Interview – The Midnight Hollow

by Carmyn Manning

The Midnight Hollow are a 3-piece band from Brooklyn, New York with an eerie yet euphoric and psychedelic sound that can surely take listeners to another world. The trio is comprised of Spencer Draeger (vocals), Andrew Segreti (drums) and Matthew Leibowitz (bass). Their new single, “Peach Juice,” has an infectious heavy rock sound but the band’s psychedelic vibes still shine through, making this new track one that will grab the attention of any listener.


How did the band meet and create The Midnight Hollow?
I moved from San Francisco to NY after recording an EP by myself. I really wanted to play everything live and so after 6 months I met Andrew in a dark sexy bar in the East Village. We jammed for a few months and then a month before our first show he brought Matt in. There have been some member changes along the way but it’s always been the the three of us through it all. Of course I had some awkward craigslist rehearsals, glad that phase is over.


What inspires you guys to make music?

Who knows, but it is addicting and like an abusive relationship that you can’t leave.


Does your personal fashion style reflect the music you create? 

I think music inspires fashion more than the other way around. The aesthetic is important to us and I feel like sometimes it amplifies what we are doing. I love just making a show out of it all. I don’t believe in uniforms or anything, I just like to wear what I wear. I don’t think there’s a specific look for our sound and if there is I’d love to know. But what we wear is just the sugar in the coffee and not our focal point live or as musicians.


How was the writing process for the new single, “Peach Juice”?

Musically, this song has been one of the highlights in our set lately and it feels good just having some faster punk driven songs to split up the psychedelia and dance jams. At the time I just wanted something really upbeat and a sound that Andrew and matt could really be themselves. They’re rippers! Lyrically, the song came about because I had this this scratch vocal/place holder, “All I want is to be with you.” I couldn’t replace this chorus line with anything that fit over the instrumental, so I kept it. Instead of making some sappy love song from the chorus lyric I chose to talk about the way I’d see women get treated on the regular. From working in bars and just living in New York it wasn’t hard to find the inspiration. Unwarranted attention is ubiquitous.


Would you describe the overall songwriting process for your music as cathartic?

I think playing live is extremely cathartic. Songwriting can surely be cathartic in the beginning of an idea and then in the end when I achieve a milestone within the song. The middle part is tricky. Not every song comes out easily. I’m an obsessive person and a bit of a perfectionist. I tend to have to write a million parts and explore all possibilities even if I go back to the original idea. There are certainly phases where I feel like I’m a terrible songwriter and have have no talent.  In some songs I’ve written 8 to 9 choruses and scrapped so much to get a completely different sounding song in the end. When I finally get through the tough moments and end up with something I’m stoked on comes a bit of a catharsis. The point in which I can just listen back to it all and it makes sense is the best. I live for those moments.


In the short documentary you guys made about making the new album, Spencer mentions the importance of enjoying playing your own songs live. Can you speak more on that?

We definitely consider the live show to be paramount. I think what makes a live show amazing is being able to recreate the songs and give the audience something different every time. Some songs that are 4 min recorded can jump up to 10 min with us. I think you’re only as good as your live show and we love to open up songs and expand the limits of where a song can go. We need this so we can be entertained and if we are having fun it’ll be a good show. Each song has changed significantly from how it has been recorded and it will continue to evolve as the years go on. I think recorded music is about being a little more concise but live it’s more about showing the chemistry of the band and sinking in more as performers. I think we recorded our songs originally without the live energy and so we had to start over.


For the new album, were the songs written similar to a concept album with a theme set in mind or was it free & experimental?

This next album is named after our next single, Algorithm, which has a lot of themes about the future and where we are at with technology in regards to communication and how we experience life through a screen. I think we’re at a real curve with technology, information, communication and society is surely changing. I didn’t set out to make a concept album but I wrote 4 songs back to back and I saw a common denominator in them that became the underlying theme.


What are some of your favorite songs from your childhood?

I’m gonna cap childhood at 12 years old. I was all about albums not songs and still am, every song’s album below is a solid album but to answer your question here some great songs.

  • Depeche Mode “It’s No Good”
  • Smashing Pumpkins “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”  (this was the album of my childhood)
  • Roxy Music “More Than This”
  • Bush “Cold Contagious”
  • Nine Inch Nails “Head Like A Hole”
  • Santana “Aqua Marine”
  • Rage Against the Machine “Down Rodeo”

These were all off my first 10 albums I ever bought at Tower Records in Mountain View, CA. RIP! Ahh the memories


Listening to your music for the first time felt futuristic but also as if your songs were timeless classics. How would you describe the process of cultivating the sound you have today?

Hey thanks that means a lot to me. I really hate how the human mind likes to categorize everything, growing up I’ve never really fit with any kind of title or social group. A lot of people always ask what genre the band fits into? It’s kind of like asking what person you are when we are all capable of being in so many different moods. I think music is the same. I love synthesizers and I love acoustic guitars, they’re just different instruments but they all are capable of saying the same thing. I just focus on getting the vocals in a place that are honest and then I go from there. I use instruments like tools to build a foundation for the vocal. It’s nice to hear you say there’s something classic in there, I think a classic song comes down to just writing music that supports the vocal or if not the vocal just having a solid hook. I spend hours on getting something that feels like me and that I would love to play live year after year.


If you could go to any music era in time, where would it be & why would the band fit there?

I love late 70s and early 80s a lot. I love dance music with an aggressive soul and I feel like that was a pivotal time where people started exploring music with new technology and synthesizers and just love so many bands from those years.


Outside of the band, what hobbies do you guys have?

I have another project that I’ll be releasing probably later in the year called Dräger. I’ll also be producing other artists, I just collaborated with this super talented artist called Rochee and I’ll also be in some short films. Andrew is a great photographer and he’s been very active in that world. Matt works on music for films and is really outdoorsy and climbs mountains. He actually told me yesterday he’s getting certified to take a kayak in the East River. Yikes Matt!


What’s coming up for the band? Any tours or releases?

Look out for our album later in the year, and until then we’ll be releasing a new single every other month! COME SEE US LIVE!


The Midnight Hollow: Official Site | Facebook | Twitter

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