An Interview with Sam Spade of The Midnight Devils

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Sam Spade.

What do you get when you combine 80s Glam Metal with Classic Rock, Boogie-Woogie, and some punk sprinkled in for good measure? You get The Midnight Devils! I’m personally very excited about the revival in 80s style Hard Rock and Metal and The Midnight Devils are no exception.

When you talk about a band that truly lives the Rock ‘N’ Roll lifestyle, this trio hit the ground running in 2016 and has toured coast to coast. The band has a second album in the works, and after countless hours on the road with each other, they are inching ever closer to achieving their dreams and goals of living out this lifestyle.

The Midnight Devils are the definition of what it means not to give up and to persist through hard times all while doing what they love to do best, melting the faces of anyone that listens to their music.

We go in-depth about the band, its members, its history, and what it means to be The Midnight Devils. I can’t thank the band enough for the amazing and detailed answers given. Check out their lyric video for “Generation Durt!”

Anthony:
Guys, thanks for reaching out to us! How have you been holding up these past couple of years?

Sam:
Hey Anthony. Thank you so much for getting back to me and for feeling the same way I do. At this moment, we all are chasing that light at the end of this year and a half long tunnel. The party is just about to start up again. We have been doing great actually. Much like everyone else, the pandemic was a huge hit to us especially being in the middle of a tour when the world closed. Looking on the bright side, the break gave us a chance to get all our ducks in a row. We were able to write and record or sophomore record without the pressure of traveling and doing shows. Over the pandemic, we got signed to Pavement Entertainment and most recently we just started doing our first shows back at the M3 Festival in Columbia, MD. Let me tell you, people were out to party and forget about all the turmoil in the world.

Anthony:
Let’s start off easy here, who’s in the band, who plays what and where are you guys from? You’ve been active since 2016 and you’ve got one album out now and working on another. It seems like you’ve been busy!

Sam:
We have worked our asses off since the band kicked off in 2016 and that’s not me complaining or bragging. We have toured coast to coast playing shows all over the country. We funded and released our debut album and music videos. We just love being a sleazy Rock ‘N’ Roll band on the road. That’s the pay-off for all the other bullshit you have to go through to get this point. The Midnight Devils consist of Chris “Sniper” Hineline from Omaha, NE on lead guitar and backing vocals. On the drums from Chicago, IL we have the indestructible Jimmy Mess. I am the lead singer and bass player and I live in Lincoln, NE. So we are split between three different cities which makes things interesting especially when we set out to start working on our sophomore album.

Anthony:
How did the three of you meet? What’s your history with music before forming the band and what led up to the band that we see today? At what point in your life did you say, “This is what I want to do and I’m going to make it happen.

Sam:
I actually met Sniper first when we played in another Omaha 80s tribute band. We became best friends immediately. The band did a tour down to Rocklahoma and Jimmy Mess walked on our tour bus smoking a huge 7 paper joint. I knew we would become friends instantly. About a year later the first drummer we had for The Midnight Devils bailed on us in the middle of a tour. We called up Jimmy and he was completely in to help us finish the tour. He learned all the songs in the van on the way to the first show. The second show we played for something like 5,000 people. It was insane and cemented us an inseparable Rock ‘N Roll machine. I started playing guitar when I was 17 and joined my first band a year later. I wanted to get out of my town in Nebraska and travel the world creating great Rock ‘N Roll for people just like me. KISS was the band that really helped me put it all together and jump-started my love for down ‘n dirty Glam Rock. After that, I was hooked and just jumped in without looking back. So I have been doing this now for almost 20 years and it’s still exciting every day.

From left to right: Sam Spade – Jimmy Mess – Chris ‘Sniper’ Hineline.

Anthony:
You guys provide something a bit more different these days which quite hard to find. You’re part of a new crop of 80s sounding Hard Rock and I love it! Who are some of your inspirations for your music? I can definitely hear some Alive Cooper in there.

Sam:
Yeah, absolutely Alice Cooper is the godfather of Glam Rock. He helped pave the way and help write the blueprint that we still follow to this day. We are different than most bands out there but at the heart of it, we play dirty Boogie-Woogie Rock ‘N’ Roll that makes asses shake and hearts quake. For me especially once I found KISS I started going back and getting into bands like T-Rex, Slade, Sweet, and The New York Dolls. I grew up on Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis so we mix in that old-school Rock ‘N’ Roll with this new wave of Glam Rock. Jimmy, our drummer, brings a very street Punk influence coming from bands like The Ramones, NOFX, and The Misfits. Sniper is the music leader of The Midnight Devils and is hugely influenced by guitar monsters like Eddie Van Halen, Pete Townsend, and Angus Young. Mix all of those together, apply ample amounts of lipstick and glitter and you have The Midnight Devils.

Anthony:
What are some of your favorite artists and albums? One that influenced yourself and the band the most.

Sam:
For me, it was KISS Alive! that really opened my eyes. It was the perfect mix of a huge bombastic live show caught on tape. You can practically feel the excitement and energy dripping out of the speakers. Also huge for me was AC/DC’s The Razors Edge, The New York Dolls’s Self-Titled, Mötley Crüe’s Too Fast For Love, The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, and Faster Pussycat’s Self-Titled.

Anthony:
You’ve toured coast to coast, do you have any particularly memorable shows that you’ve played? Who have you shared the stage with and what are some of your favorite venues to play?

Sam:
In the beginning, we took a very Punk Rock approach to touring. We were kind of spinning our wheels in the Midwest and Jimmy said, “Look we have to break out to LA and at least make an attempt at this thing.” We knew we would lose a ton of money, but we all agreed, and the gamble totally paid off. We played house shows, dive bars, anywhere they would have us all the way to LA and back. It was incredible and after we got home, we were blown away by how well it worked and how much positive feedback we were getting. There is nothing glamorous about that part at all. Driving 8-10 hours a day, sleeping in our van, not taking a shower, and not eating. You really must love what you do and believe in the end result. We have played so many amazing stages including The Viper Room in LA, The Rocklahoma Music Festival, The Venue in Denver, The Warehouse in Houston. The list goes on and on and just keeps getting bigger. We have played with a ton of our heroes and that’s always cool. We toured with The Quireboys from the UK in early 2020 and that was a dream come true tour. Right now, our new album is being produced by Chip Znuff in Chicago, and getting to know Chip and spend time with him just soaking up his Rock ‘N Roll knowledge is mind-blowing. Just thinking about being friends with somebody that you idolized as a kid is pretty wild.

Sam Spade.

Anthony:
With bands going back on tour, I can’t wait to get back in the pit seeing my favorite bands. Do you have any places you’re excited to go back to or anywhere new that you’d like to see?

Sam:
We are so excited to get back on the road and start making up for the lost time. You really forget how much you miss riding in a stinky, non-air-conditioned van with your best friends. We are starting slow, but we have some huge plans coming down the line for the rest of 2021 and 2022. We are doing a bunch of shows with Enuff Znuff and Tora Tora. There will be a major tour announcement coming soon where we will be needing our passports. Hint-hint. Then in 2022, we are scheduled to be supporting Japanese legends Loudness on their US Tour. So, things are starting to move in the right direction.

Anthony:
What’s your favorite part about being on stage? Is it the crowd, being in the moment playing, the anticipation waiting to get on, or something else?

Sam:
I love everything about it. Most people don’t even realize this but there is so much that goes into just making it to a show. That’s what I love about touring. The challenge and purpose of getting this band from one city to the next day in and day out. Walking up on stage is the reward after 23 hours of pain. I love the excitement and the adrenaline of it all, it’s unlike anything else. Then to connect with an audience and lead the party into chaos. We are very lucky, and I never take any of it for granted. We have given up everything to do this but again I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just imagine that feeling of taking the stage, all eyes on you, looking like a million bucks, and knocking it right out of the park. Then the real party starts until we pack it up and start it all over again in the next town. It’s brilliant.

Anthony:
What does Glam Rock mean to the three of you? The 80s (to me anyway) is arguably one of the best eras when it comes to Rock and Metal. I’m glad to see there’s still an influence out there that still carries on that spirit!

Sam:
Glam Rock to me is the essence of going out and doing what you want no matter what anybody says. It’s the ultimate Rock ‘N’ Roll experience. It’s about making your dreams come true and staying true to yourself. For the three of us, it’s not just about the show, that’s only part of it. This is a way of life and if you saw us walking down the street you would know exactly what kind of a Rock ‘N’ Roll party you were getting into. For as much fun as it is we still don’t take it lightly and it has to be real or else It’s just garbage. Glam Rock is about pushing boundaries, taking everything to the very edge, and having one hell of a good time doing it.

Anthony:
Here’s one of my favorite questions to ask, what equipment do you use to play with? Do you have separate touring equipment vs recording? Anything in your personal collections that you don’t take on the road with you?

Sam:
This is a great question because as a bass player I rarely get asked this. [Laughs]. When I started playing bass, I wanted to look like Pete Way or Nikki Sixx. Those guys were always the coolest bass players on the planet. So, I went out and got a Thunderbird Bass and fell in love. Currently, I play a custom-painted green glitter T-bird without any volume knobs. It’s a Rock ‘N’ Roll machine with an on and off switch. My amp is a GK-800RB and is the workhorse of amps. I play that through an SVT 8-10 cabinet. The Midnight Devils are also currently endorsed by DR Strings. Live on stage I use a Shure 58 wired microphone and a Shure Wireless to roam the crowd. The key to every piece of equipment is whether it will withstand the wear of the road night after night. My gear is about as solid as it comes.

The Midnight Devils.

Anthony:
Streaming services aren’t exactly a new concept to the music industry, but, how do you feel about the current state of the industry? These days everything can be found with the click of a button, right? Do you think it’s harder now to be seen and heard than it would’ve been pre-Napster/Limewire age?

Sam:
There are advantages and disadvantages, but I also don’t see any consistency in any of them. I love being able to meet somebody on the street and they can pull up our album on Spotify. I don’t like that Spotify has been screwing over artists for years making it almost impossible to make a living off our art. I feel there is a change coming, and many people are out buying physical music and downloading songs for portable use on their phones. Everyone knows that vinyl is coming back and it’s the best possible way to listen to music. MP3s are convenient but the quality suffers. I love the full experience still of getting an album, studying the liner notes, smelling the cardboard, and going over
every detail about the album. There’s something special about holding that piece of music in your hand and I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. So, another hint, expect a vinyl release by The Midnight Devils this year or next.

Anthony:
Are any of you into collecting music? Cassettes, vinyl, CDs, tapes, or all digital?

Sam:
Yes yes. I am a huge vinyl collector. I worked at a record store in Lincoln, NE, and had the inside track to all the new and used Glam Rock coming in the store. My collection isn’t out of control yet, but I am getting close. There’s just something so smooth and sexy about vinyl that I can’t get enough of. More than just collecting there is a lost art to walking into a record store and talking with the guy at the counter about music. I love when people come in and start telling me their old Rock ‘N Roll war stories. It’s a safe place to be as nerdy as you want to about the music that we all love.

Anthony:
You kind of just hinted at this, but with the resurgence in vinyl, do you plan to release any of your music on vinyl? You mentioned you had your next album in the works, are there any plans for a vinyl release?

Sam:
Yes absolutely. We are planning on putting out a cool picture sleeve single with some great artwork that is different than the full album cover just like everyone used to do. Colored vinyl is so hot right now and you better believe we will be going full glam slam on this release. Expect sleazy-glitter-drenched-tongue-in-cheek-debauchery.

Anthony:
With Covid finally starting to settle down, what does the future of The Midnight Devils look like?

Sam:
We are finally starting to get back to something resembling normal. Just about 12 hours ago we got back from a huge week-long trip to the M3 Festival in Columbia, MD and I am happy to say Rock ‘N Roll is back in a big way. We will be pushing ourselves harder this year than ever before. It’s time to go big or go home. This being our second album and our first on a major label, we want to take The Midnight Devils as far as possible on this ride. There are some great people in our corner really helping us make things happen and without them, we wouldn’t have made it this far. Chuck Bernal at Artist Worldwide has been responsible for putting us on these tours we never would have landed ourselves. Tim King at Pavement Records signed us when nobody else would even take us seriously. Chip Znuff has brought us under his smokey wing and produced an unbelievable monster of a record. We will be opening for Yngwie Malmsteen for two shows in Florida later in July as well as supporting spots with Enuff Znuff and Tora Tora in the fall. Then a top-secret tour in November outside of the USA. Finally, we cap it all off by supporting Loudness in early 2022. It’s a lot of pressure but that’s exactly what The Midnight Devils are all about. By the time the Loudness Tour ends we will have the second album and video out and we will start talking about making album number three. It’s as easy as that.

Anthony:
Do you have any passions outside of music? What does your free time look like when you’re not rockin’ out?

Sam:
The Midnight Devils absolutely takes up all of my time, but I have no problem with that. I don’t really have too much of a life outside of the band. I am very driven, and goal-oriented about The Midnight Devils, so even right now I am typing this interview at 4 am after driving 20 hours back from the East Coast. I love it so much and there is no greater feeling to me. I do try and spend time with my family when I am not on the road or working on band business. Family is so important, especially after the pandemic. You realize that nothing is forever and that we all have to be thankful for everything we have.

Anthony:
One more for you. Where can we find your music and social media accounts?

Sam Spade:
We have made it a mission for The Midnight Devils to be everywhere on the internet. We are very engaged on our social media pages and we ship all of our own merchandise from my house to yours. In some ways, we are still very Punk Rock in our attitude. You can find the debut album Something Bigger digitally on Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Play, and the dreaded Spotify. Our debut music video for the single “Pink Halo” is on YouTube. We have a very entertaining Facebook and Instagram Page as well as Twitter. You can also order our merchandise, t-shirts, and album bundles at:
www.themidnightdevils.com
www.facebook.com/themidnightdevils
www.instagram.com/the_midnight_devils

Anthony:
Sam, thanks again for doing this with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add or say that we may have missed or didn’t get to go over?

Sam:
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It really was a pleasure talking to you and I hope we can work together in the future. My final thought is that we all have a second chance at Rock ‘N’ Roll now. We are back doing something that because of COVID we weren’t sure we ever thought we’d do again. It’s time to go all in and do this right. Love each other and party like it might be your last. Nobody is going to give you anything for free so if you want it baby go get it. Thank you.

The Midnight Devils.

Interested in learning more about the music of The Midnight Devils? Check out the link below:

Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/a-m-radio-archives/

About Post Author

Anthony Montalbano

Anthony Montalbano grew up in New York and North Carolina. Anthony is a baker by day and a contributor to the Vinyl Writer cause by night. With a passion for podcasts, Pop Punk, video games, and more, Anthony brings a unique and fresh perspective to the team. Anthony's column is a catch-all for the things he loves most, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
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