Ohio based indie punk rock band, Signals Midwest, played the 8th Note on campus at UW-Milwaukee on Oct. 4, 2016. Following the release of the group’s fourth full-length album At This Age, Signals Midwest made a stop at the Union’s own 8th Note Coffee Shop to showcase their talent.
Featuring their punk roots and strong songwriting capabilities ‘At this Age’ features vocalist/guitarist Max Stern, bassist Loren Shumaker, guitarist Jeff Russell and drummer Steve Gibson.
As proclaimed on their social media platforms, Signals Midwest describes themselves as a “loud, smiley band from Cleveland, Ohio. [That have] been at it since 2008. We will play in your kitchen or anywhere really.” Their self declared autobiography did not fall short of their performance. Signals Midwest showcases a level of maturity as a group that is hard to come by, while still displaying their intense passion for music and performing.
While on the road, lead singer Max Stern was able to provide some firsthand insight on the dynamics of Signals Midwest in the following interview:
You just released your fourth record “At This Age” in early September, how was the writing/producing process for this one different than your previous releases?
-We had an amazing team this time – Evan Weiss produced it and Matt Jordan and Adam Beck engineered it. We left Cleveland and went to Chicago to make the record, which allowed us to get out of our usual headspace of recording in between work and school and such. We focused only on making music and ended up with with my favorite thing we’ve ever done.
What misconceptions do you think exist about the punk rock genre, and what about the genre appealed to you in the beginning?
-It was loud and fast and fun. I thought it was the coolest thing. I still do.
How has being together as a band for eight years given you an advantage over groups that may not have as much of a level of maturity?
– I don’t know if it gives us an advantage, but we’ve definitely got our own nice little niche and community of friends and peers. We’ve never had a booking agent or a manager or anything like that – but if you do something for long enough, it starts to make sense.
Given that many artists now a days have been founded in the LA area, how has being from the Midwest provided you with a unique experience in the music industry?
– There is a beautiful resilience that I’ve only found in people from the Midwest. Maybe it’s just because we willingly huddle under layers of clothing for five months a year. I don’t know. Cost of living is low and lets us travel. Having to pay $300 in rent in a shared house in Cleveland is a hell of a lot easier to manage when you’re away on tour than paying $1200 to share a bedroom in San Francisco is. But if you’re a touring musician, you make it work.
You’re coming to the end of your lengthy “At this Age Tour”, how has touring helped grow you as a musician and as a group?
– It’s one thing to play your songs in a comfortable club you’ve played a dozen times before. It’s another thing to play through a blown PA in a smoky converted Greek restaurant in the mountains in Austria. Touring has taught me to roll with it, rely on my friends, be aware of my surroundings, and put effort into maintaining friendships in spite of time and distance.
Do you have any advice for young musicians who are unable to find motivation in persisting in the music industry?
– Don’t try to make a living playing music. Do it because you love it and the rest will sort itself out. Be kind, direct, endlessly grateful, write the best songs you can and do your best to remember peoples’ names.
What’s next for Signals Midwest?
– I’m not really sure. I want to keep doing it. We’re almost a decade in. I’ve met incredible people and seen the world through this band, and finally just made the record I’ve always wanted to make. I’d love for us to go back to the UK and Europe, I’d love to do a full-band tour of Australia and Japan, and I’d love to play a show with Against Me! since they’re my favorite band. We’re getting older and trying to figure out how to make things work in a different context – people are thinking about buying houses, starting careers, examining futures. I doubt we’ll ever be on the road for several months a year like we have been at certain points, but I hope we can always find a place for it in our lives.
As a band stripped from the politics and overproductions the modern day music industry is often guilty of, Signals Midwest displays a genuine passion for performing and releasing genuine works of music. Listen to more of the group on streaming platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, and www.tinyengines.net.