It’s the songwriting, dummy. Sometimes the greatest music defies description. Dallas (actually Denton) based band Midlake writes songs that make you swoon in a puddle of your own tears. When ex-Cocteau Twins legend, Simon Raymonde personally selected them to join his new label Bella Union, they earned an opportunity to share the drama with a worldwide audience. Guitarist Eric Pulido took some time with our newest writer (@aemccarthy) to talk about the passion.
TDOA: Your music is refreshingly stripped down and gritty. Is that deliberate?
EP: We tried many different ways to record the songs that made the record. Many times we would record a lot and then pull back and try and choose what needed to be in the mix or not. I’m not sure the best way to describe what we came out with but our desire was to achieve a sound and emotion that was right for each song.
TDOA:The majority of Midlake’s success has been overseas; why do you think that is?
EP: Its hard to say really. It does seem like a larger audience has gotten into the band there, but it does continue to grow here as well. Our label, Bella Union, is based in the UK and have had a strong presence since our first record (Bamnan and Slivercork), which never properly released here. They have representation all over Europe through Cooperative Music and V2 as well and they’ve been working with us for a while also. I think its helped greatly to have all of those people supporting us and helping grow the band. Musically speaking, I could try and break down tastes of different countries, and try and figure out the who/what/why/wheres of fans, but I may just be running in circles. Maybe we can discuss it all over a pint some time.
TDOA: Can you talk about how you came to be associated with Simon Raymonde? Where you Cocteau Twins fans prior to meeting him?
EP: I knew of the Cocteau Twins before we were with Bella Union, but I think we all fell in love with the band and discography soon after joining the family. Another Denton band called ‘Lift To Experience’ was on Bella Union and they sent our album-in-progress (bamnan and slivercork) to Simon. After hearing it he wrote us saying ‘I want to have Midlake’s babies’. The rest, as they say, is history.
TDOA: Do you think that your association with Simon Raymonde, along with being on their label, impacted your popularity in Europe?
EP Well I think the label does well because of the music they put out and the hard work they put in to promoting their artists. I’m sure the Cocteau Twin association doesn’t hurt, but it takes more than that to have become the label they are today. I know that there’s many elements to growing as a band and then keeping your head above water. For us I’m sure its a combination of things, one being luck!
TDOA: I’m a huge Jason Lee fan, and from what I read on your Myspace page, he’s a huge Midlake fan. What was it like to work with him on the “Balloon Maker” video?
EP: It was a really cool experience. We met Jason that same year (2004) at SXSW and were mutual fans. He expressed interest in doing a video and we were all in to the idea. He came to our hometown of Denton, TX and shot for about a week on 16mm black and white film. It was a great time working together and becoming friends. He also recently shot a short album documentary that came with the box set for ‘Courage’ and its golden. We hope to continue doing more projects together in the future.
TDOA: Not gonna lie, the album (The Courage of Others) is a little melancholy – what’s the story? Is that stylistic or situational?
EP: Well Tim wrote the song while we were touring ‘Van Occupanther’. We intended on it being a b-side for the record. It was a bit different sounding at that time, but we thought it was too strong to not use for the next album. And the title was one that we thought would be great for the album title. I do think it is partially autobiographical for Tim, but at the same time something we can all relate to.
TDOA: You’re about to start touring in May, who are some of the acts you’re performing with?
EP: We will be out with Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and John Grant. Both amazing and each hold an important place in our hearts. Grandaddy was a huge influence on us in the earlier days and I still go back to those albums and love them. John was in a band called the Czars on Bella Union and we were all big fans. When they broke up and John started doing solo stuff, we had him on some shows. While on tour we threw around the idea of him coming to Denton and record an album with us. He took us up on it and, although I’m biased, his new album ‘Queen of Denmark’ is a greatness.
TDOA: Who the HECK designed your kick-a album art? It’s the perfect image for this album.
EP: Thank you! Tim came up with the idea and Eric Nichelson’s wife, Rachel (madelinewood.com) designed the clothing. We took the picture in Tim’s backyard and did some design work on it to get it right. We all thought it was a cool image to represent the record.
TDOA: And now, a few words about your roots: Describe Denton, Texas in 5 words or less.
EP: The Best Damn Town Around!
Interview by @aemccarthy
Catch Midlake on tour:
May 14 2010 The Blue Note Columbia, Missouri, US
May 15 2010 Old Rock House St. Louis, Missouri , US Find Tickets
May 16 2010 Southgate House Newport, Kentucky, US
May 17 2010 Wexner Ctr For The Arts (OSU) Columbus, Ohio , US
May 18 2010 Castaways Ithaca, New York , US
May 20 2010 Le National Montreal, Quebec , CA
May 21 2010 The Mod Club Toronto, Ontario, CA
May 22 2010 Magic Stick Detroit, Michigan, US
May 23 2010 Lincoln Hall Chicago, Illinois , US
May 24 2010 Turner Hall Milwaukee, Wisconsin , US
May 25 2010 Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis, Minnesota , US
May 27 2010 The Filling Station Bozeman, Montana, US
May 28 2010 The Badlander Missoula, Montana , US
May 30 2010 Sasquatch Music Festival George, Washington, US
Jun 1 2010 Belly Up Aspen Aspen, Colorado , US
Jun 2 2010 Santa Fe Brewing Co. Santa Fe, New Mexico, US
Jun 3 2010 The Foundation Lubbock, Texas , US
Jun 4 2010 Antone’s Austin, Texas , US
Jun 5 2010 Palladium Ballroom Dallas, Texas, US
Jun 28 2010 Academy Liverpool, UK
Jun 29 2010 Leadmill Sheffield, UK
Jun 30 2010 Pyramids Portsmouth, GB
Jul 7 2010 Hultsfredsfestivalen Hultsfred, SE
Jul 8 2010 Stadtpark Hamburg, Hamburg , DE
Jul 9 2010 Classic Rocknacht Koln, DE
Jul 16 2010 Melt Festival Ferropolis, DE
Jul 18 2010 Latitude Festival Southwold, GB
Jul 30 2010 Splendour In The Grass Music Fest Woodford, Queensland, AU
Nov 2 2010 Roundhouse London, GB