Meet the Band: Athenar (vocals, bass, guitar, drums), Commander Vanik (guitar), Lord Zigar (drums)
A One-Man Band: Jamie Walters (aka Athenar) originally played in the local metal band Boulder before forming Midnight 10 years ago. The group is just a solo project, though Walters employs a guitarist and drummer for the live shows. “I was tired of being in a band situation,” Walters says. “You know how it is having to answer to this person or that person. I just wanted to make music I wanted to hear. I do all the stuff myself. I play all the drums and do all the singing and play all the crap that’s on there. I do it all.”
Masked Men: When the band’s first album came out in 2003, Walters put a band together so that he could play live. Describing himself as a “lazy person,” he put them in masks so that the group would have a “look or image but without it taking too long...I didn’t want to rip off the Mentors but we decided to wear hoods.”
Around the World: The band has played in Chile, Germany and New Zealand. “I figured that’s the best way to do things,” Walters says. “Playing in Cleveland, the whole thing won’t get you anywhere. The intention was to play the music and see where it goes. I wasn’t trying to make it. I just wanted to make music I wanted to hear. Playing gigs was never the intent until the other guys forced me to play something live.”
Big in Dubai: The group recently caused a bit of controversy when it played a festival in Dubai. “People weren’t ready for a real underground style of music,” Walters says. “They’re still listening to Iron Maiden and Metallica and stuff like that.” Before the show, which was held in the lobby of a Holiday Inn, the band was given a set of rules to adhere to. The guys couldn’t swear or interact with the audience in any way. They also weren’t allowed to have drinks on stage. “People started getting rambunctious as we were playing,” Walters says. “The manager didn’t know anything about us. He just saw us wearing these hoods and called the cops. The promoter came up and was pale as a ghost and told us to take off the hoods. He was shaky. That’s the thing. What are you going to do? You’re in Dubai. You can be like [comedian] Dave Chappelle and keep it real and get deported or decapitated. Or you can take the hood off. We did that and it was fine.”
Why You Should Hear Them: The band issued a number of EPs before putting out a traditional LP in 2011. It was originally signed to the San Francisco label Nuclear War Now but has recently signed to Medina-based Hell’s Head Bangers. With its guttural vocals and ragged guitars, a song like “Satanic Royalty” is simply menacing, suggesting the group is much heavier than Boulder. Walters says that’s not necessarily the case. “That depends on your definition of heavy,” he says. “This stuff to me is more straightforward and a Venom/Motorhead ripoff with my shitty playing. I don’t know. That’s where I was headed with it.”
Where You Can Hear Them: hellsheadhangbangers.com
Where You Can See Them: Midnight performs at the WJCU 2014 Radiothon Benefit featuring Black Death Resurrected, Wretch, Venomin James, Vulgar Devils and Queen of Hell at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Agora Ballroom.