The Midnight Echo are making us re-discover the anthems of the 00’s with their own musical and lyrical spin.
The related artists on Spotify will list Angels & Airwaves and Box Car Racer, which are obvious…but in our interview, you will find out the real inspiration behind the style.
Hailing from Whitby ON, The Midnight Echo released the EP Dichotomy on April 17th, 2020.
Montreal Rocks spoke with Joel Lalonde about the origins of their sound, the similarities between relationships and war, how Han Solo caused a song title to change and we will find out if the band predicted COVID-19.
Montreal Rocks: Welcome Joel. Your music has this uplifting vibe to it that is exactly what we need for a summer soundtrack, in these bleak times. I’m curious about your early formative years. Do you have a memory of a time, when you were a child, that a song or band awoke this feeling in you that made you feel, not hear music for the first time?
Joel: That last sentence you said about feeling music is the reason we write it and personally, why I like music. Yeah, you can listen to it, but I’m always trying to find what emotion the artist was trying to evoke.
When I was younger, it was just something I listened to when I played sports or something like that. I first listened to Classic Rock, which I don’t really listen to now.
Our favourite band is Angels and Airwaves. Their stuff is really uplifting.
I remember Tyler, our guitarist, showing me that band in grade 10 or 11 in high school. I still remember sitting in class listening on an iPod watching their video. “Holy Crap, that was amazing!” It sent chills down my spine.
That was the first time, as a late teen.
MR: Are you a band that writes out of personal experience or do you live adventures through characters you create in your songs?
Joel: It’s a little of both. I know there are concept albums where people have created a story, but we haven’t done that yet…although I could see that happening down the road.
It’s definitely personal, but at the same time, you want to distance yourself from it.
MR: The new EP is called Dichotomy and it’s all about contrasts. We all have highs and lows in life. Just like a roller coaster, you can’t have the highs if you don’t experience the lows, right? What is an example of a low in your life and how did you get out of it?
Joel: About a year ago, I went through a break-up. It wasn’t the lowest part of my life, but definitely a difficult period. I’d never gone through that before.
When something like that happens, there are tons of negatives that come with it, but if you look, you can definitely find a lot of positives. I’m a big believer that everything in life happens for a reason. I know that’s a cliché line, but there are so many instances in my life where I Iook back at something that was bad, or at least that I thought was bad at the time, then I go: If this didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have this, or met these people.
Everyone has their own path and you just have to roll with it.
MR: We sometimes try to complicate life, but like you said, it might be a cliché, but the simple truths in life are just that; they are simple. Everything does happen for a reason.
It is emotionally scarring. I can still remember breakups from 35 years ago, when I was 18 or 19. I might not think about the people, but I still remember the emotions. They were so strong and overpowering. In retrospect, I’m really glad I married my wife, now going on 29 years. Definitely, things work themselves out in the end.
Joel: I couldn’t agree more.
MR: I’m thinking about your song Carbon Copy. It’s clear you have this Blink 182/Angels and Airwaves vibe. How do you avoid being a carbon copy of the bands that you respect and love?
Joel: When we started our first band, at around 18, it wasn’t The Midnight Echo. When you start writing out songs, you envision it sounding like your idols. When you start, you are almost guaranteed to sound like a rip-off, if you can even write songs.
At the beginning, we barely could. Once we were able to formulate songs, they were good, but they were obvious rip-offs.
We never recorded any of those, we just kept practicing.
By the time we started The Midnight Echo, we had a different vibe in our head where we could take the sounds from what our favourite bands do, clash them all together and put our own spin on it. That’s where the Midnight Echo sound comes from.
We will get off stage sometimes and people will go: “Do you like Angels and Airwaves?” Well…yeah!
As soon as you play a delayed guitar riff, the younger crowd, like in their 30s, will instantly say Angels and Airwaves. The older crowd, in their 40s, 50s and 60s will all say U2, which is really where the sound of Angels and Airwaves came from.
We try to create a vibe and make it our own.
MR: They call it “finding your voice”, but it’s not about voice. It’s about finding your style and personality and let that come out in the music. True, it might be influenced by the past, because we are all influenced by our experiences. It is refreshing to have these bands that we can borrow from, but it’s still something different. It’s newer, more modern…just go with it.
Joel: Yeah. If anyone says they have a completely original sound…there are very few bands that have that, especially now. Look how far we’ve come musically in the last 80 years.
Every band takes their favourite things from their idols and puts their own spin on things. The next generation maybe one day will say: “My favourite band is Midnight Echo. We took this from them and put our own spin on it.”
MR: Music is definitely something that evolves with the generations and gets passed down. Your latest single Paris in 39 speaks of the imbalance in a relationship. What, in your opinion, is the key to a successful relationship? What’s the secret sauce?
Joel: That’s a tough question. I’ll have to put on my Dr. Phil cap here. To be honest, I don’t really know. I’m still fairly young with relationships. If anyone tells you they have the secret sauce, they are probably lying.
For any two people, it’s just working together as one and being as open as you can with each other. Relationships are super difficult, and everyone is unique, so there is no secret sauce.
MR: A lot of people think it’s 50/50, but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. It’s 100%/100%. That’s the only equation that works, you can’t hold back.
The year 1939 is interesting. It was when Paris was mobilizing for World War II, so it was the end of peace. Here we are, 81 years later. What lessons have we learned from the past as we still aren’t truly at peace?
Joel: Paris in 1939 doesn’t roll off the tongue as nice as Paris in 39. The song itself talks about something beautiful and perfect like the relationship, and ruining it, like when Paris was invaded. It went from this beautiful country, which I’d love to visit one day, to being war-torn.
MR: It’s interesting you mention that. I haven’t been to Paris either, but I have been to London, another place that was ravaged by war. You see this juxtaposition of these old buildings next to brand new ones. You wonder why, then think: Oh yeah! The previous building probably got bombed!
In life, as in history, wounds heal. We fill the gaps with new experiences, so life becomes this mixture of the old and the new. We might still have the wounds, although maybe they aren’t as distinct anymore. It’s all part of the human experience.
Joel: I completely agree with that.
MR: Another song is Victim’s Mentality. I thought that was a very interesting topic to approach. There is a difference between being an unwilling victim of a crime and having a victim mentality. I think the victim’s mentality is tied to limiting beliefs…the belief that we can’t have better in life. What’s your take on it?
Joel: Usually we write most of the song and then I go back and do the lyrics. Victim’s mentality came into my head. I figured it would be a cool topic to tackle.
It looks at the idea that most people in their lives, including myself, will try to play the victim. I was looking at how damaging that can be, encapsulate it and put in into a song.
MR: Limiting beliefs are where you stop yourself from succeeding because you believe certain things that aren’t necessarily true. Once you overcome those, you grow in leaps and bounds both emotionally and financially.
It’s an interesting topic for sure, showing a maturity beyond your age, not just singing about holding hands and kissing. <laughs>
Joel: Personally, thinking of my songwriting, love songs are great and there are tons I like. There are just so many of them and if you fill a whole EP or album, it would get tiring. It’s not that I don’t like them, but I like to tackle different issues, especially when writing the second or third album.
MR: It’s just like hot sauce. A little is good, too much is overpowering.
MR: In How to Escape Reality, you speak of “the Virus slowly tearing in like a daydream.” Did you actually predict COVID-19? <saying in a half-joking manner>
Joel: No. Some people have said that. If you listen to it, it’s kind of ominous. We wrote all the music at the end of 2018. I did the vocals in the summer (2019) and we released it in September of 2019. I’m not an oracle, I can’t see the future.
I hadn’t listened to it in two months and a friend messaged me and said they were listening to How to Escape Reality, around April, and how it was creepy and ominous.
Definitely didn’t plan it, didn’t see it in my crystal ball.
MR: Let’s just put it on the record, COVID-19 is not your fault, The Midnight Echo had nothing to do with it.
But seriously, the real issue here is reality, right? Reality is a strange concept. We have reality TV. We have Instagram influencers showing us this fake reality. What, to you, is real?
Joel: There is definitely a fake reality on social media. You have to look at it in that regard and not take it too seriously.
What do I think is real? You might have to swing back around on that one…
MR: What was motivating my thought is this current pandemic. We have been forced to slow down. Musicians have been forced to slow down; touring is no longer an option for the time being. Reality is becoming what is more important to us in life. For some, it might be family if you have one. For others, it might be the creative process if you are an artist, like yourself. For others, it might just be enjoying life, not trying to live at such a break-neck speed.
Joel: Everybody has been able to take a step back and look at things differently. I do think things will go back to relatively normal, at some point. It’s weird how everything has changed so drastically.
Everything was just go go go, especially in the music industry, like a whirlwind. To be able to sit back and wake up in the morning: “I have nothing that I have to do. What can I do to further myself?”
When I look at when we were in lockdown, it was a really difficult situation, but now I think we will get through it.
MR: Maybe there will be a song called Paris in 20, or better yet, Paris in 21 and we will look back and notice the scars, remember those we lost, but as a whole, we survived, music is alive, and we get to hear it again. That’s my hope, anyways.
Joel: Yeah, Paris in 21 has a better ring to it. Fun fact. We were actually going to call the song Paris in 40, but then we started thinking it sounded like Harrison Ford, so we didn’t call it that.
MR: Good call. Thanks for your time. It’s apparent that the style of music you play is made for the live venues. It has a lot of energy and a feel-good vibe to it. Even when you do talk about a virus, we all like the virus…I don’t know why. We look forward to hearing you play these songs live.
Check out the EP Dichotomy which was released on April 17th, 2020.
Interview: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs.Share this :