On the Record: An Interview with Midnight Spin

Formed out of a basement rehearsal space in Brooklyn back in 2008, playing music so loud and powerful it probably made the sidewalk shake, New York’s own Indie Rock band Midnight Spin literally came from underground roots. In Summer 2009, they released the very well-received debut EP Through the Mojo Wire.  Not only did they sell out Mercury Lounge as a completely new band in New York City (of which there are thousands); they also won the 2010 Independent Music Award for Best Rock Song and were named one of the 10 Must-See Bands at the annual CMJ Festival in 2010 – something all up-and-coming bands would hope for.

Fans will be happy to hear that Midnight Spin has officially finished recording their much-anticipated debut LP Don’t Let Me Sleep, which they worked on with critically acclaimed producer/engineer/mixer Justin Gerrish (Ra Ra Riot, Weezer, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend).  This album really exhibits the talents of all five members (Mikey Corbett on lead vocals and guitar, Jim Terranova on vocals and guitar, Jeremy Cohen on keys, Danny Scull on drums, and Ben Waters on bass).  So, brace yourself for the 2013 release of Don’t Let Me Sleep; this album will take you on a melodic journey that is comfortable yet gritty, keeping you on your toes with its ever-changing feel.

How would you describe your style of music? Do you think it fits into a specific genre? Indie rock with a touch of punk and grunge at times?
Mikey: That’s pretty accurate.  You know, it took me a while to realize the punk element in our band, but it’s definitely there.  I’m not sure as much what Indie Rock is, to be honest; it seems to be rock that just doesn’t get radio airplay.  We’re certainly an independent rock band.  We’ve always loved playing fast music, writing good melodies and lyrics, and making songs that physically and emotionally move audiences.  We love bands like The Strokes and Pearl Jam, and 70’s stuff like Tom Petty and Zeppelin.  This album definitely shows some new moods and a little more maturity, but not too much, because we still just want to rock the fuck out and get people moving.  

Future plans and upcoming releases and tours.  What can fans / people reading this look forward to?  
Mikey: We just booked a record release on January 11th at the Mercury Lounge with this great band Apollo Run opening for us.  After that, we’re gonna be on the road as often as possible, doing interviews, videos, promotion, and just playing the hell out of the new album.  We want to get our schedule set up as far down the road as possible, so that once we start, we won’t stop for quite a while.

What makes Don’t Let Me Sleep different than your past material? Describe the sound of the new record and how you hope people will react to it.  
Mikey: This record is definitely the full-on Midnight Spin people have been seeing live over the past year. We have synth and piano and keyboards all over this album, whereas on the past EP we had maybe one overdub of keys.  The vocals, guitars and drums are all much more immediate to the listener as well – it truly exhibits each of us playing.  We tried to keep ourselves from becoming too friendly with big production, we really wanted to get the band’s playing across.  

Our hope is, of course, that people will love it!  In any case, it’s a relief and an inspiration to make a record that really captures our band’s spirit and sound. 

Let’s talk about the music video for your new single “Neuroin”. Who shot it? Was it fun? Tell me about the concept. It’s awesome, by the way.
Mikey: Thank you!  The video was shot by our own Jim Terranova with his Canon T3i video camera, and all the production was in-band.  We wanted to have more creative control over the videos and things that the band put out, and we looked at this video as our “learning” experience.  We had a really good the time making it, there were definitely some stressful moments and growing pains, but in the end it was completely fulfilling because we knew we were going to get exactly what we wanted out of it.  

The concept basically started when we had the idea for a golfer to come into the frame, looking very focused and stern, and tee up a tomato.  After that, we had fun trying to string together as many vignettes as possible: ‘where does the tomato go?’ – that sort of thing.  The randomness works really well for the song because the song itself is so chaotic and desperate at times.

Tell me about your fans — where are they geographically, age group, etc.?
Mikey: Here’s a cool thing about the internet: we found out we have fans in Africa, Australia, Germany… places we’ve never set foot in.  But primarily most of the people who come out to the shows are 20-somethings, either in or just out of school, or a little bit older.  We’ve seen people at shows with fake IDs and people at shows with AARP cards.  But I’d say our sweet spot is probably your average unemployed 24-year-old.  

Alright. Let’s go back in time for a moment. Tell me about meeting the other guys in the band. How did this all come to fruition? 
Mikey: I met Danny in the 5th grade when I transferred to St. Andrew the Apostle in Maryland.  I don’t remember the exact way we met, but I do with the other guys… Danny and Ben met at Dartmouth, where they were fraternity brothers.  I don’t think I exchanged any words with Jeremy Cohen until after we had played a party together at the University of Maryland; he was just sort of sitting at the keyboard, and I started singing.  Maybe I’m wrong, haha.  Then Danny and I moved to New York, and Ben moved here a few months later, and we started playing shows and rehearsing together in Brooklyn.  Danny put up an ad on Craigslist and so Jim floated into our studio like the feather at the end of Forrest Gump – a total mix of fate and chaos.  After our first EP, Jeremy moved to NYC and we had reached homeostasis.  

Can you tell me about the van? You moved up here from DC in it? 
Mikey: The van is like a child that we all have to worry about and take care of, but we could never give it away.  We didn’t acquire the van until right around our record release.  We went up to beautiful Cranston, Rhode Island to Zinc’s Automotive to get it.  It was run by this guy whose son is a friend of Ben and Danny’s, and it’s a real creep machine, full-size white cargo van.  Danny lived in it for a night or two when he was subletting his apartment.

What was one unforgettable tour (or tour memory)?
Danny: Our introduction to The South – skeet shooting half-full liquor bottles off a balcony with a bunch of rowdy South Carolina frat boys at 4am.  Couldn’t have felt further from New York City…they do things a little different down there.

Do you prefer the studio or the stage?  You guys have so much energy — is it hard translating that in the studio? 
Mikey: It’s tough to say.  We love playing live, but we had a really great experience in the studio this time around.  We really got to take our time and learn a lot and experiment with our songwriting process, and that definitely made us want to get back into the studio as soon as possible. But now I think we’re at the point where we just want to give these songs to people in person, through insane shows.  

Favorite bands? Anyone you’re dying to meet?
Mikey: I gotta meet Keith Richards before he croaks.  

Just for fun. If you weren’t musicians, what would you be and why?
Mikey: I could see myself moving to San Diego and being a landscaper at the Zoo.  Plants and animals make me happy.  
Jim: I’d be the world’s foremost vegan painter, meaning I would paint vegans.  
Ben: Gofer for NASA. 
Danny: If I wasn’t a musician, I think I’d be a writer or journalist of some sort.  I’ve never met a deadline in my life though, so maybe something in the sciences where I could set my own schedule and perform experiments.  I always thought it would be cool to work in a foreign embassy, but I bet that would involve tons of paperwork.  Failing any of these, I would be a Tyrannosaurus.  
Jeremy: Web entrepreneur, and then I’d purchase a sports franchise. I’d nestle up with Mark Cuban and make millions.  

What is your favorite thing to see in the audience while you are on stage?
Mikey: Smiles, movement, energy, and people singing our songs.  It will never get old, it’s why we do it.

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