When Midlake returns to Australia in May for the first time in four years, there will be one significant difference – it will have a new lead singer. Key songwriter and frontman Tim Smith departed the band in November 2012. Smith’s departure came after Midlake spent two years in the studio hitting a lot of dead ends while working on new material. Backing vocalist and guitarist Eric Pulido stepped in to drive the creation of the band’s new album, Antiphon.
Considering the success of the band’s previous releases, The Courage of Others (2010) and The Trials of Van Occupanther (2006), did Pulido feel overwhelmed at the thought of taking over from someone who had been with the band for 14 years? Yes and no, Pulido says. “It was a daunting task to carry on without him, but it was also exciting to have a new chapter to partake in. For me it was embedded resilience – stubbornness. I didn’t want things to go out like that … after working for so long on that record.”
Together the remaining members of the group came approached their songwriting in a new and experimental way – including a wider range of influences from all parties. “I hope that translates when people hear it on record or live – that it feels like we’re more in this thing together,” says Pulido. “It’s a communal expression from all of us. In turn you hear something that’s a little more eclectic and maybe less narrow. I definitely wanted that for this record.” Midlake released Antiphon– its first post-Smith album, in 2013 and received glowing reviews from critics worldwide. A successful reflection of Pulido’s hypothesis.
Midlake has been touring Antiphon for almost 12 months and has been announced on line-ups for Glastonbury; British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park (alongside Neil Young and The National) and Sydney’s Vivid Festival with the Pixies, St Vincent and Lauryn Hill. A few members of the band have also just completed an acoustic tour with Neil Finn, which Pulido really enjoyed. “He was just like the dad of the tour and his wife Sharon was like the mum. They just took care of their band, the crew and us. It was a good family vibe on that tour.”
Although only in Australia for five days, fans in Sydney and Melbourne will have the opportunity to reconvene with the band they have been missing. Don’t expect the Midlake you saw in 2010, though. This Midlake is different and ready to capture your hearts with a whole new sound.
Midlake play Sydney’s Vivid Festival at the Sydney Opera House on May 23 and Melbourne’s Corner Hotel on May 24. Tickets available now.