Midnight Metro is Eric Vanier, River Pathak, Allesandro Rotondi and Reece Leonetti, who have been living the rock and roll dream since 2014. They just released their long awaited second full length album “Flamingo” on September 21st, 2019. From tasty drums, to lilting chords, grooving bass lines, and beachy vocal harmonies, Midnight Metro adds an undeniably fresh element to today’s pop climate. A taste of the old, a mixture of the new, and a whole lot of good vibes to go around. This is the sound of Midnight Metro.
We sat down with the band to discuss the new album and what Midnight Metro means to its members.
Congratulations on your new album, how has the reception been for the new music?
Eric: Thank you so much! The reception to Flamingo has been overwhelmingly positive so far, which is really heartwarming. We’ve been working on this project for so long, it’s really nice when people notice all the hard work and small details that went into every single track.
River: It’s been great. People I haven’t really spoken to about the album are hitting me up to say they listened to it.
Allesandro: It almost feels like a relief in some ways, to finally get these tunes off your chest and make way for new ideas.
How long has the band been together and how did you meet?
River: We all went to high school together. Allesandro and I had the same music classes—I just thought he was super tall.
Allesandro: I started playing with River in 2012. We used to harmonize on songs like “More Than Words” and “If I Fell” in the hallways. Then we heard there was this prodigy drummer (Eric) in grade nine. We saw him play once or twice, and after a bit of speculating, we decided “…that’s our guy!”
Where does the name Midnight Metro come from?
Allesandro: It doesn’t really have a particular meaning. One night River sent a list of potential names. He liked Midnight Massacre, but we agreed it sounded a bit too…heavy. He sent over a few choice “M” words, and we decided Metro was the coolest combination. I always imagined some guys jamming at a New York-style metro station late at night.
I hear a lot of different influences in your music: Beach Boys (harmonies), Beatles, Green Day, Weezer. Who brings what to the band?
River: Allesandro and I like The Beatles, and Eric likes Prog Rock a lot. We all have some pretty diverse taste in music. If something in our songs sounds like Avenged Sevenfold, it was probably me. (laughs)
Allesandro: We also have some interesting jazz and latin undertones.
Eric: Pretty much anything we’re inspired by can make it into our music, which I think is very cool.
Allesandro, what was it like having a father who is a Gene Simmons impersonator growing up?
Allesandro: He influenced me a lot. Drums and bass were my first instruments from as early as I can remember, and since the band (Destroyer: Canada’s Tribute to KISS) was often rehearsing at our house, it was easy for me to get my hands on the instruments. He also helped me get comfortable performing onstage and in front of audiences from a very early age. Because of that, it always felt like second nature.
Is there a set process for writing music within the band?
Eric: We all write in the band and all have our own ideas so I wouldn’t say there’s definitive roles each of us always follow. The way many of the songs on Flamingo were written was with an initial idea from one of us. Either just an idea, or a more fleshed out version of a song. From there, we would send a demo to the band to get some feedback. Most of the time, we loved what we heard and would get inspired to work on it. Each member would add their personalities to the track, or might tweak arrangements to help complete the song. This includes lyrics, layering harmonies, drum parts, bass lines, guitar solos, synth parts, and of course sound effects. We all work on these parts; we don’t really stay restricted to our primary instruments while writing. It all depends on the song, but we always try to keep it a really collaborative process and are open to trying out new ideas.
River: Honestly the tracks just come out of nowhere sometimes. I’m pretty sure Allesandro is an alien, or a demon though.
Allesandro: Sometimes we each bring a song to the table entirely written and arranged, and other times we like to put our heads together and stir up something fresh.
Explain Glass Pterodactyl.
River: I was chilling in my dad’s man cave, and I just smoked a joint so I was feeling good. I sat on the table and strummed my guitar, looking around the room for things to write about. I saw a glass jar that had the Detroit Lions logo on it, but lions are boring so I switched it to pterodactyl. Right next to the bar, there’s a picture of Ford Field mounted on the wall, so I said “painting of a football”. The bridge came later from something I jammed while I was living in Toronto, but I credit the weed for that track.
Eric, you live in Toronto. How do you manage the distance as a band? Do you have career aspirations outside of music or is this what it’s all about?
Eric: I’m studying at Humber College to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion and Music and Allesandro is in his fourth year at the University of Windsor studying music too. We believe without the knowledge that we’ve obtained through our music studies, our band would not be at the same level that we are right now. We really have no aspirations outside of music, this is what we want to do with our lives. Me being in Toronto actually gives us an edge. We have opportunities and connections that we never would have had otherwise. Since we’re kinda spread out at the moment, we feel it gives us opportunities to cover more ground in getting our music out there.
Allesandro: Digital home recording technology makes things a lot easier. Music is what we love to do, it’s an everyday occasion. I’m studying Jazz Guitar and Music Education, playing acoustic gigs several times a week, and writing and recording on my own and with Midnight Metro.
River: I lived in Toronto for a few months. We all talk on Facebook every day. For the long term goals, I know there’s nothing else I could be satisfied with other than making music.
Are there any plans to put together a tour in the near future?
River: I push these guys to tour all the time.
Eric: There’s definitely something in the works right now, so keep an eye on our social media for that! You can catch us opening for Destroyer at The Grand Central in Essex on Saturday, October 12!
Allesandro, tell us about the Brian Wilson song.
Allesandro: In my Ethnomusicology class, one of the projects was to study a community of music which we were not directly a part of. I decided to study the California Sound. As an avid collector of Beach Boys bootlegs, I stumbled across an old tape-recording of Brian Wilson working out a song idea on piano in 1977. It was never completed, released, nor copyrighted, so I decided to finish writing, arranging, and recording it from scratch, imagining the way Brian may have done it. The components included heavy vocal layering, and unique instrument combinations such as marimba and ukulele. Upon completion of the song, I sent what I was working on to The Beach Boys’ inner circle.
I had tickets to see Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and Blondie Chaplin at Caesars Windsor, and I nearly had a heart attack when I received word that my project piqued the interest of Al Jardine, and he invited me to the band’s rehearsal to bring them copies of the song. I sat with my girlfriend Ashley in the empty coliseum, listening to my musical heroes break down harmonies before my eyes and ears.
It was the greatest musical education imaginable. After the rehearsal, I chatted music and the project with Al, Blondie, and their fabulous backing band. Al said “We’re always discovering little snippets like this. Brian and I will be back in the studio at some point; who knows what will happen.” We exchanged a quick hello with Brian too, but he was having some health issues at the time and didn’t stick around long. It was a dream come true, and an experience that I am thankful for every day.
Have you heard from them since your meeting?
Allesandro: Coincidentally, I hung out with them again last night in Detroit before their show with The Zombies. I went crate-digging for vinyl with their percussionist, Jim, and Rob, their guitarist (and Carnie Wilson’s husband). They’re amazing guys, and very down to earth. I also spoke with Al Jardine again, Darian Sahanaja, and Probyn Gregory, who told me they listened to my tune on the tour bus and quite enjoyed it! I even passed on a few copies of Flamingo to them!
If you could be any other person, animal or thing, what would you be and why?
Allesandro: We originally wanted to call the album Hummingbird. I think I’d be a hummingbird; I find them very peaceful. They often buzz around my mom’s plants while I eat breakfast.
River: If I could be another person, I’d probably be John Lennon. That way, I could be dead but everyone would still love me even though I’m a garbage human being.
Eric: I would probably also have to say I’d be a bird of some sort. I don’t know what kind though… maybe even a flamingo!
Catch Midnight Metro at a gig near you or visit them online at midnightmetro.bandcamp.com.