Midnite City’s Rob Wylde Talks Hair Metal Resurgence and ‘Raise the Dead’ Tour

Rob Wylde: Keeping the Spirit of Eighties Rock Alive with Midnite City...

Interview by Mark Lacey

 

 

With hair metal and sleaze rock rising again in the UK, Nottingham based singer Rob Wylde has gained a reputation as one of the genre’s most versatile frontmen. His musical career includes lengthy tenures with his hometown band, Teenage Casket Company, and Welsh glam rockers, Tigertailz, as well as US based, Sins of America and Poison tribute band, Poizon. However, Rob’ finest work has come in recent years, since founding Midnite City in 2017. The band now have 4 albums and an EP to their name, and their latest release ‘In at The Deep End’ is being lauded as a milestone in the band’s mission to bring hair metal back to the masses. MGM caught up with Rob backstage in London, where he’s supporting Trixter duo, Steve Brown and PJ Farley, to discuss Midnite City’s forthcoming ‘Raise the Dead’ tour.

“Midnite City thing is just me running around the stage and trying to do an imitation of all those eighties’ frontmen in a way. I got into rock music in ‘86, so I was only nine. I was aware of all that stuff happening through Metal Edge, the American magazine that opened the door to all of the hair metal bands that I really loved. I was listening to it all the way through the eighties, I just wasn’t old enough to really go and experience it”.

 

MGM: Last year you were here at the Black Heart supporting Ted Poly, and fans will also have also seen you perform again as Midnite City at HRH Sleaze last August. For those who haven’t encountered you before, how would you describe your sound?

Rob: It’s the ultimate eighties’ hair metal band. So, if you think of all those bands from back in the day, like Danger Danger, Poison, Warrant, early Bon Jovi, Def Leppard; all that stuff. We’re really the only band in the UK really doing that full on hair metal thing. It’s all based on late eighties’ American hair metal.

MGM: When you performed at HRH Sleaze, your band Midnite City were also the backing band for Ted Poley during his set.

Rob: I didn’t know anything about that until about two days before. And they were like, oh, we’re playing with Ted. That was thrown on me. But I did actually get up and do a song with Ted, which was cool.

MGM: People will recognise you for the work you’re doing with Midnite City, and your previous tenure with Tigertailz, but you’ve been involved in music a long time. Some of your earlier projects include Teenage Casket Company, Sins of America, and Nitrate. Most of those projects were happening in parallel too.

Rob: I’ve been around for a long, long time, and Sins of America was actually when I moved out to the States. I lived in America for three years and had that band out there. The TCC thing was a long running UK band, more like a power pop, Cheap Trick type band. That went on for like 13 years, and we did a lot of stuff and touring with that band. With Nitrate, I just write songs with one of the guys in that, but it’s more of a studio project thing. I know they’re doing a gig, but that’s really just a studio thing. And then Tigertailz; I was actually in Tigertailz for about ten years.

MGM: You originally joined Tigertailz as a rhythm guitarist, but then became the bassist, and ultimately ended up as the singer. That’s pretty unusual?

Rob: Yeah, it was a very convoluted path. That’s one of those bands that have just had so many lineup changes. But it was fun while it lasted. They were a band that I used to love when I was growing up. So, actually playing in that band was really cool.

MGM: So, you play guitar, and bass, and you’re a vocalist. In some of your other projects you’re also playing keyboard and drums. So, you’re a bit of a one man show?

Rob: Yeah, pretty much. I actually started playing guitar when I was nine. I was in my first serious band when I was 17 through to maybe 21-22, and I was the drummer. I just got sick of carrying all the stuff around. I thought, I’ve had enough of this. I’m going to ditch the drums and do something else.

Now, being the singer, I also end up bringing all the merch, so I end up arriving at gigs with more gear than anybody in the band. It kind of backfired a little bit.

MGM: How did you find that transition from being out the back, behind the drum kit to coming out front and being the centre of attention for the audience? It’s got to be quite exposing.

Rob: It was weird when I was a kid, because when I was younger, I always wanted to be a singer but I was really shy. In my first bands when I was 16-17, I had the drums to hide behind, and then slowly but surely, I kept making my way further forward. I love singing. This thing tonight (supporting Trixter) is a little bit different because it’s an acoustic. It’s a lot more chilled out. But the Midnite City thing is just me running around the stage and trying to do an imitation of all those eighties’ frontmen in a way. And it’s very much a visual thing as well as the musical side of it.

MGM: You were born in ’77, so you will have only just heard the tail end of that iconic generation of classic rock, and hair metal. When Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Poison, Quireboys and Thunder played Donington in 1990 you’d have only been 13?

Rob: I listened to that show in my bedroom because it was broadcast on the radio. But I think the reason I got into it earlier was because I was listening to music when I was really young. Before discovering Bon Jovi, and Europe, which was my first concert when I was like eleven years old, I was already listening to Duran Duran and bands like that. But I was into rock music in ‘86, so I was only nine. Even though I wasn’t able to go out to the gigs, I was aware of all that stuff happening through Kerrang magazine, and later on, Metal Edge magazine, the American magazine that opened the door to all of the hair metal bands that I really loved. I was listening to it all the way through the eighties, I just wasn’t old enough to really go and experience it.

MGM: By the time you were able to get out and go to gigs, the music will have changed towards grunge. Now in 2024, we’ve got a bit of a resurgence of the hair metal genre, and HRH have been championing it again. Does it feel like you’re experiencing it properly now for the first time?

Rob: I wish I could have been doing Midnite City when I was like 25 years old. But back then, when I was in TCC, you just couldn’t do that style of music because only three people would show up to see you play it. It was a case of change what I’m doing and update, or just stop playing music. So, I had to update. I got the haircut a little bit, but didn’t drastically change what I was doing. It became a little bit punkier. The big choruses were still there, but in the early 2000s the hair metal thing was dinosaur music. Thankfully, there has been some sort of resurgence for it, which we’ve jumped on board with. It’s twenty years too late, but at least we’re still doing it.

MGM: Since you left Tigertailz a couple of years ago, you’ve made Midnite City your main endeavour, and you’ve recorded some really good albums in recent years. When you last performed your solo acoustic show, most of the songs that you did acoustically were off your first album. But for your Midnite City show at HRH in August, pretty much the majority of your set was off the new album. The only song that seemed to crossover into both sets was ‘Summer of our lives’. Why is that?

Rob: The acoustic and electric shows are two very different things, because obviously with the acoustic show I’m just literally on my own. There’s nobody else on stage with me, so there’s no other instruments. To make an acoustic gig happen on your own, you have to be playing a lot of big, open, major and minor guitar chords, so anything that’s more riffy just doesn’t work, unless you’ve got other guys with you. But at this acoustic show I’m doing songs off all four albums.

MGM: Throughout April and May you’re back out on the road with Midnite City for your ‘Raise the dead’ tour.

Rob: We have the Road Rage thing as a warm up for the tour. And then we do nine dates all over the UK. We’re doing some stuff in Europe later on in the year, and going out to Germany, so this year’s really busy. Going into next year, we’ve got a big announcement coming, about some stuff we’ll be doing in America. This will be our second tour promoting our latest album. We’ve also got a new single and a new video, which was filmed entirely in Japan. It’s like one of those on the road, hanging out at the airport, and hanging out with fans and signing stuff videos. Japan is our biggest market by a long, long way. They’re just so fanatical about what we do. They still love that music. When you look out in the crowd, they’ve all got Danger Danger t-shirts, Warrant t-shirts, Winger t-shirts, Trixter t shirts, and a lot of them are younger fans who, I guess, discovered the music through their parents. But they just really attached themselves to us, because it sounds similar to the stuff they used to listen to.

 

For more information:

 

https://midnitecity.com/

www.facebook.com/midnitecityuk

 

 

Midnite City will be performing throughout 2024 on their ‘Raise the Dead’ tour:

 

12th April:                      Trillians, Newcastle Upon Tyne

13th April:                      Bannermans, Edinburgh

26th April:                      Eleven, Stoke-on-Trent

27th April:                      Waterloo, Blackpool

3rd May:                        Billesley Rock Club, Birmingham

4th May:                        Old Cold Store, Nottingham

10th May:                       Nightrain, Bradford

11th May:                       Downstairs at the Dome, London

11th July:                       RockAndBikeFest, Melbourne, UK

13th July:                       Rock & Bike Festival Derby 2023, South Normanton

19th July:                       Classic Grand, Glasgow (Co-headline show with Cassidy Paris)

10th August:                 Nozfest 2024, Southampton

11 – 13th October:         Firefest 2024, Manchester

19th October:                 Habbels, Schmallenberg, Germany

16th November:             Rockmantic Grimsby Festival 2024

 

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