Interview: Midnight Juggernauts

There is no doubt about it, Australia’s Midnight Juggernauts are anything but lazy. After releasing their first album, Dystopia in 2007 the band has been non stop. After their latest album, The Crystal Axis was recently released in Australia in May, they have been touring Europe, Australia, and now North America. I was lucky enough to catch them on the road for a quick interview. 

Where did The Crystal Axis come from?

The Crystal Axis was an abstract idea in our head, but eventually came out sonically as our second album. Then physically as the contraption we built on the album cover.

With so many instruments, pedals, and sounds going on in each song, how do you start the process of writing a new song?

Well we write constantly, even when we’re on the road. So when we travel we’ll eventually collect all these sketches from our heads and bring them with us in the studio to jam them out. We’ll just play around until we hear those songs come to life. They often start out in guitar and often move into stranger instrumental territory, until by the end we’re jamming on songs, hitting fruit against large hollow containers.

The video for “Laura Vs The Savage Pack” was shot frame by frame, in very intricate detail. Was this your idea for the video?

We wanted a video based on paper animation, but all the concept and hard work was created by two animator friends of ours, Lucinda Schreiber and Beatrice Pegard. They shot us in these paper realted scenarios, frame by frame. Then they reshot that footage back onto paper and further created more extensive paper animated scenarios. It was complex and hard work, I don’t think I’d have the patience to create it ourselves.

How does writing songs while traveling impact the direction of the album?

We suddenly have a lot of songs about waiting for delayed flights. Well, not really, but maybe there is some subliminal idea of constantly being in motion.

We know that Wayne Cohen is a big fan of yours. Are there any artists who you’ve been surprised or been fans of yourselves that have approached you, and told you they love your music?

We played this festival this year in London called Lovebox and this gentleman came up to us backstage and said he was a fan of our music. We started talking about out album with him. We kind of recognized him, but it was only afterwards that we realized it was Andy Taylor from Duran Duran, when Mark Ronson introduced them on stage to do a song with him. We looked at his blog and he called one of our albums one of his top 3 releases of the year. What a guy! Plus Powerstation are also quite awesome.

What are your guilty tour pleasures?

In every country we go to we like to try the local alcoholic specialties. We just came from Mexico, so we’re quite sure we had way too much tequila.

What are some of your must have items to bring on tour?

Apart from our laptops, it’s always good to have a nice stash of chocolate to keep you warm on cold, lonely nights. And maybe a good Sandra Bullock video.

What are some of your favorite ways to kill time while on the road?

We basically live off our laptops, so we’re always working on things, which can be worked on from a computer. Usually putting down sketches on abletron, or otherwise watching cat videos on youtube. We spend lots of time on youtube, particularly now that lots of vehicles and airplanes have wifi.

You’ve played a multitude of music festivals from Lovebox to CMJ. Is there a favorite of yours, that the experience you had really makes you want to play a particular festival again?

We had a great time playing Calvi on the Rocks in Corsica. It’s basically a week on people dancing on beaches in the sun. Quite surreal. And of course Fujirock is amazing. We’d love to play there again and spend more time getting lost in the forrest.

How do your fans differ from North America, Australia and Europe?

I think they all have their own quirks. In general all of them are good looking, smell good and are generally quite talented in their respected fields.

Because you do play so many different festivals, clubs and music venues, do you approach a show/set list differently based on the venue?

Yeah. We can go in lots of different directions and can make our sets more dancey, more rocky, or more laid back depending on the mood of the place.

A Fire breaks out on stage and you are only able to save one instrument. What do you save?

Maybe our cheap, old micokorg for sentimental reasons. It’s the only piece of equipment from our first show that we still use. I’m surprised  it still works.

From the time you started out as a band and now with the debut of your second album, social networking has made a huge imprint on society.  Are you fans of Twitter and Facebook? Or do you use them more as a tool to get music out there?

I definitely think they are great tools to get music out there and I enjoy using them to connect to our fans and the like. I personally think you need to be able to keep it under control and not take over your life. I definitely know lots of people who spend way too much time on social media, and then lose productivity in the real world. Just as long as people know how to keep in all in balance.

Who would you like to tour and collaborate with?

I think it would be fun to tour with Beck or Roger Walters. Plus, it would be fun to collaborate with Kate Bush or Steve Martin.

What is next for Midnight Juggernatuts?

When we finally finish this tour we’ll return back to Australia and start recording our next album. I want to keep the momentum while we have these creative forces brewing.

Thoughts?