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Midnight Force: Quarantine Story

by Ivona Bogner

In Corona Corner, we are asking musicians how the outbreak has effected them, how did they adapt to the situation, what did they learn.  Today, we have the story from Glasgow, Scotland. Midnight Force guitarist Ansgar and bassist Brenden were more than willing to share their thoughts with us.

Hi! How are you doing during corona outbreak?
Ansgar:
Hi! We’re trying to keep busy and productive despite being not able to get together with the whole band. So writing on new songs, try and keep the fanbase engaged online and planning for next year!

What have you cancelled/postponed due coronavirus?
Brenden:
We’ve had shows here in Scotland and an all-dayer in Mannheim postponed, as well as a more private gig we were doing for a good pals birthday in the north of Germany. The rest of this years shows we were still in the planning stages for so that’s on hold until promoters can start to plan reliably again, for example we were working on getting back over to Spain this autumn.

How the global coronavirus pandemic is directly impacting bands?
Ansgar:
I think it is devastating in many respects. Bands who had planned entire tours of course not only lose the potential income and influx in fans but also hours and hours of planning, booking, sorting visas etc. which might give morale and motivation a serious dent in the long run. On the other hand it shows everyone how precious it is, what we have in our music scene and how important it is to keep it alive. So I hope it will strengthen our scene in the long run, once concerts can start up again.

How are you keeping your fans during this chaotic period?
Brenden:
Well we’ve got some extra songs left over from the recording sessions for our last album, so we’re getting them finished up and getting some special guests and unusual instruments on a couple of the tracks. Hopefully we can get all that finished and released digitally while we’re all stuck inside, Ansgar’s painted some artwork already and I live with our mixing engineer so when the final recordings are done it should be a quick process.

Ansgar: Bands have to get creative these days so in addition to a new EP (with one new song and some alternate versions of older ones) we will be releasing videos in which our singer John will present some more background info and stories about individual songs.

What will metal look like when we re-emerge from isolation?
Ansgar:
I really do hope that people will have a newly found appreciation for our scene and that it cannot survive without live gigs. For example in Germany people seem to have understood that since forever but in Britain that appreciation seems to dwindle more and more, especially in the underground scene. So hopefully it will lead to better attendance at gigs and a stronger support in terms of buying merchandise or promoters making more of an effort to reach out to their local underground scene to keep things going.

Who will suffer the most after all: musicians, organizers promoters…
Brenden:
I think venues are going to be hit really bad. They aren’t getting enough funding from the government. Most of the ones around here are running crowdfunders, though even these don’t seem to be finding enough success due to everyone’s financial situation suffering. I’m worried for my favourite venues around Glasgow like Audio or Ivory Blacks, which have had plenty close calls in the past due to poor planning decisions by the government and councils, and it’ll be rubbish seeing how many never reopen again because of this.

Ansgar: Bands, apart from lost income and exposure on tour, will be fine overall, they can sell their merch online and a lot of people have been incredibly supportive of bands who had to cancel their tours and bought loads of merch to get it off their hands, e.g. the bands meant to play at Up the Hammers festival in Athens, the first victim of Corona related cancellations.
Promoters will be hit hard if they were unable to plan and rearrange and thus might have lost tons on flight costs etc. but outwith the first few weeks of the outbreak that should be avoidable now… So yeah as Brenden says, the venues, locations will be what will have to be supported the most now to ensure we can even play SOMEWHERE when all this is over.

What is your isolation soundtrack?
Brenden:
I’m quite strongly on the folk music the now, plenty Dubliners, Ewan Maccoll and Alistair Hulett tunes, right now I’ve got some Alasdair Roberts videos on. Metal-wise the albums I’ve had going the most are Chastain’s Ruler of the Wasteland and Vozrozhdenie by Arkona, plenty inspiration for writing new tunes in all of that.

Ansgar: I’m using the time to wade through the waves of new releases and to catch up on what I might have missed. Some incredibly promising new bands are out there and I’m looking forward to see them live soon, like Fer de Lance, Freeways and of course Smoulder who I almost saw at Up the Hammers but hopefully next year it will come to pass!

Besides gigs, what/whom do you miss the most?
Brenden:
I miss the travelling and adventuring, I think I’ve never spent so long in my one area of Glasgow before, usually there’s chances to go on mad walks to Loch Lomond or around the forests and castles out on the East coast. The first thing I’ll do when this is lifted is go up north with a tent and camp for a while.

Ansgar: The traveling is indeed sorely missed. At least here in Germany where I live, the lockdown was never as strict as in other countries so we could still go for walks or drives in the local area…
Beyond that of course meeting with friends, either locally or at the many underground festivals over the course of the year where you meet up with people from all over the world and can catch up or just get plastered.

Do you have any rehearsals during quarantine? If yes, how do they look like?
Brenden:
With us spread over two countries we don’t get much regular rehearsals anymore, so it’s not a big difference now. We were meant to have long practice days before each of the gigs we had planned during this time, and jam out some new songs in that time, so it’s a shame that’s not worked out.

Ansgar: Yeah in terms of our general schedule it didn’t have that much immediate effect, however we had gigs scheduled about once a month at least so that would involve some practice time before each of these and ensure a more or less regular routine which now is of course totally screwed up. Once it is safe to travel to Britain again (whenever that will be) I will head over to the other guys and we’ll probably lock ourselves in our studio for a few days straight with a lot of Buckfast and instant coffee
So maybe the next album will sound actually more like Raven or Exciter who knows haha! Cheers!

Thank you so much for your time. Stay safe!

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