Midnight Marauders

Right By Midnight Lend a Helping Hand to Budding Musicians

Right By Midnight move against the grain.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Montreal was the new Seattle. No, not just because of an overabundance of precipitation, but because of an overabundance of starving musicians flocking here to capitalize on our burgeoning indie scene.

Of course, once everybody and their vintage guitar arrived to over-saturate the scene, it became hard to tell the difference between the bands that were pretty good and pretty terrible. Kris Ward, a long-time fixture of Montreal’s indie-rock scene, came up with an interesting solution—move to Ottawa, where he started his band, Right By Midnight.

“We don’t have to pay to play anywhere, that’s a huge bonus,” said Ward of his relocation to our nations capital. “Ottawa is a smaller scene, there’s less bars, though when I left Montreal there weren’t too many places to play anyways. Pay to play ruined Montreal. No one will ever admit to it, because everyone wants to play shows, but it’s a huge thing when you have to fork over $400 just to play a show.”

Moving to another city is a challenge for anybody. Throw in the struggles inherent in playing in an unsigned band, and you’re clearly taking a bumpy road to musical glory.

Ward and his compatriots have another obstacle standing in their way. Rather than pay the high cost of low living you see among so many aspiring musicians, they’ve had to balance the band life with real life. Luckily, Right by Midnight have some pretty good support from important places.

“We try to tour as much as possible. I think our end goal is to get to a point where we’re touring a whole bunch,” said Ward. “My girlfriend is really supportive and [my job] is really easy going. We all work jobs and some of our members go to school full-time, so we try and stay well planned.”

Of course, a supportive girlfriend is an important factor of being in a band. More important, however, is having connections. If you want success, it’s not what you know, but whom you can get to pay attention to you.

This led Ward to start a company called Play Canadiana Music, a sort of one-stop shop for all of a band’s needs, be it help in booking tours or getting a suitable bio written up.

“What drove me to start that company was that nobody was paying attention to us. I look at the bands that play Pop Montreal and the bands that play North by Northeast,” said Ward. “I look at these bands that, in my opinion, don’t have a lot of talent, but they get to all these showcases and a lot of the times, it’s because of who they know.

“[It’s] a tool to network more than making money,” he continued. “We offer services to bands. I won’t charge them to do stuff, what we’ll do is if they have a Montreal show, maybe they’ll bring Right by Midnight down to open, or we can bring a band we’re working with from Toronto down to Montreal to open. We’re helping each other out, because unfortunately, most industry people don’t help bands out. […] If we have to make our own success, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Right By Midnight play with Le Trouble and HONHEEHONHEE at Divan Orange (4234 Saint-Laurent Blvd.) on Nov. 15 at 10:00 p.m. Entry is $8.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 15, published November 23, 2010.