I had the privilege of interviewing Jonah of Midnight Ball. This band will make an impact in the Rock scene for years to come. They have a unique sound with catchy songs and thought provoking lyrics.
Rob: Who is Midnight Ball?
Jonah: Midnight Ball is currently a 7-8 person rock outfit, but it evolved from a smaller group. I came out to Los Angeles touring in a duo called Mia and Jonah. When Mia and I came to town to do a residency in 2012, I connected with my old friend Andrew Ferrone and we held regular jam sessions in his garage with him on drums and me on guitar. Scott Passagila (vocals/ drums/ percussion), Eric Hogensen (vocals/ bass/ guitar) and Adam Preskill (vocals/ saxophone/ keyboard)were also part of those initial writing sessions. We would draw little crowds in Andrew’s driveway in Venice, CA. The neighborhood seemed to appreciate the jams. Eventually, Gregg Barnes (hammond organ, rhodes piano) Scott Perloff (drums) and Rob Jost (bass) jumped in and we re-interpreted the material for the album we made this past year. This will be the band’s debut release, but it’s been about 4 years in the making.
We focus pretty hard on creating original material, but also explore a wide range of cover songs when we play live gigs. We spend time on the vocal harmonies – there are so many great singers in the group, and we work to create a solid blend when we sing together. I have spearheaded the effort of recording this album, but everyone in the group has been involved in the arrangement decisions.
Rob: What inspired your name?
Jonah: The name Midnight Ball was inspired by the late-night jam sessions we had in Venice, CA when the band was first formed. ‘The Midnight Ball’ was when we would throw the garage door open, and create an impromptu late-night street party. I don’t think there are many places in the United States you can do that, but Venice in 2012 was definitely one.
Rob: What bands influenced your new release?
Jonah: The songs from this release have been influenced by a number of groups – The Black Keys, The Clash, Black Dub, and other innovative rock pioneers. The biggest influence going into production on our new record was Talking Heads. In particular, the ‘Stop Making Sense’ live album was our go-to as far as production and arrangement decisions. It may not sound a lot like Talking Heads music, but we stole some of their funky pulse/ rhythmic ideas pretty directly.
Rob: What is your song ‘Silent Flocking’ about?
Jonah: ‘Silent Flocking’ is about how we communicate without words. The song reflects on how we learn from each other in subtle and unspoken ways and how powerful that can be. The concept of ‘Silent Flocking’ is how we are drawn to one another by unseen forces, which create a sort of magic and serendipity to our time together. (This can be in context of both a romantic relationship or friendship, but I had my wife Mia in mind when writing it.) When making the video for this song, we luckily stumbled upon archival footage from the film “Journey to the Land of Prehistoric Women”. In the film, women speak with one another through psychic means, and it seemed to reflect the seed idea of the song.
Rob: Which song is your favorite off this new album?
Jonah: My personal favorite song from this record might be the anomaly – ‘Wake Up’. Its an anomaly on the record because it has an open, folk-based sound. I had written ‘Wake Up’ about 15 years ago, and have updated it a bit. This song is about how we have to make a decision to be vulnerable in order to fall in love. It can be scary not knowing where a relationship is going to go.
Rob: How does being from Venice, California influence your sound?
Jonah: I think overall Venice has instilled a groove-oriented musical sensibility. Venice is little world unto itself and seems to inspire a down-to-earth and eclectic style in all forms of expression. Still, people often want music to move to, so we have locked into funk-based patterns that are familiar enough to draw folks in.
Rob: What is one band you want to meet?
Jonah: There are so many bands and artists I would like to meet. If I had to choose one band, it would probably be Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I have been a huge fan for years, and always am able to draw inspiration from Bruce’s music and the culture surrounding his amazing live performances.
Rob: What are your plans for 2016?
Jonah: We are planning to continue playing gigs in and around Los Angeles and as far north as San Francisco. Also, we will continue writing new music for our next record.
Go buy their Self Titled album on iTunes.