On Friday, 12 May 2023, everyone who can make it in terms of time and organisation should drop by the Helvete in Oberhausen. Find out why in the following interview with Ansgar, guitarist of Midnight Force and head of From Beyond Events.
André: Hi Ansgar, next Friday there will be a fantastic concert evening at the Helvete in Oberhausen: Your band Midnight Force is celebrating its live comeback in Germany, and Servants to the Tide, B.S.T. and Ländphil will also be on stage. As the organiser, you have put together a great package – the anticipation must be enormous.
Ansgar: Yes, indeed! After now more than three years Midnight Force will finally play in Germany again! We’re very happy that we managed to put together this great line-up. Servants to the Tide was very high on my list, both of bands that I finally wanted to see live in general, and to share a stage with. Ländphil are old friends with whom we played our very first German gig actually! In Bremen, 15th December 2016! The day after we played Oberhausen for the first time (of course in Helvete), so for this “restart”, or comeback as you said, we’re retracing our first mini “tour” on German soil.
André: I suppose that you will play some new songs with Midnight Force. Were you able to rehearse often? You live in Oberhausen, the other guys live in Scotland.
Ansgar: We will indeed play at least a handful of new songs. We have rehearsed before and around the three “comeback” gigs (after the pandemic) in the UK and will also rehearse the day before these German gigs. The post-pandemic and post-Brexit flight schedules make it harder to travel back and forth between Scotland and here than it used to be in the before times, but so far it works out okay.
André: How does the new material differ from the previous Midnight Force releases?
Ansgar: The biggest difference was certainly the writing process, as we mostly wrote the songs individually and then sent them over to the others as tabs or demo recordings. However, we have now played most of the new songs in rehearsals or even live, so we managed to mould them further as a whole band. The result of this process is typical Midnight Force material I’d say. We do have some very strong and catchy new tracks, with the usual injection of epic and more complex parts to keep things interesting. Lyrically it is maybe a slight departure from a more Euro-centric focus on medieval or ancient topics towards historical events (or myths) from all over the globe!
André: You let a Progress Pride-Midnight Force-button be manufactured for your gigs. I think that’s excellent – and I reckon you don’t mind alienating some people with that, who – for various reasons – don’t appreciate statements like that.
Ansgar: The reactions we have received so far are very positive. I think there was only one of the infamous “laugh” smiley-reacts on Facebook, but no right-wing metalheads have expressed their hurt feelings openly yet, haha. In a previous run of buttons, which an acquaintance in Glasgow had printed for us, there was one rainbow button (for which he had just mashed all the colours together). So it was more of a random coincidence. John wears that button on his jacket for years now and we had posted a picture of it to express our solidarity with the LGBT+ community. It took us another couple of years since then, but we finally managed to heed the call of many fans to print a full run of such buttons. Whoever has a problem with that is no great loss for us, our community is better off without bigots. We have never hesitated to express our political stance and opinions.
André: What are your plans for Midnight Force this year? When will you release your third album? And can we possibly see you at a festival?
Ansgar: About 90% of the album’s songs are finished or have even been played live. Hopefully we’ll find the time to get together over the summer and finish the remaining bits and pieces and record the whole thing. There is no fixed schedule yet, but I am hopeful we can release the album (or at least another few singles) this year! We were in talks with the odd festival here and there but unfortunately nothing came of that, so we really should focus on recordings this summer, haha.
André: The first third of the year 2023 is already over: What have been your musical highlights so far? Which albums have particularly excited you? And which concert has captivated you the most so far?
Ansgar: The new albums of Gatekeeper and Smoulder are certainly stand-out records so far. I also enjoyed Crown Lands’ Fearless and I cannot wait for the new albums of Tanith and Wytch Hazel. The recent Visigoth gig in Essen, where you were of course also present, was definitely a massive highlight, one of the best gigs of the year. Sorcerer in Oberhausen in March was another fantastic night!
André: Ansgar, thank you very much for the interview. I’m really looking forward to next Friday – it’s going to be a great evening!