Interview with Cliff Magreta of Minutes Til Midnight
If you have been watching the hit anime, Drifters this season then you are already familiar with Cliff Magreta and his band, Minutes Til Midnight. The single, Gospel of the Throttle, is used in one of the coolest opening videos of the year, and Cliff was gracious enough to sit down and talk about his experience right here on Ikigai Spin!
To get started, tell us a little bit about Minutes Til Midnight. What is your background in music?
Growing up in Detroit I was the kid obsessed with going to shows, that turned into booking punk bands in my living room and weird all ages venues.. Eventually putting out vinyl records for my band and other bands I liked.. I moved to California after school and played with a lot of different bands, eventually getting into writing and producing music.
Your music has a very distinctive gritty style. Did this grow from your hometown (Detroit) music scene, or inspiration from other musicians?
Yes, Detroit has such a unique musical history. Its hard to ignore.. you have all these crazy sounds that city created. Soul / R&B (Motown) Psych Funk (Parliament, Funkadelic) Punk (Stooges, MC5) Rock ( White Stripes) electronic (Juan Atkins, Derek May, Kevin Saunderson) Rap (Natas, Esham, Em) Detroit, to me, is not about being into one kind of music! All that stuff seeps into our sound a bit. Plus the city is so crazy, it has a kinda lawless feel. Lots of abandoned factories that would have underground parties or punk shows in condemned buildings with stolen power.. some kids figured out how to run the PA system by hacking into the street lights.. that kinda stuff can be inspiring in a strange way.. like f*ck it we're doing this and nobody is gonna stop us!
How did your involvement with Drifters come about, leading to your single, Gospel of the Throttle becoming the theme of the series?
They asked and I said yes instantly! We have our own label specifically because of these situations. There is nobody stopping me from doing cool sh*t like this. We have a really great publisher, they send me an email.. So and so wants to use your song, this is the budget and it goes from there. There is not an army of people that have say its ok.
Did you become involved with the production side of the opening sequence, or stay on the musical contribution side?
No, I only do music, I try not to get involved with that. I think that's why the band gets a lot of film and tv projects. I fully understand that's the director's art, that's their baby.
I love working with creative people and it can be a bit collaborative sometimes. For example, when I got the first cut of the Drifters opening last summer, they wanted to use "Gospel Of The Throttle" but they wanted the remix to be faster / heavier. None of the animation is done at that point, so the characters don't have movement yet. This can present a challenge to find the perfect tempo or flow that is needed. Its just a revision process and when I saw the final animation I was blown away!
Is anime and Japanese culture something you had been interested in before your involvement with Drifters, or is this your first step into the subculture? What have been your thoughts?
I spend so much time in the recording studio, that's really my world, I knew a bit about it and I have friends that have been on tour in Japan, things like that.. I didn't realize how cool it was gonna be until I saw the final cut! Now I'm kinda obsessed, didn't realize how gritty it could be, but like any new fan its kinda overwhelming knowing where to begin, so if any fans wanna send us recommendations that'd be awesome.
Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to talk about, encouraging readers to keep on their radar?
Yes, The Remix version of "Gospel Of The Throttle" is getting an official release in November. We have a couple of unreleased singles that will hit iTunes before the end of the year. We are gonna play some shows soon and have a new album ready early next year.. I have about half the songs written so far.. Pretty excited about that..