An interview with founding member Marcus, conducted by a Readipop volunteer.
“Having primarily made electronic music with MidiMidis, how would you describe the electronic scene over the years in Reading and how did MidiMidis fit into this scene?
Well funnily enough, when I created MidiMidis I never set out or thought of it as an electronic music project, we actually saw ourselves as more of a post-punk band really. It was just that the songs were composed with old game-console’s MIDI chips and 8-bit sound chips. So all the sounds, rather than being made with synths, were made using those machines instead. Why? Because we had nothing else to use! It was all we had.
The focus was mainly on making good melodies and so that was and still is the starting point or foundations if you will, then the rest was all a world of guitars and mimicking our heroes from the past 40 years.
The other thing is that MidiMidis actually was conceived and started in my bedroom at my then home in Northampton. We started as a reaction to the UK music scene at the time, rather than setting out to be a part of a scene, we wanted to stand out and do our own thing which I thought would either work, or it wouldn’t! Sort of just, see what happens really. So to answer your question, we were never apart (and still are not) of a scene, nor did we pay attention to it because it wasn’t really relevant to the construction of what we’re doing.
The Cooper Temple Clause had some nice electronic songs which were (and still are) always my favourites, then there’s Does It Offend You Yeah? Who had that vibe too. But the first thing is they were much bigger and not apart of any scene either.
What are the most memorable gigs you have played in town, any good stories?
I’m not sure I can tell you the best stories (there’s quite a lot!) As they would quite possibly land me in a bit of bother! Haha. But for me, although packing out The Oakford Social 3 times to the point where the floor-boards were bowing because of the sheer amount of people there dancing, there’s two specific periods in time that are very dear to me.
The first is where it all started, The Rising Sun Art’s Centre. Whilst at uni I’d leave everyone behind at the union to drink their snake-bites and venture of into an alien town to find some live music. I stumbled upon this characteristic looking place called The Rising Sun Art’s Centre and for the following 6 years I’d go and see some of the coolest kooky, odd, fascinating and exciting gigs ever.
So I nagged a local promoter Sid Siddle for ages telling him I had this new ‘amazing’ project and wanted a gig. He was sceptical at first but eventually we got one. We only really had 4 songs, and we didn’t even know if our equipment would work. So to fill the set so it would be 20 mins we made a load of Sonic Youth-like noise and feedback either side of the set. The rest is kinda history, because we were booked to play every month for a year or so, even starting our own fanzine night. I loved that period.
The second, is a little more obvious. I’d never been to a festival ever and I always wanted to play Reading Festival. It was a dream that I was determined to make come true. We played Reading Festival in 2010 and that, was very cool. Plus by that stage we had enough songs and could play them properly…
How has Reading and music from Reading been an influence to the music you have made?
Well, it hasn’t influenced our music (apart from TCTC as mentioned earlier- who actually a number of members ironically play on quite a few of the tracks now!). My influences are wide-ranging and most of it is from GBGBs era New York post-punk, as well as Gary Numan’s clinical approach to making music in the 80’s. Really the songs are all about good melodies and texture and not being restricted to a specific genre. I haven’t (and still haven’t) seen a band do that, not even in London.
What I will say though, is that if I hadn’t gone to Reading University and started a garage band and have experience from gigging around for 3 years and seeing other local acts play in various venues in Reading, then none of this would have happened. So to me, Reading has a massive place in my heart that I can call home.
Having been a part of the music scene in Reading, aside from MidiMidis, has there been anything memorable and/or noteworthy from other musical happenings in town that you have perhaps been partly involved in, or have perhaps witnessed? Perhaps any gigs you have attended that have been special for whatever reason?
This is the hardest question to answer there’s so many! Ha I remember one actually, TCTC were playing the student’s union, but I couldn’t afford to go but really wanted to. So I wore a long coat and broke in to the union with the intention to lose the coat and blend in and see my heroes. I caught and thrown out. 4 years later Didz manages us and various members are on my record and Tom Bellamy is the live member and producer of the band. I got to see them before they split and now were all good friends. Other shows,, Mr Fogg, well he’s always good. Hadouken! At Oakford was good, Red Kite was good. Anything at The Rising Sun Arts Centre is good, always varied which I like, I get so bored of ‘samey’ bands and ‘samey’ music, I like to see all sorts. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of gigs and that’s just Reading. In fact, I can’t even remember half of ours, which, is always a good sign of a good gig.
Where in Reading do you feel are the best places musically, how do you feel connected to these places and again any good stories in relation to the places?
Well I never grew up in Reading, and places don’t influence the song writing so, I mean there’s lots of places I love in Reading but they don’t influence the music. But as for live venues again Rising Sun Art’s Centre, it’s like a 2nd home and we left our amp there for young bands to use, so that’s a connection. Oakford puts on some good nights from time to time and Global Cafe is a nice one. 21 South Street is also a good venue to play, nice vibe. Sub 89 is a very good venue to play also, really impressed what they’ve done with that place and the sound guys are top-notch.
To end with, is there anything else in relation to Reading’s musical heritage that you would like to share with us?
Without sounding cheesy, just support your local music and arts scene, both promoters, venue owners and bands. For bands and musicians, be confident, be humble and support each other and the venues you play, competition is unnecessary an does not make a music scene so I have (and still do) always seen it as embracing everyone’s work from all ends of the spectrum.”