From their days of tearing it up in Boston to becoming Sin City’s premier rock band, Crash Midnight have been making a name for themselves with their brand of high octane rock n roll. We here at The Rockpit caught up with the band’s front man Shaun Soho to talk about Crash Midnight’s past, present, and their plans for the future.
Rob: Hi Shaun, thanks for taking the time to talk with The Rockpit. How are you?
Shaun: Glad to finally catch up. Doing great out here in Vegas – just real busy.
Rob: You and I actually share some common ground in what motivated us to do what we each do, Music being so incredibly bad around the turn of the millennium drove us to put out there what we weren’t seeing represented in the music scene. Do you want to tell the readers about your motivation for creating this band and does that same motivation still drive you today?
Shaun: Sure. Yeah when we first started this band it was in the mid-2000’s and I’d been so bored of what was on the radio. There just wasn’t anything that really was catching my ear and I finally got so fed up with it that I was like, “if nobody else is gonna do it, fuck it, I will.” I think that still drives me today since there are very few people doing that street level punk blues rock the way we do. There are a handful of bands doing some of the more cheesy 80’s metal stuff, but very few just doing straight blues hard rock n roll.
Rob: You guys are definitely one of the best rock bands I’ve come across state side.
Shaun: Appreciate it. We worked really hard to dig deep into the stuff that influenced our influences and really go to school on how to find a more genuine sound.
I think a lot of bands just try to sound like a carbon copy of their influence instead of understanding how those bands got their sound in the first place and just end up sounding like a watered down version.
Rob: So you sent me some background info, you guys got your band name from your former bass player, Bo, wrecking his car on the way home from a party?! And it was his idea shortly after the accident? I’m dying to know how that conversation went.
Shaun: I was dead asleep and Bo calls me up and tells me he’s got this great idea for the band name. After I muttered something about, “sounds cool, let’s talk tomorrow,” he says, “also, I need a ride. My car is stuck on some rocks leaking gasoline.”
Rob: hahaha! That’s hilarious!
Shaun: Yeah, I think we’ve all grown up a lot since then, but the energy and sound of the band was definitely born out of this “live in the moment” thing and I think, for better or worse, that lead to a more authentic thing. A lot of bands – some of which we’ve toured with – go out there pretending to be “rockstars” or something, but it’s all just an act. I can say with this band what you see and hear is what you get, The songs we wrote back then and what we still write today all comes from real things that happened to us, We’re not really interested in being “rockstars,” we just want to play shit we’d want to listen to.
Rob: That’s really how it should be.
Shaun: Well I think if you’re going to do something, be authentic.
Rob: Exactly! Plus, if it’s real you feel the music more I like to think. Because the artist is putting their heart into it.
Shaun: That’s a big thing for us. When we’re on stage, it’s not scripted, not an act. All these songs are about some real experience or situation and I think that comes through in how we perform them. We’ve got some songs that get us pretty fired up from sort of reliving whatever the songs about. Sometimes that’s a party, or sometimes it’s a fuck you to someone that tried to take advantage of us as a young band and we get into that head space when we perform those songs. Sometimes maybe too into that head space haha.
Rob: That’s how a rock band should be, Attitude is fuel for great rock n roll.
Rob: Crash Midnight reminds me a lot of what some of the non-Glam Hard Rock bands were doing in the 80s where you had bands like L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, and early Guns N’ Roses making a punk tinged hybrid of hard rock and blues. Who were the primary bands that made you want to be a musician?
Shaun: I think a lot of bands tried to sound like GnR or some band and ended up sounding like a caricature of those bands, We really dug deep into a lot of that 70’s and 80’s punk – I mean a lot of people don’t get that early GnR was a damn punk band. You listen to those lyrics, it’s not fucking Bon Jovi out there.
We got into the Dead Boys bigtime – we actually got to perform with Cheetah Chrome earlier this year which was really cool. But all those bands, New York Dolls, Iggy, Johnny Thunders solo stuff, Gen X and on and on. I told Cheetah I think I probably owe them writing credits from some of the stuff on our debut album “Lost In The City” But I’ll get ideas from anybody I think sounds cool or writes something interesting. I’ve gotten inspiration from everyone from Warren Zevon, to the Eagles, to Leonard Cohen. If somebody puts out something that makes you think or gets you in a head space to write something about your own experience, I don’t care who’s writing it. Shit, I’m working on a song that was partly inspired by a Traveling Wilburys song.
Rob: I think everyone is a product of their influences to some degree, but if it’s genuine music I think it’s true self-expression and so your own voice shines through musically and that’s definitely the case with your band. You as a vocalist aren’t really like anyone else I’ve heard, you have a great voice that’s uniquely your own style.
Shaun: Thanks, yeah I’m sort of a product of so many influences that I guess I can’t be traced anymore haha. It’s cool though, I hear people compare me to so many cool singers that it really does feel good that so many fans appreciate what I’m doing.
Rob: You guys were based out of Boston prior to moving to Las Vegas, what brought you to sin city?
Shaun: Well, they say “you can’t shovel sunshine” right? We left Boston the spring after a big Live Nation tour in 2014 which lead us into the worst winter on record in that city, We were over a lot of things in Boston, but the weather was right up there. There just wasn’t a scene out there for what we were doing and the way so many live venues were mostly 21+, it was useless trying to win over the college crowd because they’d graduate and move away a year after they could even come to your shows. That, and everyone thought if you played a damn guitar solo you were a hair band. We’re very happy where we are in Vegas
Rob: I’m curious about this from a local artist’s perspective, I go to Vegas for most of the concerts I see and the established bands like Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, and Def Leppard still bring in a big audience that loves rock n roll. How is the reaction for you guys? Is there a good following for newer bands down there?
Shaun: We actually became the city’s highest-drawing independent rock act within a couple years of moving out here, A lot of that I think can be attributed to how hard you had to work in Boston to get a fan base and how supportive the locals are out here. That coupled with a lot of the local scene, bands had been pretty spoiled over the years before COVID because there were so many opportunities out here to open up for touring acts without ever building their own fan base. That stuff really handicapped those bands though because they’d sort of fool themselves into thinking they had a fan base here by playing these opening slots for like $200, but have no ability to draw anyone to a show they headlined. We came from a different hustle back East and I think that’s helped us really break through fast out here.
Rob: Las Vegas knows good live entertainment and it seems the city has embraced you guys pretty well, your awesome song “Blackout” was used at the Golden Knights hockey games. You’ve even had signs up on the CAT (community area transportation) if I remember that correctly. When I lived there I didn’t see local bands getting that sort of push.
Shaun: We had a huge LED truck driving around downtown promoting us, if that’s what you’re thinking of? It was pretty cool.
We’ve had our own signature cocktail at several bars, We’re currently doing a social media content partnership with Gibson Guitars and also D’Addario Strings.
We’re always looking for cool partnerships.
Rob: That’s awesome! Gibson is the best. They’re my favorite guitar company anyway.
Rob: The environment a musician is in can impact their creativity, Las Vegas is definitely a place that embodies the rock n roll lifestyle. Has living there impacted the band’s new music and if so, how has the experience of living there helped shape your new material?
Shaun: I think the vibe out west has definitely influence us, Songs like “Another Day In Hell” or the next single we’re working on “Dead Aces” all have a good amount of west coast influence in them. If anything it’s just added to our sound and the surroundings both here in Vegas and in LA do seem to seep into your writing. It’s a cool mix though because we still have so many songs that we started writing in Boston and didn’t get around to finishing there too. So we put out whatever seems to be coming together the best – either a brand new west coast penned song or something revamped from back east. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two.
Rob: Which of the new songs did you start in Boston?
Shaun: Well everything off of “Lost In The City” of course, but Chinatown, Killing Time, and Suicide Tattoo.
Dead Aces is a song in homage to all the Boston clubs we used to terrorize, but was written entirely out here and has a wild western vibe to it. So sometimes it’s a bit of both.
Rob: you’ve released several new songs on streaming services, These new songs are next level and as great as your first record is, I think the one you’re working on is blowing it away. Have you come up with an album title yet? And when do you hope to
Shaun: Absolutely. Our second album is going to be titled “Wreckage of Youth” – all the artwork and everything is done. It should be out sometime next year. The big issue is just having our co-producer Tristan Hardin remix all 8 songs so that they sound cohesive as an album. The plan is to have him start remixing at the top of the new year.…don’t know if he knows that yet, but if you’re reading, Tristan, that’s the plan!
Rob: Your first album, Lost in the City, had a couple different releases. If I’m not mistaken it’s not being sold anywhere outside of Ebay and discogs, Are there any plans for you guys to do another run of CDs or even possibly a vinyl?
Shaun: I’d love to do a vinyl at some point. That’s definitely in the plan, Everything needs to be remixed for that though, So we’re kind of taking one thing at a time.
We aren’t selling the original 2014 release of Lost In The City. Our previous label owned it and we ended up getting back the rights to it and re-tracking pretty much the whole thing, Then we released our version of it in 2017, but never created any physical copies.
Rob: They say one mans trash is another mans treasure, you guys really took that idea and ran with it! Giving out signed empty bottles of Bacardi 151 is a pretty clever idea considering your song “151” is a big hit with your fans, that’s a good rock n roll memento. Do you guys still do that?
Shaun: We definitely don’t have as many empty 151 bottles as we used to, I think I heard something about Bacardi maybe not even making it anymore?
Rob: You guys are going to be the opening band for L.A. Guns when they play Counts Vamp’d on December 2nd in Las Vegas. You’ve played with them before at the same venue, what’s it like sharing the stage with those guys and were they an influence on your music?
Shaun: It’s cool playing with those guys. I’d say they’re one of the absolute best bands of that era that I’ve seen live.
Rob: I saw them last December and agree with you.
Shaun: They still perform like they’re in their 20’s and Phil crushes it!
Rob: He’s lost nothing vocally.
Shaun: It’s also kinda cool that I think it was a few days after we decided to name the band “Crash Midnight” I remember listening to some iPod playlist or something like that while I was driving and “17 Crash” came on. I took it as a sign that we nailed the new name.
Rob: Did you tell them about that?
Shaun: I actually announced that 17 Crash thing on stage the first time we opened for them.
Rob: in the liner notes of your first record it shows that you and Bo write the songs, how do you guys go about writing your songs and has that process evolved for you considering your last album originally came out in 2014?
Shaun: Yeah, so Bo and I did a lot of the early writing. A lot of those songs were inspired through some of his antics as well just like the band name. Alex really helped flesh out the songs as well. Basically, I would come in with a rough idea, both lyrics, usually a riff, and the general progression and then Bo and Alex would mangle the whole thing up to something else. That push and pull really formed the sound of the band and even with Bo no longer in the band, Alex and I carry that approach on today when it comes to songwriting.
Rob: circling back to our conversation about the lack of quality music around the turn of ther millennium, I feel that now it’s the reverse of that and there’s tons of great hard rock bands right now, including you guys. Are there any that you have come across that you’ve gotten into their music? And are there any you’d love to tour with?
Shaun: I like some of the newer stuff like Royal Blood, some of Rival Sons, The Struts. But I don’t listen to much new music to be honest, I find myself going backwards mostly into older material.
Rob: Aside from the L.A. Guns show, Do you guys have any touring plans coming up?
Shaun: We’re looking at some festival stuff for 2023 and resuming our string of shows downtown here in Vegas, but we haven’t solidified the plan yet.
The pandemic really threw everything for a loop and I think venues and touring bands are still dealing with the ripple effects of all that. I mean even just looking at gas prices, that skews the numbers on hitting the road for a lot of bands.
We’re lucky to be based in the entertainment capital of the world so we have thousands of fans come to the city every week.
Rob: Here at The Rockpit we have two questions we like to end the interview on. First, If you could be there to witness the recording of any album ever recorded which one would you choose and why?
Shaun: Damn, probably Exile On Mainstreet. The breadth they cover of sound on that album and even hearing some of the songs that didn’t make the cut for it – they released a bunch of those a few years back and they’re just killer tracks.
When we worked with Steve Thompson recording “Roxy” we heard so many war stories about tracking Appetite for Destruction that I practically feel like I was there for that one already haha
Rob: Good pick! And I bet those stories of GNR are very interesting.
Shaun: Yeah, it was cool to hear from someone who was actually there turning the knobs.
Rob: and lastly, What is the meaning of life?
Shaun: I don’t know about the meaning of life, but I will say that I think the measure of success is being able to actually do what you believe in and what inspires you.
A lot of people, say in the music industry for example, seem to think that there’s only one path to get there. Like with music that you need to sign a record deal and have them front the money to record and all that, But that’s all bullshit because you owe them that money back and then they own your material. We went about being able to personally fund everything with the band and now we get to record whatever we want, on our own terms, when and how we decide to do it.
That sort of makes us unstoppable. We can just keep churning out material as long as we want. And being able to produce it at a world class studio like The Hideout here in Vegas is such a great situation.
Rob: I think labels exist more for promotion and distribution now, but so many artists I listen to do it themselves. I think the time of the importance of a record label is past.
Shaun: I agree. They’re definitely a gatekeeper for some things like radio or the bigger streaming playlists and stuff, but nothing is more liberating than telling those guys we don’t need their money.
Rob: I bet! Well, thank you very much for your time. I hope to catch one of your shows in the next year and look forward to reviewing your album.
Shaun: Appreciate it man. Yeah let’s do this again when the album comes out, for sure.
Rob: Hell yeah!