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The Midwinters: “The Hold Death Cab for Steady”

“We figured out we had enough in common to make music we liked,” says Matt Cliff, bassist for indie-pop rockers the Midwinters. “We started playing shows around San Diego and Southern California in 2006. With four songwriters and singers, we’ve got a diverse bunch of influences, from Wilco to Ben Folds, Ryan Adams, and Queen. We mix all of our musical tastes.”

The other members are singer-guitarist Paul Donovan (Dryve), guitarist Josh Hagquist (Beautiful Mistake), singer-keyboardist Chris Hobson, and singer-drummer Erik Ekdahl.

“We have day jobs, mortgages, kids now — some of us — and the Midwinters is something we do as music fans. But we take it seriously.”

The band released an EP this summer: The Hinges, produced by Hobson. “It’s kind of about time for us to put something out,” says Cliff. “We’ve been doing this for four years. That’s the trouble with the ‘gentleman rocker’ approach, I guess.”

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC?

Paul: “The Hold Death Cab for Steady.”

Josh: “It’s rock n’ roll, for the most part, in a similar vein as Tom Petty, the Replacements, and Wilco.”

Matt: “Just kinda garage-y rock. We play what we like.”

Erik: “We’re a mix between indie and pop rock.”

Chris: “Big sound, with lots of vocals and guitars. Got some drums and keys in there, too.”

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

Paul:

1) Matt Pond PA, Emblems. “Their music is an Andrew Wyeth painting.”

2) The Hold Steady, Heaven Is Whenever. “If Bruce Springsteen was the lead singer of the Clash.”

3) Fionn Regan, The End of History. “Good Irish singer-songwriter, with an original finger-picking style.”

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4) Gasoline Heart, What Now. “Good Americana. Like Gaslight Anthem but aches more.”

5) The Hives, Your New Favourite Band. “Pure, unadulterated rock n’ roll.”

Josh:

1) Afghan Whigs, Black Love. “One of the best concept albums ever, with love, murder, and loads of criminal activity.”

2) Handsome, self-titled. “A great post-hardcore record featuring members of Quicksand, Helmet, and Cro-Mags.”

3) Snapcase, Progression Through Unlearning. “Hardcore at its finest.”

4) Hot Water Music, Caution. “Every record they’ve put out is amazing, and their live show is second to none.”

Matt:

1) The National, High Violet. “They keep putting out great records.”

2) Big Star, #1 Record/Radio City. “Great mixture of sweetness and rough edges.”

3) Big Country, Radio One Sessions. “Live recordings from an amazing, underappreciated band.”

4) Frightened Rabbit, The Greys. “Their recent San Diego show was tremendous.”

5) St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Copland: Music for Films. “I listen to this with my kids.”

Erik:

1) Bush, Golden State. “The songwriting is great, and you really feel like Gavin means what he’s singing.”

2) Silverchair, Diorama. “Amazing and unique vocal style, tonally solid, with complex vocal and song structure.”

3) Soundgarden, Superunknown. “Back then, Chris Cornell could hit every note Robert Plant could, and then some.”

4) Michael Jackson, This Is It. “’Cause he had so much soul, it hurts.”

Chris:

1) Brian Eno, Ambient 2. “It’s very relaxing.”

WORST MOVIE?

Paul: “Tango & Cash. Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone, or Escape from L.A. meets Cobra.”

Josh: “Across the Universe. What a disservice to the Beatles and their songwriting legacy.”

Matt: “The Capture of Bigfoot. For the disco scene and the wannabe Rich Little sheriff.”

Erik: “Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation is so bad.”

Chris: “Transformers. They ruined something beautiful from my childhood.”

MOST EXPENSIVE DATE?

Paul: “Anytime I go on a date. Babysitting $75, dinner $75, movie $22, popcorn with two jugs of soda and a tiny packet of Skittles $457. Happy wife? Priceless.”

Matt: “Probably when I popped the question to my wife, because of the ring involved.”

Erik: “$150, going to Disneyland with a girlfriend.”

Chris: “Maybe $100 on a nice dinner and roses.”

WHAT DON’T WE KNOW ABOUT YOU?

Paul:

1) “I own seven chickens and two ducks.”

2) “I was in a commercial for a shopping mall in Hawaii.”

3) “I finished my degree while on tour, with a flashlight in the back of a van.”

4) “I once went on a music pilgrimage to Athens, Georgia, in hopes of meeting REM.”

Josh:

1) “I love pugs.”

2) “I have 87-plus days of music on my iTunes.”

3) “I’ve been to every state in the lower 48.”

Matt:

1) “I played trombone in the marching band for a year in high school.”

2) “I’m fastidious about avoiding wilted lettuce.”

3) “I haven’t puked in 25 years.”

Erik:

1) “I hunt skunks and possums with my Airsoft gun.”

2) “I eat the same thing every day.”

3) “I did musical theater for eight years.”

4) “I secretly fall in love a couple times a day.”

Chris:

1) “I love sushi, old microphones, arts-and-crafts furniture, and vintage pianos.”

2) “I won’t drink bottled water.” ■

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“We figured out we had enough in common to make music we liked,” says Matt Cliff, bassist for indie-pop rockers the Midwinters. “We started playing shows around San Diego and Southern California in 2006. With four songwriters and singers, we’ve got a diverse bunch of influences, from Wilco to Ben Folds, Ryan Adams, and Queen. We mix all of our musical tastes.”

The other members are singer-guitarist Paul Donovan (Dryve), guitarist Josh Hagquist (Beautiful Mistake), singer-keyboardist Chris Hobson, and singer-drummer Erik Ekdahl.

“We have day jobs, mortgages, kids now — some of us — and the Midwinters is something we do as music fans. But we take it seriously.”

The band released an EP this summer: The Hinges, produced by Hobson. “It’s kind of about time for us to put something out,” says Cliff. “We’ve been doing this for four years. That’s the trouble with the ‘gentleman rocker’ approach, I guess.”

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC?

Paul: “The Hold Death Cab for Steady.”

Josh: “It’s rock n’ roll, for the most part, in a similar vein as Tom Petty, the Replacements, and Wilco.”

Matt: “Just kinda garage-y rock. We play what we like.”

Erik: “We’re a mix between indie and pop rock.”

Chris: “Big sound, with lots of vocals and guitars. Got some drums and keys in there, too.”

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

Paul:

1) Matt Pond PA, Emblems. “Their music is an Andrew Wyeth painting.”

2) The Hold Steady, Heaven Is Whenever. “If Bruce Springsteen was the lead singer of the Clash.”

3) Fionn Regan, The End of History. “Good Irish singer-songwriter, with an original finger-picking style.”

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4) Gasoline Heart, What Now. “Good Americana. Like Gaslight Anthem but aches more.”

5) The Hives, Your New Favourite Band. “Pure, unadulterated rock n’ roll.”

Josh:

1) Afghan Whigs, Black Love. “One of the best concept albums ever, with love, murder, and loads of criminal activity.”

2) Handsome, self-titled. “A great post-hardcore record featuring members of Quicksand, Helmet, and Cro-Mags.”

3) Snapcase, Progression Through Unlearning. “Hardcore at its finest.”

4) Hot Water Music, Caution. “Every record they’ve put out is amazing, and their live show is second to none.”

Matt:

1) The National, High Violet. “They keep putting out great records.”

2) Big Star, #1 Record/Radio City. “Great mixture of sweetness and rough edges.”

3) Big Country, Radio One Sessions. “Live recordings from an amazing, underappreciated band.”

4) Frightened Rabbit, The Greys. “Their recent San Diego show was tremendous.”

5) St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Copland: Music for Films. “I listen to this with my kids.”

Erik:

1) Bush, Golden State. “The songwriting is great, and you really feel like Gavin means what he’s singing.”

2) Silverchair, Diorama. “Amazing and unique vocal style, tonally solid, with complex vocal and song structure.”

3) Soundgarden, Superunknown. “Back then, Chris Cornell could hit every note Robert Plant could, and then some.”

4) Michael Jackson, This Is It. “’Cause he had so much soul, it hurts.”

Chris:

1) Brian Eno, Ambient 2. “It’s very relaxing.”

WORST MOVIE?

Paul: “Tango & Cash. Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone, or Escape from L.A. meets Cobra.”

Josh: “Across the Universe. What a disservice to the Beatles and their songwriting legacy.”

Matt: “The Capture of Bigfoot. For the disco scene and the wannabe Rich Little sheriff.”

Erik: “Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation is so bad.”

Chris: “Transformers. They ruined something beautiful from my childhood.”

MOST EXPENSIVE DATE?

Paul: “Anytime I go on a date. Babysitting $75, dinner $75, movie $22, popcorn with two jugs of soda and a tiny packet of Skittles $457. Happy wife? Priceless.”

Matt: “Probably when I popped the question to my wife, because of the ring involved.”

Erik: “$150, going to Disneyland with a girlfriend.”

Chris: “Maybe $100 on a nice dinner and roses.”

WHAT DON’T WE KNOW ABOUT YOU?

Paul:

1) “I own seven chickens and two ducks.”

2) “I was in a commercial for a shopping mall in Hawaii.”

3) “I finished my degree while on tour, with a flashlight in the back of a van.”

4) “I once went on a music pilgrimage to Athens, Georgia, in hopes of meeting REM.”

Josh:

1) “I love pugs.”

2) “I have 87-plus days of music on my iTunes.”

3) “I’ve been to every state in the lower 48.”

Matt:

1) “I played trombone in the marching band for a year in high school.”

2) “I’m fastidious about avoiding wilted lettuce.”

3) “I haven’t puked in 25 years.”

Erik:

1) “I hunt skunks and possums with my Airsoft gun.”

2) “I eat the same thing every day.”

3) “I did musical theater for eight years.”

4) “I secretly fall in love a couple times a day.”

Chris:

1) “I love sushi, old microphones, arts-and-crafts furniture, and vintage pianos.”

2) “I won’t drink bottled water.” ■

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Outtakes: PHRASE YOU NEVER WANT TO HEAR AGAIN? Paul: “Just sayin’.” Josh: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Matt: “You guys are playing last, okay?” Erik: “You’re such a nice guy, let’s be friends.” Chris: “Whoop, there it is.”

VIDEOGAME JONES? Josh: “Nascar ‘09. Not the most advanced game for the PS2, but it affords me the opportunity to relive each and every race of the greatest sport on Earth.” Matt: “I did like MechWarrior.” Erik: “Hitman: Blood Money, because it’s totally badass.” Chris: “I used to love Metroid and Mario Brothers 3.”

MAGAZINE YOU’D LIKE A FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO? Paul: “No Depression, until it went belly up.” Matt: “A journal called Touchstone.” Erik: “Probably Digital Camera or Cigar Aficionado.” Chris: “I’d love a subscription to Tape Op.”

WE COULD USE SOME GOOD ADVICE Josh: “‘Live every day as if it were your last.’ A family member told me that the day my mother passed away.” Matt: “My whole life is held together by good advice. But a good one for me is ‘A gentle answer turns away wrath.’” Erik: “‘History teaches us that men behave wisely, once they’ve exhausted all other alternatives,’ a quote from the movie Still Crazy.” Chris: “‘Have as many kids as possible, and be around to see them grow up,’ according Steve Churchyard.”

MOST VISITED WEBSITES? Paul: 1. Bloomerg.com. “Determines what kind of mood I’m going to be in that day.”
2. Wikipedia.org. “I just found out Ronnie James Dio died. I didn’t believe it until Wikipedia confirmed it.” 3. Pandora.com. “It does the thinking for you. You have to muster the energy to put one random song in, and then it builds a playlist around that.” Josh: 1. Buzzgrinder.com. “A music news website for people with refined tastes, like myself.” 2. Minnesotatwins.com. “News about the greatest, most storied baseball franchise in history.” Matt: 1. Grooveshark.com. “Because you can hear anything by anyone.” 2. Buffalobrosguitars.com. “They have the whole shop online, and I love that place.” 3. Mint.com. “Gotta keep the finances straight.” Erik: 1. Yahoo.com. “For email.” 2. Facebook.com. “More women to reject you.” 4. Blackboard.com. “For school info.” 5. Southparkstudios.com. “Hilariousness.”

Sept. 15, 2010

MAC OR PC? Paul: “Mac, because ‘You already know how to use it.’” Josh: “I’ve had a Mac for three years, with no viruses or crashes.” Matt: “I work on PCs, and we have a Mac at home.” Erik: “Mac, because I’m classy like that.” Chris: “Mac, because they work more often.”

FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING? Paul: “Danny and the Dinosaur.” Josh: “Where the Wild Things Are.” Matt: “The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary. Oobooglunk, anyone?” Erik: "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Chris: “Something by Roald Dahl or L. Frank Baum.”

BIGGEST REGRET? Josh: “Putting out a record that I thought should have been an EP.” Matt: “Maybe not learning how to read music for real.” Erik: “Breaking up with Jennifer.” Chris: “Buying a condo a few years ago.”

IF YOU COULD PICK YOUR OWN NICKNAME? Matt: “The Petite Sophisticate.” Erik: “E-rock.”

BEST WAY TO DIE? Paul: “Sanctified.” Josh: “In your sleep.” Matt: “Looking up, I’d say.” Erik: “With the assurance of heaven.” Chris: “Suddenly, with no pain, while engaging in a group hug with all my favorite people.”

Sept. 15, 2010
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