Interview: Midnight Juggernauts

Features, Music, Q+A August 10, 2014

Originally published and still available on Renowned For Sound (05/09/13).

There’s a rather lively scene in Australia at the moment, what with both Tame Impala, Pond and Jagwa Ma getting a huge amount of success both on in their homeland and overseas. But what about Midnight Juggernauts? The Melbourne band have undergone a transformation or two since their self-titled EP of 2005 and  their 2007 début album Dystopia. Fast-forward six years and the trio have just unleashed their third album Uncanny Valley upon the world, and it is a rather cosmic concoction.

So, in the wake of the release on their new album, Renowned For Sound grabbed Juggernaut Daniel Stricker for a chat about the band, touring, and those embarrassing albums we all keep hidden in the closet.

Kayleigh Watson: Hi guys, how are things?

Daniel Stricker: Good thank you.

KW: I see you’ve just completed a European tour; how did it go? Did things run smoothly?

DS: Yes it was fun. It ran smoothly, apart from one section flying from Paris to a festival in Corsica, where the airline caused some issues for us. Apart from that it was fun to have some holiday summertime adventures in Europe, while it’s winter in Australia.

KW: Was it your first time touring in Europe?

DS: We’ve been in Europe a few times in the past, though it was great to get back there. Lived in Paris briefly. Good times.

KW: What was your favourite date on the tour? Are there any wild stories to tell?

DS: We had a lot of favourite’s. I always love returning to Paris. Barcelona is also great. We rode our bikes all around town like tourists for a few hours, and then rode them to the gig straight up onto stage to play our show. Was rather practical.

KW: I see you’ll also be conducting an Australian tour in a few weeks time, are you looking forward to being back on home soil?

DS: Yes, it will be our first proper Australian tour on the release of our new album. We’ll be visiting some places there we’ve never been too before, like Darwin. Australia is a pretty big place.

KW: Moving away from the touring, I see you’re in the midst of unveiling your third album, Uncanny Valley, to the world. Can you tell Renowned For Sound readers a little about the album?

DS: The album has a few different energies throughout. From dance-prog territories to art-rock to more chilled out terrains.

KW: What was the writing and recording process like? Do you feel your sound has progressed from your previous two albums, Dystopia and The Crystal Axis?

DS: Yeah, we like the idea of our albums each having their own character and personality. We wrote and recorded this album in a church in a small French village, somewhere in the Loire Valley. It was good to throw ourselves into a new environment like that to see which new inspirations and idiosyncrasies will appear.

KW: I loved your recent single, Memorium, and found your song, Another Land, rather captivating! Do you have any favourite songs on Uncanny Valley?

DS: It’s hard to choose a favourite song as we treat them like our children. Sometimes one is more bratty than the others, but you still treat them the same as the siblings. Though I enjoy playing HCL.

KW: What inspired the album title?

DS: It’s just an interesting theory which describes a humans response to something which is slightly off from human. A shift away from perfection, and how this odd-human likeness can create a feeling of revulsion. It’s a theory more based in the computer and robotics worlds, but it’s interesting if you apply it to other fields such as life and relationships. Those dramatic and odd emotional gulfs are interesting to explore.

KW: At times, the ‘Midnight Juggernauts’ sound can be quite eclectic; is this a conscious decision or simply a result of experimentation? Are you inspired by anything or anyone?

DS: We’re inspired by anything and everything. From film to painting as well. Though it’s easy for acts to reproduce what is out there already so we’ve always wanted to shift our music off the rails so it has it’s own character, rather than following well worn paths or trends.

KW: In general, which of your songs is your favourite to perform live and why?

DS: Songs with longer intros or outros or bridges are always fun to play, so I enjoy playing Vital Signs with its different extended bridges, or Shadows too. They’re all fun to play, on different days depending on mood.

KW: Where do you think – or would like to think! – your sound fits into the current musical spectrum?

DS: We’ve always wanted to occupy our own space, perhaps sitting on the roof where there’s lots of room to move. There’s always different trends every few months which shift and change so we like having that freedom to be our own creature. There’s always pressure to follow a particular direction or expectation, but we’ve always wanted to forge our own creative path and create more rewarding challenges. It makes it more rewarding for us.

KW: Would you say you have any contemporaries in regards to sound?

DS: Well probably, and we have a lot of friends who make good music. Some of them make electronic music, and some are more guitar based. I guess we appreciate any musical compadres who follow their music instincts without hesitation.

KW: What bands/artists are keeping you on your toes? Who are you listening to that you can’t get enough of?

DS: There’s good musicians out there. I’m into the new Pond record and Blood Orange and Kirin J Callinan are doing good things too.

KW: Are there any albums in your music collection that you’d rather nobody else ever saw?

DS: There’s many tasteless records in my house. Lots of romantic comedy soundtracks from the ’80s and ’90s. I guess these LPs are always $1, but there’s always a good song on them to be found.

KW: And finally, what is the story behind the band’s name, Midnight Juggernauts?

DS: An unstoppable force in the middle of the night. This is the general meaning of the name, but we just like that it seemed intriguing without giving away whether it’s a positive or frightening force being described. It’s good to keep these things subjective or unknown.

See more of my Renowned For Sound articles here.

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