Meet the Band: The Midnight Slander

Concert Preview

MEET THE BAND: Dave Conner (vocals, guitar), Mike Gray (drums, keyboards, vocals), Al Rodriguez (bass, vocals) and Drew Maziasz (guitar).

STRAIGHT OUTTA SOUTH CAROLINA: Formed in South Carolina in 2012, this Americana/alt­rock band relocated to Cleveland in 2014. A native Clevelander, Conner was living in South Carolina with the woman who's now his wife. He was in another band at a time recording at Charleston Sound, a renowned studio. They wanted to stop writing and be a cover band, so Conner reconnected with Gray and took advantage of some cheap studio time. Rodriguez came with Gray, and the band was born. "Everything clicked and we decided to be a band," says Conner. "Something magical came out and we decided to roll out with it. I was listening to Southern rock, and they were listening to bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but we just clicked." Recently, the band has opened for national acts such as X Ambassadors, Matt and Kim, Generationals and 28 North and local artists like Tom Evanchuck, Cities and Coasts, Joshua Jesty, Village Bicycle, and many more. Drew Maziasz joined just last year.

A SPECIAL MIX OF SONGS: After releasing 2013's Open Road and 2014's The Long Way Home, the band decided to record at Lava Room Recording Studio in Cleveland with local producer Jim Stewart during the fall of 2015. October is "a special mix of songs showcasing the growth of the band in both sound and lineup." "We made everything so polished and radio ready on The Long Way Home, and we sacrificed some of that raw, real passion we had on the first EP," says Conner. "Jim Stewart is great. I haven't heard anything that he's done that I didn't like."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The mid-tempo "Ready Set Go" features hiccupping vocals as Conner sounds particularly soulful as he croons, "I know we'll stay up late to see the stars take flight." The tune even includes an evocative mid-song guitar solo. The group recalls Dave Matthews Band on the mournful self-titled track, which Conner originally wrote when he was in college but had never recorded. "That song never had the right feeling until I brought it to this band," says Conner, who adds that Matthews was the reason he picked up the guitar. "They took it home and now it's one of our favorites."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: The Midnight Slander performs with Fine Subterraneans and Shawn and Shelby at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Euclid Tavern.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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