North Texas Daily

Midlake shines in new Denton documentary

Midlake shines in new Denton documentary

Midlake shines in new Denton documentary
February 05
00:11 2015

Kayleigh Bywater / Staff Writer

Denton indie-rock band Midlake is getting the opportunity of a lifetime.

With the help of director Eric Noren and producer Jason Lee of “My Name is Earl” fame, the band filmed a 90-minute documentary that is set in Denton.

The documentary, entitled “Midlake: Live in Denton, TX,” will be a part of the Thin Line Music, Film and Arts Festival on Feb. 18 at Campus Theatre on the Square.

“When I heard that Midlake was coming out with their own documentary, I knew that I wanted it to be shown at the festival,” Thin Line Festival director Joshua Butler said. “I have been a fan of them for years, and this is a unique way to get the band more out there.”

Noren said when they were talking about where to show the documentary, the festival seemed like the obvious choice.

“What better way to show off this film than to bring it back home to Denton?” Noren said.

Forming the band

Midlake consists of Eric Pulido, McKenzie Smith, Paul Alexander, Eric Nichelson, Jesse Chandler and Joey McClellan.

The band first started playing in the late 90s, when Smith, Midlake’s drummer, met some of the other band members in the jazz department at UNT.

“Most of us met at UNT, but I have known the lead singer of the band, Eric, forever since we grew up together in Houston,” Smith said. “He did not go to UNT, but he later joined in with the band.”

Pulido describes Midlake’s music as a mix of many different genres of music, but said it is definitely a softer side of rock.

Since its formation, Midlake has released four albums and multiple EPs on iTunes.

After performing its first show in the fall of 2000, the band signed to London-based record label Bella Union, which was founded by Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie of the band Cocteau Twins.

“This was just such a great opportunity that presented itself to us,” Smith said. “And signing with Bella Union is what really got us in connection with Jason Lee.”

Raymonde is close friends with Lee, and he would send samples of Midlake’s latest music to Lee, who really loved the band’s style and sound.

“We met Jason around 11 years ago, and we have become really close friends with him since then,” Pulido said. “He was a fan of us early on and has supported us ever since. He always comes down to Denton and is just a great inspiration for the band.”

Lee has helped the band film various music videos and has used some of Midlake’s music in videos for his personal company, Stereo Skateboards. That is where Midlake first ran into Eric Noren, a director from California.

Noren said he helped with Lee’s skateboarding videos and also grew to love the band just as much.

“I feel like directors never really use an indie band for the background music in a skateboarding film,” Pulido said. “But that gave us a chance, and I feel like that is what really sparked the idea for this documentary.”

A film in the making

Noren grew up in San Francisco, California, and graduated college at the University of California Santa Cruz with a degree in film and video. He said he grew up loving photography, skateboarding and video and wanted to pursue his passions all together.

When Noren was filming for Stereo Skateboarding and used Midlake’s music, he knew he wanted to do something big with the band.

“This film has, in all actuality, been coming about for over a decade,” Noren said. “As soon as I heard their music and met them, I felt that talent that great had to be shared with the world. I thought what better way to show off the band than in their hometown.”

A bulk of the documentary takes place in Denton before, during and after one of Midlake’s concert performances. Noren said they also spent time filming the band in order to show them in their natural habitat and to explore the Denton community.

Pulido said they wanted the film to be natural without being too much of a history lesson.

“We really thought that a concert film would be a lot cooler than listening to us talk on and on about ourselves and Noren made it work perfectly,” Pulido said. “There are really no breaks where it is just us talking. There is music throughout the whole film, but it does play over footage of Denton, our concert and us. It worked out better than I could have ever imagined.”

In order to create this, Noren did everything he could to make the film to flow well, he said, no matter how much work it would take.

Along with co-directing and producing with Lee, Noren was hands-on in nearly every aspect of filming and editing.

“I helped with everything from the cinematography to the small edits,” Noren said. “Filmmaking is just very involved on all levels. You start with this small little idea and within a matter of months, all your work that you have done comes to life right before your eyes. It is exhausting and can be overwhelming, but above all it is even more rewarding.”

A job well done

Through all the hard work Noren and Lee spent bringing this documentary to life, Pulido said he could never truly express how grateful the band is.

“It is just so crazy,” Pulido said. “I just admire them so much. In an industry that can be so competitive, they could have easily done something so much bigger.

Overall, Noren said he hopes he made an impact on not only the band, but also the city of Denton.

“We had the documentary play in New York already, but that is not the same,” Noren said. “Yes, I want to get the film out to the public, but I am also looking forward to coming down to Denton and seeing what the locals think of this film and this amazing band.”

Noren said when a project comes up that involves the things he loves, he is more than happy to go along for the ride.

“I just love doing projects where everyone is having a good time, including me,” Noren said. “I am passionate about filming, but I am also extremely passionate about this band and the city of Denton.”

Featured Image: A still from the documentary directed by Eric Noren shows the band Midlake perfroming to a live audience. The film is premiering at the Thin Line Film Festival this year. Photo courtesy of Eric Noren

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