Hi, MIDNITE HELLION. Greetings from Sick and Destroy team. What are you up to these days?
MIDNITE HELLION: Greetings, Sick and Destroy!! Before anything else, we have got to say, that is such a killer name!! We just had our record release show last weekend with Exodus and Obituary in Jersey, so we’re still pretty amped up from that! Currently, we are in the process of securing a few more regional dates before the end of 2017, and are organizing our 2018 tour dates. We are hoping to be able to be included with a larger band so we can spread our Heavy Molten Metal Madness far and wide on the live front!
Would you please introduce your band to our readers who are not aware of your band and music?
MH: We’ll attempt to give the “short” version! MIDNITE HELLION formed in April 2011 in Trenton, NJ. We released our demo cassette, “The Fever,” in November 2011 at our third concert, which was supporting Obituary in Trenton, and immediately headed into the studio to start working on our EP, “Enter The Unknown.” While we were recording our EP, our demo gained a lot of attention and quickly sold out, leading to an immediate repressing which also sold out quickly, and then a third pressing exclusively for the “Keep It True” Festival 2012 by Else’s Metalecke. During this time, we had the honor of supporting a lot of National Acts in the New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia regions. A few notable ones are the first two East Coast appearances of Morbid Saint, at Europa in Brooklyn and The Barbary in Philadelphia respectively, plus the second ever US concert by Artillery, which was at St. Vitus in Brooklyn.
We released our EP, “Enter The Unknown,” in September 2012 and hit the road in support of it along with Prime Evil, which brought us to new markets in New England, Long Island, and Upstate NY. After a few more regional appearances with the likes of OZ, Anvil, and Raven, among others, we headed back into the studio and recorded our 2013 7” single, “Hour of the Wolf,” which was our first release on Witches Brew.
The plans to follow-up immediately with a full-length album were intercepted with a much busier touring schedule than we had anticipated, as we then were invited to perform in Chicago at the “Ragnarökkr Metal Apocalypse” Festival 2014, which included Grim Reaper with Nick Bowcott performing with them for the first time since 1987, plus RIOT, Picture, Night Demon and many others. We headed back east and supported Toxik’s first US reunion concert and then capped it off with our first appearance at the largest club in Jersey, Starland Ballroom, in support of OverKill.
We finally had some downtime from live events to focus on writing for “Condemned To Hell,” and we started to introduce the new material into our live sets in 2016. Tracking started in November 2017, and we were met with several pleasant interruptions, including supporting Flotsam & Jetsam and Helstar the day before we completed drum tracks. 2017 brought us to DE and VA for the first time, as well as several returns to the Starland Ballroom supporting Dirkschneider, Yngwie Malmsteen, and most recently, with Exodus and Obituary for our record release event.
Looking back at it all, it’s been quite an honor and a privilege to be a part of many monumental events!
Give us a little insight into the formation of the band. When and how did it happen?
MH: The formation of the band started on April 4th, 2011, with Drew looking to put together a Rainbow-styled band, complete with soaring vocals and keyboards. Obviously, that never ended up happening, as bands have a way of taking on a life of their own. A few friends were recruited including his former bandmate from a previous band, Amadeus Zajac. Amadeus and Drew had shared a very unique synergy; they first worked together with Amadeus on bass in the previous band, but this time around, he handled guitar duties which is his primary instrument. Being that they locked in so well together as the rhythm section, it was no surprise that they always were in sync with each other with the new instrumentation and were able to compose rather quickly, as they both had a vast vault of riffs just waiting to be unearthed. We got to work in preparation for the demo and our first live events, but already had our first casualty of war before our first show. Unfortunately for the band, but fortunately for Amadeus, he landed his dream job which had him traveling for work so he was unable to continue. Mario DiBartolo came in for the first of three stints with MIDNITE HELLION, and he is currently with us today.
At what age did you guys start playing instruments? Since when are you into metal music?
MH: We think that Mario was born with a guitar in his hand! His father is an accomplished guitarist as well in our area, so music is in his blood. Being a very diverse guitarist, he’s into numerous genres of music, but the Metal influence started when he was quite young. Rich was 15 when he picked up a bass seriously, and has been singing since he was a child. He first heard Metallica’s “Fuel” in a video game and started to listen more intently around 2004. Drew started to play drums at the age of 12 when his uncle loaned him his 60’s Ludwig set, which included a 70’s Tama Imperialstar rack tom. That Tama tom spawned his love of Tama Drums, which led him to hunt down his own set of ’83 Imperialstars at 15. It has been retired from the live front, but still is used on recordings. Currently, he uses a Tama Starclassic Performer set, but still with an Imperialstar King Beat snare. He has been seeking Metal since he was two years old. His parents were into The Who and The Beatles, and once he saw a video of Keith Moon, that was it. Sabbath and Metallica followed very quickly, and then it led into a whole world of Metal Mayhem.
MIDNITE HELLION recently released “Condemned To Hell”. Tell us something about it. Walk us through all the tracks lyrics and meaning.
MH: “Condemned To Hell” is a labor of love, all in all. The music itself draws from virtually all of our influences, including Traditional Heavy Metal, Thrash, Speed, and Death. Track by track, we’ll go through the lyrics.
Black and White was penned the night that Drew had split from his previous band. He’s always had a drive to overcome obstacles, and this was a bit of a swansong of leaving the past behind and going into the future with a bright outlook.
Death Dealer is written from the viewpoint of a drug dealer hooking in their victims, the addicts. The dealer watches the addict slowly separate from everyone in their life due to their addictions and the only person that is there for them is the dealer, who keeps them within the vicious cycle. The dealer becomes their new god.
Cross The Line is about someone who lived life as a backstabber and a habitual liar, but led others to believe that they were a trustworthy person. The group catches and confronts the liar on their nonsense and attempts to get them to own up to it, yet they never do. When they finally decide to repent for the error of their ways much after the fact, it’s too late because the trust has already been broken.
Enter the Nightmare is an interesting piece inspired by a dream that Rich had years ago. It involved a number of terrifying things happening to him, but it was mainly focused around a vampire and a town being plagued by vampire attacks. Nightmare starts off very theatrically with the vampire clawing himself out of his grave, starving after being newly transformed. What follows is the stalking, and attacks on villagers. The second verse switches to more of a view from the villagers perspectives, going from a view of people holding up crosses to try to ward away the demon, to the inevitable lynch mob being created to hunt the vampire down. During the solos, you actually have to listen for it, but there is a scream there. That scream is the vampire being staked, and left to burn in the sun, and as we go to the final chorus and the sun rises, we go back to the intro acoustic, with the bells chiming in the background as the sun rises. From the first and third person perspective, this was one hell of a nightmare, and we invite you to enter it every time you listen to the song.
Soldiers of Hades is a bit of an odd case, because we had the framework for the vocal melodies already, but not a solid set of lyrics. It was really quite hard to write because when we were going over it; the name was awesome, and we wanted to keep it, but Rich had no idea what “Soldiers of Hades” were. He went digging, and in Greek, Christian, and Judaic lore, there are some 200 fallen angels in the depths of hell. Angels also known as Watchers, whom when unleashed are supposed to cause the apocalypse. So Soldiers is just an imagining of that, combining these three different looks on the 200 fallen angels, and seeing the end of the world at their hands.
The Fever is about a zombie apocalypse. It’s inspired by the “Dawn of the Dead” movie, to put it to a visual. It was the first song we ever wrote, and remains a crowd favorite to this day.
Rip It Up was a tough one to get down. Its working title was “Wrap It Up” and the lyrical content was very much sleazier. After finding the lyrics to just be out of place, the title was changed and became inspired by a local friend of the band who moshes like none other. This dude is in his mid-40’s and has a major leg injury but it doesn’t stop him from going bonkers when the Metal starts. Of course, he pays for it later by being in severe pain, but he lives in the now.
The Morrigan is a reworking from our 7” single version. Majority of the song was on-point, but we always felt that the chorus was out of place from the rest of the composition. The lyrics are about a first-person perspective of encountering a morrigan, which is a mythical creature. When she sings her song, it signals that someone is about to die, but not an indication of who. While being in a frenzied state, you are searching to see who is about to die, one is taken by surprise to find out that she’s come for you. The Morrigan character can be seen on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys television program, but she’s not so much of a singer here as she is a druid hunter. Clips of the original recording can be found on the movie trailer for “Teenage Bloodsuckin’ Bimbos,” which we will discuss next!
Teenage Bloodsuckin’ Bimbos was the most interesting subject matter, but also the most fun to write. A friend of Drew’s, Anthony Catanese, is a film director, and he reached out to him about helping select bands for his upcoming movie’s soundtrack, also titled “Teenage Bloodsuckin’ Bimbos,” as the movie has an 80’s Metal feel to it. Drew offered to write a theme song and Anthony loved the idea! The music came together fairly quickly, and Drew and his fiancée Teresa wrote the lyrics together in about 20 minutes. The lyrics are all based on the movie’s script, which is about female teenage vampires. It’s very campy and a fun, tongue-in-cheek song. More information on the movie is available at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5904064/.
How has been the response so far by the listeners? Have you started working on new songs already?
MH: So far, majority of the responses are positive ones! We’ve been honored to be included in top play lists as well as having our album featured as the Release of the Week, in addition to being in regular rotation on a few radio shows!! Of course, there are people who nitpick and try to say that we are a Thrash band exclusively but aren’t Thrash enough or progressive enough or complicated enough. However, that’s why we call ourselves Heavy Metal. We don’t wish to pigeonhole ourselves into a single sub-genre, so by keeping that banner we don’t have to discard a Death Metal riff because it’s not Thrash Metal. We write to please ourselves first, and if our Legions of Hellions enjoy it as well, then we’ve done our job!
We already have about 60% of the next album written, with about three new songs at roughly 90% completion. Most of the rhythms are done, just need to add a few riffs here and there plus some leads and lyrics. We plan on unveiling a new song or two on the live front before we release our second album, so keep your eyes peeled!!
When and where did you play your first gig? How was the experience of going live for the first time?
MH: Our first gig was September 22nd, 2011 at The Irish in Kearny, NJ, with Regalia, Condition Critical, and Lethal Strike. All in all, it went very well and was a perfect first show. The response was great, the venue was awesome, and it was just a lot of fun, especially sharing the stage with friends.
What, according to you, is the secret behind band’s success?
MH: Perseverance, hard work, and treating others how you want to be treated has brought us a long way. No matter how high the hurdle, there is always a way to jump over it.
Ever had an epic fail moment during a gig?
MH: Oooh yeah! January 2012, opening for Morbid Saint and Deceased in Brooklyn. Before recounting this story, at the time we were a five-piece band. We take to the stage with a storm and during the first song, one guitarist breaks a string about 30 seconds into the song. He forgot his backup guitar, so he was sitting on the side restringing a guitar with a Floyd Rose tremolo as quickly as possible. Next up, right before the solo kicks in, the other guitarist’s amplifier head blew out. Mind you, this is still the first song, so we started as a five piece and ended the song with bass, drums, and vocals only. To attempt to fill the silence, bass and drums start a cover of “Denim and Leather,” which the singer didn’t know the lyrics to so he held the microphone into the crowd and got them to sing along. That move possibly saved the show right there, as people legitimately didn’t realize what had happened as they were so caught up with singing along. We had about ten more minutes of downtime while borrowing an amplifier from Deceased, then we got up and rolling and plunged through three more songs, including a cover of OverKill’s “The Beast Within.” Show started bad and ended great!
If asked to differentiate MIDNITE HELLION from other bands in your country, how would you like to respond to it?
MH: We stay true to ourselves, and we feel it comes through on the music. We’ve never shifted styles just to get a bump ahead. We started playing Heavy Metal again when nobody else would touch it, but with our sound being so diverse with the touches of other sub-genres, we can easily fit into a bill with any band. We’ve never been just a straight-Thrash band, nor will we ever be. We love what we love, but we also are not a clone of any older bands.
The band has seen too many change in line up since the formation of the band. How compatible are band members with each other?
MH: We all get along quite well! Majority of the former members parted on good terms. Most left due to life getting in the way, whether it be work-related or education, or just realizing that being in a band wasn’t for them. In our area, there aren’t many musicians that are interested in pursuing an original band; either they wish to go the cover or tribute route, or they decide that they would prefer music as more of a hobby. We wish them all the best in their endeavors, and we keep moving forward.
Which bands/ artists do you draw your influences from? Which are your favorite local bands?
MH: Too many influences, honestly! To summarize to the main ones, Judas Priest, Exodus, Iron Maiden, Grim Reaper, Grave Digger, old Metallica, old Slayer, OverKill, Saxon, and Scorpions. Sadly, many of our favorite local bands have called it a day, but the ones that are still rocking would be Grim Legion, Fiakra, Condition Critical, Deadly Nights, Ex-Dementia, United Pistols, Magus Beast, Metalfier, Cherry Pop, and Ripped. A separate mention must be made for our friends, Regalia, who are returning to the stage and in the process of finishing their debut album, which is being recorded by none other than Ross The Boss.
How do you guys manage jobs and gigs? Also how often do you guys gathering altogether just to fun?
MH: Lots of vacation time accrued! We’re all either gainfully employed and/or finishing college, so while availability can be slim to none at times, we make it happen. Unfortunately due to distance and schedules, we don’t all see each other as often as we would like, but we make it a point to take time after our rehearsals to just hang out, have a beer, and talk about non-band related matters. Making sure to keep the friendship aspect active is key. Grab a bite to eat, listen to some tunes, and rock ‘n roll!
MIDNITE HELLION is very promising formation. Talking of your future, 2 years from now, where do you see yourself?
MH: Thank you very much for your kind words!! Two years from now, we hope to have at least one more full-length album out, if not two more! Also, we hope to have conquered more of the US and we plan to finally enter Europe by then as well. We have a lot of other surprises in the preliminary stages, so make sure to stay tuned!
Well, that’s it. Thanks a lot for your time. Speak out to all your fans and supporters.
MH: Thank you very much for having us, we truly appreciate it!! To all of our Legions of Hellions worldwide – thank you all for the continued support!! We could not have done this without you, and we look forward to meeting each and every one of you when we come to your town! Anyone wishing to get in touch with us for more information, concert bookings, or even just to say hello can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from our Hellions!
Keep up to date with all things Hellion at http://www.midnitehellion.com, like us at http://www.facebook.com/midnitehellion1, be our friend at http://www.facebook.com/midnitehellion, follow us at http://www.twitter.com/midnitehellion, and of course, http://www.instagram.com/midnitehellion, and watch us in action at http://www.youtube.com/midnitehellion.
Keep the flame of Metal burning strong, and don’t miss the boat, or you’ll be “Condemned To Hell!” Cheers!!