The Midnight Beast | Interview

Independently awesome

Six years on from their infamous “Tik Tok” parody the boys from The Midnight Beast (TMB) are still rocking out on YouTube and doing what they love. After the completion of two seasons of their self-titled TV show on E4 in the UK (SBS2 in Aus), the boys have had a break from live shows and are now busy working on their EP ‘Best At Being The Worst’, through Pledge Music.

In what can only be called a revolution of the music, media and entertainment industries, crowd funding allows fans, innovators and people who want to support a person or a group to become involved in projects through donating money; usually with items or experiences in return. Websites like Kickstarter, Pozible and Indiegogo are slowly becoming a viable option for bands, film producers and artists to churn out their stuff professionally, but still be independent.

And that’s what Stefan Abingdon, Andrew Wakely and Ashley Horne are doing with The Midnight Beast. What’s sort of become an annual catchup, we spoke with the hilarious Stefan Abingdon from TMB, famed for their parodies, originals and comedy videos that you cannot only jam to but laugh at as well.

In 2014 the boys released their album “Shtick Heads” under the distribution label Essential. The 16 track album featured their originals “Love Bites” and “Sex Tape” amongst others, and brought to light what the band could do.

“We did the album under a distribution label called Essential, that was really good but, I dunno, I guess we’re so used to how YouTube worked, being independent and everything. My mum runs our merchandise store and everything like that. She’s been wicked doing it and we’ve always admired bands who don’t care about keeping it independent. I think at the beginning of The Midnight Beast it was like, ‘this isn’t normal we should be signed to a major label,’ but after a while people almost started using our model as an example.”

“With the album, Essential got a bit more involved and that was cool and everything and we really enjoyed it, but this next one I think we wanted it to be just us. Pledge Music reached out to us and after they explained the incentives and how people can get involved with the experiences – whether that’s coming out and having a pizza with us or drumming with Dru (plus loads more) we thought it’d be cool.”

In regards to being independent, The Midnight Beast has evolved on its own and taken an identity of a comedic band that not only does covers but originals too. But being unsigned can have its drawbacks in some ways, but they’re going to tackle the next album through Pledge, Stef explains.

“I think it’s one of those things, I mean we were totally self-made from the internet, we were completely a band where people shared it and liked us, and six years on from like a viral thing I can’t believe it’s lasted that long (laughs). If you want to come hang out with us, you can and it’s great, it just so happens it’ll help fund our next music video and the EP. Music isn’t cheap to make whether it’s hiring studios or recording and I don’t think a lot of people realise that. So we thought if our Pledge video could educate people on what it’s like for an unsigned band to stay afloat in the music industry, then that wouldn’t be a bad thing either.”

“I think (Pledge) is totally the way it’s going, the internet just opened so many things up and I kind of can’t believe it’s taken that long, but it’s been happening in small ways. I think it’ll start happening more with Netflix and things like that as well, people will go direct to it, it’s nuts!”

I think we’ve struggled because we’ve sometimes fallen between the cracks of comedy and music, but actually it’s been a blessing we’ve stayed unsigned really.

“I’ve been writing with the boys for the last few months on the EP, but it’s just been studio time and the videos that have been the bigger costs. We don’t like putting out music without videos, a lot of the time that really shows who we are. It’s a lot of work but it’s always been the most fun part really, in a weird way we’ve always seen ourselves as musicians but we’re also directors and editors. We love having control, getting the crew and costumes together; it really tells a story. We’ve got a lot tracks to choose from, which is great because we have more than we need, but now it’s about generating the money through Pledge to get in the studio. We managed to do the (“Better Than Sex”) video too and we kind of can’t believe that it was done directly from fans as well, it was so sick (laughs).”

“If you’ve got the fan base where you want them, why hand over half or even 3/4 of it to someone else who might not understand it as well as you do. I think we’ve struggled because we’ve sometimes fallen between the cracks of comedy and music, but actually it’s been a blessing we’ve stayed unsigned really. I think people haven’t understood it who have been it labels in a weird way. But I mean, we never say never when it comes to (being signed), like if the music becomes even bigger or if we wanted to play more shows in the States, but we like the idea of keeping it fresh and not doing what everyone expects us to do.”

We got told by a lot of people that ‘this song could be a really good song if you changed this’, but then that’s really part of our unique thing, we do go the extra mile to be funny.

In regards to the identity of the band, what has worked so well with The Midnight Beast is that they are musicians who decided to be a unique comedy band, not comedians who wanted to try and get into music. When they sit down and write together, they can figure out what’s going to work and what won’t because they come from a musical background; they’re not comedians trying to sound funny through music, they’re a bit of both and bring skills from the two areas to make what The Midnight Beast has become.

“We’re used to getting our way, we just have to convince each other and if an idea seems too fucked up it will be Ashley who will usually be the one to tell me (laughs). I mean, sometimes I listen back at some of our old stuff and think, ‘how did we say that?’ (laughs). But that’s what has always made us laugh about it, comedy as an industry is a lot more open-minded to something dirty than the music industry. We got told by a lot of people that ‘this song could be a really good song if you changed this’, but then that’s really part of our unique thing, we do go the extra mile to be funny. Maybe it would be a One Direction song if we didn’t say this lyric or that lyric (laughs). I mean it’s funny because Dru and I grew up in bands and tried to get signed, and funnily enough they didn’t work, but obviously there was something about TMB that people enjoy and that’s why we’re still around I guess.”

The Midnight Beast, as well as keeping up their YouTube channel, were lucky enough to land two seasons of their own, self-titled show on E4 and SBS2 in Australia. With it they were able to act, dance and of course, be completely and mentally funny.

“With that show it was amazing, we were really busy. We were writing the music, I was editing it which was great. I’ve always edited The Midnight Beast music videos, I mean in the first series I had approval of the edit, but on the second one I got to edit the music videos. I didn’t edit the narrative stuff, like the more talky bits (laughs), but Ash and Dru really pushed for editing the vids in the second season which was amazing. Editing is always the fourth member for us in a way. I think it’s amazing with comedy in that you can generate comedy in the writing of it, you can generate comedy in the filming of something, and then you can also generate it in the edit. You’ve almost got three chances to tell a joke.”

As well as chatting about the independence of The Midnight Beast, Stefan let us in on the secrets of filming some of their music videos, like the #SELFIE parody and their recent track, #betterthansex.

“It was actually scary being in bed with each other dressed as women (laughs), it felt like we were in bed with strangers, it just didn’t feel right! Like all of us were acting like women as well and you’ve gotta get into the part and it was just weird off camera as well, I think we went mental in that video (laughs). After each season that we did we normally made one crazy video, we always just want something to do that’s just all us! After the first season we did the clip “I’m So Manly”, which is bloody weird (laughs), then after the second season we did that selfie parody and we just had so much fun doing it (laughs).”

“I’m all for ruining cinematic magic (laughs). We make so many videos where we mime the track in double speed then slow it down so that it looks like we’re moving in slow motion, that is really hard (laughs). I started noticing in I think it was Jessie J and Nicky Minaj where they looked really jittery and hyperspeed and whatever, so I looked into how they were doing it and found out that they were miming the track half speed. At first we were playing around with the idea of doing it a little bit half speed and a little bit normal, but after a while we tried it and it worked. But what actually happened with the music video was we booked a room at a rehearsal room but the night before, Muse called up and said they wanted to use it, and you can’t really argue with Muse (laughs).

“So the rehearsal company gave us a disused building. When we went there we were totally blown away, every room looked different, there was a wooden room and a white room; so we had this idea to do every verse and chorus in a different room, but we couldn’t make it to each room in time. So we halved the track and then it gave it that look. A lot of people think we’re cutting the camera and editing it but it’s all done it one take (laughs). It certainly wasn’t easy (laughs). I think it took us five goes, the first one was actually pretty bang on we just forgot to get dressed for it (laughs).”

“We wanted The Midnight Beast to evolve, it’s crazy but like, people who were 12 when we started are 18 now. We knew The Midnight Beast was never going to grow up, put it that way (laughs). We started making a Spotify playlist of all the songs we wish we had written, and they were like the guilty pleasure songs, like “Stacey’s Mom” and “Teenage Dirtbag”, incredible pop songs that have something different. We’re really keen to keep that thread through the EP now, and that’s where the “Better Than Sex” track came from; it’s a little ‘poppier’ but then it’s still got the edge of The Midnight Beast, and rather than a comedy sketch it’s more of a novelty song in a way.”

As for what’s in store for the boys other than working on the EP, they’ll be playing one live show in September and hope to tour after the EP is released. They’re also doing new videos every Monday to keep you entertained for the week.

“We’re really keen to tour soon and want to come to Australia so bad! Back in the day we used to struggle with it because there are different laws with the underage venues and us having a predominantly younger fan base. But now they’re older, that’s definitely our plan. It’s actually been a year since we played any shows, we want to just go on tour and not come back for a while (laughs).”

WHO: The Midnight Beast
WHAT: Recording their new album through Pledge Music
HOW: www.pledgemusic.com/projects/the-midnight-beast
YOUTUBE: The Midnight Beast

Dru, Stefan and Ash from The Midnight Beast.
Dru, Stefan and Ash from The Midnight Beast.