Take Me Home: The Influences of After Midnight Project
It’s without a doubt that one of the rising stars on the alternative rock scene this year has been Los Angeles based band, After Midnight Project. Their single “Take Me Home” has remained on Billboard’s Alt Top 40 for seventeen weeks and still remains toward close to its peak position. It easy to say that with the constant touring continued by the band and the increase in airplay, the song will remain on the charts well into the new year. The success found by this band is no small feat considering the fact that After Midnight Project is such a relatively young band. Not only have the guys been together for just a few years, but their August 11th release Let’s Build Something To Break is their first release on a major label.
Prior to their set opening for Papa Roach last week at The House of Blues, I had the chance to sit down with the band and talk about their experiences touring, their influences, and current musical interests as a group. Needless to say, the responses I received for all their questions didn’t seem like the responses I’d receive from a band who spent time opening for bands such as 30 Seconds to Mars, Breaking Benjamin, Trapt. For example, lead singer Jason Evigan describes the band’s sound as “Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Incubus, and Elliott Smith getting drunk at a wine taster. Elegant and raw.” I certainly understand the grouping of the first three, but the addition of Elliott Smith seems to contradict the other examples listed before. Surprisingly, the group pulls the sound off, mixing hostility and aggression with stripped down, heart-on-your-sleeve, anthemic rock.
This past summer, the band played a stint on the Vans Warped Tour, a rite of passage for many groups in the scene. I asked the guys what the experience was like for them traveling with so many like minded individuals and getting to play for thousands of fans. They described it as “exhausting fun” and an “overall very positive experience”. This should be come as no surprise from a band that seems to put interactions with fans as the foremost priority. From the beginning, this group made sure to always listen to what their fans have to say. Be it hanging out with fans after shows or communicating live with them on websites such as Myspace or Twitter, the AMP Army Street Team is group of diehard fans who really seem to help push the band’s success. The overall Warped Tour experience is something the band really enjoyed and they announced to me during the interview that they just signed on to do it again next summer.
The most interesting part of the interview came when I asked the group what music they’re listening to. Given the overall sound of the band, one would assume that they’d be really into some of the more aggressive, cutting edge rock bands on the circuit today. To my surprise, nearly every member of After Midnight Project mentioned bands that shocked me. Hidden beneath the Korn and Paramore were more obscure artists such as Bonobo and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, as well the equally unexpected John Mayer.
After the interview, I went back and listened to the bands music again. I certainly heard why the band was chosen to open that night for Papa Roach, but hidden beneath everything, I found Elliott Smith. On “Take Me Home” Jason’s pleading vocals and words convey recognition of a relationship that is falling apart yet he remains unable to cut the cord. Anyone familiar with Elliott Smith could listen to the song and think that he originally wrote the lyrics, as they match so flawlessly to Smith’s final year of life. It then occurred to me that this band really is unique. Their sound, though easily written off by some as being part of “that” genre, comes from artistic expression of multiple influences, and for that reason, the band will continue to succeed.