The Midnight Beast - Will Smith Will Probably Kill Us
London based trio ‘The Midnight Beast’ have been delighting YouTube audiences with their own brand of comedy music, high jinx videos and well played parodies. With enough hits to populate a small country, a successful E4 series and a current tour underway. I sat down with the guys to talk triple bunk beds, dirty pigeons and why they should be scared of Hollywood legend Will Smith.
TMB – Hey Hayley
H – Hi guys how are you?
TMB – Very good thanks how are you?
H – I’m good thanks. Now we’ve been introduced how did you guys meet?
Stefan – We were planning on doing a video, Dru and I, to “Ninjas of the dance floor” which was the start of the band but we actually met at a drama group when Dru was about 14 and I would have been about 12. It was a group called “Group 64” in Putney. (aside) Pierce Brosnan went there.
Dru – (in background) He did.
H – Impressive.
Stefan – I went to school in Central London so I didn’t know lots of people in the area so I went there (mock little boy lost voice) to make some friends. (Laughter in the background). I soon made friends with Dru and we hung out. We started a band together where Dru played drums and I was on guitar. Before that, Ashley and I met doing a musical with Dave Benson Phillips “Wow, that’s what I call Nursery Rhymes”. Ashley was dancing and I was break dancing in it (teasing laughter from background again). We met there when we were 10 years old and I introduced the two of them and we’ve been friends ever since.
H – So from the early days, you’ve now had two sell out tours, a highly successful six episode series on E4 and I believe you were voted ahead of The Strokes and 30 seconds to Mars in NME.com’s favourite acts.
Stefan – Yeah, that was nuts!
H – Life must be pretty sweet for the Beast at the moment?
Dru – Yeah, it’s definitely been a real journey. We are really flattered and lucky to have done some really cool stuff. The Reading and Leeds shows where we were put in the NME chart was a highlight and crazy.
H – So have things changed for you since the E4 series aired?
Dru – Not drastically, we were all fortunate enough, before the E4 show, to quit our part time jobs. I think our lifestyles are pretty much the same, just filled with more day to day tasks like rehearsing if we’ve got a show or the tour coming up in October. Learning lines, writing new songs and video ideas, so the days are a bit more packed with tasks.
H – (laughs) Not sure that sounds too exciting “Task Orientated Days”.
Stefan (laughs) – It is! Because we started our own record label just before we released the album. We’re a lot more involved so we need to be doing a lot more of the day to day stuff, but it’s beneficial in the long run because we get to approve some pretty cool stuff.
H – So more creative control?
Dru – Yes absolutely. As Stef said, we’re doing our own label and apart from the management, we’re doing it independently. Although we would never say never to a label, it’s definitely proving to be the best way for us.
H – I’ve heard you described as Flight of the Conchords mixed with the Inbetweeners. Have you got an ideal guest star you would like to work with or appear alongside?
Stefan – When we first started the TV show we were really excited about the type of guests we might be able to get in it but after writing it we came to the conclusion that we wanted it to be a lot of new talent. We wanted it to be ‘our world’ and they did that really well with Flight of the Conchords, hand picking new people that were interesting and funny. Our team including Simon Farnaby (The Mighty Boosh, Jam and Jerusalem) who was playing Sloman, Ryan Pope who played Chevy and Sophie Wu (The Fades) who played my girlfriend Zoe. There are so many good characters in it. We wanted to form a new little alliance of new people who hadn’t been in massive commercial shows before but that had a good reputation. We’ve also got so many friends who are good actors and musicians that we also wanted to get them in the show. It’s not that we turned our noses up at anyone; it’s just been a really fun thing to get our mates involved.
H – So the album came out on 13th August?
Stefan – Yeah, we did a massive HMV performance and we released it through a company called TuneCore on iTunes and they were absolutely amazing. They help unsigned bands and they let us do our own thing.
H – “I kicked a shark in the face”, obviously a dark moral tale. Where do the songs come from? Do you all sit down and write together?
Stefan – It changes per song. I’ve done a few on my own or ones that I produced in the early days and then the guys come over and brainstorm with me. More recently Dru is starting more and sometimes they are collective ideas. Everyone has been produced in a different way but has a definite Midnight Beast sound.
H – Have you ever come up with lyrics and then thought “actually we really can’t go there”?
Together – Yes!
Stefan – Quite early on we did a “Whip my hair” parody and then thought Willow Smith’s a bit young and Will Smith will probably kill us!
H – Just in case you bump into him down the post office or something?
Together – (laughs) Yep.
H – So the Beast is going on tour in October, what can we expect from that?
Dru – You can expect madness! We up the ante of the live shows every time we do one. We have a full band, guitars, drums, DJs, keys. We have some more male dancers, glitter cannons, pompoms, some crazy arsed dance moves. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re really excited.
H – So to quote you “a dirty Glee then”.
Together – Absolutely! (more laughter in the background)
H – I’ve heard you mention triple bunk beds in the past and I know from “Unleash the Beast” that you aren’t opposed to nudity or sock restricting nudity. Will you filming the tour’s antics for the next series or is it a case of ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’?
Stefan – We have mates that are film makers, which is lucky, so we’re filming a few of the shows, not just the London based ones. We’ll cut them together and do a tour diary but it’ll probably be exclusively for our online audience.
H – Talking of which, 46 million hits…that’s a fair number. The internet can produce some ruthless critics. Do you read the comments?
Stefan – It’s mixed really. At the beginning on YouTube you get a clump of nasty comments and then they filter out as you go along and I think views are a strange thing because you can get them from the same people re-watching it, i.e. my Mum (laughs). Unfortunately, sometimes being anonymous on the internet is always going to cause some trouble but we know from forums and previous bands what it can be like.
Dru – It’s the pros and cons of social networking. You have a comment bar at the touch of your fingers so anyone can become a critic or a fan; it comes with the territory on the internet. We’ve been very fortunate at developing a fan base.
H – You do have a very passionate fan base. Any strange encounters?
Dru – Not so much encounters. We have a dedicated group and they send us little presents and cool artwork linked to the videos so I think there are some really in depth fans out there that watch the videos and pick up on the little things. We get some really sweet letters and we try and read all of them.
H – Any plans for after the tour
Stefan – We’ve been trying to find new formats because there’s very little comedy music out there. We are always brainstorming new ideas. Hopefully we will get to talk about Series two but it’s not something we’ve done yet because the tour has been so full on. Once we are on tour I think the ideas will come because we are best when we’re working.
H – So any new song ideas in mind?
Stefan – 100%.
H – I’ve actually got a pigeon that sits outside my bedroom window that would make a good song.
TMB – (lots of laughter) We love pigeons.
H – I’ve named him Mankybeak. (more laughter). He actually smells like a men’s urinal and he’s got some dubious stains on his feathers ….if that helps your creative process at all.
TMB – Oh wow….definitely send us a picture.
H – So Mankybeak the single…? Ok guys?
TMB – Let’s do it!