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| * "It's been a long year," Midlake guitarist Eric Pulido says from Denton, Texas, where the band has rented out a commercial space to work on the follow-up to 2006's The Trails of Van Occupanther. Two and a half years have passed since the bands breakthrough, but Midlake are not content to rush out an album they don't think surpasses the standards set by their previous work. "If you are not trying to do better than you've done before, what's the point?" Pulido says. ...|
- continued in UNDER THE RADAR Winter 2009 (Should be on the shelves until April).
In order to trump Van Occupanther, Midlake have added some new wrinkles to their sound. The Fleetwood Mac sunshine will be downplayed in favor of something"darker and more... medieval." For a band that has referenced balloon races and a protagonist born in 1891, retreating further into the past isn't too great a stretch. To that end, the band members, have been listening to British folk bands such as Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, and Pentangle. These bands were contemporaries of some of Midlake's other influences, such as America, Jethro Tull, and The Band. "Those scenes overlapped," Pulido says,"but they didn't get the popularity - at least here [in the United States]. The music is just as amazing." Bringing these new sounds into the fold -as well as new instruments, including the mountain dulcimer, harp, flute, and bassoon- is left to the band members, who are once again acting as their own producers. However, the band is holding a sort of tryout for engineers to mix the album. It's their hope that someone works on one song and crafts a sound that the band thinks could carry the whole album. The band has had a lot of time to work; for the first time in their careers, the band members don't have day jobs to take them out of the rehearsal space and the studio. But Midlake haven't been resting on their laurels, or assuming the record will come together, they have been putting in serious workdays, nine-to--fives with lunch breaks and nothing else to distract them. But still, there is all that time, two and a half years. Things have been moving in a positive direction lately, and Pulido says the credit goes to an as yet untitled song that has set a precedent for the recordings since then."It was a brand new song that we worked on and recorded in three days, "he says," and it made us wonder what the magic ingredient was." Pulido points to "Roscoe" as having a similar influence during the recording of Van Occupanther: "When we recorded it, it was the third time, but it came out and...it was a sound and a song that became a big boost for the rest of the album." If Midlake can bottle this magic ingredient for just a while longer, they will hit their target of having 10 songs. As of early December, they had done some work on nine songs that they believed could make the final cut, but the songs are all in various states, some nothing more that demos. Four songs, however, are completed and the band is about halfway done, confident they have the makes of The Courage of Others.
- By Jim Scott in UNDER THE RADAR winter 2009