The Middlenight Men is the brainchild of highly experienced London based musician Nick Hughes. Debut single ‘B.A. Baby’ has just been released and Nick told us about the events in Buenos Aires that inspired the song. Don’t forget to click on the incredible video that Nick produced for the song, some 300 hours went in to the making of it, plus, it’s really tough to get blue paint off…
DGM: What are the origins of the band, and how long have you been playing together?
NH: Hello! This question made me chuckle as it makes me think of X Men: Origins, which to be fair is pretty accurate when looking at this band. It’s made up of people I’ve played with over the last 20 years, that to me really are superheroes in the musical performance sense. That’s why the artwork (which is the best I’ve ever seen on an album IMO!) is this sort of rock and roll Avengers-style comic book. I’m living my best comic book life!
I’ve played with Leon (Status Quo) for 20 years and I’ve known most of the others since playing with Terrorvision, Yoyos, and Role Models over the last decade. I basically wanted to create a band of all the people I’ve looked up to as I’ve made my way in the music industry.
DGM: What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe yourselves?
NH: High production value heavy pop rock. If you see us live you’ll be in for a treat. We’re all showmen/women so we want whatever we do to be a treat for the audience, be that a spectacle for the eyes or a treat for the ears. There are no egos here; we just love what we do and we’re not ashamed to enjoy playing pop melodies with Beach Boys’ harmonies, over hard guitars accompanied by orchestras. We do what we love and we do it well 🙂
DGM: Debut single ‘B.A. Baby’ has just been released. I believe it’s influenced by a crazy time in Buenos Aires?
NH: Without knowing how much detail I’m allowed to go in to here… yeah. 😉
I was on tour with Duncan Reid and the Bigheads in South America. Our guitarist had missed two flights and I was having to play the lone axe-man. I just went for it in every sense! I picked up some chicks along the way; one I shouldn’t have as she was out with her massive ex-husband, but I’m a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. I spent the next four days trying to find out who this girl was and she was brought to another gig.
We couldn’t even talk to each other due to not speaking each other’s language; we had to have a translator. I was taken to the outskirts of Buenos Aires and suddenly got tired. I had no idea where I was and asked to be taken to a hotel by typing it in to Google Translate. I ended up at a hotel, full of plastic furniture, where you paid for the rooms by the hour. I had the worst two hours sleep of my life before trying to get to the tour bus at 6am to go to Uruguay!
That’s where we came across the best rock bar in the world in Montevideo: Clash City Rockers. Man, those guys can party. I met this one quiet girl, a nurse, Maru Ann. We never even kissed but she left an impression on me. While sat on the plane on the way back I knew now was the time I had to start trying to write songs.
DGM: The video you have produced for the single is incredible. Was it difficult putting it together in lock down?
NH: Ah man you are too kind! And YES! I think around 300 hours went in to it. The most difficult part was trying to talk each cast member through how to set up their phone, the right settings, then the lighting tests, then the script. These guys were incredible. I sent them all a black backdrop and some paint and video instructions for each scene. Some people even had to shoot it twice as they got something slightly wrong and we’re all such perfectionists. I’m so proud of them, and it also gave me the opportunity to learn Adobe Premiere and video editing, so I have also acquired new skills because of lock down! And let me tell you – wait until you see the video for Heroine Heights in the Autumn. That’s going to be special.
DGM: Debut album ‘Issue 1’ is on the horizon. Who plays on the album with you, and who produced the amazing cover artwork?
NH: The artwork was created by @lukemaddoxart. That guy is amazing. I sat next to him on my first day in Year 7, back in 1993, and he had made this doodle. I bought it from him for 50p. We then lost touch, but the memory of his talent stuck with me.
I reached out to him, fully expecting him to say no, but I was delighted when he was interested. I don’t want anyone else to do my artwork. One of the reasons I’ll end up doing ‘Issue 2’ is because I want to see what he does next. I’m a firm believer of just letting someone do what they want; they know what they can do best. I’m still waiting to see if he’ll draw me caressing a unicorn for the gateway picture.
On the album, I’m so lucky. Everyone on the front cover is on the album; it’s a big band. I met Tom Spencer from The Professionals while in the Yoyos. Leon from Status Quo and Saxy Lix I met in Ska Wars, Milly in Terrorvision, Rags in the Role Models, Kit from Rich Ragany and The Digressions, and more! These people are people I’ve wanted to be in a band with for years. I’m extremely lucky.
DGM: With the amount of time and effort that would have gone into the artwork, it’s important that it gets a physical release. Have you seen the finished product yet?
NH: I haven’t, I’m being meticulous in the preparation. This has to be a product that people look at and go “wow”. It needs to sit at the front of their vinyl collection. There’s also a massive wait in vinyl factories, but it’ll be ready later in the year.
DGM: In your opinion, what makes a memorable song?
NH: So this is where I’m a bit controversial. I don’t listen to lyrics; I never have. I don’t even know what lyrics I sing in all the bands I play in. But after writing my own songs, I’m beginning to appreciate that more. Especially with the opportunities your lyrics carve out when it comes to creating videos, and the chance to tell a story. I know lyrics resonate with most people so it’s a skill I need to develop, but for me it’s all about how the underlying musical arrangement makes you feel. Whether it’s beautifully aggressive three-part harmonies, suspended string chords with a Phil Spector vibe, sonic shattering bass sounds or space to make you wonder what’s about to come next; it’s all about the music for me.
DGM: What band out there at the moment do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?
NH: Terrific question. Lots of people have said My Chemical Romance, which for me is a huge compliment as I love them. For me we’re a bit too poppy. I’d go as far to say someone like Robbie Williams or Aerosmith. Dream big!!
Man, I’m going to be thinking about this for hours now…
DGM: The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent. In what ways do you feel a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
NH: For me, it’s production value. You can acquire this relatively cheaply, but I think it needs to be well considered and done tidily. You need to deliver a product that looks like time and care has gone into it, and you need to also make people want to come on a journey with you. I really hope people see the genuine passion in this and how much we want to do this as a community. We want to play with the fans, for the fans; not just to the fans.
DGM: Who do you feel will be the next band to break out?
NH: Easy – us!
DGM: What are your first musical memories? And what was the light bulb moment that made you go “I want to do that!”
NH: I think for most musicians it’s being taken to your first gig, or being bought your first guitar. My dad took me to see Meat Loaf in the early 90’s and ever since then I knew I wanted to be a performer and I knew I wanted to put on a show. Everything I’ve done since then I’ve not done solely because I want to be on stage, but because I want to make other people feel like I did watching Paradise By The Dashboard Light.
DGM: How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?
NH: I feel I’ve had lots of first gigs as I’ve played with so many bands and seem to have restarted my life so many times. In truth I think I was more confident when I started. I’d play school concerts and dress up like Jon Hudson from Faith No More and I was the king of my world. Going out into the big wide world and seeing that there were thousands of guitarists better than me left me struggling for a while. I have a condition called benign essential tremor which makes me shake, so couple that with the nerves of playing in front of 10,000 people at Wembley then it takes a little time to get used to it. But now I live for it. There is nothing else I would rather do and I’ll never be content until I’m regularly headlining 5000 capacity venues.
DGM: What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
NH: Good question, again! I’m in so many bands that I find it hard to go to catch new music, or old for that matter. I’ve got tickets for Queen, Aerosmith, Faith No More, My Chemical Romance, but obviously that’s gone to pot right now. Also being 6ft 6ins I only go to places I know I can just stand at the back by the bar! You know what? I think it was McFly! I took my mate as I got offered box tickets and we had a great time. The only 30-ish year olds in an arena of crazy women.
DGM: What current issue are you particularly passionate about?
NH: You know what, I’m passionate about a lot but I don’t like to impose my opinions on others. I also like to keep politics out of my music and social media, even though I recognise there is a responsibility on all of us to generate awareness about sensitive topics.
I also think people who criticise others for not voicing political opinions on social media and appearing passive need to remember that a lot of people use social media as a method to escape from their own reality and the troubles they are going through. Negativity on negativity can be very dangerous for these people. I think there is a fine line between people supporting their own beliefs and bullying others for theirs. That’s a conscious reason why I try and keep my music uplifting and the lyrics a little… unimportant. Having said that, one of our tracks touches on mental health and depression. To me that isn’t an opinion-based discussion like left versus right; it’s there, it’s damaging, and we have to look out for each other. I’ve suffered myself but I don’t like talking about it, so I guess that’s why I wrote ExtroIntro; maybe I needed to talk but didn’t know how to.
DGM: What is the album that you have in your collection or Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
NH: I don’t think any of my collection surprises people these days. They know I love Busted. They know I love McFly. They know I love musicals. Go and check out Eugenius if you haven’t already. That musical loosely inspired the forthcoming Heroine Heights concept.
DGM: What are your plans for the remainder of 2020?
NH: We have another single and video coming out in August, then again in October. Then we’re gearing up for Camden Assembly on 22nd January when we smash our way on to the live scene, if we can gig!
For what we have planned in our show we can only afford to put it on if we can potentially sell out, so fingers crossed we’re back to normal then!
We can’t wait to show people what we’ve got to bring to the party.
DGM: How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
NH: We’re pretty active but we’re still new. We managed to get 1,000 organic likes without even posting anything as that’s how excited people are but we’d love everyone to join in and follow us on our journey. And I mean ‘our’. It’s something we need to do together, to spread joy and riffs through the universe.
Landscape photo credit: Paul Harries
Vertical image – artists facebook