After seeing The Midnight Lycan Party’s gig in Stoke last month I felt like putting my iPod in a guillotine, eradicating every byte of voguish trash and instead basking in the unpretentious revival of raw performance.
The three piece from Stoke-on-Trent categorize themselves as a gothic garage band with shadings of post-punk and they’re right in that no newfangled umbrella term should hogtie them to one sound, because it’s so much more than that.
But they aren’t afraid of addressing their forefathers, chiefly the limitless works of Nick Cave. Deep seeded roots in The Birthday Party particularly are clear in the ‘Lycan Party’s hellish brand of screwball rock. Starting out as Blind Pilot three years ago, they refined their sound and the Midnight Lycan Party was born just over a year ago. Recently signed to Death Cap Records, they’re currently in the process of recording the first album, having released two EPs previously.
The gothic themes are no light affair either with splurges of Misfits-indebted horror punk but more so the squalling garage of early Horrors and psychobilly pioneers The Cramps. It’s a raucous slash through shock-rock littered with spectral imagery and frenzied fuzz. If the raw power of The Stooges soundtracked a universally banned Tim Burton film for excessive gore you’d have an idea of the sound the ‘Lycan Party erupt. Better yet, grab the “Second Wave of Seduction” EP or listen right away on their MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/themidnightlycanparty
“Feeding Frenzy” is a carnival-esque crusher, a circus freak show on tape that puts your earlobes in a vice, holds a knife to your throat and forces you to listen. One of their oldest songs, it’s the one that hooks listeners on the band, even going as far as being picked up by NME radio. “Jeckyl’s Fiction” is an unrelenting schiz-out, with hysterical bass and drum thrashing, big riffs stuffed into every orifice and frontman Paul Baggaley’s manic warbling complementing each primal and cathartic note. The peculiarly named “Batwank” is like realising before the nosedive on a roller-coaster that you’re the only person without a seatbelt. It’d be blaring out of the ticket booth as you plunge POV-style; it’s freakbeat tempos screeching to a finish as you soar out of your slumber before hitting the ground. At their most amped there are parallels with The Hives at their rowdiest, if only because of the rowdiness. It’s far more clever than your average numb-skull garage session. The intricacy within these bruising noise-workouts is something to be admired.
Speaking to me about the band were drummer Matthew Bowker and bass player Lee Stubbs, who hope to have the full length debut album out by summer this year. An accompanying domestic tour will follow. But for now, the Party’s just getting started.
Alternately listen to the full interview at the bottom of the page.
Q: How did the band get started?
Matt: We all met studying Music Performance at college. We started in a few different bands and we actually started this band later that year. We did a few recordings under a different name and whatnot but then the ‘Lycan Party early last year.
Q: Where does the band name originate?
Matt: It’s just to give people an idea if they haven’t heard the band before kind of what to expect or what not to expect. It represents the sound quite well we feel and we’ve had quite a lot of good feedback since we changed.
Q: How did it feel progressing from the first few gigs to supporting The Damned?
Matt: It was quite a good progression actually. We did a lot of local gigs when we first started out. We try our best to do as many gigs as we can. We’ve been all over the UK trying to promote our band. Something very rare for us, we entered a competition to get the support slot. We never do things like that usually because we don’t stand a chance against the standard indie or metal bands. But yeah, it was an experience. It wasn’t all it was made out to be but we were very privileged to do it. Obviously we’re big fans of The Damned but we don’t sound a great deal like them. That’s why we were so surprised when we got the gig. I think they were expecting some proper punk band and obviously there is bits of punk in our stuff because we’re big fans of it but we weren’t as similar as we should have been. But it was great for us, it was a big support slot to get and put our name out there so we were pleased with it.
Q: Did it take long to gel musically and find your own unique sound or did you always have an idea of going in a garage/post-punk direction?
Lee: It’s kind of, because we like that style of music but also with that style of music we’ve all got our individual tastes and when we’re writing songs it kind of all mixes into one. As we’ve progressed as a band and as musicians it’s kind of changed itself without actually trying to.
Matt: I think also we didn’t set out when we started a band to be like ‘This is what we want to make’. In fact the early stuff we wrote and maybe for the first couple of years it didn’t sound anything like what it does now. We were a lot more of a punk band when we first set out. Then we kind of found our way and started listening to different music between us. It went a bit more in the goth way and we got really intrigued by not the standard kind of goth music but the creepier side of it like the early ‘80s goth bands and whatnot.
We just kind of stumbled upon it really and I’d say the songs we’re writing now and probably the ones we’re most proud of. Which is good because it does seem to get better and better. The album that’s coming out I reckon it’ll be pretty strong.
Q: Is the sound going to evolve much more or is what you’ve got now a fair idea of what to expect on the album?
Matt: Yeah it’d be nice to say it’s definitely going to stay but you never know. We always write these batches of songs and it’s like ‘Yeah this is exactly what we’re doing’ but then the next batch…they’re never too far apart.
Q: How do you feel about the point the band’s arrived at after three years and what are your hopes for the next year or two?
Matt: It’s had its ups and downs definitely; I mean it’s taken a long time to find our sound and whatnot. We’ve done all these gigs and big support slots. Obviously being the kind of band we are, we’re very aware that it’s not everybody’s taste and it’s not going to make you huge successes like a rock band. That’s our choice, that’s why we play the kind of music we do because we like it. We just enjoy playing and hope for as much success as we can but we’re very down to earth about what the potential is, I guess. We’re happy to just keep writing music, getting gigs and trying to get a bigger fan base. Or at least get people aware that this sort of music does exist, especially in Stoke-on-Trent.
Q: What’s the typical song writing process for The Midnight Lycan Party?
Lee: It kind of changes. One of us could write lyrics or write a riff and we kind of just take it into when we practise and we’ll put our own twist on it. It kind of just evolves itself.
Matt: With us all being at college we’ve been in different bands with different musicians and whatnot. When I started playing drums when I was younger I was in bands when I was young as well and we take it for granted sometimes how easily we do find it to write songs. You’ll talk to some bands and they’ll be like “Yeah we’ve been writing a song for two months” and it’s like “Yeah that’s cool we wrote one last Thursday”. It’s very surprising how well the three of us can make music. If we’re all coming from a different angle but at the same time we’ll have a similar idea of what we want to.
Q: Any particular areas you seem to draw influence from?
Matt: Throughout our music you definitely have the Birthday Party influence as well as Nick Cave and The Cramps. Bands like that, you know quite obscure, kind of underground bands. And then you’ve bands from the last ten years like the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, The Horrors, mainly the first album not so much the second album.
Lee: It’s more so with us we get influenced by certain genres more than certain bands.
Q: What stage are you at with the upcoming album?
Matt: The album is being recorded in parts. We’ve got six down now.
Lee: Yeah we’ve got six down; we’ll get another three and maybe a hidden track.
Matt: The other three we’re recording at the end of March. So you’ve got the ‘Second Wave of Seduction’ EP, they’re the first three recordings. You’ve got “Feeding Frenzy”, “Jeckyl’s Fiction” and “Batwank”. Then there’s new ones, the album taster “Howl” and “Eye of a Gun” “A Fist Full of Nothing”. We wrote the three new ones in the space in a couple of months.
Lee: They’re still progressing but pretty much ready now. By next month it’ll all be down and hopefully by summer time we’ll have the album out.
Q: Would you say the recordings would capture the madness of the live show?
Matt: We actually recorded some songs not long ago and we kind of went down the route of doing that. We wanted it to be very raucous and very garage, going back to early music like Iggy Pop and The Stooges. The way they recorded their stuff, we wanted to capture that sound. Then we kind of realised that it might be better to keep your live shows and your CDs sounding a little bit different.
Lee: Obviously with a record it’s never going to sound the same. You have to keep people intrigued to have to come and see you and obviously the raucous side of us shows when we’re live. So that’s what we’re about, live music, especially with this type of music.
Q: How did you feel about getting “Feeding Frenzy” on NME radio and how did that come about?
Matt: They actually approached us about that. I think he was putting together a show of upcoming talent or whatever and to be fair NME would be one of last people I’d expect to put our stuff on there so it was quite a surprise. It’s good to get that kind of expose. “Feeding Frenzy” is a song that does seem to get people talking. It’s one of our oldest songs now to be fair. We still try to out it in the set when we can, people really do react well to it. That was one of the first songs we wrote coming from more of a pop angle, wanting to get your catchy hooks and melodies and whatnot. Since the recording of Feeding Frenzy we do try to have a weird, creepy edge, but also a pop element. Not an obvious one, quite a hidden pop element. So Feeding Frenzy was the turning point I think with that whole production.
Q: What can those who haven’t listened expect and why should they come to see the Midnight Lycan Party?
Lee: Come watch us and you’ll actually see something different!
Matt: We do pride ourselves on making every live show something good to watch. To go watch bands live we’ve always had the idea that it is a performance, it comes naturally to us because we enjoy playing the songs and it does take over a bit. But we try to give people something to watch and whether that means we miss a couple of beats because someone’s on the floor or they’ve been impaled by a mike stand, that’s just how it goes. Come and watch something a bit hectic and it’ll be cool!
Download and listen to the audio interview : midnight-lycan-party-interview