The Midnight Juggernauts: The Interview

Revolver had the chance to sit down with the Midnight Juggernauts before their show at Santiago's Teatro Caupolican on April 22, 2010. The band shared their thoughts on their music, fans and said they have plans to return to South America very soon.

Photo by Aune Ainson
Photo by Aune Ainson

Revolver: Is this your first time in Chile?

Midnight Juggernauts: Yeah. We’ve been to South America once before, this last year we went to Buenos Aires but it’s our first time in Chile.

Revolver: Were you guys at all nervous about coming here only a few months after the 8.8 earthquake?

MJs: Well, it was already planned and we were concerned. It seemed quite devastating but I suppose we were just being led by the guys who put the show on. It was mainly if the people still wanted us. We were happy to come to Chile. We’ve always wanted to come here and explore more of South America. We went to some friends' homes and saw all of these cracked walls and realized how frightening it would have been at the time.

Revolver: Yeah, I live on the 7th floor; it was pretty frightening to say the least.

Photo by Aune Ainson
Photo by Aune Ainson

MJs: What were you doing when it happened?

Revolver: I was sleeping!

Aune Ainson (Revolver photographer): I was partying!

MJs: Haha, yeah, someone said it was like the earth was a huge wave.

Revolver: Yeah, very much like that. It was definitely scary. Are there earthquakes in Australia?

MJs: We had one last year. I was at home, upstairs and I thought just a heavy truck drove by and I saw the lights moving but nothing like what happened here. We have tremors but not earthquakes.

Revolver: So, to focus more on the music, do you guys have any favorite Latin American artists?

Daniel (MJs): I’ve listened to a lot of 70’s psych punk stuff from a lot of South American countries. I have a bunch of compilations and field recordings of weird, obscure type stuff. It’s really interesting how people have interpreted that sound. You get this whole different take on it.

Revolver: How has your music evolved from your first EP in 2005. What new sounds have been added/changed?

MJs: It’s probably a lot more raw and live. Like the first album we did, it was definitely more studio based. We’re still jamming as a live band but I think we were coming to the end of a 9-month world tour where we were playing together every night and that really influenced the way the album came out as well. Like, a lot of the songs came out of longer jam sessions and we had a looser approach to how we created the album so there was less frequencing and more of us playing live keyboards lines. I’m not really sure how to describe it. Like, we always have to go the music store and see where it’s placed on the shelf. Like, oh…the bargain basket huh? (Laughs.)

And we got used to the new gear as well when we were recording this record or just before so we explored that, like a lot of new pedals and unpredictable toys and we are never really sure how it’s going to work at night. Sometimes it’s magic and sometimes it’s a disaster. It’s different every time

Photo by Aune Ainson
Photo by Aune Ainson

Revolver: Do guys still play for family and friends?

MJs: Yeah, that’s definitely how we started off, playing at friends' parties. And we still play at friends' parties but now it’s like 2000 friends.

Daniel (MJs): At one of the first shows, before I was in the band, [the guys] played at a Chinese place and would change up the words using some from the menu.

Revolver: Do you guys still do that sometimes?

MJs: No, this was the early days before we warranted having headline shows. During the day we’d write songs and not have time to write lyrics for them. We would perform them to try them out and we did a couple songs at a Chinese restaurant using the menu as our lyrics. We don’t do that anymore but at least the energy or the vibe of it, like even a lot of times we’ll be doing a big show and we will have worked on this new thing and we’ll just work on it in the morning and just play it that night. Like, there was this song that we were rehearsing the other day that we’ve never played before and we were like, “Okay, why don’t we try that?” Which is a good thing I think to kind of mix it up.

I remember one time we had a song which we were trying out. I thought if we just gave the mic out to someone in the audience that they might improvise, which kind of sounds interesting in theory, but then we couldn’t get the mic back!

Revolver: Where do dance music and rock music have a meeting point? Is there a common denominator in the music that you take from?

MJs: Probably for us, it’s that ‘energy’ on stage. We don’t really define it as dance or rock. [The Crystal Axis] still has a dance energy to it, but it’s not relying on the staples of dance music like a 4/4 key chord or those elements, but it still gets people moving… hopefully not to the exits!

Revolver: Who is the songwriter of the group? Or do you collaborate together?

MJs: We all write songs together.

Revolver: Every single song?

MJs: We come up with ideas separately and come back together and fight it out. Yeah, it’s interesting writing lyrics; we don’t really know where they come from but about a month ago there was a guy who tattooed some of our lyrics from the song ‘Nine Lives’ on his arm and he put it on youtube and it made us think that we should take our lyrics more seriously if people are going to put them on their bodies.

Photo by Aune Ainson
Photo by Aune Ainson

Revolver: Speaking of that, what has been your weirdest encounter with a fan?

MJs: While we were in Japan, there was a guy waiting in the lobby and we went upstairs for like 4 hours and when we came down, he was still there. Oh, and I remember these girls giving us some underwear. They wrapped it with our names and everything, it was pretty amazing.

We do appreciate all of our fans!

Revolver: So you guys have your own label, Siberia Records. Can you tell me a little bit about that process? What are some of the challenges of juggling both the label and the band?

MJs: It can be challenging but the rewards are so much greater. It’s just really relaxing being able to create and release [the record] the way you want it to be created and released and not have anyone over your shoulder causing any stress or tension. Not that we don’t create that ourselves, but it makes it more of a pure, creative experience being able to release it how you want to. It’s funny, our label Siberia — we made a website for it and basically it was just for fun. We pretended it was based in Russia and we put down an address calling out for demos but it was an address of some veterinary clinic somewhere in Siberia so someone’s getting all of this music. But we get lots of requests from Russian bands and DJs and music makers asking if we can release their stuff. And I think in the future we will probably do like a Russian compilation.

Revolver: Is it only you guys on the label?

MJs: For now it’s just us. We get lots of messages from people but it’s so much work just doing our own thing and we’re traveling so much, but we are going to try to work it out later on down the road.

Revolver: What bands/artists have influenced your music the most? Who do you find yourselves compared to?

Andrew (MJs): It’s pretty broad. I suppose sometimes people have said that we sound like David Bowie but I think that’s more because Vincent sounds like him, but it’s hard because our last album was a lot more ‘dancy’ and this new one is very different. I’m not sure what people will say about our sound on this new one.

Daniel (MJs): All three of us listen to a lot of different stuff. So we’ll be listening to anything from 50s soul to Doo-wop, beach music to 90s dance to 70s and 80s pop and it’s such a range of style and they make their way into the songs a lot. They end up veering off on a lot of tangents and becoming something else entirely.

Vincent (MJs): And we have pretty broad audiences as well. Like, the first time we played in the US we were touring with Justice and after that we toured with Flaming Lips and we had some really different audiences. And there are probably pros and cons to that because we have fans with open minds who are happy to join our journey in whichever direction we go in, but there’s going to be people who we will disappoint.

Revolver: Is there anything you would like to add or say to your Chilean fans?

MJs: We are definitely going to try to come to South America a lot more often in the future. For the last album we spent most of our time in Europe and North America and we had lots of requests to come to South America but they were always clashing with other festivals. We are looking at dates to come back here again this year.

Midnight Juggernauts
Thursday 22 April 2010
Teatro Caupolican
Santiago, Chile

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