Q & A with JC of Fire at Midnight

Written by Maggie Sapet (VIC)

Fire at Midnight is an original blues-rock-country band from New York City. They have a current single called Midnight Lady and their current album Fire at Midnight II. The guitarist and vocalist JC had a chat with AMNplify recently about all of this and more – check it out below!


Fire at Midnight


How and when did the band form?

The early stages of the band began around September 2009 when I was going to weekly jam sessions in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan with different musicians to experiment with a fusion style of rock, blues, funk, and country, jazz and folk. The first Fire at Midnight line up included myself and other musicians who are not in Fire at Midnight presently. Our first show was October 22, 2010 at the Parkside Lounge on the lower east side of Manhattan. Since then, we have had several line-up changes.



Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

My father, who is a singer and has been making records since the 60s, who still performs today in a group called The Excellents. He bought me my first guitar. Also, listening to the radio at an early age has inspired me. I remember being in school for music class in the 5th grade where we had this music textbook. I opened it to a page where I saw John Lennon and Paul McCartney playing music in a studio and I realized that writings songs and performing live was what I wanted to do.



Who are your main musical influences?

Fire at Midnight is inspired by many of the blues and rock acts from the 60s and 70s such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, T-Bone Walker, Howlin’ Wolf, Iron Butterfly, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Sixto Rodriguez, Nick Drake, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Band, The Outlaws, Marshall Tucker, Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and AC/DC. The music I had written back in 2009 for Fire at Midnight was not very inspired as it came more out of just trying to find a sound. Everything changed when I went to Austin, Texas for New Years in 2011 where I saw Gary Clark Jr. for the first time. Also, right before I left for Texas, I met Tom Maki our guitarist who has helped come up with many of the songs and develop our sound.



What is the inspiration behind Midnight Lady?

A few different influences and people inspired this song. The music was inspired by Nick Drake’s Which Will song off the album Pink Moon. My friend Kevin, who does not play in Fire at Midnight, also writes songs on guitar and came over one day where we were playing around with chord structures sometime around 2011.


The theme of it came from New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2011, in Austin, Texas where I went to a series of live shows and a party. Just after midnight I was walking on San Jacinto Blvd in downtown Austin and met a young woman who had split up from her friends. I began talking to her and we decided to go see some live music on 6th street. She was from Germany but looked more gypsy than Anglo Saxon. I felt like I had known her before and meeting her that night inspired me to write the song.



What are the themes explored on the Fire at Midnight II album?

Fire at Midnight II revolves around the struggle of the individual to overcome. It is more of an inward to outward approach on how individuals rise above their own struggles to conquer what they deem as impossible and really begin achieving their own immortality to find what it is they want.



What inspires your song writing more broadly?

People, places and experiences. People I know or have known or maybe don’t even know but know about. And any place really, but specifically places like Southern Texas, Utah, Arizona and Southern California. Experiences are also an inspiration but they do not necessarily have to be my own experiences.


What makes Fire at Midnight different to similar sounding bands?

It all revolves around the song. It’s not about any one instrument. Many bands make the mistake of showing off their great guitar or drumming skills, but their songs fall short. Most fans do not play an instrument. They like a good beat and they want to sing along. The melody of the lyrics is very important and the truth is a good number of the songs fly into my head. So we approach it from a song perspective.


The other thing I would say is we have influences outside of rock and blues. Funk influence like Rick James and using jazz chords at times, also folk influences like Donovan and country sounds like Roger Miller. A lot these influences are very subtle in our music but they are there and I believe this is what makes us sound different from other bands in our genre.


What has been your most memorable career highlight to date?

I would say overall it’s the live shows. The one that sticks out the most was an August 2014 show at the Parkside Lounge in New York City where we played to a packed house. The energy level was very good and just four years before we were playing to just a few people there. It showed the potential of an underground live act and it’s why we are still making music.



fire at midnight

Click above for your copy of “Fire At Midnight II”.


What is something you would like to achieve career-wise that you haven’t done yet?

Win over more fans. It is all about gaining fans and winning them over at the live shows, so if we can continue to increase our fan base that would be ideal. We are working on our third album this year. I would like to thank our fans on social media and AMNplify who are helping spread our music.



If you could play any venue in the world, where would it be and why?

Austin City Limits. Fire at Midnight’s sound and song writing was born out of Southern Texas and Nick Drake which really was the inspiration. My trip there was last minute and not well planned. I just went there for a New Year’s Eve party but on the plane coming back to New York I knew something was different in how I thought about the songs.





Click here to read more of Maggie’s work

AMNplify – JS

February 3rd, 2017

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