The Midnight Juggernauts on Getting the Beatrice Boot

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Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, The Midnight Juggernauts refuse to be boxed in by music bloggers, who often take the easy route by grouping them with fellow Aussie electro acts Cut Copy and The Presets. But with their latest single, “This New Technology,” the Juggernauts are making it harder than ever to pigeonhole their style. Andy, Vin, and Dan took a quick break on a recent visit for CMJ at Manhattan’s Norwood to talk about their refusal to be confined, getting booted out of the Beatrice, and making way for Jay-Z.

Your new single has received a lot of attention; many are saying it’s a new sound for you guys. What is your take on that? Andy: Well, it is a new sound for us. We’ve just finished the album, and there are some different things on there. We expected people to think of it as being different. Dan: It’s really just approaching the recording differently. But out of all the songs on the record, that’s probably one of the tracks that’s rockier. A lot of the rest of the stuff is quite groove-based.

What’s the song about? Vin: A lot of the lyrics we write are abstract, surreal imagery, which sort of fits the mood of the song. I’m not sure you can get a literal meaning out of it. I like leaving songs open to where people can have their own interpretation. I guess the general meaning is taking advantage of new technologies to get what you want out of life.

Your sound has been described as “slasher flick disco, moody synth club, zombie flick neon space disco.” How do you feel about people inventing genres to describe your music? V: We prefer it that way. It leaves it open for us to try different approaches to music, so that we’re not pigeonholed into a particular scene or sound. We don’t like being restricted. We much prefer having an open playground where we can experiment, and if people want to join us on that ride then that’s great — and if not, there’s always Nickleback.

Are you very involved in conceptualizing your videos? V: We’re definitely involved with visuals as well as the music. It’s definitely an important part of the whole process, in just expanding the world when creating the song. We try to work with people who are on the same wavelength as us. We want to have clips that also have a strong personality, so for the “This New Technology” clip we wanted to be a bit more out there. We all collected some imagery which we thought suited where the music was, and we worked with these directors called Special Problems, who were also into the same imagery as we were. We shot in front of a green screen, then they compiled all these layers, and three weeks later our music video was born.

You’ve also done your share of remixing. What about a particular track makes you want to remix it? A: It doesn’t have to be a relationship with the band or anything like that. Our approach has always been that it’s more related to when you’re making your own song. So when you get someone else’s song, our idea is to really completely strip it back, and then create something completely different from the original. And depending on the style of the track, we always want to take it as far away from the original as possible. If it’s a really dance-y track, we probably wouldn’t do that kind of remix, but a lot times if we’ve done more dance-y remixes, we’ve chosen tracks that didn’t have that vibe.

Where do you end up after shows when in New York? V: We went to this small bar beneath a pizza shop.

The Cabin Down Below. V: Yeah, that was fun. We come here and we get taken to so many places and do so much in such a short amount of time, we tend to forget the places we’ve been do. D: I remember one time we went to this place, it was like the first time we played in New York, called the Beatrice? It had just opened and it was the end of the tour with Justice, and I think they tried kicking us out. V: Yeah, well everyone there was trying to be ultra cool, and we didn’t care, so we ended up doing a conga line with the Justice guys. And the security guards were like, “These guys aren’t taking this seriously enough.” D: I think they were playing Nirvana, and like people were throwing people into tables, and breaking things.

You played a Michael Jackson benefit gig. What happened there? V: Oh wow, that might’ve been our first show, when we first started. We couldn’t get anyone to give us a slot at a real gig, so we had to make our own gig. It was at some small venue in Melbourne, and we just pretended it was a benefit for Michael Jackson. We made up posters and people thought it was real. There were some newspapers that covered it, but it wasn’t about the show. They got some child abuse spokespeople to talk about this event, whether it’s worthwhile. And we had people turn up to the show, expecting it to be real a Michael Jackson tribute. . You must have woken up to the news of his death. A: I think we were traveling to another city at the time, and it was a huge shock. I mean we’re big Michael Jackson fans, so it was a shock.

You’ve been grouped often with bands like Cut Copy and the Presets. Now that everyone is taking off, is there any competition at this point? A: Well we’re all really good friends, like we’ve known each other, we’ve toured together a lot since we’ve all started, and we’ve all remixed each other. I’m sure there is healthy competition going on, but not really. It’s not that serious because we’re all good friends. But you kind of push each other along, and I think everyone takes an interest in what everyone else is doing, and watches how everyone’s career are going. But I think that as long as we’re better than both of them.

It’s kind of like a club right? What about any new members? Empire of the Sun? D: The outcasts. A: Well we don’t even know them, so they’re not in the club. V: There is no club, by the way.

When you’re in New York, where do you like to go to eat? D: Diner. It’s the most limited menu — there’s like six things but they’re all really, really good. They have really amazing cheeseburgers.

You should also check out the cheeseburgers at The Spotted Pig and Minetta Tavern. We’ve been last night. We were sitting upstairs, and they were like, you have to go now, Jay-Z is on his way.