With Midnight Faces, the Los Angeles based duo of Matthew Warn and Philip Stancil, one can’t help but be reminded of the great bands of old when listening to their music. If the case is made that ideas are built upon one another, music can’t be all that different. Without The Beatles, there might not have been a Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel. Without Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd, we could have missed out on all of the others that followed their distinctive sounds and built upon them. When you listen to Midnight Faces, bands such as Joy Division and The Smiths, backbones of the post-punk era, are some of the first to pop into your head.
With a second album, titled The Fire is Gone, released in May, it took only a few songs to realize that Midnight Faces were on the verge of something very special. After Fornication, their debut album released in 2013, received praise and recognition from various sources within the industry, the duo set to work on further working upon their craft and putting together an album that not only the fans, but they themselves, would be proud of. Needless to say, with critics everywhere raving about the newly released album, the duo definitely achieved what they set out to do and took the next step towards becoming a name that we all synonymize with great music in the future.
In the aftermath of the release of The Fire is Gone, we caught up with Matthew and Philip to talk about the production of the album, the inspiration behind the album, what the future holds for them and much more.
Pavle Kisin-Rajlic: First of all, congratulations on the release of your second album, The Fire is Gone. Honestly, I stumbled upon Over Again about a month back and I was blown away, it was a blend between Joy Division and The Smiths, incredible. In terms of the album itself, if you had to choose one or two of the tracks off of it as the soul and identity of the album, which would they be and why?
Matthew Warn: I really liked Over Again and Shadows. Of the two, Shadows definitely takes it and is probably my favorite song on the album.
Philip Stancil: If I had to choose, I’d go with Over Again and This Time, the one that has the whistling track at the beginning though Shadows is right there too. It would have to between those three.
PKR: What would you say are the differences between The Fire is Gone and your debut album, Fornication?
MW: It’s definitely more stripped down with fewer layers. It was written together with the idea of focusing more on the vocals so with that in mind, the songs that I had started writing were just a lot simpler, emphasizing more on staying with only two or three chords.
PKR: Were there any challenges or dark points that you came across during production which you can tell me about?
MW: Overall, I think that just figuring out which direction we wanted to go with it was difficult because we had so many different songs and though they didn’t sound very different, putting a different group of them together would’ve obviously made a completely different record. Looking back, I’m happy with the songs that we picked.
PS: I’d have to agree with Matt. We had a much bigger batch of songs than what’s on the album and about half way through, when we had all of these songs that were branching off into different genres and areas, it was definitely a bit stressful trying to figure out which way we wanted to go when you have all of those songs to choose from but I definitely believe we made the right choice in the direction we took.
PKR: In terms of theme and inspiration, are there any specific places that the two of you drew your inspiration from during the production of the album that you care to elaborate on?
PS: Though it wasn’t a direct influence, I think that writing the album right as we moved to Los Angeles along with having that renewed energy for what we were doing, being in a new spot, changing up the writing process, I think all of those combined really gave us inspiration. It put the two of us in a really good place and left us ready to sit down and just write.
PKR: It’s a challenge for everyday people to come together to accomplish even the smallest things, let alone an album. What would you say is the reason that the two of you work together so well on a creative and collaborative level?
PS: I think that Matt’s composition skills and my vocals are a good balance, we just kind of meet well in the middle. Also, overall, Matt and I are pretty mellow guys so we don’t tend to get really heated while working together. I mean, it’s definitely not a Motley Crue writing session where someone always gets angry and leaves. We just try to stay mellow and talk out the ideas so that we always know where we’re at with it all.
PKR: Both of you had success outside of Midnight Faces before coming together as a group. Individually, was there a moment that excited you or made you realize that you could have something great here?
PS: I think that I believed there was something really there when, with the first album, Matt started showing me some of his tracks and I started singing over them. In those moments when we were starting to hear them being played back one by one, I thought that we sounded good.
PKR: As a fan of music, there were two eras for me dealing with music, before Jimi and After Hendrix, which changed and developed my tastes within it. I know that you’re both pretty big Fleetwood Mac fans, having covered them last year. Outside of the group, is there anyone else that really pushed you to develop as musicians while you were growing up?
MW: That’s definitely a tough one. On one hand, we could just say Nirvana or something pretty standard but before that, when I was really young, my parents were promoters for these music festivals for touring indie Christian bands, really no one you would have ever heard of. I just think that growing up around those people was pretty inspirational; I was five or six years old and my parents would be doing the behind the scenes stuff, ticketing and what not, and I would be hanging out with these bands, definitely something I’m sure had a big influence on my approach later on.
[youtube id=”XZODewtlKuE” width=”620″ height=”360″]
PKR: Going forward, if you could choose any of the three as the path that your career follows, would you rather be the flash in the pan excitement of someone like Jimi Hendrix that might’ve ended prematurely, the natural rise and fall of a Fleetwood Mac or a long career that some would argue went too long, such as The Rolling Stones or Metallica, and why?
PS: I think that the plan is that we have a long and steady trajectory and not holding ourselves down to any one path. Anything that has writing tunes, playing tunes and just that type of thing is something we’re open to. Right now, playing in a band is definitely a great first step and something we’re into but I think that hopefully it’s a catalyst for a career in music down the road.
PKR: Lastly, any future plans for 2014 and beyond?
MW: We would definitely like to tour more, hopefully that can happen.
PS: Like Matt was saying, we’re pretty down for playing in any venue that fits our sound. Right now, we’re doing one off shows but we’d love to have a leg on someone’s tour in and around L.A. and play in some of the festivals in the city.
PKR: Thank you very much for giving me a chance to talk to you, it’s been a pleasure. I wish you guys nothing but success.
PS/MW: Thanks a lot, cheers!
Midnight Faces’ new album, The Fire is Gone, is out now. To keep up to date with the latest from Matthew and Philip, visit www.midnightfaces.com/