Photo: Rebecca Joelson
With their deep, soulful music The Midnight Pine brings an alternative, country sound to the San Diego music scene. Consisting of Shelbi Bennet (vocals), Al Howard (instruments) and Matt Molarius (instruments) as well as a full band. Their first album tittle “Awake Now” was released in 2012 and which won the band best Local Recording at the 2013 San Diego Music Awards. From there, they have release two albums, their self title album “Midnight Pine (2016)” and “Buried (2014),” which won Best Americana Album at the 2014 San Diego Music Awards. With future plans of recording a live album, we are intrigued for The Midnight Pine and their future.
Here’s what lead singer, Shelbi Bennet had to say about the band, their journey and their future.
1. Each of you came from different music backgrounds and projects, how did you come together as The Midnight Pine and a brief history of the band?
Al Howard and I met at Cow Records in Ocean Beach in 2012. I had been singing at some local jazz jam sessions around town but other than that I hadn’t really been publicly singing. I met Al and told him I was a singer and he said he was a songwriter. For a while we played as a three piece. Matt Molarius joined a year or so after we released our first album and about a year after that we added a full band.
2. Our name, REVOLT, means seize the moment, live on the edge and have no regrets, The Midnight Pine is definitely a unique name, what was the process like in choosing your name and what does it mean to you?
When deciding on the name I knew I wanted something that had to do with nature. Someone suggested “midnight evergreen” and it didn’t seem right. Then someone (I can’t remember who) said Midnight Pine. Realizing that the word “pine” had a double meaning made the decision very easy.
3. There’s a certain blues, soul, country and alternative rock to your sound, which artists or bands influence your music?
When I was young I saw The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland was so young in that movie. I thought if she could do it, so could I. From there I fell in love with old jazz singers. Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney and others like Patsy Clein. Some more recent influences I have are, Gillian Welch, Alabama Shakes, Courtney Barnett, Angel Olson. Other similar influences between all of the band members are Wilco, RADIOHEAD, The Beatles, Tv on the Radio, Andy Shauf etc.
4. Being from San Diego, do you have any favorite venues to play at here in the city?
Our favorite venues are The Casbah, The Belly Up and once we played at Scripps Aquarium. That was awesome.
5. It’s empowering to see a female lead in a band, Shelbi, do you feel as though its made it harder to be taken seriously or is it actually an advantage?
Being a woman in the music industry is challenging sometimes. But if you focus on making your instrument and contribution indisposable, you can do anything. You have to work harder to be heard. Those who don’t listen don’t deserve to make music with you.
6. In your song “Barricade” you write; “I specialize in leaving or living and believing in myself, and all the times I’ve strayed”, have you ever faced a time in your career where you wanted to give up and stray away from everything? If so, how did you over come that?
Barricade is a song about the feeling of being new in love. I have given up on a lot in life. Whether it be for self preservation, or lack of motivation, I have walked away from a few things. Music however, has always been something I have never even thought of leaving behind. My life would be much easier if I gave up on music and devoted that endless energy and passion to something else a bit more reliable. But as it stands music and singing has always been my first and biggest love.
7. How do you feel as though your music has evolved since your first album,“Awake Now?”
The music has definitely evolved. I think it’s awesome to see the progression of production and to hear the evolution of my voice over the years. The music has gotten more dynamic and has a wider spectrum of color while still maintaining the same atmosphere.
8. We are thrilled for the band and your future, what can we expect from The Midnight Pine this year?
This year we have plans to record a live album. Some old songs, some more recent. The way we play a lot of songs live has evolved since we adopted a full band so it will be cool to get a proper recording of how we do things now.
9. Similar to music, people enjoy certain styles of wines, what are your go to wines?
I have to admit my palate for wine is rather unrefined… I love wine. But on an artist’s budget I usually am shopping by price, I will always love a good Cabernet though.
10. We tell our followers to REVOLT again anything holding you back, what advice would you give to fans that have the desire to chase their dreams but are frightened of being held back?
My advice for all the dreamers…
When making art or honing a craft, only compare yourself to where you’ve been in the past. No one else matters. You have an individual story and an individual perspective and that is a good thing. That is the only thing that sets you apart from all the other artist out there. Amplifying what sets you apart will make a bigger impression on everyone. Also, there are TONS of times I have written, sang, drawn, or crafted something and thought it was total shit. Only to come back to it later and realize I really liked it.A lot of times we dislike the part of our art that we dislike about ourselves. Self acceptance is the key. It’s a lesson you must relearn over and over. Or maybe that’s just me ;).