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Interview: Midland discuss headline UK tour, ‘pretty crazy’ 2018 and new music

The Country trio chatted to us backstage at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush in London.

Midland
Credit: Harper Smith

Midland – Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy and Jess Carson – have had one hell of a year that has seen them relentlessly touring and breaking through here in the UK.

Following their debut UK performance at C2C: Country to Country in March, the trio sold-out a headline show at Omeara in London. They returned in November and December for a sold-out run of European shows including a date at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush in London.

Before they took to the stage, I caught up with the band to talk about their crazy year, discuss the impact they’ve had in the UK and to find out what the status is on their new music.

Guys it’s been a whirlwind year for you and it seems like things just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger for you. The UK are loving you and this headline tour. How’s it all been going?

Mark: We haven’t been reading the reviews. It’s been going really well man to be honest with you. It’s been a gasser… we’re pretty burnt. This is nine of 10 shows in 12 days, and 14 days of actually been gone so two full days of travel. It’s coming on the heels of the busiest year that we’ve ever had. Since we saw you last, we’ve played even bigger shows, we’ve been nominated for more awards, we’ve lost awards, we’ve done late nights, we’ve done award shows, we’ve done festivals…. we’ve logged probably a million miles since March. It’s pretty crazy but the crowds have been fantastic and that’s really what’s keeping us going to be honest with. They’re awesome. Even if you’re tired every night by the second song, you’re having the best time of your life.

There’s been so much buzz on social media this week about you guys and the tour. Have you noticed any difference since you were last here?

Jess: The audience and how it’s grown. It’s crazy. You saw us, Omeara is a very cool venue…

Cameron: …but it was small…

Mark: I think there was about 300 people…. or 400?

Cameron: 500!

Yeah Omeara is a 350 capacity venue…

Mark: …and this (O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire) is like 2000?

Yes something like that…

Mark: It’s big!

Cameron: It’s definitely the biggest stage we’ve been on this week. This week has been a spattering of 1200 people to 500 people in different areas. We’ve hit some small markets to get out there and see the fans that don’t live in London. We do the same thing thing in the States but we don’t cram everything into two weeks like we have here. It’s been very honkytonk-esque. It definitely reminds me of how we used to get shit when just played in Texas.

Mark: Somebody was nice enough to build some bunk beds into an old city bus and we’ve been taking that thing around. Then we’ll take some fresh sewage from London and put it on the bus…

Cameron: It didn’t smell that bad. That hunk of junk got you guys home dude OK?

Jess: Have you heard of Stockholm Syndrome?

Mark: He’s developed a love for something like a kidnapper…

Cameron: Did you ever see Apollo 13? They didn’t disparage that fucking broken vessel that got them home dude! They built it and they maintained it dude!

Mark: Let’s just say that I will forever remember the smell and the sounds of that bus, by the sounds of the symphony of farts that were going on. We’ve been drinking a lot of stout beers… Guinness and Guinness makes you very gassy.

I can’t say I’ve ever found that with Guinness. Are you guys not used to drinking it?

Mark: No! It fucking lifts me off my chair…

Cameron: We never drink it in the States because it tastes like shit but it tastes great over here.

Mark: We’re going to Dublin tomorrow for the last show.

Cameron: We’re going to go to the Guinness factory and put our mouths under the source, like getting under a cow!

Mark: It’s been great man and what we’ve realized is that we’ll be coming back to the UK for years to come because the fans are incredible out here.

It’s going to be another venue size up next time judging by the reaction to this tour…

Jess: (deadpan) We’re going to play Hyde Park next time…

Midland

Credit: Adam Moroz

Why not?

Jess: Lovely!

Mark: It’s not something that the three of us… we don’t really focus on that kind of stuff y’know…

Cameron: I do… all day!

(silence as Mark stares at Cameron before launching into an impression) This hunk of junk is getting you home Mark!

(laughter from everyone).

Jess: Just remark Mark that it’s his birthday…

Cameron: It’s my fucking birthday!

Mark: I know, I just can’t help myself dude.

Cameron: Just let me do what I fucking want!

Mark: It is his birthday!

Happy birthday!

Mark: Can all the fans from the UK wish him a Happy Birthday right now?

They’ll be able to do it at the show later…

Mark: (joking) He’s 47 today. (looks at Cameron) You look pretty good for 47 dude!

Jess: You have many grey hairs (laughs).

Mark: You guys (pointing at me and Cameron) actually are very similar…

Cameron: You’re (pointing at me) a bit more salty and pepperier than I am. I just got my hair cut today and she was pointing out my greys.

It just gets greyer and greyer…

Mark: Cam’s the youngest in the band and he has the most greys…

Jess: Oh yeah by far. His beard has grey hairs… so do you (points at Mark).

Mark: My beard is getting very grey. When we started this band none of us were grey.

(laughter).

It shows wisdom doesn’t it?

Mark: Something like that or it just shows you the wear and tear of life on the road.

When we spoke back in March you’d already started on new music. Where are you up to with the new record?

Jess: We’re like 80% done…

Mark: I’d say 83%…

Cameron: I’d say 85%. 1985, the year I was born on December 6th!

Mark: We’ll have to go back and check the logs but all of the songs have been written and we’ve tracked almost the entire album. We’re just on the back stretch of it. We’re really, really excited about it. It’s been challenging because we’re so busy. It’s the busiest year that we’ve ever had in our lives period. The schedule has been preposterous to be honest with you. Any days off haven’t been days off, they’ve been days that we’re finding to record and get this album done. I think when it is finished, it’s going to mean that much more to us because we know the sacrifices that were made… time away from family and friends…

Jess: Yeah this one was made under duress!

Mark: Yeah it really was was but the songs have so much emotion in them. The studio is definitely a happy place for us. When we’re in there there’s a real joy and there’s this camaraderie and you’re in that mode of creating. That’s how this band formed, we formed in the studio. The very first time the three of us really got together to collaborate was in the studio so it’s always a magical place for us. I think there is a magic that’s going to come across on this album. I just think it’s a great move upward. It’s an evolution from On the Rocks. We’re just really excited to finish it up, start rehearsing these songs and taking them on the road in 2019.

On the Rocks was received so well critically and by the fans. Does that make you nervous as you get closer to the second record or do you not really think about that?

Jess: We’re very, very proud of this work. We think it is the perfect development from On the Rocks. This album will be different in the ways that we’re different. We feel like our songwriting has advanced, our playing has advanced…

Mark: I think we’ve gotten better as singers as well. Any time you’re working that much on your craft, you’re going to improve. It’s like a rookie coming into the NBA. They might have a great season with their rookie season but in four years you learn a lot and you grow a lot. You grow a lot stronger as a musician. It’s going to be a lot of fun and people can expect to see some different shades of Midland that they’ve never seen before.

That’s what was so great at the Omeara show. Your set-list was wide-reaching taking in a variety of covers alongside your own material. You showcased a real range so I think that’s given people a better idea of what they can expect from you.

Cam: Yeah if there’s any indication of where this band’s going based on what covers we do… if you think of what we used to cover back in Texas versus what we now are confident in adding to our sets and expecting people to understand it. I don’t think we would ever have thrown in Chris Isaak back then or Runnin’ On Empty or our version of Tougher Than the Rest. We did so much more traditional…

Mark: Yeah back in Texas we were doing Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

(laughter)

Cameron: Happy Birthday…

Jess: Three Blind Mice and stuff like that!

(more laughter)

Will you finally get some downtime over the Christmas holiday this year? What do you have planned?

Mark: Yeah. The plan’s to turn off and really just slow down and dive into our friends and family and homes. I just moved into my first home and I haven’t even been there yet (laughs) somebody else moved me in. We’re going to do a New Year’s Eve show in Jackson Hole where the band got together and that’s going to be basically a vacation where we’re going to informally play some music at a little old bar up there. It’s goping to be very necessary to reset and recharge. We’ve got a massive year next year as well. It’s been the greatest and the hardest year of our lives.

Jess: It’s better than sitting on your ass at home…

Mark: Although that sounds pretty nice right now (laughs).

Midland’s album On the Rocks and their latest single Burn Out are available now. Watch the video for Burn Out below:

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