Incendiary interview Midlake

To me, Roscoe is me going for it but I can see where people would hear that and be, “Now that’s kind of like soft rock.”

To me, Roscoe is me going for it but I can see where people would hear that and be, “Now that’s kind of like soft rock.”

IN: The Trials of van Occupanther.  I must say I was so impressed with how, not so much how different it is from the first record, but just how professional it sounds It’s just got that really classy Fleetwood Mac style production.


M: That’s what happens when you start to listen to that kind of music. Anything you listen to is going to affect how you write music and how you record it. What ever you listen to, to what you put in is what you get out.


IN: I think it’s a really strong piece of work and I was most impressed with the fact that there are quite a few of you in the band and yet everyone of you has a really interesting part in each song. You see so many bands with four or five people and some of them are just strumming a really basic thing and one person leading but you guys there’s something going on all over the place. How do you put that together?


M: I just do the writing at my house and then I’ll lay a little bit down. Try and get the basic idea of the song down, maybe a couple of parts, but not too much. Then I’ll show it to the rest of the guys, who never have a negative thing to say about the songs. And that helps. It helps to have a band that fully supports me and loves what you write. It’s a wonderful thing to have this kind of life but yeah, they always enjoy the songs and we record right away. We don’t rehearse the songs, we just start laying down the drums and laying down the bass and just hear how it’s going. But on stage, by the time we finished the album we hadn’t really played the songs together. Maybe a couple.


It’s usually recorded and then we figure out how we played it on the recording for live, so maybe I played the piano for a couple of the tracks, then the piano player and the band have to go back and transcribe what I have played to make it sound like it fits with the album. So we all just switch around on parts and what ever needs to be played. That’s what we’ll play.


A lot of the guys, we all have key boards, so even the bass player will go back playing something and even the lead guitar player also plays keyboards. I think we have 6 keyboards, or 5…which we have from our first album as that was very keyboard heavy. This album doesn’t really call so much for keyboards, the keyboards made it sound more cold, or something. It wasn’t as inviting to these songs. It was kind of ruining them. We were intending it to sound more like the first album, but it was just these songs were of a different nature. That’s what happened.


IN: That’s good cause then because it shows that you’re not stuck in a specific role as such, although you each have a role in the band. You just let the song turn into what it neads to be then take it that way.


M: Yeah, that’s the way it goes. I’m not sure what the next album will be? Those songs were written now, I don’t know, a year and a half or two years ago, so now it’s time for me, although were just starting to tour and this hasn’t even come out till next week, I have to start thinking about a new album. It’s good to change but then I don’t know what…maybe the next will sound exactly like this one. I don’t know?


We’ve always changed, we had EP a long time ago. Our first album is radically different from our EP. It’s always changing but I think I found a love for this 70s folk rock. I just started buying all these albums and we had them all around the room, around the recording and I’ve really gotten into that world and I can’t escape from that world now.. I’ve written only one or two songs from the next album so far and we’ve recorded one of them and it’s always a little bit different but it’s still the same kind of instruments. It’s good to change, from album to album, doesn’t matter to me. I just want to make good music and if change is necessary, then that’s fine, but if not, if it stays the same then I’m fine with that too.


IN: Well if it’s anything like this then I’m eagerly waiting for it, I think it’s a stunning album. The other thing I really like about it is that it feels so… not so much relaxed or restrained as such, but there are times on it when you think they could belt this out. They could really build this up live, but it kind of stays at that beat and it still works…Do you ever get the temptation to push it?


M: It’s different being on the inside, like, I don’t’ see it like that. If I saw it like that I might try to go for it more. I don’t see it like that. To me, Roscoe is me going for it but I can see where people would hear that and be, “Now that’s kind of like soft rock.” It just kind of like chugs along  but I feel like I gave it my all. You get to the 1891 and I feel like arrgghh! But maybe compared to a lot of bands, yeah, that is really reserved. It’s really holding back even on the most obnoxious song…its not obnoxious at all.


IN: I was thinking more along the lines of Head Home. Towards the end where there’s a really good catchy beat and the guitars are in there, but it’s not in your face at all. It’s just like, there and it’s rocking and it’s great and I think that live it could almost be primal, if it’s just really straight, but listening to it I think I’m just so impressed at just how it works without having to do that.


M: I don’t know why that is, I just think it’s the players in the band. We’re just not that type of guys. We’re the same in that way. I never have to tell the guitar player that he’s playing too much, too little, he’s just playing it and it sounds good to me and everyone feels the same way. He’s playing the piano over there and we don’t’ get that crazy, which could be a downfall as well. I’m glad that you see it this kind of way, it’s a good quality.


You play for festivals and you want to be out there and you want to be doing it. Like Radiohead would just go crazy on some songs, like the National Anthem, just crazy! I  would like that, but I’m also not really that type of person. You can only do what your voice allows and the kind of person you are. I couldn’t see myself getting up on stage and jumping around.


I can only do what feels right, I guess. When we’re recording albums, I don’t know, I guess we don’t take it that far. It feels a little contrived or something, it doesn’t feel quite right.


I mean I can get angry, but I don’t really want to write a song about it. When I go home and want to put on a cd I don’t want to hear about how angry somebody is. Not that it has to be all bubblegum and is gonna make you feel great. I mean I like and I listen to a lot of melancholy music. I like music that makes me cry and is sad and I guess that’s more about what I want to represent. I mean, yeah I get angry, but I guess that’s just not what I want to represent.


IN: Ok, let’s change tack a little bit. Cos we were instantly impressed by you when we noticed the amount of cultivated facial hair amongst you. You see, beards are always a reassuring sign. If a band have taken the time to groom a beard then there’s a good chance that they’ve taken some time over their music too and put a bit of effort in. So we were wondering, how important are beards to Midlake?


M: Oh super important. Fiercely. Nah, we don’t care. I mean, I grew this about five or six years ago and then  of course the other guys all copied me.


IN: Well I’m just insanely ealous that you can grow one in the first place.


M: Oh the drummer can’t. He can grow a little moustache kind of thing but he can’t grow a full beard.


IN: Yeah but he’s got a baby face so he gets away with it that way.


M: That’s true.


IN: Now the important one, what’s your favourite biscuit?


M: I’m not that big on sweets but, do you know Nutter Butters? They’re a peanutty thing. They’re really good.


Interview: Damian Leslie