Forming in 2009, band members Stefan Abingdon ‘Stef’, Andrew Wakely ‘Dru’ and Ashley Horne ‘Ash’, came together to create The Midnight Beast.
With Stefan writing from home, where most of their first vides were created, the band has come a long way from just another boyband on YouTube. Now their hit TV show which premiered in the UK on Channel E4, is coming to Australian airwaves on SBS 2 on Mondays at 9.30pm.
As well as slipping into wild music videos, the series sees the band having to cope with day-to-day challenges like sharing a dingy East London flat and trying to impress girls when they have no cash, and one of them has to sleep in the kitchen.
The series charts their failures and successes as they try to claw and hobble through a sea of bizarre obstacles and unsavoury characters toward pop stardom.
Below is our interview with the boys about the show. I had the pleasure of speaking to the wonderfully delightful Ashley for most of the interview, as Stef and Dru were running a bit late. Enjoy!
Looking back on 2009, did you think that in 4 years time you’d have your own TV show, and be as successful as you are now?
Ash: Definitely not! Not at all. It was really weird actually how it all started because we’d been best friends for a while and I’d go watch Stef and Dru play in their other band at the time such as ‘The Clik, Clik’ and then, one day as a joke, we’d thought we’d be really, really funny and start a band and put our clips on YouTube.
It sort of escalated into this huge thing, and it’s been crazy ever since. I’d honestly never have imagined we’d have our own TV show that’s for sure (laughs).
What has been one of the best/funniest experiences you’ve had working together?
Ash: Filming the videos, they’re always really great to work on. We love coming up with different and new ideas. Actually one of THE funniest things that’s ever happened, (for me anyway) was the sex education video we did for contraceptive company.
We were approached by this company and basically it was about promoting anal sex as a form of contraception. Anyway, it sort of got printed and wrote about on the front page of The Metro Newspaper, which is one of the biggest newspapers in England, that was very weird and surreal, and incredibly hilarious…it’ll definitely be one to tell the kids that’s for sure! (laughs).
If you weren’t in the band together, do you think such a strong friendship between you all would still have been formed?
Ash: Myself and Stefan went to school together so we’ve known each other since we were nine, and we’ve always been really good friends and work well together.
Stefan met Dru a little later and then they formed a band and I’d always go watch them play, so we’ve been mucking around for ages (laughs).
Regarding the TV show that’s now airing in Australia on Monday, how did that come about? Were you approached and asked to do the TV show or was it something you had your minds set on?
Ash: To be honest it’s our really great management we have. PBJ had connections with E4 and they were really interested in working with us on a pilot, so then we went to Warp Films and it all sort of unfolded from there.
It came together really well actually, E4 seem to really fit what our band was about, and came through very naturally. A lot of other channels approached us after the pilot but we sort of felt that E4, with their other shows such as The Inbetweeners and Skins, would be such a great channel to be on. Apparently it’s turned out quite well (laughs) now it’ll be airing in Australia on SBS 2 on Monday!
You are all definitely musically talented but what was the experience like acting for a TV audience? Were you all a little nervous having more people behind the cameras?
Ash: It’s totally different. For our ‘older’ videos on YouTube such as the Tik Tok parody, it’s just us three and sometimes Stef’s dad would help. We’d film on like 90p and Steff would do everything from home, actually in that clip (Tik Tok) you can probably see the camera in the mirror (laughs).
But now, having a crew of silly amounts of people is just crazy! If we needed something we could ask for it, and they’d help us out and we sort of maybe bossed them around (laughs) I’m joking, I’m joking.
The music videos that we’re making now are quite expensive in terms of the crew and filming in HD, so having all these people work on them is pretty surreal as well. The quality (HD) is absolutely amazing, not like our other ones (laughs).
The clip, ‘I Kicked a Shark In the Face‘ was our first one we did so that was super crazy to walk onto the set for the first day. We totally destroyed that set actually, we just kept blowing things up and having loads of fun (laughs).
Did you (secretly) keep anything from the set, or wish you kept something from the set as an eternal memoir?
Ash: It was quite hard to contain myself actually (laughs), there were so many amazing props on there; I kept thinking to myself: ‘shall I steal that or that, or that, maybe that one’ (laughs), but in the end we were given the original sculptures from the shark video which were these cardboard cut-outs that we used in the clip, which was incredible because then I didn’t feel bad (laughs).
Also at the very end we were given these framed DVD’s from the show, super official of course (laughs) to hang on our walls…It impresses the women (laughs) they walk into my house and they’re like ‘wow!’ They think I’m a bit egocentric, but never mind, it’s incredibly hilarious.
Do you think the social media world helped The Midnight Beast form the way it did, compared to say 10 years ago when bands still relied on cds and radio to get their music out there?
Stef: Oh yeah it’s been massive. We never really knew anything about a viral video when we first started, it was a bit of a shock really. It was meant to be a joke, our Tik Tok parody, but when we uploaded it, we were sort of shocked really at how fast it spread and more and more people started liking it.
Ash: Yeah totally, I think it helps a lot of people, and a prime example of someone like that would be Justin Bieber, who is super duper famous and they launched their career from YouTube. When we first made Tik Tok, then Ninjas, Down, and like all our other parodies, YouTube definitely helped us through sharing what we had to the world. I think without it, we would definitely not be like we are now.
As all three of you are in the ‘twittersphere’, do you think having that relationship with your fans is an added bonus to your success? As I’m sure many bands don’t have twitter, but you guys seem really involved with it?
Stef: I really enjoy it, definitely.
Dru: I think it’s sort of equally placed. Some bands don’t need or want a twitter or a social media account but we like having it. I think it helps our fan base grow and we can get right in touch with everyone, and keep them updated on everything we’re doing such as the TV series which we wanted to do for a while.
That connection is I think what really helps us, the YouTube views aren’t just numbers, they’re actually people which means a lot to us.
What is it like now to walk around in London, do you get recognised a lot, how does that make you feel?
Dru: Incredibly surreal, it’s definitely strange to walk around and be recognised in a crowd.
Ash: (laughs) Incredibly it depends when the school holidays are on. In the beginning it was very surreal because we hadn’t been around that long and just to have someone come running up to you and saying ‘are you from The Midnight Beast’ was very weird! It’s actually gotten a lot bigger now because of the TV show and such which is pretty awesome.
Your families seem to be quite involved with the band, it’s almost like running a family business so to say. Do you think having support from family is crucial to a band’s or even an actors success?
Stef: You obviously have the careers that go hand in hand with families. We’ve never been rebellious or anything and our families always support us in whatever we do.
Dad often helps us out and my mum runs the merchandise shop and Ash’s dad helps, they all support us. I think it’s really great to have your family support you, it definitely means a lot to us.
Do you all sometimes look back on some of the older videos that you’ve created and would you have done anything different or has it been a big and exciting learning experience?
Stef: Ashley’s the worst at it actually (laughs). He sometimes just sits there and watches all our videos, it’s quite amusing actually. Although our old videos are from like three years ago…
Dru: (laughs) I can’t remember what I did five minutes ago, I think I was walking from the train…
Ash: We kinda forget about when we made them and what it was like to be honest. Watching the videos that we did though, is probably just as hilarious for us as it is for you guys. We sort of made them a while ago, so it’s nice to reflect on them and laugh. I sit there and make myself laugh.
Stef + Dru: Yeah, you do (laughs)…
Ash: It was a long time ago though!…We’re getting really old…
And last but not least, if you could choose a famous musician or band to play on tour with, who would it be and why?
Dru: I would have to say Blink 182. Not just for the fame side either, they like to laugh and have a good time which would be really wicked to be involved with.
Ash: Oh dear, I’d have to say Katy Perry (laughs).
Thanks for the interview guys, it was great to have a chat with you and hope you have a lovely afternoon! Sorry for waking you up so early!
Stef: No don’t be silly it was lovely to talk to you all the way over in Australia. Hopefully we can tour over there soon!
Dru: Yeah, sorry Stef and I were late (laughs), oops!
Ash: Thank you! (laughs) it’s not that early don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll manage. Thanks again!
The Midnight Beast are actively on YouTube which you can view here: YouTube. We can’t wait to see what else The Midnight Beast have in store for us over the next few months. Hopefully they will be able to tour Australia and the rest of the world very soon!
Twitter: Ashley, Stefan, Dru, SBS 2
SBS 2 launched on April 1, 2013 and is a channel focusing on the emerging and bold culture of television from around the world, dedicated to the 16-39 year old audience.
The channel offers viewers free-to-air and Australian premiere content including the channel’s first commissioned program; dedicated sport programming and – in a first in Australian broadcasting, SBS 2 will launch Back2Back where viewers get to watch the whole series of selected new programs via the SBS ON DEMAND service before they broadcast on the channel. The channel features shows such as Skins series 7, Him & Her, Threesome, Community and many other sport, music shows and documentaries.