Interview: After Midnight Project
Wed, 02 Dec 2009 08:10:20
After Midnight Project Videos
After Midnight Project are good at breaking stuff—mainly genres.
The title of their debut full length, Let's Build Something to Break, couldn't be more apt. Over the course of the album, the Los Angeles quintet constructs an epic hard rock sound with hypnotic flourishes of electronica that breaks genre barriers. After Midnight Project can churn out anthemic rock hooks with the best of them, but there's a futuristic sensitivity to their sound that definitely begs for a closer listen. Don't get too close though, because After Midnight Project will always break it down again with a chord crunch and a croon…
Frontman Jason Evigan sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview discussing Let's Build Something to Break, the similarities between writing music and painting, crafting a song for Papa Roach, the "ghost" that visited him and a kinship with Forrest Gump.
What are the ingredients of an After Midnight Project song? There's a lot going on in each track from electronics to riffs.
I usually write all of the songs on an acoustic guitar or a piano. Then I take the songs into the studio and start demoing them out. Sometimes I'll strip everything away, and then I'll record crazy synths. I'll take those away and try it with just acoustics. I try it all before I settle on making a song what it is. Usually, it ends up as rock with little hints of ambience, electronics and the cool pulsing bass synths.
Everything blends together seamlessly. It doesn't feel like all of those elements are competing against each other. They together fit.
That's exactly what I was going for, so I'm glad you appreciate that!
The songs have a real cinematic sensibility. Do you tend to read a lot or watch movies while writing? Where does that inspiration come from?
I think it just comes from my little brain [Laughs]. I do read a lot. I've been reading more since I've been on the road for the past year straight. I've always had a weird creative mind. If you saw some of my artwork, you'd know! My art is abstract and really detailed. It's out there! That's always been the way I've written too—I make up stories and I tell stories. I've always liked to use metaphors. I try to put a twist on everything. Instead of saying, "I'm sad," I say it in many other words. I like to paint a picture of how I'm feeling. I paint and I draw and I do all sorts of artwork. Some day my dream would be to have a little exhibit at our shows—a section of my artwork. I actually designed the front cover of our album. I didn't do the final artwork, but I did the mockup.
How similar are writing music and painting for you?
Actually, they're pretty similar. When I really get into a big painting and I'm spending a lot of time on it, there's this rewarding feeling that you're heading towards. The whole time you're doing it, you're waiting for it to be done so you can get that rewarding feeling. It's the same feeling when you're in the studio and you're trying out every guitar pedal and harmony. It's all because you can't wait to see what the final product is going to look like, sound like and feel like. They go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, I haven't had enough time on my hands to do both. I miss recording, and I miss painting so much because I'm always in a bus, a hotel room or on stage. I haven't had a chance to dive in lately—which I can't wait to do.
Well, it's great you have so many different creative outlets.
Definitely! I'd be stuck if I didn't have those.
Where did the album's title, Let's Build Something to Break, come from?
I came up with the title a long time ago. I'd just broken up with this girl. We were together for so long. I was sitting on my friend's couch—the same couch where I'd written most of "Take Me Home" and a lot of other songs. This friend always opened up his house to me whenever I was kind of in a rut. I'd always stay on his couch. I was sitting there playing guitar and I was being sarcastic. I'd spent so much time building up this relationship for me just to break it down. So I started singing this melody, "Let's build something to break." I thought that would be a cool title for an album or a song! I actually have this 30-minute song—we've opened up shows in the past with it—called "Let's Build Something to Break." While we were making the album—with everything that's happening in the economy and everything going on in the world—I was like, "God, this title still works! It works not only with the relationship aspect, it works with the way we live our lives and everything happening with the government. We've built everything up so much and now it's breaking down."
What's the story behind "Scream for You?"
It's funny. I was hanging out with Papa Roach a lot in the studio while they were making their last album. I met them through Jay Baumgardner who was producing their record. Jay was like, "They need some more songs. Write a song!" I was seeing the frustration they were going through and what Jacoby was going through. I went home and I actually wrote "Scream For You" for them through Jacoby's eyes—how he sees the world and how things are going. It's a song for the fans, but it related back to me. I was like, "Holy shit, I feel the same way." Every word that you sing, everything that you do, you do for the fans. I showed it to Jacoby, but I was like, "Dude, I've got to keep this song. I love it too much!" Now, we're on tour with Papa Roach, it's funny! Everything that I do in my day, every emotion I have, every time I get upset, I'm going to put down on paper, and it doesn't really mean anything until I write it out, record it and scream for you. I'm cataloging my whole life through music, and I can't really seem to find who I am until I scream for you.
What's up with "The Criminal?"
That's my favorite! I was at a party one time, and I was talking to this soldier who just got back from Afghanistan. I sat with him for about two hours, and he told me everything about leaving to go to war and everything about coming back to war—his whole story while he was there and how he felt. I told him, "Listen, I'm going to write a song about this." He was like, "Yeah sure, buddy" [Laughs]. I promised him I would though. The next day I was still really affected by his story and that's when I wrote "The Criminal." I wish I could find him because I have no idea who he was or how to get a hold of him. He was almost like this ghost who came into my life for a night. He told me the story and I wrote a song about it.
If this album were a movie what would it be?
I think it'd be Forrest Gump because there are so many stories within the album. It's not one concept. There are so many years of writing, about six years. I grew up a lot throughout writing this record.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…