to relax. I have issues with anxiety, for me just trying to relax, have a few drinks and whatnot usually helps. Nothing too strict, we’re usually just watching ESPN or drinking beer, reading, etc.
JB: How does your faith play into performing with more secular groups and musicians?
MH: It’s only gotten easier, really. I’ve always said that temptation is the same no matter who you’re around and whatnot. It can be tough as far as seeing your peers and being so close to people. When it’s time to relax and you’re exhausted, not to dance around the subject, basically drinking too much, again I think temptation is the same at home just as much as it is on the road, as far as envy, and idolatry and those sorts of things that I struggle with as someone of faith, a believer. I don’t know, I think that everyone has their trials, and perhaps mine are a little bit different in my occupation. I think everyone has their tribulations to endure and overcome.
JB: At what point if any was there a moment where you kind of realized, ‘we made it’, or ‘there’s something special here’?
MH: I’ve never really had that. Ambitions change, and sort of evolve, I guess, as far as what exactly we’d like to accomplish, or what our goals are, ideal situations. I’ve always considered success very complacent. I still feel like, even though it pays all my bills, and I’m a home owner, I have two dogs, my children, and an independent adult as they would say, I guess kind of recognizing that is like, “oh, maybe it is a thing, playing in this band and being able to get my bills paid,” but yeah, it feels like a lack of ambition to go too much on that.
JB: Who are your biggest influences?
MH: I’m often inspired by friends’ bands, as far as what makes a really heavy part in my mind. Getting to work with Adam D [Adam Dutkiewicz] for two records was amazing too, I think he’s a complete genius. Even working with my buddy Jeremy McKinnon who sings for A Day to Remember, my first friend for, let’s see we first toured together in 2007 so eight years now, and still someone I very much savor as a friend, and a great dude. Kind of having those acquaintances is really important I think, and it’s cool to see the creativity evolve between individuals and people, really just to continue to roll on, and to continue to strive, that’s always been inspiring, otherwise, no one I think I’d ever meet as far as inspiration lyrically or in literature either. We’ve toured with Slayer twice and that’s cool, Kerry King’s really nice. “Raining Blood” was my jam as a kid, still is. That was a little bit surreal, getting to do two tours with them.
JB: Walk me through a show day.
MH: It’s pretty ordinary. I just got a second dog, my puppy, her name is Millie, she keeps my other one company but my other one doesn’t come on tour. So I’d wake up, she’s ready to go outside so I’d take her out to use the bathroom wherever I can find some grass. From there, sit around, usually wait a little while, have some coffee because I get anxious if I have coffee first thing anymore, I’m getting old. Walk around the venue, handle a telephone interview like this here and there, just change strings ,I like to change my own strings on my guitars, it’s one of the very notable times of pressure for me, just being able to not think and clean my guitars. Shower, clean up. I used to exercise, I haven’t been able to because I’ve had trouble with my knees. Later in the day I’ll always go find food. I’ve been vegetarian for a while but lately I’m shifting towards vegan, so trying to find the right place. And then wait for sports, watch some basketball, football. I’m a big hockey guy, so I’m always counting down to hockey. I watched my Penn State Nittany Lions earlier, so, usually a lot of sports, and by then it’s gig time. If not I’ll have time for a nap, or maybe some reading.