Häromdagen så hade jag en recension på nya favoriterna The Midnight Ghost Train och deras senaste album, Cod Was The Ground. Efteråt blev det en del mailväxling med sångaren Steve Moss, vilket resulterade i följande intervju.
Hi Steve, I'm really honored to be able to do this interview with you, especially as your latest album really knocked me out.
Earlier you mentioned that the whole album was made in one Live take, all at the same time. Is that how you normally work?
Yea we enjoy recording that way. Our last album BUFFALO was also recorded like that, to analog tape as well. It's just a lot more fun and captures our bands live feel a lot better. We enjoy a challenge.
My absolute favorite tune on the album is “Little Sparrow”, As I interprets the lyrics beyond its Edith Piaf references, it deals with the dualism of music. On one hand how you love it and on the other hand that it’s a grueling and demanding mistress and when looking at your tour schedule one can only guess the toll it takes.
I’m also very impressed with how you recorded that song as more or less an instant improvisation. Especially when it comes to churn out lyrics on the spot. Is writing lyrics hard or easy work for you normally?
Yea that song was written while it was being recorded, on the spot an actual full improv. We came up with the idea to do a jazzy number about an hour before we recorded and we just hit record and let it flow. First take we kept. Lyric wise for that song it was pretty easy, cause the subject I talk about in it (as you said) hits very close to home for me, so for that one in particular it was very easy. I had been listening to Edith Piaf a lot lately which sparked the idea to say padem padem in it. I think it all worked out real good. A lot of the lyrics I write are improved, so I'm used to just letting whatever is in my head just go. When we try out songs live before we record them they will have different lyrics every night. I very rarely write down lyrics. I just let it go each night and whatever hits I keep. Like I said we enjoy a challenge.
I cant leave The Little Sparrow, as it’s haunting and suggestive groove just mesmerizes me, I could even see it’s “Rock-Noir” feeling as something I would like to hear more of. and things that popped up in my head directly was images of the movie Sin City and the old computer game Max Payne. Where did the inspiration to this type of song come from?
Jazz music. I'm a HUGE fan of old jazz and blues and I like to incorporate those elements as much as possible. The original idea for that track was an acoustic song we wrote. But I just wasn't sold on doing it, as it was just very much a typical song. Before we recorded it I decided let's do something completely different. So the bass player played a simple jazz bass line, the drummer came in on a cool beat, we hit record and then I came in. It was cool cause neither the producer, or the band, or me knew what I was going to do. When I finished I asked the producer and the band if I should try it again, and they said "absolutely not, keep the first take".
One last thing around The Little Sparrow, It’s certainly out of the framework of the rest of the album, and For me at least, I find things like that a little extra interesting when it is done so well. Could we expect more songs in the future that goes outside your normal frame?
Absolutely, we are always changing things around. This album is way different than our last one, the next album will be even more different and so on. We don't like doing the same thing over and over. So yes, you can expect more things like this and more completely different stuff on future albums.
How do you normally work when you write songs?
We write them live on stage. That just forces us to think of something good on the spot cause you have no choice to screw up. Then we will talk about what we did after the show rework what we didn't like and the next night fix it up. The songs change so much over the course of a tour. We really like to take the crowds reception into mind when we are writing.
The music, especially on your new album are quite heavy and fast paced mostly, but you still manage to root yourself in a very soulful blues groove. Is that something that just comes out that way, or is something that you are consciously working on?
Both. Blues and Jazz is pretty much the only kind of music I listen to. My influences come from the old greats in those genres. So I try to incorporate them in everything I do, and also it's just the type of music I understand and know how to play. I don't understand metal, or heavy stoner rock or whatever you call it. I understand how to play the blues, and just make it fast and heavy sounding.
I haven’t had the pleasure to see you guys live (yet), but from what I’m seeing and hearing, it seems like you guys incarnates the lyrics from Clutch song “Earth Rocker”
Do it live on stage, or don't do it at all.
Is being on stage where you like it best? From what you said about the recording of “Cold was the ground” it seems like you try to bring the live element to the studio too.
Absolutely, it's all about the stage for us. We give 1000% on stage every night. No matter where we are or how many people are there we will always play and perform at the highest caliber we can. What's the point if you can't put on an amazing live show.
As a blogger friend of mine pointed out earlier (Christer Magister), You guys seem to have a knack for fields, The artwork of the album Buffalo, and now with the video to BC Trucker, is there a hidden corn field fetish.:-)
No not really. It's just we live in Kansas and it's very very country. With lots and lots of fields. That's just where we are from.
You are a hard working band, who made it so far in DIY manner, now when you are on a label, do you see any differences?
I guess we will see. The new record is coming out soon, so hopefully being with the new label will help a lot more with album sales and promotion. Were ready to take the next step forward in furthering this band.
Where do you see the band going from here?
"It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll". We're not slowing down, were gonna keep fighting every step of the way, and pushing things as hard as possible. We want everyone to know our music.
You have made extensive touring, both in America and Europe, what is the main differences playing in the US and Europe?
Oh man there's a lot of differences, some good, some bad. But i'd have to say the biggest difference is that promoters work a lot harder out here with getting the word out for the shows.
You are just about to embark on yet another European stretch to support the new album, unfortunately no Swedish dates this time, but I hope to see you here soon. Then you start an American tour right away. Don’t you ever get tired, or are you aiming on to pick up the touring mantle from Motörhead?:-)
Of Course we get tired, but we aren't slowing down. We will be on tour in Europe three times this year. We will do four USA tours, and a South American tour. There is a lot of work needing to be done, and we aren't afraid of hard work. So we will keep at it full force.
And here I will close for today, and just give a big thanx for this interview and may the roads lead you to wherever you want to go. At least one thing is sure, I will have your latest album on high rotation for myself, and I´m looking forward to anything new from you guys.