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THE MIDNIGHT DRAGS INTERVIEW WITH LUCAS JAMES

Explosive and surreal, noise pop project Midnight Drags recently announced a new single Ronnie, a wild journey through love and loss and the chaotic dissolution of a relationship kept apart. 

Midnight Drags, the solo project of artist Lucas James, has also produced a stunning video clip for Ronnie in collaboration with Indonesian artist GalihpanjiRonnie is the first taste of Midnight Drags’ new album Bad Business, expected in early 2021 and we couldn’t resist commandeering Jack Pierce of the Pierce Brothers to have a chat with Lucas James of Midnight Drags.

Jack: Hi Lucas, love new track Ronnie, can you tell us a bit about how this song came about?

Lucas: Thank you! It’s essentially a love song.. A song about grief, pain and what happens to someone when the person they love gets taken away from them. But it’s also hopeful! As the song was loosely based on somebody I know it kinda wrote itself. It probably started with me strumming chords and humming nonsense over the top as most of my songs do.  

As a power pop act, who are your major influences?

Lucas: Some of my influential faves are (in no order): 

Cheap Trick : These guys were majorly on it for their first 3 or so albums. Hooky and melodic with great lyrics while still being powerful and somewhat bratty. Love them.

The Knack : ‘Get The Knack’ is such an unbelievable album. So much fun yet tight as a drum with so much great melodic moments. Yes, the Merseybeat influence is obvious but it’s blended with such a boisterous American sound that it’s kind irresistible. Oh yeah, and their guitar player Berton Averre is  a badass. 

The Posies : ‘Frosting On The Beater’ is the album that I listen to all the time.. This was in the 90’s when there were heaps of great bands playing this kind of melodic rock/power pop (Teenage Fanclub, Buffalo Tom, Matthew Sweet to name a couple) but there was something kinda heavier about these guys that I loved. This album was angsty but so so catchy and unique sounding. Check out the song ‘Solar Sister’.. It’s so rad.

Alice In Chains : So these guys were considered more a grunge band I guess but I would say they were just a heavy pop band (kinda like Nirvana), they had hooks a plenty.. Dirt is a stone-cold classic album imo.

Jack:You have a new album Bad Business coming out in 2021, what can we expect from this?

Lucas: There is lots of fuzzy guitars, some strings, big loud drums and synths. There are some instrumentals, some slower stuff and even some harmony guitar solos over a fast shuffle (yep). I try to keep it interesting…but…I reckon it’s just a simple pop album at heart.

Jack: Could you briefly describe your creative process when writing Bad Business?

Lucas: The whole of Bad Business I’m sure will be on my phone as ideas I played around with on acoustic guitar while mumbling melodies over the top of, gradually taking shape in newer versions . I will start with the chords and melody first then add the words later and I’m pretty certain that’s how this album came about. Once I had all the chords, melody and lyrics worked out I recorded the song acoustically and sent them to the band to have a listen and get to know them. I purposely didn’t ‘work up’ the songs in the studio i.e.: make my own demo with basic drum parts, guitars etc. as I didn’t want to influence the other guys and the parts they came up with. We jammed the songs and got the arrangements down and voila! We were ready to record. 

Jack: Having your own studio (Hot Bias Recording Studio), do you have any tips for new musicians that may start their career recording demos at home? 

Lucas: I would say that don’t worry too much about the ‘gear’ you have or don’t have but instead  spend your time getting to know your DAW better, whether that is Garage Band, Logic, Ableton or whatever. Use the amazing features and plug ins/synths that come with all modern DAWs to try to make your music sound as good as it can. Don’t stress about not having an expensive mic or guitar as that stuff doesn’t matter, use what you have and know, cheap stuff can sound rad!.. Just get the best performance you can into the DAW then learn to add other virtual (or real) instruments, then effects etc to make your demo’s sound as sweet as you can.

One tip though, when mixing use eq to high pass everything other than bass guitar and drums.. It cleans out a lot of noise and low-end rumble!

Jack: What do you do in your spare time when you’re not working in your studio?

Lucas: I hang out with my family, listen to a heap of music, drink a heap of coffee, read books, and generally try to solve life’s mysteries.

Jack: How would you describe yourself as an artist to someone who has no idea who you are and has never seen your work?

Lucas: Well, my music is pretty simple stuff.. A few chords, a catchy little melody and some emotion. I’m a simple guy

Jack: In one sentence, how would you sum up 2020?

Lucas: 2020? Sorry, but that year has already been erased from the annals of my history.

Jack: On that note, what’s the scariest movie you thought as a kid?

Lucas: When I was really little I saw ‘The Dark Crystal’ and it gave me nightmares for weeks.. I saw a little bit of it not that long ago and yep, that movie is fucked up.

Jack: Now that things are opening back up, where, and when will we get to see you live?

Lucas: No live plans yet but will try to make something happen when the album drops I reckon.

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