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Midnight Masses
saints be praised
by: Dean Van Nguyen - May 6, 2010

Religion inspires musicians in a variety of ways. Some praise the lord (gospel) others worship the devil (death metal). Religion gifted Madonna her most memorable moment, and only last year Christopher Owens utilised his upbringing in the Children of God cult to inspire a Beach Boys-esque pop album with his band Girls. Midnight Masses are at completely the other end of the spectrum from Owens. Redemption, sin and death run through their music, reflecting leader Autry Fulbright’s upbringing as a preacher’s son. Religious imagery is rife. Their vocals often ring out which a church-like echo. No doubt the untimely death of Fulbright’s father acted as a catalyst for these meditations, but from that tragedy, something beautiful has grown. I spoke to Midnight Masses’ front man on these inspirations.

There's a religious feel to the name "Midnight Masses", and considering song titles like 'Walk on Water' and 'Preacher's Son', it seems to run through your music to. Did you all come from religious backgrounds?

Jason (Reece) and I both grew up with minister fathers. My religious upbringing was probably a larger part of my life, but as far as its influence artistically it's more metaphorical and abstract. I am drawn to and recognize the power of religious iconic imagery. It's easy to relate to. The ideas of good, evil, redemption, and resurrection permeate all cultures and social backgrounds. The bible is a pretty long book, so we have plenty of material to work with.

Your myspace cites you as a Soul band, but your music seems pretty far removed from my idea of what Soul music is. In what way do you think that tag fits you?

The connotation of "soul music" is often misinterpreted. I feel that anything dealing with the soul means something very personal, direct, even cathartic in nature- to "bear one's soul" or emotionally purge in the form of musical expression. I must admit that a Myspace profile won't allow for much of an explanation in the genre section, but maybe it's unnecessary? Maybe the somewhat vague description allows more encouragement for investigation on the part of potential listeners. Either that, or people will mistake us for Bell Biv Devoe or something.

Considering this is for our 'Best of NYC' issue, how would you describe the music scene in the city now? Do you feel a part of something special?

I am happy to be a part of a group of amazing bands in town, but I think the biggest accomplishment of any band is simply getting together, writing songs, and performing them. It's interesting that the term "uncompromising" is used in regard to a band's musical philosophy, when in reality compromising is probably the most important part of a group project. The fact that bands from Brooklyn or San Diego or Florida or wherever are spotlighted now is just a kind of mass marketing. There are cool bands and "scenes" happening everywhere, all the time. I love a lot of local bands, but we're not part of a scene. We're already in a band together, and that's fulfilling and challenging enough on its own.

You've had somewhat of an ever changing roster of musicians, most notably Conrad Keely and Jason Reece from …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Is Midnight Masses a democracy or do you very much lead the way?

Jason has the role as co-founder/part time lover, while Conrad has been a consistent collaborator. Other than that, Destiny Montague, Eric Rodgers, and Miyuki Furtado have been part of Masses since the beginning. Danny Wood was an intended member since the beginning but joined officially a few months down the line. I am by default the band leader. It's a Marxist Democracy. Maybe the initial inspiration was facing the loss of my dad, but I think we've moved forward.

I'm a big fan of the ‘Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body’ EP. What do you feel are the overriding themes of that release?

I had the idea that the record would be a loose narrative based on a ghost reflecting on a mortal, earthly existence. Specifically post-suicide. There are reflections of how I felt during the time of my father's passing, and some biblical/drug/suicidal allusions as well-some abstract, some not.


"It's interesting that the term "uncompromising" is used in regard to a band's musical philosophy, when in reality compromising is probably the most important part of a group project."

Midnight Masses
"Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body"

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what it is

Mellow but powerful Indie Soul for those who like Nick Cave, Cowboy Junkies, Chris Isaak