Jason Evigan of After Midnight Project
Fans of After Midnight Project (AMP) have been patiently waiting for the band’s major label debut “Let’s Build Something To Break”. This summer, that wait came to an end when the album was released. Produced by John Feldmann (Goldfinger) “Let’s Build Something To Break” introduces music fans to a collection of edgy rock tunes with some heart. The songs range from the serious tones of “The Criminal” (written for an actual soldier that vocalist Jason Evigan met at a party) to the piano based ballad “Gone Too Long” to the straight up rock anthem and fan favorite “Take Me Home”. Covering all of their bases, the album gives fans a little bit of everything. As Evigan told us, he wants to “make us smike and cry at the same time”.
Four years in the making After Midnight Project (Jason Evigan on vocals, Spencer Bastian on guitar, Dan Morris on drums, TJ Armstrong on bass and Christian Meadows on guitar) built their fanbase by becoming regulars on the famed Sunset Strip. Their live show has always been their biggest selling point and with the band currently out on tour with Chevelle you can go check them out for yourselves!
Vocalist Jason Evigan recently took some time to talk to us about the album, the songs, and the path that lead to where they are now.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | September 2009
You just wrapped up your first music video; can you tell us a bit about it – the concept and how you got fans involved?
It was incredible. I came up with the concept and the fact that it came to life is amazing! The concept is this: getting to the point where we are as a band has been rough. There have been tons of people in the industry who have tried to rip us apart. “You should rewrite your lyrics; you should lose weight you change your look”, on and on. The bottom line is the fans always put us back together and keep us in line. In the video you will see us lose limbs, it’s pretty weird and cool! I think you will like.
Your debut album on a major label “Let’s Build Something to Break” recently came out but I think for fans it seemed like it was a long time coming. Can you tell us a bit about the album and if you feel like you accomplished everything you wanted to as your first major label album?
It was a long time coming. We toured on our EP for a while. We were about to record our full length independently but then we got our song Take Me Home on the radio and Universal offered us a deal. I was scared at first, I thought the label was going to try and form us into something. It was amazing!!! They let us do our thing. Whenever I would call our A&R and be like dude what should I do in this situation he’d be like “Yo, this is your album, I’m only here to guide you”. The label really gets our vision and is letting us run with it. I’m so happy with how the album came out I really feel like we gave it everything we had.
When you went into the writing process for the album was there a big emphasis on trying to carry over your live performance energy to your recorded material and if so, how were you able to recreate that in studio?
Well we never really wrote for this album. I had been writing songs for over 5 years. We had about 100 songs to choose from. I’m really excited to see what the next album will be like. We are already writing for it. But yes we for sure tried to capture what we bring live. I feel like we really shine live.
You worked with producer John Feldmann, tell us what he brought to the process for you?
John brought out the best in us. He let us be us but also pushed us to the next level on every level. It was one of the best experiences of my life. He really got great performances and helped us structure our songs into the best they could be.
We hear some electronics and piano on a few songs. Were those elements part of the original writing process or were they added in studio?
Both, a few of the songs were written on the piano. All my demos have electronics in them for the most part. In the studio me and Feldmann did some pretty crazy tricks with the electronics. I learned a lot from him and I think he learned a few things from me to. We took a lot of stuff out too though. We really wanted the songs to shine and when there is too much going on the song can get lost.
I want to throw a few songs out at you, can you tell us a bit about them musically and lyrically:
More To Live For?
I had just fallen in love and I remember wanting to spend the rest of my life with her. I literally was asking her through the song, if she would love me forever, no matter what. When I got old would she still look at me the same? At the same time I was scared of dying and not knowing where I would end up. She really changed my life. She gave me a new perspective on life.
Well I love California and I love Los Angeles but at the same time there is a very dark side that I talked about in the song. There is a lot of money and drugs and I grew up around it. I lost friends because of it and I have had to stay strong with the bloodsuckers that feed off of talent. The original version of this song talked about selling your soul to the devil for fame. Pretty dark stuff.
I met a soldier at a party who sat for a few hours and told me his stories of war. He told me how he questioned everyday if what he was doing was the right thing. He sometimes felt like a criminal. My heart went out to him and his family. I promised his that night I would write a song about him. I was kind of drunk at the time but the next day I wrote it and recorded it. I wonder if he ever heard the song. I never grabbed his number. Come FIND ME!!
Before the label picked you up, you were regulars on The Sunset Strip and had really built up a local following. What has been the response to this album of your hardcore fans that have followed you from the beginning?
So far so good, the response was just like we expected. There have only been a few fans who said they miss the old versions but that is what we knew would happen. We tried to keep the songs the same just enhance them. We are very happy with the response to this album.
The songs seem to be a varied blend of pop punk and rock. Do you feel your sound is steered in one of those directions more than the other?
I’d say that we are a rock band. Not so much punk all though we have little moments of double time drum beats. Pop? I guess so ha-ha. I guess whenever you write a song that is easy to sing along to they will call it pop I’d say we are a rock band. As rock as you can get.
Can you tell us about the cover art and the significance it may hold?
The original concept was to have the astronaut holding an M16 but I guess no stores would carry it if it had a gun Sooooo we X’d that idea. Pretty much you can’t really tell if the astronaut is good or bad and honestly I want to leave it up to you to decide. It’s visually a beautiful album but there is something very eerie about it. I have always loved astronauts so I thought having one standing in a field of red poppies would fuck with your head a little bit..
What is one thing that you want people to walk away with after listening to your album?
I just want it to be one of those albums that you can listen to front to back and keep listening and finding new favorite songs and little pieces of new ear candy every time. I want it to make you smile and make you cry at the same time.
Parting words to the music fans out there?
Thank you to whoever read through this entire interview. I appreciate people who support art and live music. We work really hard and love what we do. So thank you!
Catch the band out on tour with Chevelle now:
Sep 30 2009 The National w/ Chevelle Richmond, Virginia
Oct 2 2009 The Swamp w/ Chevelle Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
Oct 3 2009 Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, Tennessee
Oct 5 2009 George’s Majestic Lounge w/ Chevelle Fayetteville, Arkansas
Oct 6 2009 Sokol Auditorium w/ Chevelle Omaha, Nebraska
Oct 7 2009 Val Air Ballroom w/ Chevelle Des Moines, Iowa
Oct 9 2009 The Rock – MN w/Chevelle Maplewood, Minnesota
Oct 10 2009 The Rave Bar w/ Chevelle Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Oct 26 2009 Club 101 w/ Chevelle El Paso, Texas
Oct 27 2009 Marquee Theater w/ Chevelle Phoenix, Arizona
Oct 29 2009 House Of Blues w/ Chevelle Las Vegas, Nevada
Oct 30 2009 House Of Blues w/ Chevelle Anaheim, California
Oct 31 2009 Club Nokia w/Chevelle Los Angeles, California