Midnight Evils on reuniting, charging Marky Ramone for a T-shirt, and missing John Peel

Categories: Q&A
Photo by Daniel Corrigan

The Midnight Evils, notorious for their off-the-rails rock shows, return for what promises to be a killer reunion show after more than six years since they broke up. Since forming in 1998, they were voted City Pages Best Rock Band in 2003 and 2005, and Best Band to Break Up in the Past 12 Months in 2006.

The Midnight Evils garnered international recognition as their second record, Straight 'Til Morning was named Record of the Month in March 2003 by legendary DJ John Peel, and they accepted his invitation to record a "Peel Session" for the BBC later that year.

The Evils' final show in August, 2005 broke the bar sales record in the 7th St. Entry, and they will try to do it again this weekend. Gimme Noise experienced the deafening avalanche of their full-tilt rock fury and spoke to the five core members in their St. Paul practice space. We spoke about the highs and lows of rock 'n' roll, and why they just had to have the $8 from Marky Ramone. 

Members include: Jonny Evans (frontman/lead singer), Curan Folsom (bass), Stevie Cooper (lead guitar), Jesse Tomlinson (drums) and Brian "Vandy" Vanderwerf (rhythm guitar) - the latter two more recently of Chooglin' and The Huckleberrys.

How'd you guys decide to do the reunion?

Jesse Tomlinson: I'm leaving town, moving to Norway. It seemed a good time to do it. The Midnight Evils broke up in 2005. It's been seven years. We decided we better do it now before we get too old.

Curan Folsom: Steve lives in Milaca. He's always been in St. Cloud or Milaca.

Stevie Cooper: I've never lived here.

Brian Vanderwerf: He makes that pretty damn clear! (laughs)

What have you been involved with since you left the Midnight Evils?

Jonny Evans: I did a band called the Bullets and a band called the Die Alone with members of Janis Figure.

Vanderwerf: I'm putting together a new rockin' band this year.

One of your songs is the theme song for Radio K's Off the Record. Which one?

Vanderwerf: "Loaded and Lonely," mixed in with "Another Line." They mixed the two together. That was fun, we did Radio K a few times before.

Evans: That's funny, because those are two of my favorite songs off the first record! I've got good taste!

What can people expect at the Entry?

Folsom: We're going to cover pretty much everything we have done all together. We've got a big list of songs.

Vanderwerf: There's a really big surprise, too.

Evans: What's the surprise? I don't even know what the big surprise is.

Vanderwerf: Come with the lowest expectations and you're going to have a great time!

Evans: I didn't play on the last record. I feel there will be a lot of stuff from the first record people might not have heard. I think it will be cool for people to hear it all.

Tell me about the John Peel sessions and how you were featured on those.

Vanderwerf: We put the record on Estrus Records. I got an email one day, "John Peel loves your record. He wants to know if you do a session with him." I thought it was bullshit, but sure enough, it was real! So we flew out there . . .

Folsom: We played five shows there. We recorded at the BBC on Thanksgiving, 2003. They said, "expect it to take 6 - 10 hours to record." We played our stuff and got out of there in two and a half hours. They said John Peel came down to see us four hours later and everybody couldn't believe we were already out of there.

[collective groans]

Folsom: We just played our tunes, "sounds great!" and were out of there. We didn't know! We never got to meet him, but it was fun. (laughs).

Vanderwerf: It was still pretty awesome. He said my name on the BBC!

Evans: Unfortunately I didn't make it to that . . .

Vanderwerf: Jonny was on the record that John Peel played...

How did the tours go?

Tomlinson: They were all great!

Folsom: says hesitantly: They were all... fun. There's this thing for bands called "paying the dues." And that was definitely our time, playing shows and having the people who were working going nuts over you -- but like 3 people in the audience. I guess it's hard for every band at first.

Vanderwerf: We had band meltdowns, that typical shit... that killed it too.

[everyone laughs]

Evans: Definitely good times, and bad times. Happy and sad, it's still all living in the van. It was never plush.

Tomlinson: You've got to like each other a lot.

What were some of your favorite bands you played with?

Vanderwerf: the one we're playing with on the show, the Dirty Frenchmen, from Fargo. I've played with those guys just about more than any other band.

Folsom: They're old friends and Fargo is kind of our second home. When we headed out to tour we'd start there, and we had friends there and played there a lot so people were coming out.

Cooper: Justin, the bass player, owned Dart Records. They put out our first record, and our 7-inches.

Evans: We played with a band there called the Spaceshits, they made great records and that was a highlight for me!

What made you guys stand out and be picked best band year after year?

Tomlinson: Apparently, we were loud.

Evans: Turning up the amps...

Vanderwerf: Our energy! Sometimes people like to be assaulted.

Folsom: It was like being at a party.

Evans: I don't think there's anybody in this band who's afraid to have a good time. Ultimately that's what everybody in this band is here to do.

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