One thing is clear about God Alone, the noisy, experimental new project featuring the Devil Wears Prada frontman Mike Hranica and guitarist Kyle Sipress: It sounds nothing like its members' other band. While the lead single, "Milk Drinkers," off the group's forthcoming debut album, Bent Shoulders, had a heavy noise-rock/Jesus Lizard vibe to it, the second offering from the record, "Heavy Metal" — premiering here — has "a little bit of what Beastmilk did on their record Climax," says Hranica, referring to the noted Finnish post-punk outfit currently known as Grave Pleasures. "They have a different name and whatnot now, but that was an LP that Kyle and I both enjoyed, collectively."
"'Heavy Metal' is a song that represents the sort of equilibrium of Bent Shoulders — which is grime and a lack of anything dramatic or spectacular," he continues. "There is nothing huge, there are no cannonballs or ships. There is degradation. There is only my own routine, in the bridge, expressed in a distraught kind of way."
Bent Shoulders — which also features bassist Pip Beltz and studio drummer Giuseppe Capolupo, who is currently playing with the Devil Wears Prada — is set to drop July 20th. (You can preorder it now via Rise Records.) The release will mark the end of a long percolation process for the band — Hranica first announced the "bluesy post-punk" outfit back in 2016. Below, the singer talks about how the project started, its influences, his "spoken word" singing approach and maybe playing your Chinese restaurant.
THE FOUNDATION OF THIS BAND GOES BACK A BIT, AT LEAST TO 2016 WHEN THERE WERE FOUR MEMBERS. BUT WHEN DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO START THIS PROJECT AND WHY?
MIKE HRANICA I met Kyle [Sipress] through a friend back in 2013. We had some beers one night and hung out one on one, and then Kyle had a song demoed the next day. That song is "Alpha King" off of our EP. I was originally playing bass, but when we couldn't find a singer, I gave it a shot and we thought it worked. So I became the singer — using that term generously — and second guitarist on some of the songs. About half of our work is one guitar and half two guitars. I had the idea to start something in the vein of Young Widows/Jesus Lizard forever, I just didn't have the key element to drive that, and that element turned out to be Kyle. From there, he started teching for my other band [The Devil Wears Prada] and then years after that joining in my other band.
WHO IS YOUR THIRD MEMBER?
Pip is our bass player. He pretty much grew up with Kyle. He's a strange dude, but wonderfully reliable and stays in the pocket. Coincidentally, he took Kyle's job teching for Prada, so it's safe to say we're an incestuous mess.
THE MUSICAL INFLUENCES QUESTION CAN BE A BORING ONE, BUT I HAVE TO ASK: WHY DID YOU GO DOWN THIS PATH SONICALLY AND WHAT ARTISTS INFLUENCED THE BAND? IT SEEMS LIKE WHEN PEOPLE HEARD "MILK DRINKERS," THEY WERE SHOCKED BECAUSE THEY DID NOT EXPECT NOISE ROCK FROM YOU.
And the "noise rock" title comes off surprising to me, but not insulting by any means. We are meant to be ugly and noisy. I know that the influence question sucks, however, since we started recording music for God Alone I decided to be as transparent as possible about bands we're into. On a kind of contemporary level, it's Young Widows and Protomartyr. Classically, although I don't know that that is the right term, it's Jesus Lizard, Shellac and The Birthday Party. Albini, Denison and Howard are some of my absolute favorite guitar players, although I should mention Kyle would certainly have a different list of dudes or ladies. Sonically, we were lucky enough for Rise [Records] to put us at Electrical Audio with Sanford Parker. When a friend heard our EP and mentioned Wovenhand, I became dead set on working with Sanford.
SOMETHING I FOUND INTERESTING IS IN CERTAIN SONGS YOU TAKE A MORE OF A "SPOKEN WORD" APPROACH WITH LYRICS — WHICH REMINDED ME OF A FEW OF THE SONGS ON PRADA'S TRANSIT BLUES WHERE YOU DO THE SAME. SO, DO YOU APPROACH THIS PROJECT LYRICALLY DIFFERENT EITHER IN PROCESS OR TOPICS THAN PRADA?
Everything comes from a different place. I mean, otherwise, what's the point? God Alone exists as a voice for me to explore ideas and criticisms that would never translate in the world that Prada exists within. I suppose the spoken word thing is my singing, since I can't sing. The voices that I most enjoy don't contain the most melody, at least concerning men. Beauty is deservedly reserved for women, not me or God Alone.
WHAT SONGS ON THIS DEBUT MEAN THE MOST TO YOU AND WHY?
They are important songs to me, or as mentioned earlier, what's the point? I guess I'd say the lesser important songs to me are the more post-rock vibe songs, which are Kyle's chops and his more unconstrained expression of melody. I didn't sing on some of those because they didn't need my voice. There are already a number of things happening. They are not a stage for some loner dude moaning overtop of them, which is why there are some notably instrumental moments on the LP.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM GOD ALONE GOING FORWARD THIS YEAR?
We are playing a few shows mid-late July around the record release. I'd love to play more gigs. Email us and we'll play your house or art space or Chinese restaurant. That's what we did in 2016 and it'd be terrific to do that again.