The Pacific Northwest - home to rain and countless days of grey, overcast weather. It's the perfect recipe for depression. Things seem a bit Doomy, you could say. Maybe things aren't so bad after all, then, when you have such a great crop of Doom Metal bands all converged into one region. From the ashes of the legendary YOB, a new Doom demon has risen - MIDDIAN. Having recently released their debut full-length, "Age Eternal", on Metal Blade and completed their first full U.S. tour with MINSK, MIDDIAN stand poised to assume the mantle left to them by YOB. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Sheidt recently filled METALEATER in on the essence of MIDDIAN and how things came to be.
First of all, tell us a little bit about the debut album "Age Eternal".
"It's kind of rooted in the Doom and Stoner genres, but it's not really Doom or Stoner, though. All the influences are there, it's kind of YOB-ish and all our original influences are still there, but it's a weird kind of conglomeration of them and it's got a lot of Punk vibe to me, but we're having a lot fun playing the music and we're babies, you know. Like, we've been together for ten months, so it's the beginning. It's a solid first album."
Speaking of that, what are some of the differences between MIDDIAN and YOB?
"MIDDIAN I think is a little more aggressive on average, less... I don't know, a little less on the super patient builds, more in your face and straight forward. That's the main difference. I mean, you take all the same exact influences and put 'em in different degrees and that's it, you know? It's just more of the Hardcore and more of the... I don't know - just more of the aggression talking, I guess."
The record deal with Metal Blade - was that due to unfulfilled contractual obligations from YOB or a genuine enthusiasm about MIDDIAN?
"Well, the option was available, and obviously we had to impress upon them that MIDDIAN was worth carrying on with the deal, so we practiced and sent them a jam room demo and they really dug it, so I tend to think that if they didn't, they wouldn't have picked it up. So I don't know, but we feel lucky to still be with them."
Tell us a little bit about the other members of the band.
"My friend Will, who plays bass, Will Lindsay, he and I have done probably thirty shows together. He's played in a bunch of bands - AHISMA, which is a killer Grind band, FUCKGODINTHEFACE, which is, at least in the Northwest, a legendary heavy Hardcore band and he plays in LOS MEX PISTOLS; he's like a multi-instrumentalist. He's never played bass in a band before, but we've hung out together so long I just knew... I had a feeling he could totally pull it off. So it's kind of like almost destined to happen, just our circle of friends, we've all had conglomerate bands together, so this was just like a matter of time. Scott Headrick on drums; I worked with him at a music shop for about three years. He was the drum tech there and he's... it's funny, because he was in this great, like kinda... I dunno - I hate to use genre tags, but like an Alt-Country band. But they were super good, kinda like WILCO or something like that. And he used to travel the country doing Drum Corps and competitions and he went to M.I. to be a session drummer. So he's got a lot of chops, but he's just a really great guy. I wanted to play with guys who'd never played Doom before, because I really wanted to do something just different than what I've done and the temptation would be to follow in the same kind of path. And I wanted it to be in the same path, but I wanted it to be with a completely different getup. So we've had a lot of fun and they definitely interpret the riffs that I write in a completely different way than I thought of when I was writing them and so it's been a challenge to me, and it's certainly been a challenge to them, and we're just helping each other grow - it's great."
I understand the name of the band was originally AGE - why did you decide to change it to MIDDIAN?
"There was a Japanese Metal band called AGE and I saw their album and I just knew there'd be some kind of cross pollination and, you know, it just seemed like the better idea to let them have their name and we'd come up with a different one, which is fucking bitch! I fear for our children because there aren't going to be any band names left. (laughter) I mean, I did searches on probably fifty names... sixty names! And amazingly MIDDIAN wasn't taken. I got it from the Old Testament, which is probably where Clive Barker got it from, but I'm like a fan of the 'Cabal' novel; it's not where I got it from, it was more the Old Testament, but the movie sucks, so just spitting out that disclaimer now - it has nothing to do with that fucking movie."
Going to try to appeal to the CRADLE OF FILTH crowd? (laughter)
"By accident...at best."
Tell a little bit about how you came to be working with Ross Sewage (LUDICRA/IMPALED) for the album artwork and Aaron Edge for some of the layout.
"Well, Aaron Edge, actually he did layouts for YOB. Aaron Edge is an old friend; he's a great fucking guy and he's a great artist. I think on our first album we just kind of wanted... there's going to be no lack of comparison to YOB, so at least in kind of our own say we wanted to distance ourselves from YOB a little bit and so we wanted to choose a completely new artist, we brought in somebody completely different in to mix, we sent it somewhere completely different to master, so just to try to give it a different flavor entirely. Ross... LUDICRA is fucking amazing for one and I met Ross through LUDICRA via YOB, and then MIDDIAN did about three or four shows with LUDICRA last... (pause) I don't know...six or eight months ago, we just kind of connected. He was just diddling on a pad at the WOLVES IN THE THRONEROOM, their kind of communal house, and I was like 'wow, that's really great artwork'. I have a side project called GEISTUS and it's a Black Metal band, I'm like 'dude, I would love to get you to do some artwork for GEISTUS if at all possible' and he drew us a cover and it was great and then we thought 'wow, it would be great if he could do something for MIDDIAN, too'. So he painted something for MIDDIAN. We couldn't hang out with LUDICRA and play with them enough - more people need to know about them. Obviously they're getting bigger and should be."
What are the touring plans?
"We're going to do just a handful of shows and really get ready. We've had such a busy, crazy year; we've been practicing only fitfully for various reasons, so we're really going to hunker down and get super tight and we're going to do a full U.S. tour in May. We're trying to get over to Japan in hopefully October. Definitely note that there's live bands over there that we want to play with and that have expressed interest, too. Certainly ETERNAL ELYSIUM and CHURCH OF MISERY are on the top of the list for us. So it could be really great if we get over there. We've talked with ORANGE GOBLIN; Ben from ORANGE GOBLIN sang on our record and they want to do at least the U.K. with us and hopefully that will be early 2008, but we might play their Christmas show, too, which supposedly they were going to try to do that. I'm going to sing on their new record, too. They just got picked up by Sanctuary, which is fucking amazing for them; they deserve it. So U.K. in 2008. It's typical because, you know, I'm a family guy - everybody knows you play Metal because it's in your blood - you don't play it for money 'cause there ain't no money in it. There's just enough in it to keep it going, to keep it thriving and surviving and that's good enough, you know. So we do as much as we can. We're not kids, so we can't just jump on the road for eight or ten months a year, unless there's a paycheck. It's sad, but it's just the way it is, you know. I have three children, so that's just the way it is. But we'll definitely do the full U.S. and we'll definitely do Europe and Japan; it's just going to be spread out." [FIN]
» Official MIDDIAN Website