Scottish MIDNIGHT FORCE came blasting towards me like there was no tomorrow. Of course I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
A band name says more than thousand words, or does it? How important is a band name to get people interested in your music?
-Ansgar: I think a name is very important, as it is the first impression the fan will have of the band, seeing it on the album cover, the website or a gig listing. When we sat down to decide on the name for MIDNIGHT FORCE we intended it to be clear for everyone what kind of music they can expect,without it being too bland, overused or boring. Both musically and aesthetically we try to avoid to imitate what has been around for decades, though we are of course influenced by the greats of old, but we want to put a fresh spin on things. The name MIDNIGHT FORCE we found perfectly represented this and is a name with enough character and individuality to catch people’s eyes.
When you finish a recording and then sit back and relax, what kind of feelings do you get?
Are you glad it is finished? Does the anxiety grow, not knowing if everybody will like it?
-Brenden: I actually delayed the album quite a lot, I really wanted to make sure I’d made the best album I could at the time, so I spent ages alone in the studio getting sounds and overdubs and things exactly right before I let it go to the mixer. I think this sense of being totally content that what I had made was an album I was really proud of, mixed with the knowledge that we’d played the songs live so much, and knew that they all went down well, meant I was quite confident that at least some people would like it, and that was enough that I really didn’t worry about how the album would be received. It was a bigger stress worrying that the stuff I couldn’t do – the mixing and mastering – would be done how I wanted, but Mike (mixing) and Redshift Recordings (mastering) had a good grasp of what we were after, and were both very nice and patient about changing the few things I wanted changed. -A: It was quite relaxed for us, as the recordings are being done in our own studio/rehearsal space. So we are in a familiar environment and can do a lot of things ourselves. The main issue after the recordings were done was to get it mixed and mastered and organise things such as booklet, album cover etc. We were quite confident during recordings that it will go down well with most people and we were very excited to get it out there and finally release the album.
What is it like to be in a studio recording your music? What kind of feelings and thoughts race through your heads?
-A: As it doubles as our rehearsal space we know the place very well and that certainly helped with working on the album. We played around with the songs, seeing them evolve during the recording process and we were extremely excited with the final product, eager to get it released.
Today I get a feeling that the promotion of a band lands a lot on the bands themselves so how does one promote oneself the best possible way in order to reach as many as possible?
-A: Yeah, you have to go out there and fend for yourselves, the most important thing being to play live and make yourself heard. We have tried, right from the start, to play in as many places as possible, rather than playing our hometown every few weeks. We played shows around England or Ireland, so outside of Scotland, within a few months of forming this band, and have played about a dozen times in Germany since then, trying to get support slots or playing the odd headline show to reach a broader audience.
Today we have all these different sub-genres in metal. How important is that you can be tagged in one of these? Why isn’t metal enough as a tag?
-A: I think most of the sub-genre tags are very important in the current scene. Not to differentiate between the people listening to them, but to give fans an idea what to expect and also to gauge whether they’d be interested in the music or not. You shouldn’t dismiss a band based on a genre tag and never having listened to them yourself of course, but there is hardly such a thing as an all-encompassing metal scene (anymore), hence it is unlikely that, say a fan of Deathcore would be a huge fan of a NWOBHM act or vice-versa. Hence it is important in establishing a profile for your band and reach the right kind of crowd. Having said that, I’m not always sure what we are, as Epic Metal, NWOBHM, NWOTHM or just “Heavy Metal” are being thrown around regularly. -B: We’re lucky though, we don’t sit and rigidly fit a song around the “acceptable” structures or melodies etc. for our genre, we just sit and write the music that we’d find the most fun to listen to live, and it all happens to fit nicely into the trad-metal label.
What importance is there in being part of local/national/international scene? Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of something bigger? I know it does to me knowing that in some slight way I was a part of the Swedish death metal scene in the 90s.
-A: Yeah it can be something exciting when you play alongside fellow minded bands. There is a couple in the local scene and a few in the UK as a whole, although I don’t think we are really a part of this. Dissonance Productions signed a bunch of English Heavy Metal bands trying to create a new “NWOBHM” of sorts, however we only play with these bands up in Scotland or occasionally in northern England, but have yet to play London and the South. It would be great if this “new wave” could be formed into an actual movement of bands supporting each other or helping to create a real old school scene in the UK, something which is de facto non existent when compared to Germany or Sweden.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
-A: Same as with a good name, a good artwork is among the most important traits of an album or a band. A bad artwork can contain some amazing music, there is plenty of examples of that, but being a record collector myself, the idea of buying a record based on its cover has been always important. We took great care and worked together with a fantastic artist from Glasgow, Immortal Pict Illustration, to create the perfect cover for “Dunsinane”, that fits the music but also can stand for itself as a great piece of art. For upcoming releases we will also make sure that the covers fit the spirit of the recordings and the overall style and aesthetic we’re trying to create. -B: I think as well as the cover, going through the album booklet and the lyric sheets is something I really enjoy I when I get a new CD, so for this album I made sure the booklet was nicely designed and gave a bit more life to the songs. I hope that because of the wee bit of extra information I included in it some folk were inspired to go investigate some of the cool history behind our songs.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? With the ability to upload your music as soon as you’ve written it the freedom to create has become greater but are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans now that every Tom, John and Harry can upload their stuff?
-A: We have originally released the album ourselves and we did alright to reach an audience, shift copies on CD or Tape etc. Labels can still be very important though to make the difference, to take that next step. Reaching more people, get more recognition and to be able to produce the album on CD or other formats in quantities and quality you might not be able to do DIY. The fact everyone can now publish their music instantly definitely doesn’t help to get your band out there and heard in the masses of releases, here as well though the push from a label can help to get you heard by the right people at the right time.
What is a gig with you like? What kind of shows do you prefer to play?
-A: We always try to make it exciting and to provide a show. We use props, like hoods, daggers, swords, banners etc. to bring the songs to live, as well as some stage decorations. We love shows like those of Iron Maiden, Kiss or Judas Priest that provide not only impeccable music but also a spectacle. Lots of bands out there play their instruments perfectly but that is not always enough to provide a fun and engaging show. The audience should go home and feel like they just witnessed something exciting and entertaining. We enjoy both opening or support slots as well as headline slots. With the latter you can often do more theatrics and show elements, but as support for a great headliner you have less pressure and can concentrate on making sure you and the audience are having a good time.
What lies in the future?
-A: We will play some new countries we have not played before, for example Greece in October and December. The recordings for a new album will commence at the end of this year too, we already have a few songs finished and are already playing a couple live to try them out and see them evolve. Next year we shall work on more tours, particularly in central Europe and to reach new shores! Thank you!