It’s always nice to be in a place that feels like home – and that’s exactly how things were for The Midnight when they performed at The Bellwether in Los Angeles on July 30.

Introducing “Los Angeles” from their 2016 album Endless Summer, The Midnight singer-songwriter Tyler Lyle told the crowd that he and Tim McEwan (producer/drums) met and got their start right up the road in North Hollywood. McEwan, who lives east of Pasadena, says that LA will always be where he built a life and a career. Lyle now lives in Atlanta, where he grew up, though his wife’s family is from the LA area – meaning LA “always will feel like a second city.” He explains that “there are so many wonderful creative people all in a very close proximity…. Being where the energy is compels you to stay in the energy, if that makes sense. It creates its own reverberations. Whereas in Atlanta, I am kind of a hermit in my music creation.”

Speaking with Substream a few days after the show, Lyle mentioned how friendly the promoters at The Bellwether were – and how appreciative he was of “a massive pot of live, beautiful orchids in the green room, which I thought – ‘wow, that never happens in a green room.'” The show was sold out, and Lyle further felt that the shape of the room made for good sound. “You don’t normally think about that in the audience, but as a performer, sound travels in weird ways, and it was a good-sounding room from stage.” McEwan appreciated “the sense of being close to people” at The Bellwether and being able to see everyone in the room, and contrasts this to venues like Danforth Music Hall in Toronto – a long, concrete room with a low ceiling with “horrible acoustics. But also, you can’t really see people.”

Beginning on September 16 – a month and a half after playing The Bellwether – The Midnight will embark on a headlining tour, covering the eastern half of the country and parts of the Midwest and South. Discussing the setlist for the upcoming tour, McEwan believes it’ll “probably [be] close-ish” to what they played at The Bellwether – a setlist that spanned the band’s discography, with emphasis on tracks from Endless Summer. Lyle thinks back to last fall’s tour in support of their 2022 album Heroes – it was “a big rock band tour,” where McEwan played live drums – and contrasts it to their set at Bonnaroo in June, where they leaned more into the EDM vibe. The show at The Bellwether “was kind of an altered Bonnaroo set for us,” and as they prepare for the fall tour, “we’ll tweak it a little more, probably add a little bit of the rock band thing and give it some more moments.” McEwan feels strongly about the direction the band explored with their Bonnaroo set: “It was sort of an intentional move of, like, we want to go put one of our feet back into the electronic world in which we came from. So hopefully, we can have the best of both worlds.” 

Officially, they’d call themselves “synth wave,” but fans who saw The Midnight live at The Bellwether in Los Angeles at the end of July were treated to a show that took plenty of influence and inspiration from the world of live rock bands: Lyle and McEwan were joined on stage by Lelia Broussard (guitar, vocals), Royce Whittaker (guitar), and Justin Klunk (saxophone), all of whom played on Heroes and will likely return for The Midnight’s next record. Working with Broussard, Whittaker, and Klunk is “a creative partnership in many different ways;” Broussard and Whittaker were part of the making of Heroes, as was frequent collaborator Nikki Flores. Flores and Broussard produced and edited a lot of the vocals on Heroes; Whittaker was heavily involved due to how guitar-heavy the record was. McEwan shares, “Essentially, the way we look at this is, we’re in the studio right now fiddling around. And then when it gets to a certain point, we sort of see who would be – if we need something. Do we want sax? Well, we’re gonna call Justin. There’s people that have a certain skill set; we know we can use if and when we need it, so it functions in that way.”

After sitting on demos and song sketches for a few months, Lyle says, “Now is the important phase of Tim and I coming together and going, ‘I think this works. I think this doesn’t work.’ And once we have a small collection of songs, we’ll be like, ‘Oh, this is the footprint. This is the blueprint of the record.'” Of course, living on different coasts can make it harder to work together. “It’s always best when we can get in the same room,” McEwan adds, but when they can’t, “we use this new internet that the young people keep talking about.” After writing separately, when speaking to Substream, he and Lyle were just a few days into working together in the studio. They’re now in a phase where “you throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks and see what works.” Coming to the table with ideas, they’re able to hone in on songs and ideas that will eventually shape the record – “It’s the fun part of the process, and not part of the process where I’m pulling out my hair.”

Heroes was the third installment in a trilogy of records that The Midnight released, the first two being Kids in 2018 and Monsters in 2020. Moving on to the next chapter is freeing, and as they get to work on the next record, McEwan mentions that they’ve “set forth an intention.” Heroes pulled inspiration from ’80s and ’90s anthemic stadium rock, and the duo is now eager to “go back into the electronic space.” McEwan has been “going deep in the 90s, electronic hole of trance and some rave culture stuff. And we were just raving out hard yesterday in the studio, going down various rabbit holes.” Lyle continues that “fun is the MO” and reflects on how liberating the Bonnaroo set was for him as the lead singer: “[The Midnight is] such a musical project, and we, live, at least, have never given it a chance to build and crash in this EDM sort of way. And so, to get me out of my, you know, ‘you’re the frontman of a rock band’ into more of like, ‘well, I could play a synthesizer and hang back, and we could just vibe out for 10 minutes.’ That is exciting to me. That’s an exciting palette. And it’s an exciting sort of new collection of songs to choose from for live.” 

On stage at The Bellwether, Lyle made his way to the front of the stage plenty of times – but rather than set up in front of everyone else, his synthesizer was pulled back, ever so slightly behind Broussard. He explains, “We’re tiptoeing into these waters and trying to see what it would feel like to go to the other end of rock world and introduce, I think we have eight synthesizers on stage. I’m going to try and have- I got into modular synthesizers over the pandemic, which is the wires and the patching and all that. I brought that to Bonnaroo, and it was incredibly fun. It’s a really finicky machine that doesn’t like to be played live. But I’m going to try and skin it in such a way that we can use that hopefully on stage in the fall, as well.”

If this article is your first exposure to The Midnight, welcome: the band has an active online fan community with plenty to get immersed in. After The Midnight is a YouTube video series and podcast that explores each of The Midnight’s songs in depth. There’s also an active Wiki for The Midnight – branded to fit the vibe of The Midnight’s visuals, with a black background and neon lettering, The Midnight Wiki has sections for songs, releases, and tours; people (the members of the band); fan-submitted photos (under the “Lost Boy’s Polaroids” header); and even band and fandom lore. While Lyle and McEwan aren’t involved in the Wiki, when discussing the small, dedicated group of fans in charge – they name Timothy Collins in South Carolina and Julia Lax in Brighton, England – Lyle says, “We love those people. And we give them big hugs when we see them.” McEwan recalls doing an interview with After The Midnight: “Those guys are great. We love those guys. And they do an amazing job. And that’s completely without our involvement in the sense that they have just taken it and ran with it. And that’s really what we’ve found since it’s sort of picked up steam in the last, I guess, 5,6,7 years where the momentum started happening a little bit, and there was a community and a fan base… we make the music, but then it takes people to care enough to want to do something with it. And then that becomes really fun to watch.”

The Midnight don’t yet have a timeline to release their next record, but Lyle hints at something to come: “We’re working on some things that are not music that we can’t share yet, but it would be nice to have multiple offerings from different sorts of mediums.” Regarding the upcoming headlining tour, he continues, “It’s gonna be a five-piece; it’s going to be our biggest production. These will be the biggest rooms we’ve been in. We’re very excited, and then we’ll be flying under the radar in Los Angeles making tracks.”

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