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Fall And Response

Midlake are a much loved Denton, Texas, outfit who have put out an impressive display of experimental, yet accessible albums. This investigative nature was recently put to the test when long-time front man Tim Smith left the band mid-way through recording an album. Guitarist Eric Pulido stood into the role left by the singer as Midlake forged on to make their fifth album, Antiphon. CHRIS HAVERCROFT reports.

After Midlake had completed their touring schedule for 2010’s The Courage Of Others they returned to the studio as they always had. 

In the process of trying to make a new album vocalist, Tim Smith, became more disillusioned with band life and left Midlake. It was a move that could have led to the end of the much loved and ambitious band if not for the resolve of guitarist, Eric Pulido.

“Well there was kind of a transition now that I look back with hindsight,” says Pulido of Smith’s departure. “It was no secret that Tim wasn’t a big fan of touring and at times he was unsatisfied with some of the music that we were making. Even at that time he was pulling back and I was singing most of the melodies with him and standing in the middle of the stage and doing most of the talking. The big leap that it could have been wasn’t as drastic due to the transition I had.

“When he decided to leave it was still a daunting task as there was still so much I didn’t know. We were used to doing things in a different way and it shook things up. As you know in life it can be a good thing to break out of the mould of something and test yourself and see how it goes.”

The fact that Midlake have always been a band to push the boundaries and take a left turn with each new album turned out to be their saving grace. As the band’s sound continues to change as they grow and mature, Midlake out of any band were well placed to make a record without a member who had historically been the lead singer.

“There was a type of naivety that came along because it was almost like starting over. We did literally start over on the songs and the record, so in that moment you try to define what it is that you are doing. Once Tim left we all got together within 24 hours and put the pieces back together. We did it in a way where we felt that we could all feel ownership over it. I think we got more out of everyone’s voice figuratively and literally and it made for a much more dynamic record in many ways.”

Pulido states that although they talk about Smith’s leaving as it is relevant to the making of Antiphon, it has been over a year since the time he left and the band have come to terms with it. Midlake are now in the headspace to embrace what is ahead of them instead of looking back at what was.

As such, while an antiphon is often defined as a responsory by a choir or congregation, or a call-and-response style of singing (from Gregorian chants to sea shanties) Pulido is more inclined to look at the word to mean the opposite voice.

“In terms of call and response, this is our response to what happened with Tim,” he states. “Also, I feel it is about the plight of man where it is not about what happens to you in life, but how you respond to it, is how you are defined.

“I thought it was a nice word that tied up in a little bow to capture what this time as a band and friends is for us.”

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