Midnight Evils on reuniting, charging Marky Ramone for a T-shirt, and missing John Peel
The Midnight Evils, notorious for their off-the-rails rock shows, return for what promises to be a killer reunion show after more than six years since they broke up. Since forming in 1998, they were voted City Pages Best Rock Band in 2003 and 2005, and Best Band to Break Up in the Past 12 Months in 2006.
The Midnight Evils garnered international recognition as their second record, Straight 'Til Morning was named Record of the Month in March 2003 by legendary DJ John Peel, and they accepted his invitation to record a "Peel Session" for the BBC later that year.
The Evils' final show in August, 2005 broke the bar sales record in the 7th St. Entry, and they will try to do it again this weekend. Gimme Noise experienced the deafening avalanche of their full-tilt rock fury and spoke to the five core members in their St. Paul practice space. We spoke about the highs and lows of rock 'n' roll, and why they just had to have the $8 from Marky Ramone.
Members include: Jonny Evans (frontman/lead singer), Curan Folsom (bass), Stevie Cooper (lead guitar), Jesse Tomlinson (drums) and Brian "Vandy" Vanderwerf (rhythm guitar) - the latter two more recently of Chooglin' and The Huckleberrys.
How'd you guys decide to do the reunion?
Jesse Tomlinson: I'm leaving town, moving to Norway. It seemed a good time to do it. The Midnight Evils broke up in 2005. It's been seven years. We decided we better do it now before we get too old.
Curan Folsom: Steve lives in Milaca. He's always been in St. Cloud or Milaca.
Stevie Cooper: I've never lived here.
Brian Vanderwerf: He makes that pretty damn clear! (laughs)
What have you been involved with since you left the Midnight Evils?
Jonny Evans: I did a band called the Bullets and a band called the Die Alone with members of Janis Figure.
Vanderwerf: I'm putting together a new rockin' band this year.
One of your songs is the theme song for Radio K's Off the Record. Which one?
Vanderwerf: "Loaded and Lonely," mixed in with "Another Line." They mixed the two together. That was fun, we did Radio K a few times before.
Evans: That's funny, because those are two of my favorite songs off the first record! I've got good taste!
What can people expect at the Entry?
Folsom: We're going to cover pretty much everything we have done all together. We've got a big list of songs.
Vanderwerf: There's a really big surprise, too.
Evans: What's the surprise? I don't even know what the big surprise is.
Vanderwerf: Come with the lowest expectations and you're going to have a great time!
Evans: I didn't play on the last record. I feel there will be a lot of stuff from the first record people might not have heard. I think it will be cool for people to hear it all.
Tell me about the John Peel sessions and how you were featured on those.
Vanderwerf: We put the record on Estrus Records. I got an email one day, "John Peel loves your record. He wants to know if you do a session with him." I thought it was bullshit, but sure enough, it was real! So we flew out there . . .
Folsom: We played five shows there. We recorded at the BBC on Thanksgiving, 2003. They said, "expect it to take 6 - 10 hours to record." We played our stuff and got out of there in two and a half hours. They said John Peel came down to see us four hours later and everybody couldn't believe we were already out of there.
Folsom: We just played our tunes, "sounds great!" and were out of there. We didn't know! We never got to meet him, but it was fun. (laughs).
Vanderwerf: It was still pretty awesome. He said my name on the BBC!
Evans: Unfortunately I didn't make it to that . . .
Vanderwerf: Jonny was on the record that John Peel played...
How did the tours go?
Tomlinson: They were all great!
Folsom: says hesitantly: They were all... fun. There's this thing for bands called "paying the dues." And that was definitely our time, playing shows and having the people who were working going nuts over you -- but like 3 people in the audience. I guess it's hard for every band at first.
Vanderwerf: We had band meltdowns, that typical shit... that killed it too.
Evans: Definitely good times, and bad times. Happy and sad, it's still all living in the van. It was never plush.
Tomlinson: You've got to like each other a lot.
What were some of your favorite bands you played with?
Vanderwerf: the one we're playing with on the show, the Dirty Frenchmen, from Fargo. I've played with those guys just about more than any other band.
Folsom: They're old friends and Fargo is kind of our second home. When we headed out to tour we'd start there, and we had friends there and played there a lot so people were coming out.
Cooper: Justin, the bass player, owned Dart Records. They put out our first record, and our 7-inches.
Evans: We played with a band there called the Spaceshits, they made great records and that was a highlight for me!
What made you guys stand out and be picked best band year after year?
Tomlinson: Apparently, we were loud.
Evans: Turning up the amps...
Vanderwerf: Our energy! Sometimes people like to be assaulted.
Folsom: It was like being at a party.
Evans: I don't think there's anybody in this band who's afraid to have a good time. Ultimately that's what everybody in this band is here to do.
Did you stand out in terms of high energy, loud, more hard rock, etc.?
Folsom: When we started, we wanted to be as intense and fast as Jesse could possibly play his drums. Then as we evolved, we just wanted to play rock 'n' roll.
Evans: Old bands like AC/DC and Rose Tattoo were a huge influence. At that time there were a lot of good bands playing rock!
Folsom: When you see Jesse play drums, you realize...
Vanderwerf: He hits the drums so loud, and then we play louder, and then it becomes this thing...
Tell me about Estrus label...
Folsom: Jonny and I knew each other since we were in high school in St. Cloud. Jonny was always into the hip stuff. He was into a lot of the Estrus label musicians. When we started the band, we'd been listening to Estrus stuff for at least five years. We sent our first record to everybody we knew, to all these crazy labels in Europe! And Estrus were the only ones that had any interest. I thought that was the coolest thing. One label getting back to us.
Vanderwerf: And a good one.
Evans: We started out listening to garage rock in high school and Estrus was one of those labels, where, when you buy your first record and put it on your record-player... it was one of the first record labels that appealed to me!
Folsom: They came out to see us and Dave Crider, the owner, was real nice. He said he'd be into putting a single out. We were real pumped. A lot of Estrus bands recorded in Austin and with Tim Kerr - he's been in a bunch of Estrus bands - and he's a good dude.
Evans: the funny thing in my head was, he had us going there to record two songs. We were like, "within that time we can record all our songs, 15 of them! And maybe, he won't be able to pick, and will want to make a full record!" [everyone laughs] That was literally the thought. So we went in and that's what we did.
Vanderwerf: We were focused.
Evans: We bashed out 15 songs and got out of there. Next thing we know, he's like, "Let's make a record!"
Folsom: They had good distribution in the U.S. and Europe.
Vanderwerf: Which is why John Peel got the record. We didn't solicit him. He just bought it on his own.
How's it feel to get back together and play again?
Evans: In all honesty, the Dart record, the very first record, I still listen to and love so much, that when these guys called me, I was really stoked to come back.
Tomlinson: It's good to get another one under the belt before we get too old, man. Because its hard now! [everyone laughs]
You broke the 7th Street Entry record for bar sales!
Tomlinson: Our friends love to drink!
Vanderwerf: We all had massive guest lists back then.
Folsom: I think it's going to be tough with the Depot there this year, for competition. Because I think a lot of people are going to slip over there from the Entry to get drinks.
Evans: I'll try to drink as much as I can. I can't promise anything. But I'll try to come close.
What are your favorite songs from the records? Best moments or worst moments.
Evans: One of my favorite moments is Jesse charging Marky Ramone for one of our T-shirts. (laughs)
Tomlinson: "We need that $8!"
Folsom: He was drumming for the Misfits.
Evans: I think it was Marky Ramone who went up and asked for the T-shirt. And Jesse charged him! I'm like "You might want to give him the T-shirt."
Who else did you enjoy playing with?
Evans: I know this sounds ridiculous, but one of my favorite shows, because of what I grew up on, was playing with L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat in the Main Room. The Bullet Boys cancelled and we got added. Its by far one of my favorites. That was one of the best crowds we had.
Vanderwerf: We opened for Reverend Horton Heat, in the Entry and in the Mainroom.
Tomlinson: We played with the Go in the Entry for about 300 people. It was really uncomfortable.
Did you ever have bad shows?
Tomlinson: Where people told us to turn it down? Yeah!
Vanderwerf: We were told to turn it down a lot! We were told to turn it down tonight!
Folsom: We were in South Carolina once and there was an all-female Black Sabbath cover band. We did our sound check and the sound guy came up to us, "you guys are too loud." We are like, "We are opening for a Black Sabbath cover band!"
Expectations for this show?
Folsom: It'll be like old times, almost off the rails, barely able to hang on.
Evans: There's a 90 percent chance I'll be there.
Poster by Amy Jo
The Midnight Evils Return! with Les Dirty Frenchmen and Don Von and the Solution. $5 21+ 9 p.m., Saturday, June 23 7th Street Entry
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