For those of you who are unfamiliar with MIDLAKE, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry you’ve missed out on more than a decades worth of incredible folk music that dawned the day long before the indie interpretations of Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver.
Not to discredit anybody, but Midlake are in a league of their own, and completely unaffected by it. The band, now consisting of one less member, has embarked on a new chapter in their musical career. We Talk, You Die was able to talk to lead singer Eric Pulido about the yet-to-be-announced new album and the subsequent tour. What’s that thing they say in mainstream media when they’ve got breaking news? Oh yeah… It’s a world exclusive.
Hazal Alkac: So you’re home in Texas, have you finished recording?
Eric Pulido: Yeah we’re home right now, finished recording. We’ve just got the masters back so we’ve just started rehearsing a lot for the tour. We head out early August for some European stuff, so we’re just doing the whole ‘set up’ thing for the album.
HA: When are you announcing the release?
EP: We’re actually going to announce the name of the record and the date of the release, well it’s going to be released in early November, but right now we’ve just been saying fall, and the main reason is that things haven’t been one hundred percent settled on the US side, so once that gets settled we’ll know.
HA: It’s been three years since ‘The Courage of Others’, what have you guys been doing?
EP: Way too much; we’ve been recording about three records I’d say. And then we came up with this one. Basically, right afterThe Courage of Others we started recording a new record and we, like always, toiled and went to work on the next thing. We were inspired by the new sounds and different music, and some of which we’d been into for ages; Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, stuff like that.
It was really exciting- some great stuff got put together – but the more we worked on it, the more it lost some of the life that it had from the beginning. So we played some shows here and there and tried out some of the [new] material, and we kept working on it.
Last November Tim [Smith] decided that it wasn’t for him anymore and basically bailed on the band and the album in progress that we had busted our arses trying to get up to par. I was willing to take as long as it needed to get there, and he decided that he’d leave. He quit the band and moved away from Denton. So the very next day when he had said he’d quit, the rest of us got together and decided that [we’re] not giving up on this.
We said lets keep working and create something, and if that means we start from scratch, then we start from scratch and create our own new thing. [And] that’s exactly what we did. We canned everything that was made – all the music – there was easily an album and a half of music that we had made – it all got canned unfortunately. Unfortunately in the way that it was time wasted, you know what I mean? But in hindsight I think we created something together that had more life and joy and passion, and more collective input from anybody than ever before. And so, in six months we wrote and recorded a whole new record.
HA: So Tim wasn’t replaced, everybody just stepped up the game and moved into new roles
EP: Exactly. I was already singing a lot and even doubling melodies (some live), so obviously it was a transition. I don’t want to take anything away from Tim because he was very important to what we did as a band, but you know, it’s kind of a testament to you when you’re kind of pushed back into a corner, what are you going to do?
Everybody really stepped up, and I think part of it was really an organic thing where everybody felt more empowered. They felt that the onus was on them now, like, “Ok, what do you want to do?” What do you have to say? Whats inside of you?” and everybody totally answered that call, which was encouraging and necessary.
HA: I spoke to Jason Lee about this record, and he described the album as “A real and true record listening experience, as it once was, and ought to continue for ever.” Do you have thoughts on that? What did you guys go in there thinking you’d come out with?
EP: Well, in Jason, let me say, he’s been awesome as a friend, but also as a supporter and encourager or this album. And since hearing it, we’ve talked and messaged back and forth and it’s really cool how it’s moved him. It means a lot, not only as a friend, but this is a guy that’s known us since our first record!
It means a lot when there’s someone that knows the history, knows the backstory… so to answer your question, I think this is the most honest record we’ve ever made, and hopefully that’s inherent in the listening. I think you hear ‘us’ more than ever. It’s not just filtering through one vision necessarily, but more of a collective vision and the personalities and the styles that people play their instrument – I think you hear that more than ever – they’re not being held back. You just open the floodgates and you hear that in the music, or at least I hope everyone hears that.
HA: I heard you guys opened a bar somewhere?
EP: We did! We opened a bar called Paschall Bar, it’s named after the original owner and builder of that bar. It was built in 1877 so we thought it was cool to pay homage to that. We made it like a mid century English pub style bar and its fun. It’s just a block away from our studio (in Texas) so it’s easy access, and we love having it.
HA: You’re doing everything: recording, running a bar, getting drunk on your time off…
EP: The necessities of life.
HA: Obviously. And you’re planning for a tour, you’ve got Europe right now and you’ve got an American in the works too, is that right?
EP: Yeah. This hasn’t been announced either but we’re going to go on tour with Pearl Jam in November so that’ll be a lot of fun.
HA: That’s exciting! Although a little missmatched to me…
EP: It is. I think it fits more now than ever, and also it’s one of those bands that even if stylistically it’s a little different, you don’t turn that down.
HA: How did that come about?
EP: Long story short; we know the bass player through Jason Lytle from Grandaddy. He’d come to a show in Montana where he lives. They’re fans of the band and had asked us to play something a while back and, (laughs) you know, we didn’t do it for reasons you could probably guess, and now that those restraints aren’t on us, we saw that they were touring and we got in contact. We told them everything that had happened with Tim and showed them the new music and they were like “Yeah lets do it!”
HA: Obviously I care about a country in particular … are you coming to Australia?
EP: I actually wanted to try and sort something out during our winter, and they’re trying to revolve something around a festival over there. Right now, since the record is not out and the buzz has not even started, it’s one of those things where we’re obviously not getting a ton of offers because they don’t even know that Midlake is even doing anything. So we kind of have to seek out and put stuff together, but it’s on the radar.
As for the title of the new album… it’s not yet released. ButPulido felt that he could confide in us at We Talk You Die, and laid it on me saying,
“Antiphon, meaning a call and response. I felt like this album is our response. Just like anything in life, no matter what’s going on, the question is ‘how do you respond?’
Right now, I respond with a massive grin on my face. Midlake’s fourth album is set to be nothing short of spectacular! Keep on checking WTYD for updates, album release dates and the band’s touring schedule!
Online at http://wetalkyoudie.tv/interview-midlake/