Interview: The Midnight Beast

Since bursting into the public eye back in 2012, the Midnight Beast have become a youth TV phenomenon. The comedy/music hybrid trio, who have just finished broadcasting their second popular series on E4, released their much anticipated second album ‘Shtick Heads’ on their own label, Sounds Like Good via Essential on 2nd June 2014 (you can read our review here). I caught up with Stefan, Dru and Ash to discuss Sweet 16 parties, Cliff Richard samples and what’s next for the band.

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How did you find the transition from YouTube to tv?
Stefan: “It was definitely an interesting one. Obviously, we started online and I think when we got the opportunity to make it bigger scale, we immediately approached Warp Films because they’d never done anything like that. It was amazing working with them, they’ve been heroes of ours from what they did with Dead Man’s Shoes and This Is England. So yeah, it was obviously weird suddenly trying to adjust to working with tonnes of people but we got on with it and I’ve managed to stay involved with the editing and Ash kept in with the choreography, and me and Dru carried on producing the tracks too, so it was a really good experience.”

How would you say the show has impacted you as a band?
Ash: “Yeah, it’s been a great experience, definitely. I mean, that coinciding with all our music videos, it’s definitely helped our popularity grow, which is awesome, and we’ve definitely had more of a male fanbase since the tv show came out – especially at our shows, you see a lot more guy-fans jumping around, which is cool.”
Stefan: “It’s been amazing to have something that’s bigger commercially, like tv, to kind of take The Midnight Beast to the next level. And it’s wicked because then suddenly it influences our online presence; fans of our tv show find out that we existed before and vice versa, which is great.”

Let’s talk about your new album Shtick Heads – what things would you say inspired it?
Stefan: “We love the idea of having our heads on sticks, straight away [laughs]. But uh, we really wanted to do something that wasn’t so reliant on a soundtrack album and the first one, as amazing as it was, it was a lot of songs that we’d written a while ago, so for this one we got to sit in a room and just think of something that would all go together and run as one continuous thing. We played around with the idea of making the album way more coherent and not going as crazy with the genres and stuff, and we’re really proud of what happened – especially with the featuring artists too.”

What would you say is your favourite track on the album and why?
Ash: “Uh, I think for me it’s ‘Ubercvrrnt’ my favourite track on the album, we got a great feature from the Hell on that, and it’s a great song to play live as well – I play bass, Dru plays drums, Stef plays guitar – but yeah, that’s probably my favourite.
Dru: “I think my favourite would be ‘Sweet Sixteen’, just because we got to muck around with playing with samples and sampled the original ‘It’s My Party’ theme and then we also got an amazing feature from Sway who we’re all pretty big fans of and grew up listening to his music as well.”
Stefan: “Yeah, and then mine would have to be ‘#Holiday’. I think the idea of sampling ‘Summer Holiday’ by Cliff Richard was incredible, and we also got a a friend of ours, Nova Rockafeller, who is a female rapper from California and she’s incredible. I think having the featured artists on the album just started fermenting it as a real music album, which we never thought we’d be making as The Midnight Beast.”

Given what you said about Sweet Sixteen, one of the fan questions were ‘If you were to have a Sweet 16 party, what would it be like?’
Dru: “I’d just have a room full of bouncy castles. Just bounce of the walls and you wouldn’t get hurt because it would all be inflatable.”
Stefan: “Who would play at yours, Ash?”
Ash: “Uh, probably Kanye West.”
Stefan: “Oh, okay. Not anything big then… [laughs].”
Ash: “I’d find out if he was available. Either him or an S Club 7 Reunion, that would be pretty cool.”
Dru: “What would be your party food, Ash?”
Ash: “I would have a big crisp that would be modelled in the shape of my head [laughs] and the minute you break it open there’d be loads of Quavers.”

Some people have said that ‘Pointless Skit 2’ could be seen as a way of distancing yourself from your ‘Tik Tok’ cover (see below). What are your opinions on this?
Stefan: “Oh, yeah [laughs]. In fact, we called up Ke$ha and she was keen to get on the album. When we were into rap albums growing up, they’d all have these skits and amazing as they all are, they were always totally pointless. So yeah, I guess in a way it was but we still play that last in our shows and I don’t know when we ever won’t. We’re certainly not trying to get away from it [laughs].

What other artists influence your music and would you say your music tastes have changed between this album and the last?
Dru: “I don’t think, for me personally, that my music taste has changed really. I still listen to a lot of hip hop and rap and kind of pop punk music. We’re all into similar kinds of things but we tend to bring influences from various different sources.”
Stefan: “Yeah. I remember me and Dru were kind of looking into freshening up our production skills, getting inspired by tracks that featured wubbing and stuff. For the opening track, Beast Song Ever, we were listening to Fatty Boom Boom by Die Antwoord and we really liked the beats, so we kind of wanted to do something that was inspired by that.”

Stefan, I know that you’ve been working on Cast Of Lions, would you say it’s been difficult working with two different bands?
Stefan: “Um, no… I mean Cast Of Lions was started before The Midnight Beast and it’s always been used as a therapy kind of thing. I play in it with mates and we kind of saved up and recorded our debut album out in Wales in a little cottage a couple of Christmasses ago, and that was amazing. I think the fact that I can do two things that are so different and be able to do it successfully and have an outlet of people that are interested in both is incredible. We’ve all been into different music our whole lives and with some fans… I mean the way press works is you kind of get branded as one thing and you’re just kind of know for that one thing. I never wanted to be a person like that, I wanted it to be kind of broad and stuff. I think it’s great to be able to have the opportunity to be able to straddle between worlds.”

Do you think there will come a point in your careers when The Midnight Beast would steer away from parodies and start to make more serious stuff?
Stefan: “One thing that’s always kind of kept us together and made us work as a three so well has been our taste in comedy being quite similar. I think we’ve always bonded over that. Midnight Beast has always been funded by us having a laugh; I’m sure there’s a way we could make songs that aren’t straight up jokes but then we’re still having fun playing. The tongue in cheek element has always been really strong…”
Dru: “I think we’ll never not do a parody just for the sake of not doing parody. We just kind of have fun with it and if something catches our eye or if we find something amusing then we can play with an idea and just kind of go for it.”
Stefan: “Even the adverts for our tours are kind of taking the mick out of adverts for other tours. Any chance that we get to do something like that, we always kind of mess about with it, so I think we’d love to keep on doing that.”

If you were to go on tour with anyone, who would it be and why?
Stefan: “Mine would probably be Elvis Costello. I’ve been a fan of his since I was really young and I do not have a clue how we’d go down with his crowd but I think it would be amazing [laughs].
Dru: “I think me and Ash might be quite similar in this but we would both have to choose Blink 182. Just massive fans of theirs.”
Ash: “And if Beastie Boys were still around, I think that would be pretty sick. I reckon we’d fit in really well with what they do.”

What’s next for the Midnight Beast?
Stefan: “Next up, we’re going on tour from the 10th of July, kicking of at T In The Park where we’ve got our own stage, which is gonna be awesome. Then we’re up on the Dirty Weekend tour for a few weekends, and then on June 10th, the week after our album comes out, we’ve got kind of a short narrative musical opera on Comedy Central called After The After After Party and it’s based on the aftermath of a party and it’s us talking about what happened that night before.”

Catch the Midnight Beast on tour in July – tickets are available from SeeTickets.

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