Interview with Wolves at Midnight
Montreal Rocks dared to enter the lair/rehearsal space of Wolves at Midnight. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you will. Marc-André Morin (Vocals/Guitar), Sam Roy (Guitar), Marie-Pier Roberge (Bass) and Maxime Tessier (Drums) spoke about their plans for 2018, their vision for the band and the source of their onstage energy.
You can catch them live on April 7th, 2018 at Piranha Bar in Montreal.
Montreal Rocks: You guys have a new single out and are about to tour.
Marc-André : Yeah, we are building the shows for the summer and figuring out what the game plan is. We have great opportunities and we are weighing the pros and cons. We are focusing on the Canadian Music Week. That’s the next big thing for us. We are also looking for ways to promote the single. It’s been a bit of a headache getting the plays and such. It’s been a calm winter.
MR: The single just hit on February 9th.
Marie-Pier: We also have a show on April 7th.
Marc-André: We got the 5000 plays in a month, or so.
Sam: We spent a lot of time during the winter figuring out how we would promote the single. Now, we are just trying to play as many shows as possible. We have a few shows that are already booked, but the plan is to get a lot more for the summer. We are writing new songs so eventually, we will go back to the studio to record a new single.
MR: Time to open up some Champagne! You guys are an up and coming band with a lot of energy on stage. I saw you open up for Wolf Alice where you had a ton of energy. You had the crowd really going, which is hard to do opening for the band people want to see, how they might not know you yet. That’s quite an achievement in my books.
Maxime: We went there and we were ready! We were driven by the thought of having so many people there. We didn’t see it like they were there for the other band only, but they would be just as stoked for both bands.
Sam returns with some Styrofoam cups. POP! “Drinking Champagne from a Paper Cup” I say, “like the Death Cab For Cutie song!”MR: I guess this is the tail end of the cinq à sept. (laughter)
Marc-André: Thanks very much! Venues don’t even give us drinks sometimes! (laughter)
MR: The thing is, you have to enjoy the journey. It’s not about: I’ll be happy when I get this single out… or when my first album is out… or when I have this many fans… you have to be happy the whole journey. That, to me, is more important.
I like what you said Maxime, about how you visualized that everyone was there to see your band. That’s cool because you are going in there with confidence, which is what you projected.
Marc-André: I saw a big difference. This was only our 5th real show as a band and I could feel a big difference. Maybe it was ticket pricing or greater expectations than going to a bar show. They were expecting good bands to play, so they were all ears. I could see that from their faces. It’s rare you go to a show where you feel everyone is listening. We had a really strong connection with people that night. It’s giving me chills just thinking about it.
Sam: As a band, we grew a lot in the last year. We are getting better connecting with people live. It’s something you have to work on. It’s a craft. There is some stuff that just comes naturally and others you have to work on. As a band, we fine-tuned some stuff that we believed would make our live shows better. There is a lot of work involved. People go to a show, they want to have a good time. It’s our job to provide that.
MR: I do believe there is a difference with a bar show, where people might talk among themselves and are not really there to focus on you. Compare that with a show where people paid money to see you. You are their entire focus. They are not facing each other, but all standing, facing you.
Maxime: When you play a bigger place, people are only there to see a great show. They are pumped, they give all their attention and they enjoy the moment. They give energy to the stage and we give ours to them. It’s give/give. When you are in a bar, maybe there are 10 to 12 people that are really there to see the show, while another 20 or so are just there to have a beer and chat. They don’t care what’s happening on stage.
Marc-André : I have a feeling that Wolf Alice fans are more open-minded to different types of music. Their type of music is a great underground rock sound and I like where they are taking it.
Maxime: I think with their sound, they have a line. We are not walking the same line. It wasn’t the same style and same energy, but our sound was complementary to theirs.
MR: Your next show is at Piranha Bar.
Maxime: Yes. We are also opening up for The Damn Truth in my hometown (Sorel-Tracy) for their tour. I had to work quite hard to get the gig, even if it was in my hometown.
Sam: Every time we jam, he has to drive down there.
MR: That’s dedication!
Maxime: It’s a big commitment. I might miss some jam but… (laughter) I did have to work quite hard for that gig. I had to get our stuff together. I redid our press kit. Go big or go home. Many emails, many phone calls… finally got the gig. More opportunity to get in front of more people.
MR: Make an impact.
Sam: With the Wolf Alice gig and the new single, these were a game changer for us. We reached the next level. Everything we do, we are trying to do it better and as Maxime says, we are working on promoting the band. Working harder than ever to reach as many people as possible.
Maxime: We are still learning every day how to keep up with the business stuff.
MR: Every superhero has an origin story. What is your origin story?
Marc-André: I met Sam a long time ago. We were in a band together at the time.
Maxime: They were music soul mates.
Marc-André : Then he went to England for six months and all my ideas about the future faded so I just kept writing songs. I was also in other bands playing music. We were all in other bands that didn’t really work out. So we thought: Now let’s focus on one bigger thing, one bigger idea. The first thing we did wasn’t even jam but go to the bank to open up a band account. We then made our business official and incorporated. That idea of sitting together and talking about what we were going to do instead of just playing music and drinking beer made the difference.
MR: I find this interesting since I’m a business coach and when I work with companies, the first thing we do is create the vision. Where do you want to go? If you don’t have a destination, you will just go all over the place with no clear direction. But if you know where you want to go, like be an established band, the first thing you do is open a bank account and set up the corporation, the trademark and BAM… you are legitimized.
Maxime: Before I joined the band, I was the last to join, knowing the steps they took, I knew they wanted to make it big. We are all working hard to reach that goal.
Sam: The first thing we did was write a list of goals.
Marc-André : Yes! We should find that. That is epic! Number 20 is Wembley.
Sam: Every time we would do something off the list, we would cross it off. When you set small goals, then it seems easier to reach the big goal. It was a good way for us to get started.
Marc-André : Most of the time we have a game plan, but sometimes we wonder what the #%$* are we doing?
Marie-Pier: Yes, we are doing it by ourselves, so we have to figure out what to do next.
Marc-André : Even if we know what to do next, we might not know how to do it yet. We have a lot to figure out, which is a struggle. That list really helped us out… get gig…. first video clip. I think we should make a new one.
MR: Yes, it’s a great exercise that any band should do. Having goals is really important because it’s the only way to reach them. That’s why I brought Champagne…my question is: If we meet back here in 1 year’s time and open up a Champagne bottle to celebrate an accomplishment of yours, what would it be?
Sam: Our goal is to reach as many people as possible. I don’t think we can set a number, but as long as there is growth…
Marc-André: I had the word “growth” in my head as well.
Sam: I can’t say to have that number of streams, or to play in front of that many people… but to see that what we are doing is worthwhile. That’s the main thing.
Marc-André: We might have released another single or two or even three.
Maxime: I think it’s safe to say that with our music, our showmanship and experience on stage we would be ready 10 months from now to be signed by a label. We have enough songs and we have had great gigs. Without pretention, I think we are ready.
Marie-Pier: We have proven to everyone that we can give a show and people will really listen to us, even if they don’t know us yet.
Sam: More importantly, we have proven it to ourselves, which gave us confidence. We will never walk on stage again with the same feeling we had a year or two ago. We had great songs, but maybe we felt we weren’t there yet as a live band. Now we know we can deliver. Even when we recorded our last single, you can hear it, we are a different band compared to when we recorded our first EP.
Maxime: Everything was faster and easier.
Sam: We got to know each other more.
Maxime: It was a way more complicated song, with so many different tracks and overdubs. Our EP was more straightforward. I felt it was way smoother this time.
MR: I find it interesting that you all came from different bands that didn’t make it, or for which it wasn’t the right time. But from failure comes lessons. You learn what you want, or what you don’t want. You learn what works and what doesn’t. Maybe it’s what you want in a bandmate. Now is the right time and you all get to blossom together.
Marie-Pier: Exactly. We went to Italy this summer to play shows. That was when we really got to know each other and now we are able to move forward with our music.
MR: When you travel together, you really get to know each other.
Marc-André: What we all want is for the band to grow. If you are with people that all want the same thing, where everyone believes, it happens. There are days where I don’t believe… why am I doing this? Then I get a message about one of our songs from a fan, a great jam, or we get booked for a show and I get a boost. I’m always getting energy from our next moves. It helps stay in the mindset that we are going to succeed.
Sam: Back to what you were saying about our previous experience with other bands, the main difference between then and now is the goals we were talking about. You can get lost very easily, so the first things we did was set up goals. I knew what we did previously that did not work. It’s hard not only to find people you get along with but have the same taste in music, personalities that can fit but that also have the same goals as you. We found each other after 23 or 24 years of searching. There is a bit of luck involved, but we all put effort, posting on Facebook, going to rehearsals with other bands, trying to find our core.
MR: There is a journey and decisions that have to be made and I feel that you guys have meshed together with one vision and one direction. We look forward not only to having an EP but a full album eventually. Maybe that’s what we can celebrate in a year?
Marc-André : The full album is something we have to look into right now. There are a lot of government grants that could help us with that. I don’t even know where to start… you have to work on a business plan, a structured idea of what you are going to do. It’s a lot of work.
MR: Thinking about the themes you want to explore, what are the things you enjoy writing about?
Marc-André : I get inspired by what is going on in the present.
MR: Sometimes a band have a deeply personal story to tell through their music, while others will create an avatar or a character and they tell a story through that character. It’s not necessarily them, although it might have some bits and pieces of them in there. Maybe it’s something personal that someone wrote, but you Marc-André are singing about it. Do you write more autobiographical or are you exploring feelings not your own?
Marc-André : It’s more real life. It’s weird to say this, but I don’t just write lyrics, I play music and the words just come to me. In a weird way, my subconscious is telling me things about my real life through the song… it freaks me out. I re-read and Whoa! There are songs about us basically saying this is where we want to be. For some choruses, you feel how they will play live.
Sam: Marc-André writes all the lyrics and what I think is great about that is the personal stuff that is happening in his life. I can relate to them and I think a lot of people can relate to his lyrics as well. It’s a quality you can find in all great songs. You might not know the intent of the writer, but you can interpret it in your own way.
MR: Internalize it and relate. It becomes your story.
Marc-André: Exactly. I’m a Beatles fan, while they aren’t. I like the way the words are really easy.
Maxime: I think Marc focuses more on feelings than on events. It’s easier to see yourself through the song.
Marc-André: There are some easy words in there… I’m not much of a writer.
Sam: At the end of the day, it’s about feeling and communication. It can come from the lyrics or the melody. It’s a combination.
Marc-André : Sometimes Sam comes up with the title. He’s coming up with some song structure and I see his title and relate to what he wrote and it brings me somewhere. If the title is “Plane” I will be thinking about the time I was on a plane…that’s a crappy example… (Laughter)
MR: “Heartbroken”…that’s an easy one. (Laughter)
Maxime: “Lagoon.” I don’t have a clue where that came from.
MR: There are a couple of swamps in Sorel! (Laughter)
Maxime: I think I was thinking about 10 years ago when I went to Disneyland. There was a park there called “Typhoon Lagoon”.
Marc-André : You could have said that!
Maxime: It doesn’t matter. It’s not even real. Maybe I didn’t even go to Disney!
Marc-André: What?? (Laughter)
Maxime: Music can be serious but it is also important to have a laugh.
MR: Celebration of life.
Marie-Pier: Exactly. It’s just friends having fun.
Sam: That was more serious.
MR: You can be serious about the craft and the art of it.
Maxime: Then comes the fun and the booze. (Laughter)
Marc-André: I’m a big fan of putting some part of a song in someone’s head. Like, when I put these two words together, I will get it stuck in your head.
MR: The catchy hook, it’s a superpower.
Marc-André : Yeah, I’m fascinated by that art, because it does work. It’s creepy.
Sam: I think we are all fascinated by big catchy choruses. We all come from different musical backgrounds, but one thing that unites us is the music with big choruses. You just want to sing along. That is something we try to do in our songs instinctively. It’s just part of us.
MR: We look forward to seeing you perform on Saturday. I know from experience that you are high energy. It’s catchy and it’s going to be fun. I hope you can keep the momentum going because I feel that there is wind behind your back and you are going somewhere. I wanted to congratulate you with some Champagne and we will check up on you in a year, if not sooner, to celebrate when you release your album or are signed to a label… or maybe create your own!
I left well before Midnight… not sure what happens to them after that time, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out!
If you’ve ever wanted to say: “I saw that band when they played a small venue!”, then head over to Piranha Bar on Saturday, April 7, 2018. Openers will be Jane Doe, described as a young, defiant and unabashed band and Silos who are a buzz-worthy alternative band.
Also, do the band a favor and download their tracks from your favorite streaming site and watch the latest video.
Band photo: Felix Deconinck
Live picture: Kim Valiquette