Tuesday, February 9, 2010
An introduction to the canadian indie scene..The Midway State!
His face and his band may not be one of the most recognizable ones in the US music scene right now, but Nathan Ferraro and The Midway State are quickly becoming one of the most well known bands in the Canadian indie music scene and recently in Montreal, Mix and Mark through Kalli and Sarah were able to sit down with Nathan prior to his sold out show with Stereos in Montreal this past November.
The Midway State started back in 2002 and since then have shared a stage with Lifehouse, Avril Lavigne and Mika to name a few and have been making a big name for themselves. Their album "Holes" was incredibly successful with hit singles like "Never Again" and "Can't Stop Waking Up To You", which just happens to be my personal favorite and the boys currently find themselves back in the studio working on their next album. During their interview with Nathan, they talked about the band growing together to their full potential and what they've been working on with someone called Gaga.
Currently you're on tour with Stereos. How has the tour been so far?
It's been awesome because it's like getting to a lot of the younger fans of ours you know. You forget what its' like. When I was fifteen and I went to shows, or sixteen or seventeen it's so magical. As you get older you start to analyze the shows more and you think about different things but when you're a kid and you go to a show it's just so in another world. So It's cool to get to be a part of that again, even though I'm in my early twenties now.
And what about the other bands?
Yeah that's the other thing that's amazing. With Stereos, The Artist Life and The Envy, we've all become friends. We've been great friends with The Envy for a long time and just now meeting Stereos and Artist Life, it's like a twenty person band now. We're sharing a bus and stuff so you become like the same band. It's wicked.
What's your favorite part of the tour?
My favorite part of the tour honestly is that there's so much that goes into playing every night that when I finally get to come on stage and sit down behind my piano and just play. It's so much fun, it's like why I do it so that's definitely the best part.
Can you see into the crowd while playing?
Yeah totally. Sometimes when they turn the lights on over the audience and then you get to see everyone. Sometimes when the lights are all on you, you can't really see too much but I can imagine it looks great.
Can you hear people from the crowd?
Yeah we can hear everything. We have like microphones that go into the crowd and everything so we can hear what kids are saying. You can hear everything.
Oh really? Oh no!
Not like that. Yes, I can hear everything you've been saying!
You've toured with so many big names like Mika, Theory of A Deadman and Avril Lavigne. Who would be your top three dream acts to go on the road with?
I would say, it would be amazing to tour with Radiohead..I'm gonna say Paul McCartney and Sigur Ros. Those are my three? If dead, John Lennon.
So where would your dream venue be?
The dream venue would be suspended above New York City held up by helicopters with the stars to light the stage. That is the cheesiest thing I've ever said.
How do you go about the songwriting process? Do you write it all or is it a collaboration?
Well, we're kind of developing still because we're a young band but on this first record, I wrote everything. Um, it's just always been something that's meant so much to me since I was like fourteen years old. It's just like I love it more than anything in the world so I'm always writing. Always trying to write music, write new songs everyday and sometimes I'm really frustrated and sometimes I'm really happy because I wrote something that I think is good.
You know now we're starting to do some writing as a band and collaborating and stuff too just because we want to grow, we want to expand our sound and try different things. It's really open.
So you say you've been writing since you were fourteen but do you ever look back at stuff you wrote when you were fourteen?
I have a little tape recorder like this that I bring with me everywhere and I've had one since I was fourteen. So I have like tapes after tapes after tapes of songs. Like everything that I've ever written recorded on this little tape recorder so sometimes it's really funny. I'll go back to a tape from like 1999 ten years ago and I can listen to what I was thinking. I'll listen to stuff from when I was really young, and uh, most of it is really bad!
Surely you can grab something from it.
Yeah, maybe like a note here or there.
Speaking of you know technology and stuff helping, how do you feel that the Internet has affected your success?
I think it's just a great help especially for small, more independent kind of bands. It's so wicked because it's distribution. You can write a song one day, record it the next and have it in people's homes the third day. It's so great that way and it really gives everybody a shot. So for us, it's really great. We went over and toured in France and these kids are singing along. I've never been to France before in my life so it's the weirdest thing.
That must be the coolest experience.
Yeah it's really great. Especially when they speak a different language then you.
It's like the only words they know in English.
Exactly. It's like 'You guys don't know what you're saying'. I find like playing to an audience that speaks a different language, it's that much more intimate because they aren't like analyzing our lyrics. Once again, it's like kids. They aren't looking at it the same, they aren't listening to the words. It's just music, It's so cool. That's why i love the band Sigur Ros because they sing in Icelandic and I don't speak Icelandic so all the melodies just seem that much more beautiful.
It's a whole different experience. So why the name Midway State?
The Midway State? Well, it was just we realized that you are never where you want to be in this life. Maybe that's impossible in this life, it's always a struggle, you're always in the midway state. We're always in this place where its' like 'Yeah, but tomorrow we'll be playing arenas'. It's like we're always naive and trying to get better.
You've collaborated with the drummer of Sum 41 on a video. What artist would you most like to do a collab with?
Hmm, well we just did a collab with Lady Gaga actually which was really cool and a lot of fun. We did a cover of a song by Peter Gabriel with her and she was just so pro and such an amazing artist to work with. I learned a lot from her, she's such a great singer, she's awesome so that was really exciting but I would love to do a collaboration with the original guy Peter Gabriel who wrote the song "Don't Give Up". I always looked up to him, that would be really cool for me.
Did Lady Gaga teach you anything new about like performance skills because she's one of the best?
She is. She's real, she really gets into it. We shot a video for this thing and she was just more emotional on set then I've ever been in my life and it just shows you where the bar is. It's pretty cool.
So who are your major musical influences?
Hmm, well kind of like bands that I love, like this year I love MGMT. I've been really into Phoenix lately and it kind of, it always changes. It's always evolving so we did a tour with Mika and he had a couple songs that I loved and through were so cool so that influenced me. Maybe I'll go back and listen to Bob Dylan for some reason I'll be on a kick like that and it influences me. It's really all over the place but growing up I listened to Neil Young a lot because that's what my parents had at the house. Bonnie Raitt. Yeah it's kind of weird just whatever was around. My parents loved the soft rock, easy rock.
Are there any music plans we can look forward to from you guys?
We're going to finish this tour and then in the new year, we're going to start to work on our new record back in Toronto which is really, really exciting.
Are you going to go a different route, like completely?
You know, we're just kind of going to go where it takes us. We never really want to force anything. We've grown over the last couple years as individuals and as a band. As a writer I've grown so we've got a lot of stuff that's already started to come and we're just going to kind of see where it goes. We're going to try to even put less and less boundaries on what we do.
And the song, "Change For You". You did the original but you also did it with Carly Rae. Did you find it changed the sound a lot?
Yeah it totally did. It became a new thing but I met Carly at the Juno Awards and I just loved her voice. We became really good friends and I thought it was just a cool idea. I always wanted to hear a girl in that song and so the great thing about having so many recording studios these days and Internet and stuff, she recorded her part in Vancouver and I recorded mine in Toronto. We put them together and it's a totally different sound but it's a different thing.
Would you like to do that more like grab some of your older songs and bring them into a new album?
Yeah, sometimes I think about that a lot. Where there will be like an old song that I wrote that I think is pretty good but maybe we represented it the wrong way or like we missed the mark on the way we recorded it or produced it and people aren't experiencing it the way that I heard it in my head. Sometimes I would like a second shot at certain songs so maybe we'll try that.
Did you expect that "Never Again" would pick up so fast?
No, not at all. It was like, I remember, that was one of the last songs I wrote for the record and I remember it was like Christmas and I was listening back to a few things with one of my old tapes and I had that riff and I was like 'oh that's a good riff' and then I just wrote the song in like ten minutes really quickly and I didn't really think anything of it and then it became the single which was really unexpected.
What inspires you to write your songs?
Um, it's like a thing where its' this obsession to get the feeling that I get when I create something. I imagine it happens to filmmakers and painters too when you create something, you get this high where you feel like everything else in the world is okay and I can walk around because I feel like I have something up my sleeve. Like I can be the lamest dude in the bar but it's like "Yeah but I just wrote this like hit song". So, since I was like fourteen and I went to high school, I always have loved having that feeling. Something that just I made and that I know. So, it's like a constant struggle to always keep that feeling, and get that feeling of inspiration and happiness because when I write something that's good, it makes everything in the world okay for me.
How will that change once you start getting input from your band for different stuff?
Different Stuff? Well, couldn't tell you!
We shall see!
Yeah, I mean we've already done it a bit and it's kind of the same thing. It's like even if I just have an idea that I think is great or just a chorus that I think is great or a melody, I can get the same feeling and you know using the people around you and using each other to build it and make it better, it only like helps that.
Thanks again to Kalli and Sarah in Montreal for doing this interview and to Nathan Ferraro and the rest of Midway State for taking the time out of their busy schedule! Check out their music on their myspace
and check us out over the next few days for more from Kalli and Sarah with The Envy and Stereos!