|Indie rock, Psychedelic rock, Folk rock|
Midlake are an American rock band from Denton, Texas. The band first gained popularity in Europe, signing to Bella Union Records and playing at festivals such as Les Inrockuptibles, Wintercase, End Of The Road Festival and South by Southwest.
Midlake was formed in 1999 by a group of jazz students at the University of North Texas. The original lineup consisted of Tim Smith (vocals, guitars, keyboards), McKenzie Smith (drums), Paul Alexander (bass), Eric Nichelson (guitar), and Evan Jacobs (keyboards). Their initial work – under the name "The Cornbread All-Stars" — consisted of funk/jazz explorations heavily influenced by Herbie Hancock.
Later the band began to lean more toward an indie-rock sound. Tim Smith quit playing saxophone and began writing songs that were heavily influenced by bands such as Jethro Tull, Radiohead, Björk, and Grandaddy, artists who experiment, while still remaining accessible.
Speaking about the band's influences, Smith commented:
"We don't want to get called a Radiohead rip-off band. I think Radiohead is a lot closer to my natural tendencies as a songwriter than a band like, um, Jethro Tull. I listen to way more Jethro Tull than I do Radiohead these days, but I could write 10 Radiohead songs before I could write one Jethro Tull song. I want to sound more like Jethro Tull, but I just can't. That's a big struggle."
—Tim Smith of Midlake
In an interview with Reverb Magazine's Nick Milligan, Smith said of the band's origins:
"We were jazz musicians, but right from the get go we'd never really play jazz music. We'd play some funk stuff and then jump right into playing Led Zeppelin. For jazz musicians, rock is sort of frowned upon for how easy it is. If we had friends that knew we were playing, the best thing we could play was Herbie Hancock or Stevie Wonder. A distortion pedal seemed like a no-no. It took us a while to get away from the jazz." -Tim Smith
Jacobs left the band and Eric Nichelson took over on keyboard. Jason Upshaw joined the band as a guitarist. Live recordings from this period, recorded at Denton's Panhandle House studio, were never released as the band felt they had moved beyond the material.
Not long before the band recorded their début EP, Milkmaid Grand Army, Upshaw was replaced on guitars by Eric Pulido, a longtime friend of drummer Smith, to form the current lineup. Their debut full-length album, 2004's Bamnan and Slivercork, was recorded at home in Denton, Texas and mastered at Abbey Road Studios. It showed a move in the direction of lo-fi psychedelic electronica, embracing influences such as Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips. The album even caught the ear of skateboarder-turned-actor Jason Lee, who produced and directed the music video for the song "Balloon Maker", and who continues to support and promote the band.
In 2006, after nearly a year-and-a-half of recording and re-recording, they completed their second release for Bella Union, The Trials of Van Occupanther. The album was a venture into classic-rock revivalism, with a sound reminiscent of Bob Welch-era Fleetwood Mac. The album was met with generally positive reviews.
- Bamnan and Slivercork (2004)
- The Trials of Van Occupanther (2006)
- The Courage of Others (February 2010)
Singles and EPs
- Milkmaid Grand Army (EP) (2001)
- Balloon Maker (EP) (2005)
- Oak & Julian (iTunes-only EP) (2007)
- Acts Of Man (12" single) (Dec 2009)