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A Dirty Dozen with SAM SPADE from THE MIDNIGHT DEVILS – August 2022

| 10 August 2022 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “The Midnight Devils are a high-energy band that takes glam rock to modern places. Hailing from Omaha, NE, and Chicago, IL, the power-trio consists of Sam Spade on bass and vocals, Chris ‘Sniper’ Hineline on guitar, and Jimmy Mess on drums. Partnering with Pavement Entertainment and produced by Chip Z’Nuff, The Midnight Devils are primed for their sophomore album Never Beg For It, coming July 1, 2022.” We get bassist / singer Sam to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Our new album Never Beg For It is a big slice of glitter encrusted party rock n roll.  We didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel but this album is new and exciting and dripping with attitude.  The songs were written while we were out on the road being a filthy rock n roll band.  The good, the bad, the ugly are all in this album.  The lyrics are very accessible and easy to relate to but the monster guitar riffs really bring the whole thing to a boil.  Listen close to that bass guitar, being produced by Chip Z’Nuff we were all “high on a new thing.”  “Glitter Connection” deals with some real issues that actually happened to us during the formation of the band.  It’s all the stories that got us to this point.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My parents always had music playing around the house.  That was my first introduction to Elvis and The Beach Boys.  I was too young and couldn’t really understand what was going on but I loved the energy and feeling music gave me.  My parents sent me to a private school and there they showed us this video that highlighted how evil rock n roll was.  It was a way to try and scare the kids but it had the opposite effect on me.  Then a buddy of mine brought in a CD with “Detroit Rock City” on it.  That was the moment the light bulb went on.  A few months later I got my first guitar and started taking lessons.  I joined my first band when I was 17 or 18 and I’ve been touring ever since.  Hearing KISS and realizing I wasn’t alone in all of this was the inspiration that I needed to pursue this career.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

KISS was definitely the catalyst for everything I’ve done.  From KISS I went backwards and found The New York Dolls, Alice Cooper, Sweet, Slade, and all the godfathers of glam rock.  I also got into punk  rock bands like The Ramones, Iggy and The Stooges, and The Misfits.  So my whole thought process was to combine larger than life glam with attitude driven punk rock.  With The Midnight Devils we take so much influence from the greats that came before us.  We always say the blueprint was written and we are just building upon that incredible history and foundation.  We aren’t a hair metal band but rather a lip-stick smeared glam slam party rock n roll band.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

The whole song writing process really intrigues me.  I am so interested in where the song came from, the story behind the song, how it started and where it ended up at.  So I love guys that are just monster song writers.  The key is that the song comes from a true and honest place.  I feel you really have to have lived it and that translates to the audience.  I would love to work with somebody that is still hungry and passionate about this style of music.  Joe Elliot from Def Leppard would be incredible.  Their new album has just been blowing me away.  We toured with The Quireboys earlier this year and I absolutely love their style of British infused rock n roll.  I would love to be able to do something with them as well.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

That is one of the toughest questions ever.  I love this band and am so excited for everything that’s happening to us that I don’t get much time to myself.  I’m not complaining about this at all.  Everyday it seems we wake up and there is something that needs to be taken care of or CDs that need to be shipped out.  It’s been nonstop for us since March and I am perfectly fine with that.  I do really enjoy going back to my hometown of Fremont and seeing my parents.  I just talked to my mom today and I’m bringing back a bunch of my stage costumes to have her fix.  It’s a full family organization and has been since they let me have band practice in the basement.  When I do get out I love history and architecture so I will always go find some cool old buildings to explore.  It seems to spark my inspiration and creativity.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

It’s really simple we are a high-energy, big-hooks, guitar-crushing party rock n roll band.  The Midnight Devils are a beautifully nasty mix of glam rock n roll like Sweet and Slade combined with driving punk rock attitude via The Ramones and The Misfits.  Sniper, the lead guitar player and musical director of the band brings in a very heavy guitar oriented virtuosity like Van Halen that takes everything to a whole new level.  We are glam, we are boogie woogie, we are punk, we are shred, but most of all we are party and we make it look really good.  I never cringe on anything because usually people compare us to bands that we absolutely love.  We usually have to correct people and tell them we aren’t a hair metal band.  We have a lot in common with Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Def Leppard but we are different from that 80’s style.  We are the guys coming up in their footsteps.  We were influenced by those type of bands but we took that and pushed it farther.  We are new, exciting, and very hungry to keep this giant party rolling across the country for as long as possible.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I love this question.  Actually nobody cooks anything but I’ve heard that Jimmy Mess actually went to school to become a chef.  I usually am tasked with making sure everything is ready to go for the boys.  It’s just easier if I line up the food and drinks then we won’t have to worry about anything 5 minutes before the show starts.  To be honest I actually enjoy it.  Being on the road is a lot like Groundhog’s Day.  You wake up knowing you have to get the whole tour party from one city to the next on time for the show.  There are always a thousand hurdles in your way and it’s my job to figure out those hurdles and navigate them in the best possible way.  Sniper is usually the guy who will take charge and get behind the wheel first thing in the morning.  He’s also that guy that always has a guitar in his hand no matter where he is.  So there’s a dynamic and we just operate within that dynamic and it works really well for us.  Get in the van, drive hundreds of miles, eat dinner, get dressed, play the show, make the afterparty, then crash land at the hotel.  Rinse and repeat every day.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I get star struck a lot especially in the last year.  The day we recorded the vocals for the killer single “Highway 69,” Donnie Vie came walking into Chip’s place just to visit.  I was floored.  Chip and I are good friends but it’s always such a blast going out and hanging with him on our days off.  We will go eat and hang out in the parking lot or go to a bar and people just gravitate to him.  He really is The Mayor of Glam Town.  On our last tour we were out with Pretty Boy Floyd for 20 days and being around Steve Summers, learning from a guy that has been everywhere was a dream come true.  I was just texting with him today about their European Tour and he was ripping on me like we were sitting in the van together.  I love stuff like that and it always blows my mind.  On The Quireboys tour we shared a van with some absolute British rock n roll legends.  Those guys had the best stories about hanging out with Joe Elliot from Def Leppard, Pete Way from UFO, Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Aucoin, and even Van Morrison.  I just can’t get enough of those stories, the kind you won’t be able to read in a book.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part is the creative freedom and getting the chance to chase your dreams.  With The Midnight Devils I think we have created something very unique and exciting that is catching on like wildfire.  We are unique and different and the audience and fans feed off that electricity.  We get the chance to see our goals and dreams become reality but it all happens through sheer determination and passion.  I learned early that nobody is going to give us anything for free.  If we want to do something great we have to go out and work our asses off, give up everything, and make the sacrifice.  Once that happens you get used to the grind and the hustle and it becomes your reality.  I love getting the opportunity to make our fans happy and smile.  I love that we can bring so many emotions to the surface.  That’s what music is all about.  We tap into our emotions and let the magic fly.  I’m not sure that there’s anything else I would want to do.  I graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.  I thought if I had to do something it would probably have to do with music in some way.  I still would love to be a classic rock radio DJ on a kick ass station somewhere.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’ve been asked a ton of things but this one is a first.  Bravo.  I love and hate being asked “how long does it take for you to get dressed?”  It always varies from show to show.  Sometimes there’s a dressing room and sometimes you are stuck getting dressed in the parking lot using the van mirrors.  There is a process and those are the moments you use to get in the right frame of mind to shake the foundations.  Jimmy get’s to a point where he just wears his stage clothes around all day and slaps on a fresh coat of paint minutes before the show starts.  I love it.  The question that nobody has ever asked is “What made you decide to give up a normal life to chase this rock n roll dream?”  I ask myself that everyday when I wake up.  I think we chose the hardest job with the lowest odds of success.  I’ve been doing this now for 20 years and I couldn’t even image what normal is anymore.  This gets in your blood and you can’t help but keep pushing.  Once you reach one level or achieve one goal there are a hundred more waiting with even more pressure and stress.  Then we get on stage and see people singing our songs and we go “that right there is why we do this.”

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I don’t really have too many regrets sitting here right now.  A lot of the things that I thought were mistakes actually turned out to be blessings in disguise.  We learn from that terrible situations and turn them into something very positive.  When I was younger I drank and partied like crazy.  I was a complete mess and ended up in the hospital on my death bed.  That was very dumb on my part but I realized that if I were to continue in this line of work there was no way that I could be drunk and still succeed.  It just couldn’t happen.  With the first album we had no idea how to even make a record on our own and I think that shows in the production and sound of that record.  I still love that album but I know looking back now exactly where we went wrong but we toured on Something Bigger for two full years.  We took all the bad things from that record and fixed them for our new album Never Beg For It.  So many times we are presented with these huge opportunities or these gambles.  I make it a point to take as many of these as we can.  I really don’t want to look back and see an incredible opportunity go by and think “Damn I should’ve taken that.”  At the end of the day we just go with our gut feeling and hope that everything turns out alright.  So far it’s gone pretty good.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would love to be just a fly on the wall for the 2nd or 3rd KISS album.  That was the point in time when they were all together as one unit pushing for the same cause.  They were hungry and their star was rising but it hadn’t got to the level of mega rock stars.  I feel that they were still questioning themselves and unsure if this little band called KISS was going to take off.  As well all know that gamble worked and they became the biggest band in the world but there was a time when everything was still very much in the air.  I love hearing those stories about bands before they became the superstars they are today.  Probably because I am living that part right now but I can’t get enough of hearing about the passion and hustle they had in the early days.   What was it that pushed them over the edge?  What were those sessions like?  You know the pressure was on and the stress was high.  Come home from a tour, write a new album, record the new album, hope for a hit single, then get back on the road and do it all over again.  I always say we aren’t reinventing the wheel, we are just following the blueprint set by the greats that came before us.  Those first few KISS albums show me their human side and home they were pushing so hard to make something huge happen.  They weren’t stars yet but they were willing to do anything to get there.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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