Interview

w/Jack Victor and Pete Brownlee of Midnight Snack

                                                                                                                                                                                (midnightsnackmusic.com)
Nick Lotz
 
When most people think of midnight snacks, they think of drunkenly eating cold pizza or sleepily guzzling off the neck of a gallon of milk at 3:00 a.m. I think of great music, namely because of the band, Midnight Snack, who I was introduced to me by my editor a few months back.

Their music has this odd, yet pleasing kind of narrative feel to it. That’s how I would describe it. They describe themselves as ‘art rock,’ which is as cool as it sounds.

I had the good fortune to speak with Midnight Snack lead singer Jack Victor and bassist Pete Brownlee. 
 
 
I know Midnight Snack, at least kind of. Maybe our reader doesn’t. What are three songs off your albums that you would recommend to the Midnight Snack noobie?
 
JACK: I would recommend listening to “Nowhere To Be,” which is the third track and “The Times” which is the title track, and “Turning Into A Rock.”
 
I really enjoyed your album The Times. The song that stood out to me the most was “This Body," namely because I thought the lyrics were interesting. What’s the song about?
 
JACK: I wrote that song in college. I was taking this intro to psychology course and I was super into it... It was kind of based around some basic kind of existential psychology that I thought was corresponding really well with some personal experiences I was having. That song was a little bit of a different songwriting process. My brother Mike, who is also in the band, he plays synth and guitar...He had written the whole basic underlying music for the whole song and for the demo and he kind of asked me to write lyrics over top. That’s not what our songwriting process usually is, but that’s kind of what we did with that song. I was just inspired by a lot of stuff I was hearing and I was reading and so I wrote that song and how it kind of pertained to relationships at that point in my life.
 
What is the usual songwriting process for Midnight Snack?
 
JACK: Usually we’ll start with something more rough, like I’ll have just kind of a sketch for the song, we’ll have something on piano or Mike will have something on guitar that’s more rough. We’ll get together and have the lyrics and the melodies and just a general format for the song. Maybe a couple of ideas for grooves. And then we’ll bring it to the group setting and start bouncing ideas off everybody else. That’s really where it comes to life. “This Body” was a little bit different because we got a lot more specific with each of the individual parts before we started working on it as a whole group
 
You’ve been described as everything from psychedelic rock to Baroque pop* (*I’m not sure what that is). What would you personally classify yourself as?
 
PETER: I think our music draws on a lot of different genres. I think that ones that you just mentioned are ones that we draw influence from, but the one that we most identify with would be art rock. Our actual music has more to do with the approach than the actual sounds that we get. We try to look at each production in a way where we’re going for a really specific aesthetic, or maybe drawing on cliches from other genres and then trying to find a unique way of combining those ideas. So we might be drawing really specific ideas from one genre and combining those with really specific ideas from another genre and then putting those together and that’s what hopefully creates these really specific landscapes. Something you might find in a film scoring technique or some of those other genres.
 
I did notice some spy-movie kind of vibes to your songs.
 
PETER: I think for The Times especially we had some kind of old western sounds, those cliche trumpet western sounds. That’s what I’m talking about: taking a cliche like that and combining it with some psych-rock stuff or maybe some pop elements; that creates sort of a unique combination of sounds.
 
JACK: A lot of times we’ll have a specific image that is helping to unify the project. For The Times we were trying to bring back the image of this psychedelic cowboy out in the desert in the Western United States. Whatever kind of sounds we could find that would bring that image to life for us; that is what we ran with. That’s not to say that everybody else would have the same image, but that was kind of how we came up with a direction.
 
Speaking of psychedelic cowboys, that sort of psychedelic space cowboy vibe, this question is going to sound really stupid with that intro, but the bar you are playing at in Columbus is called Spacebar, so what’s your favorite planet?
 
PETER: I’m very fond of space. We all are. We’ve actually talked about it. In some of our earlier records we actually had a space theme. The EP we put out a while back had a space cover. (One of the albums)…had this concept of this alien coming down to earth and exploring what it means to be human. That’s something we’ve all been into. I’ve always been into Jupiter.
 
Jack, how about you, what’s your favorite planet?
 
JACK: I don’t really have a favorite. I do like space though.
 
I can only guess your name comes from late night binge eating. What is each member of the band’s favorite “Midnight Snack”?
 
PETER: Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food.
 
JACK: Now I can’t stop thinking about ice cream. But besides ice cream, I like pita chips and hummus.
 
PETER: A nice vegetarian snack.
 
That’s a wide range of snacks: from ice cream to pita chips and hummus.
 
PETER: You made me look unhealthy.
 
JACK: (laughing)
 
 
Midnight Snack will be playing at Spacebar in Columbus, OH on April 27th. Tickets can be purchased here and for more information on the groovtacular band and their upcoming tour, check out their website here.