Hard Rock Daddy recently featured Crash Midnight’s single – “151” – on Music Discovery Monday, and a brief interview with frontman, Shaun Soho. The song was also featured on the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014. Buckle up your seat belts, and get ready to take an entertaining ride with Soho as we talk about the origin of the band’s name, the impact that they are having in their hometown of Boston and more!
The story behind the naming of Crash Midnight definitely fits with the vibe of your music. Let’s talk about how the name came to be…
It actually happened before we were even a band, when it was just Bo, Alex and me. Alex had only moved out to Boston from Columbus, OH two weeks earlier. We decided that we would start a hard rock, blues-based band that would capture the stuff that Aerosmith was doing way back when, and what Guns N’ Roses hit on with Appetite For Destruction. We had that idea in our heads, but no idea for a band name yet.
You have to know Bo to really appreciate this story. Bo’s the kind of guy that will break an expensive vase and then be proud of himself for sweeping up the floor afterwards. (laughs)
Anyway, it was the middle of the damn night, and I was dead asleep. Bo calls me all fired up, and I think that something exciting has happened. I’m groggily trying to process what he’s saying as he tells me that he’s got a great idea for the band, and that he captured what we were going for.
He said…“what do you think of the name Crash Midnight?”
I’ve got one eye open and I’m half asleep, so I told him that it sounded like a cool name, and asked him if that was it. He told me that he needed a ride. I asked him where he was. Thankfully, he was close to home. He said that his car was up on this rubble after hitting a tree, and that it was leaking gasoline. The tow truck driver said that he couldn’t pull it off because it would drag over the rocks and make sparks, and that they needed to get a crane to the car off.
So, Bo casually told me that he needed a ride. (laughs) And that’s how we got the band name. It’s been a chaotic disaster ever since, but we’ve all managed to stay alive.
Sounds like a throwback to the recklessness of 80s bands…
If there is anything that we took from the 80s bands, it’s that leap-before-you-look mentality. We get ourselves into situations with no thought as to how we will get out of them, but it always ends up working out, so I guess somebody’s looking out for us. (laughs)
How would you define Crash Midnight’s sound?
Old Aerosmith with a little bit of the GNR mentality (but not really as heavy as Appetite For Destruction), mixed with the punk stuff that we are into like Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls, and especially, a band called The Dead Boys out of Cleveland. They really have this great way of making the subject matter sound really authentic.
You mentioned a number of different influences, but when I listened to the album, the one that struck me was vintage Def Leppard, specifically their debut album, On Through The Night, which had a very raw sound…
That’s actually really funny that you came up with that. When I was a little kid getting into music, the two bands that made me pick up the guitar were KISS and Def Leppard (back when they had some “nuts” to them).
As much as I like the record, I can tell that you guys have a sound that really comes alive on stage…
That’s something that makes us feel good out on tour. People come up to us and tell us about how much they like the album, but that seeing us live is just a totally different animal. With so many bands out there not able to live up to their albums in concert, I really like that we are able to surpass ours when we play live. Maybe it just says something about our lack of prowess in the studio. (laughs)
I think that it’s just so hard for us to capture the sound that we’re looking for in the studio. Even though I love Mutt Lange, we weren’t trying to come out with a super-polished sounding album. We wanted something a little more edgy, but it’s really a fine line between sounding over-produced and sounding like a demo recorded in a garage.
I think that you managed to walk that fine line…
Our producer Kenny Lewis of Mixed Emotion Studios here in Boston ended up really helping us nail it. He’s a huge fan of 70s, sludgy sounding Aerosmith tunes. We tried to capture the sound as if that band stepped out of the 70s into a studio today and recorded an album.
You definitely did. It’s great to hear that classic “dirty” rock sound that makes you feel good and want to go out and have a shot and party. And the funny thing is, I’m not really much of a drinker, but your music makes me want to go drink…
That’s what we’re going for. We’re trying to create a nation of alcoholics, one person at a time. (laughs) A lot of our stuff on the album is very up-tempo and energetic, and lends itself to partying. We were able to capture something with this band that none of us have been able to capture with our previous bands.
Why do you think that is?
We really dissected what we like about all of our influences. Because of that, people tend to reference 80s bands when it comes to us, but we really didn’t draw that much out of the 80s, although I learned to sing along to Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) and Brad Delp (Boston), and we did take a page out of Motley Crue’s social playbook. (laughs)
I really feel like Active Rock radio needs to incorporate more stuff like Crash Midnight into their rotation, but I guess we’ll see if they are forward-thinking enough to push the envelope. Was radio ever a concern when writing the album?
You can try to copy what’s out there the way that bands did the 80s trying to be like Def Leppard, or today where there are a lot of generic hard rock bands with the Nickelback sound, but that was never for us.
If you’re going to get into the music business today, especially rock music, there’s just not the money that there once was back in the day. So, if you’re doing this, you better be dedicated and believe in what you’re doing. I’d rather just do something else than to play stuff that sounds generic to me.
I agree, but it definitely makes things more challenging to push the envelope with your sound…
We were very lucky to get signed by our label (Bronx Bridge). They recognized that we had a lot of momentum going regionally, so they let us record the album on our terms, from the sound of the songs to song selection.
We’re not wildly far off from some of the stuff that’s out there, and I’m happy to see bands like Royal Blood having success with a sound that is not at all generic. Our stuff will stand out (for better or worse), and it’s going to be up to our fans to push it on through.
One of the songs that seems to really capture the essence of the band is “Welcome To Boston,” but you almost left it off of the album. Why is that?
The song was only added as a last-minute switch. It was originally called “Nothing To Lose,” and it was written about the general mentality of people from Boston. We have a chip on our shoulders, and to use a hockey metaphor, we’re always ready to “drop the gloves” at a moment’s notice if somebody looks at us the wrong way.
We originally left it off of the album because it was a little bit “metal-y” compared to the rest of the songs, and we thought that the title was a little trite because many other bands have songs with similar ideas.
Some of our friends in the sports world here asked us if we had any songs about Boston that they could use. Even though it didn’t say it directly when it was called “Nothing To Lose,” the song was always about Boston; I don’t know why we never thought of it before. So, we stopped beating around the bush and just renamed it “Welcome To Boston.”
The song has really taken off. We’ve got the Patriots and Boston College playing it, and we’re working on some stuff with the Red Sox and the Bruins. It kind of became a really galvanizing thing around here for us, and it’s very cool that it became sort of this hometown anthem.
You guys have done support dates with The Pretty Reckless and Adelita’s Way. Do you have any tours lined up to support the album?
We also did a run with Sevendust and Gemini Syndrome. Now, with radio starting, we’re keeping ourselves open to do sponsored concerts and in-studios for rest of the winter. We’re going to be looking to jump on something to the equivalent of The Pretty Reckless in the spring.
If you had your choice of a few bands, who would you like to play with ideally?
You know what’s funny? I get that question most from my mom more than anyone else.
I’m very thorough. I do my research. I called your mom before this interview, and she told me to get this question answered for her.
(Laughs) We got to go out with a heavy hitter who we grew up with in Sevendust, and a relatively newer act in The Pretty Reckless. Each had very different fanbases, which I’m sure had to do with one being younger and female-fronted.
I think that the energy from younger fans makes for a better show from us. Most of the people on The Pretty Reckless shows hadn’t heard a thing from us, but they gave us an incredible amount of support. It was very validating to have all of those kids come up to us after the concert, buying our stuff and asking us to take pictures with them.
That gives me hope for the younger generation! I feel like most rock shows that I go to these days skew a bit older…
It was a really interesting crowd with The Pretty Reckless. You had some young teenage girls, and sometimes even younger than that because of the all-ages shows. They would show up with their dads wearing a Guns N’ Roses t-shirt or something similar. The dads had us take pictures with their daughters, which in my mind, would be the last thing that you’d want to do if you had a daughter. (laughs)
Thanks for a very entertaining interview, Shaun. Looking forward to seeing you guys live when you come to town.