For our first interview of the year, we went all the way to Switzerland to talk to Midrake's vocalist/guitarist Michael. Well, we didn't actually go there, we sent him an email. But anyway.... in case you don't know Midrake just yet, they are four dudes who have all played in other bands like The Masked Animals, Dwayne, The Plus Nomination, Goodbye Fairbanks and the mighty Gamits and they play pop-punk of the 1-2-3-4 kind... you know, the kind you like. They recently released their debut album (out now on Monster Zero Records) and it's self-titled... easy, right? This way you don't have to remember a band name PLUS the album title. So much easier this way... Midrake!
PRT: Can you give me the history of Midrake written in one minute or less starting… now!
Michael: Phew, I gotta use keywords to keep it under a minute! Old friends, long time no see, beer, talks, more beer, wave of songs, 4 drummers, margaritas, album done!
For over a minute: Marco, the other guitar player and singer, and I bumped into each other randomly after years of little to no contact. He passed out literally five minutes after that encounter, so we hung out more after that. Both he and I hadn’t really had a hand in writing songs in almost ten years before that and thought we should start a small project. We actually followed through with it! Eric, with whom I had been playing music for a long time too, always wanted in right away so we went ahead and booked shows and studio time without having a name, a single song nor a drummer. When it was almost time to record, Fogal said ‘sure, I can play drums, I’ll fly over, no problem’ and that was it!
PRT: Most of you guys get to call Switzerland home, but Chris is from Colorado. How did you guys hook up?
Michael: We’re old buddies from even before the Gamits first came out here to Europe. I used to run a record label called Floppy Cow Records that had them on a compilation and my old band from back then went to Chris’ old studio in Denver to record an album. Ever since we toured a bit allover Europe, Russia and the USA together with different bands (The Plus Nomination, Goodbye Fairbanks) or in the same bands (Gamits, Dwayne and of course Midrake) so it was almost natural, despite the distance.
PRT: Isn’t it a pain in the ass when it comes to rehearsing or setting up shows?
Michael: Rehearsing luckily isn’t much of a problem as we’re usually good to go after one good practice. We do have a kid here in Switzerland who can fill in for Chris whenever he can’t make it to a show, his name is Yannick and he’s rad, too. I mentioned four drummers earlier because until we had it all figured out, it was a bit of a mess indeed! For example when we played with Masked Intruder, we got the call on the same day and Chris had just flown back to the States, so we were technically drummerless but still really keen on playing the show (this was before we had Yannick). Luckily our buddy Dave was in town and agreed to wing it with just one hour of rehearsing before rushing to the venue.
PRT: Some of you also play in Dwayne. When you are writing new material, how do you decide which song will be used for which band?
Michael: So far it was fairly easy as Chris was less involved in writing Midrake songs, his input was mainly in adding some of his rad signature vocal harmonies. The formula worked pretty well, so we’ll probably keep it that way for the next albums of each band, but who knows…
PRT: For the people out there that haven’t heard of Midrake before… if Midrake was the lovechild of two other bands, which bands would have had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Michael: Ha, this is a tough one. I would say if you like the Ramones and Weezer there is a chance you would like us as well. Maybe less if you ONLY like the Ramones. But our music is fairly simple and straightforward, all songs way shorter than three minutes and highly melodic - you might even catch yourself humming a tune or two after listening to the album. Not so sure about the exact position, but I know where the quality time would have happened: 53rd & 3rd Street!
PRT: Not only is your debut album called “Agents Of Love”, you also confess on your Facebook page that you are secret agents of love. What does that entail exactly?
Michael: Actually, ‘Agents Of Love’ is our top secret second album. Translated that means the album title got in the way of the artwork so we ditched it until the next album. That’s some exclusive news for punkrocktheory.com right there ;) By the way, Marco drew the inlay sheet, definitely worth having a look at! We’re not fully allowed to talk about that other stuff.
PRT: Who came up with the idea for the “Eternal Jetlag” video? And how did you go about raising the budget for it? Couldn’t have been easy! J
Michael: Yeah, it was a tough one. We thought about doing a kickstarter or something to deal with all the expenses involved, but we hate fundraisers so we found other ways to finance it. The screenplay was written over various months of creative highs and lows and we’re so happy with the way it turned out!
PRT: You recently completed your first tour ever. What were some of the highlights for you?
Michael: Both Marco and Eric hadn’t been on tour in over ten years so they were super excited to be out on the road again, like little kids waiting for presents. The whole tour was so relaxed and low pressure that we enjoyed it all immensely. We had no idea what to expect and everything was great, there were zero shitty shows, I’m not joking. That almost never happens! It was great, too, to meet the extended Monster Zero all over Europe. The only bummer was when our van got broken into, but the thieves didn’t manage to steal much more than a leather jacket.
PRT: If there is one thing that you would love to achieve with Midrake, what would it be and why?
Michael: There are many things of course, but one of our first goals from back when we started and that we still need to achieve is to play Groezrock. There’s always a shit ton of great bands, cheap beer, so many friends, it’s a fantastic weekend really. Going there in 2014 - we had just written the first two Midrake songs – we got inspired so we wrote ‘The Swallows Of Colmar’, which is essentially about the trip to Meerhout and spending the weekend there.
PRT: To be perfectly honest, I don’t know a lot of other Swiss punk bands… what are some other bands I should definitely check out?
Michael: We just played the New Year’s show with a band from Zürich called Überyou, I would recommend checking them out. It seems like there’s more interest in punkrock bands now than in more recent years so we’re also looking forward to discovering many more bands!