Interview: Rush Midnight
Posted in Interviews
THE NIGHT WAS NEVER YOUNG ENOUGH
Hiding in the wake of the infamous Twin Shadow brewed a remarkable bassist that the world is just beginning to know. Russell Manning, stage name Rush Midnight, has broken off from Twin Shadow and is on the prowl to make a name for himself. He has a cool air about him with a flare for 70s funky grooves and sexy demeanors. His debut EP, +1 which just came out on Cascine, has been featured almost everywhere, and it's a unique take on a nostalgic medium that begs to be played here and now. Jonathan had the chance to catch up with him and his drummer at Bardot in Miami last week.
How does it feel to go solo?
We found the right time for me to dip off and do my own thing. I had these two songs that George (Twin Shadow) worked on. We had a few months off. Then I met Jeff who runs Cascine and then I met Max Mohenu, well I already knew Max, be he was really instrumental in getting this project off the ground. Before I knew it, all these people were excited about the music. It was time I devote all my time to Rush Midnight.
Can you talk about the Zambri remix you did?
Chad (drummer in Rush Midnight) helped me out a lot with it. We had access to these rototoms in this shitty rehearsal space. The only thing that sounded good was the rototoms. I had a normal dance chord progression already going and then we added the drums. It brought on this tribal-dance feel. I wasn’t really expecting it to transform like that, but it worked really well.
Had you been a fan of Zambri before you did the remix?
Yeah, we knew them because the older sister is married to Noel from Hooray For Earth, and Hooray For Earth and Twin Shadow go way back. So we knew them before we even went on tour. Before I broke off from TS, I reached out to them. I also have a Lemonade remix coming out. We’re playing a show with them in December in New York. I’m doing a remix for them; hopefully they’ll do a remix for me. Then we’re going to use both to promote the New York show.
Your father was someone important in the music scene… and he had an awesome record collection. A lot of it was disco and funk, yeah?
Oh yeah. When he handed his record collection to me at the end of middle school, not only had I started smoking weed, it was just insane. It was like a coming of age. I had all these awesome bands I had never heard of. I also had my own record player, a 70’s wood-paneled Quartz. All that stuff just kind of came at me at one. I escaped from all the 90s shit I was listening to and I went pure 70s for a summer.
So when did you start writing music?
Probably high school. I started writing pop songs, kind of Strokes-y and rock and roll. Then in college I studied jazz and I found myself gravitating towards funk. It excites me.
Do you see a difference between touring as Rush Midnight the star and as a band member, supporting the star?
So far it’s really awesome. Obviously Twin Shadow is amazing, but right now it’s only Chad and me. It really is liberating. We can go wherever we want. We fly everywhere. We have so little gear. We stay in better hotels because we can afford it. Everything is just better. No tour manager. Not as many people sitting at the table talking about things…
Creatively it’s mostly me, and Chad adds his spin with percussive elements and playing live.
So when Twin Shadow produced some of the songs, how much of an influence did he have?
Well, George only produced two songs. I brought him the complete songs and he treated them as remixes. He elevated them, embellished them, pronounced the choruses… He added things I wouldn’t have even thought of. He really pimped them out. He made them pop a little more. If you listen to the EP, my songs are a little simpler. I’m really into this minimalist approach because I want you to be drawn into the song rather than forced into the song. George compromised between some top-40 shit and what I’m doing. In the end, I think it’s more accessible.
Where did the inspiration for "The Night Was Young Enough video come from?
Honestly, this Jamie Lee Curtis video that I saw. It was some spandex aerobic video from the 80s. A lot of people have used it I think. I knew a lot of hot girls who had cool, brightly-colored clothes and we had access to a dance studio. A lot of girls were really eager to help out and do make up and stuff. So I shot that for a video like two years ago.
Oh wow, you’ve been sitting on that footage?
Nah, that song I didn’t end up using. I’m just over that song. Then when I broke out into the Rush Midnight thing, this girl Claudia, who actually lives here (Miami, FL) and actually shoots for Bardot sometimes, shot the b-footage of Chad and me. Then my dad who works for 60 Minutes, he helped me edit it. We went to CBS and tried to put it all together.
How do you know when you’ve finished a song?
I don’t. I make a bunch of different edits. I have like 10 different versions of each song. I usually go back to the most spontaneous recording, like the one that just poured out of me. And then I add some of the elements from the most recent recording to the spontaneous one. I try not to overload it though. It’s really easy to take over the song and lose it, especially if you nitpick. Also vocals, they’re often better if you’re just rusty and throwing it together.
What’s in the future for Rush Midnight?
Right now Chad and I are working on the LP. It’ll probably be out on Cascine, but I’m not sure yet. We’re also going to do a European tour in February and hopefully get some good support slots.