When The Devil Wears Prada frontman Mike Hranica wrote "Home For Grave" for the group's latest album, "8:18," he felt there might be more to it than a three-minute and 24-second song. So he's fleshed it out into a 53-page book he's subtitled "A (Somewhat Neverending) Short Story," which he's selling at shows on the band's current tour -- which kicks off Oct. 31 in the Pittsburgh area -- and via his personal web site.
"I've always really loved writing; it's really all I've ever wanted to do, which is kind of why I joined the band in the first place," Hranica tells Billboard. "I'm always very challenged and really invigorated when I get to write anything fictional within a Prada song. 'Home For Grave' is an extension of that and beyond what I can do within a four-minute song."
The "Home For Grave" story, published in an initial edition of 1,818 copies, chronicles the unremarkable life of Ian Mitchells, whose mother dies when he's young and is raised in a small Indiana town by a disengaged father but still graduates from college and goes into education, first as a guidance counselor and then as a traveling educational consultant. Hranica's story terms it an "average life" and an "unintentionally meaningless existence," but the singer feels there's something to celebrate within that.
"I adore monotony within fiction," Hranica explains. "Anyone who reads 'Home For Grave' knows routine is the primary backbone of the story, and I just love writing about that routine. Someone like Jean Paul Sartre, he does that within his stories. I think it's very compelling, and I feel very drawn to it in my own writing, just exploring that routine. I think as I continue to explore and write more it's always going to be a very important aspect of the stuff I come up with."
This isn't the first time Hranica has turned a Devil Wears Prada song into a published work; he did the same with "One & A Half Hearts," which took its inspiration from the songs on the group's 2011 album "Dead Throne" and sold out of three pressings. But after "Home For Grave" Hranica says he'd like to steer away from the band's music as source material for his prose work.
"I think as I move forward and continue to write as much as I'm hoping to, I would like to create a separate sort of entity outside of the band with my writing -- which isn't a discredit to the band by any means," he says. "I would just love to put my time into something built totally from the ground up and non-band related. So I think most of if not all my work will be very separate down the road."
Hranica adds that The Devil Wears Prada is excited to bring its songs from "8:18" -- which debuted at No. 6 on Billboard's Top Rock Albums chart in September -- to the stage, though he acknowledges that the new songs are among the darkest he's ever penned for the group. And Hranica says he's comfortable with that.
"I'm constantly asked, 'Why's it so depressing? Why are you following this direction?' " he says. " 'Dead Throne' is very dark and depressing, and I think that around that time I started to come to terms with the fact that I love darker material. For me, there's an urgent immediacy that's very moving and very forward. I know I often seek it within the music and film and art that I like, so it's only natural that it's going to make it's presence within my own work. I just do exactly what I want and what I feel called to do, and this time this was it."