Did time stop on 4th November 2013? Fans of Midlake could be excused for believing it so. Take a look at the ‘About’ section of the band’s own Facebook page and you’ll be left with that impression. The only information contained is the declaration “New album ANTIPHON out now!” If you check the Bella Union artist tab for Midlake, it’s the same story. “Antiphon will be released 4th November on Bella Union” concludes a description of the band’s (then) current activities.
The release of Antiphon marked the end of a turbulent period in the band’s existence,
that’s for sure, but it didn’t mark the end. In some senses, Midlake continues to this day in the various collaborations between band members, but also in the strong bond of friendship that clearly exists between all founder and later members of the band, regardless of what disputes and dramas they’ve suffered along the way. And perhaps there’s a possibility that Midlake might actually return to record again, or tour, as the band we once knew them to be.
For now though, let’s catch up with the various members of the band and find out what they’ve been up to.
Tim Smith is the erstwhile leader of the band in many senses, prior to his shockingly abrupt departure from Midlake in the Autumn of 2012, mid recording of the follow up to 2010’s ‘The Courage of Others’ album. Eric Pulido recalls that “Tim was definitely the driving force in songwriting and obviously the most poignant filter for what we were doing musically. It was a huge loss in those ways to not have him there “ Tim announced to the band that he was leaving to pursue a solo project that he named ‘Harp’. Shortly afterwards, a harp website was published with the following comment in the header: “ This site is the home of my new project called Harp. The first album is currently being worked on and is sure to take a long time, but if you're interested please sign the mailing list and I'll let you know as soon as it's finished and available. Thanks for the support.” As yet no album, or indeed any new material has been published. A May 2016 update read as follows: “I know it's been awhile since I've given an update on Harp. Sorry for that. It's just that things are about the same for me these days... nothing much new to report. Some people ask me to hurry up, just release something, quit being a perfectionist... that's never enjoyable to read. However, I also get many kind messages that are supportive and understanding. It might take many more years for me to figure things out, I don't know, but I haven't given up.” Unusually for Tim, and clearly as a gesture of kindness to the many fans patiently awaiting his return, Harp posted a demo that Tim had been working on. May 2017 saw the latest update, via Harp’s YouTube, showing Tim and a collaborator working on a typically beautiful sounding track named ’I Am The Seed’.
Bassist, Paul Alexander released his debut solo album as 'Two Medicine' on Bella Union in 2018. It was the fulfilment of an ambition to experiment more with arrangements, or to get more into psychedelic textures, than he had been able to do within the band setting.
Paul subsequently went on to co produce the latest John Grant album.
Jesse Chandler (keyboards, flute. piano) has toured with The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow, Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper, as Tears of Silver, Jesse also remains a member of a second 'supergroup', alongside McKenzie Smith, Joey McLellan, Eric Pulido (all of Midlake, of course), Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis, and Jason Lytle of Grandaddy in BNQT.
Eric Nichelson (keyboards) is owner/director of Denton Music Workshop, a multi-use teaching and recording space in the heart of downtown Denton, Ohio.
We last saw Joey McClellan (guitarist) touring with Israel Nash but he is also part of Elle King's band and he Co-Owns Redwood Studio. Joey is also a member of BNQT.
McKenzie Smith (drums) joins the BNQT crowd and Co-Owns Redwood Studio with Joey. He also recently toured with Eric Pulido, whose new project goes by the moniker E. B. The Younger.
Which leaves Eric Pulido (lead vocalist and guitarist). Having masterminded the BNQT project, Eric recently turned his attention to a new collaborative project he calls E. B. the Younger. An album entitled 'To Each His Own' is released on March 8th, and Eric has been supporting John Grant on his recent UK tour. We caught up with Eric at Sage, Gateshead, and discussed the album, and all things Midlake too.
On the new record he told us, “Midlake self-produced and recorded everything, but as with BNQT, I wanted to embrace collaboration. I’d present songs with just voice and acoustic guitar and ask the musicians where they heard things going, and so we built the songs up organically.”
Within that organic build, Pulido still had specific ideas in mind. He singles out the late, great Harry Nilsson as a key influence. “Midlake songs were often cerebral and minor-key and I wanted some of mine to be more playful and buoyant and major key, which Harry did so well, while still making deep, thoughtful music.”
In case you're wondering, 'E.B' stands for Eric Brandon (Pulido) and Eric explained his reasoning for using that moniker instead of his name. "I didn’t feel like my name alone fully represented the project or sounded right, so I created a moniker that although different, still encompassed who I am."
Conversation turned to Midlake, past and future. I asked how the band dynamic changed once Tim left the band, and whether we might one day hear the tracks the band had been working on between 2010 and 2013. "Tim was definitely the driving force in songwriting and obviously the most poignant filter for what we were doing musically. It was a huge loss in those ways to not have him there and we had to lean on one another to compensate. It brought out more of each member than ever before." And on those 'lost tracks'? "I hope so. There’s some great material in there although it may seem dated to us now. A couple tunes released with the 10 year anniversary release of ‘Van Occupanther’ but I definitely feel there’s some gems left over."
Finally, we asked the question all Midlake fans need answering; will Midlake be coming back? The answer we got, will excite all music fans. "We’ve been talking about it over the past several months and getting a read on everyone’s relative interest and idea on how best to pursue it. Ive even talked to Tim about being a part of it in some way. All that remains to be fully sorted, but I’m hopeful that we’ll return sooner than later."