Interview by Tony Cannella
Having released their self-titled debut back in April, the American symphonic metal band Midnight Eternal is a band that we have every right to expect big things from in the future. The band has played endlessly throughout the New York area and now fans all over the world have the opportunity to check out this amazing band. I saw this band for myself open for Doro at the Gramercy theater and was – to put it quite simply – blown away. Recently, I was able to catch up with Midnight Eternal’s lead singer Raine Hilai and we touched on a plethora of subjects and more. Since the completion of this interview, it has been announced that Midnight Eternal will be supporting the legendary bands Queensryche and Armored Saint on a U.S. tour beginning in November. Make sure you get there early to check out Midnight Eternal. Now, on to the interview…
How are you doing, Raine?
I’m doing great, thank you.
You have just released your self-titled debut via Inner Wound Records. For those who haven’t heard it, how would you describe it?
It’s a symphonic metal album. We’ve got all the classic elements that people hope for with that type of album. It is pretty varied. There is a lot to enjoy on it.
There is a definite European influence with Midnight Eternal, too.
Definitely. Most of the big symphonic metal bands or power metal bands are European; bands like Nightwish, Kamelot, Stratovarius are definitely our main influences.
Can you talk a little about the writing and recording process?
The band got together in March of 2014, and we recorded our demo – which we released, I think it was maybe a month after – that had the songs “When Love and Faith Collide” and “Masquerade of Lies”. We started booking gigs, almost immediately, so we kind of needed to write music – we only had those two originals at the time. The writing process was sort of ongoing, while we were performing and doing gigs, we were also writing. In late 2015 we felt that we had a pretty solid album, so we went in to record the demo, after that we started shopping it around, we were trying to figure out how we could release it. We finally went into the studio in December of 2015 and recorded it in a pretty short amount of time – it took about 2 ½ months for the whole recording, and mixing and mastering got done in January, and we released it in April.
Tommy Hansen mixed and mastered the record. How did you end up working with him?
We are signed with Intromental Worldwide – that’s our management company. One of our managers is Lars from Manticora and our other manager Claus Jensen has known Tommy Hansen for a long time, a lot of their bands have worked with him, so we were able to reach out to him through them. It was really great to have that connection.
You also filmed a video for the song, “Signs of Fire”. It’s a really cool looking video.
What was that experience like?
It was really cool. We decided that we wanted “Signs of Fire” to be the single. We shot the video on March 3rd. Beforehand we were doing the preparation for it, figuring out what the video was going to be about. We shot it in just one day and it was a really cool experience; doing the pre-production beforehand, planning it out, getting the crew on board, the production company and everything, and doing the set designs. It was a really fun experience and we’re happy with the results.
Any plans to film another video for any of the songs on the album?
We hope to. I’ve been thinking about it, we’ve been talking about it, we’ll see. Maybe.
Any ideas for what song it may be, if you do choose to do another clip?
This is just me, but I was thinking that maybe “The Lantern” might be a cool one, because it has a very different sound and it shows a different side of the album. Like I said, this is still up in the air, nothing is decided yet, but I thought that might be cool one.
Let’s go back to the beginning. How did Midnight Eternal first get together?
Midnight Eternal first came to be when Boris Zaks started a side project with Richard Fischer – they were both playing in Operatika at the time. They were in the process of recording and they were a little bit on a hiatus, so Boris decided he wanted to do something to fill the time. They reached out to Daniel Prestup and also to Mike LePond who Boris knew through Operatika. They got together and they recorded those first two songs. By the time I came onboard the two songs were recorded already. I knew Dan – I had met him six years previously – so, they reached out to me and I was very excited to come onboard. I thought the music sounded amazing. I think maybe, like two weeks after I came onboard we actually went into the studio to record those two songs. We got some really great responses, so we thought why don’t we just make this a band? We have all the elements here. We got Greg Manning to come onboard and he also knew Dan through the band Spider Rockets and we became a full-time band.
Does Midnight Eternal plan on touring extensively for the debut album?
We do. We have some things in the works. Nothing is confirmed yet but we’re hoping to tour the U.S. we’re hoping to tour Europe. We are working on that.
I saw the band last year open for Doro at the Gramercy Theater in New York City. What was it like playing that show?
That was a really fun show. It was actually one of the best shows we’ve played. That was our first time playing the Gramercy, and the venue was really cool, the sound was amazing. Doro and all the people she had with her, all of the opening acts, everybody was super nice. We got to hang out with them backstage, and the crowd response was really good. It was a really great experience. That was definitely one of my favorite shows that we played.
You’ve shared the stage with many famous bands. Who have been some of your favorites to play with, so far?
My favorite was opening for Kamelot. They’re one of my favorite bands of all time, and that show was amazing. We played Starline Ballroom, there was a huge crowd, I think it was sold out or close to being sold out. That was an amazing show. I love Kamelot, so it was a great experience for me.
You have experience doing Musical Theater. Is that something you will continue to do, or are you just going to focus on Midnight Eternal?
The last two years, I’ve really just been focusing on Midnight Eternal, I haven’t really done any musical theater. That’s something that I love to do. I did it for two years and I got to play some great roles. I think I will want to get back to that in the future, but my main focus right now is Midnight Eternal. We’re just trying to take it as far as it can go. If someone approached me right now and offered me some sort of a role, I’d consider it, based on whether or not I have time to do it. My primary focus is definitely the band. In the future I hope to be able to do both.
What singers are you personally influenced by?
I get that question a lot. The truth is that I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing. I probably started singing when I was 3 or 5; super young, I come from a musical family, and started taking voice lessons when I was 10. As far as musical influences, definitely growing up, Sarah Brightman was a big influence on me, “Phantom of the Opera” was always one of my favorites. I loved Queen, obviously Freddie Mercury was amazing. I also like, Kate Bush, my dad loves her music and was always playing it, so she was probably a pretty big influence on my singing as well. I always loved to listen to some 80s singers like Cyndy Lauper and Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles. After people have asked me the question, at first I wasn’t sure, and then thinking back about it, I recognize some influences. I was always singing naturally so I didn’t listen to a certain album and decided I wanted to a singer. I always wanted to be a singer ever since I was little.
Are you writing material for your second album, or is it too soon?
Our second album is pretty much written. I can’t remember exactly how many tracks we have – at least ten. Boris is the kind of guy that cannot sit still, he’s been using whatever down time we’ve had – since we haven’t played shows in a little bit – to just write. You can’t stop him even if you wanted to. One day I’ll talk to him and he’ll be like, “I have a new song” and he just sends it over. I’m still working on the lyrics. Obviously we haven’t gotten as far as recording a demo for it or anything, but we’re kind of talking about doing that soon. I don’t know when we’re going to start recording it, obviously our first album just came out, and we’re going to do some promotion. We work fast.
We’ve come to the end of this interview Raine. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to Femme Metal and we wish Midnight Eternal the best of luck in the future. In closing, do you have any final words for your fans?
For sure. We love our fans; we love to connect with them. They can reach out to us at our website, we have our Facebook page, we have Twitter, we have Instagram, YouTube. Obviously we have our music video online, we have the lyric video for “First Time Thrill”, we would love to hear everybody’s thoughts and opinions, and we love to hear from people from all over the world. Our album is available for sale on the Inner Wound website, on Amazon, on iTunes, streaming on Spotify and a bunch of other streaming services. You can purchase it pretty much everywhere. We just hope that everyone enjoys it.